Chicago Rope has developed policies that describe how we expect our Staff Members to conduct themselves at our events. We have chosen to share these policies publicly to make our expectations clear to the community and to hold ourselves accountable to them. As with all of our policies, our primary goal is to maintain an inclusive educational environment that is supportive to marginalized groups. Our Staff Members are expected to adhere to all of our Conduct Guidelines as well as the following additional policies.
Chicago Rope believes teaching is valuable work that should be recognized and compensated. All Instructors leading a class will be paid and publicly credited. Compensation details will be finalized before the class is taught. Instructors should only present or demonstrate with pre-arranged partners. Students should never be asked to participate in demonstrations in front of a class.
In order to promote a clear separation between organizational and personal relationships, we have established certain periods of time during which we ask our Staff Members not to tie privately or engage in sexual conduct with students who they meet for the first time at our events or related teaching engagements (such as private lessons), or through official Chicago Rope correspondence. Existing relationships are exempt from this policy.
We ask all Staff Members to observe a waiting period of 30 days from the first meeting or contact. We also ask Instructors to observe an additional waiting period of 30 days from the date of the last class or lesson the student has taken with that Instructor. This means that if a student and Instructor wish to engage in a sexual relationship, the student should refrain from attending that Instructor’s classes for the duration of the waiting period.
After the waiting period, we expect our Instructors and Staff Members to use their best judgement and be cognizant of the influence of power dynamics when engaging in sexual or romantic relationships with people they meet through our events.
Staff Members should communicate clearly and professionally with students, observing all communication principles outlined in our Conduct Guidelines. Staff Members should respect the autonomy and identity of all students.
Instructors should always ask explicit verbal permission to touch students in any formal or informal educational context. When asking, Instructors should specify the scope and kind of interaction they wish to have and stay within those bounds. As response to touch is highly context-specific, we request that our Instructors ask each time they engage with a student.
If an emergency occurs at one of our events, we expect all Staff Members to use their best judgement and operate within what would be considered reasonable caution for the situation at hand. We understand such situations may require taking some actions without explicitly checking in first. Since emergencies are difficult to predict, we will deal with any issues that arise on a case-by-case basis.
As an educational organization, Chicago Rope aims to teach communication through and about rope bondage and its contexts. While introducing an exercise, Instructors should talk about what to expect and give tying partners an opportunity to check in with each other or choose to opt out. Exercises should also include time for reflection, discussion, and asking questions.
Instructors should prepare content applicable to a wide range of bodies, experiences, and levels of ability, and should be ready to modify what is taught to suit individual students. Explanations should be presented that address a range of learning styles and approaches. Instructors should be careful to avoid using gendered language to refer to concepts that can be expressed without it.
We ask our Instructors to take special care with subjects often tied to emotionally and personally loaded topics. Students should be notified well in advance when such material is planned in order to give those who wish to participate time to prepare themselves and those who do not an opportunity to leave for the duration of the exercise or topic.
Staff Members are expected to respect the privacy of our attendees. All Staff Members should refer to attendees only by the names and pronouns they have requested we use in our space. Staff Members should be careful not to initiate conversation with attendees at our events on any topics that might reveal personally identifying information.
As a part of their organizational responsibilities, some Chicago Rope Staff Members may receive access to personal information about our attendees, including legal names and other identifying information. Those Staff Members who have such access are required to maintain the privacy of this personal information.
Chicago Rope reserves the right to conduct an Evaluation of any current or prospective Staff Member at any time. There are many circumstances under which we may choose to conduct a Staff Evaluation. These include when a new Staff Member is joining our organization, when a formal incident report is received about a Staff Member, and when concerns about a Staff Member are shared in a public or semi-public forum.
When we conduct a Staff Evaluation, our primary focus will be ensuring the Staff Member is capable of maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for our attendees. To this end, we will look at the history of the Staff Member’s conduct at our events to determine how well they have followed our Staffing Policies (if applicable) and Conduct Guidelines. We will assess their relationship with the kind of power imbalances that can arise through their role in our organization. We may also take into account any other considerations we feel are relevant to the safety and inclusiveness of our events. If any issues are found, we may choose to limit organizational responsibilities, require remedial action, or take any other steps we deem appropriate.
Another important factor we consider in an Evaluation is the Staff Member’s commitment to continued learning and growth. We expect all of our Staff Members to be ongoing students and to actively participate in furthering their own development technically, pedagogically, and personally. It is especially important for Staff Members to engage with internal Chicago Rope discussions and to be responsive to our feedback. Staff Members who do not meet this requirement will not be retained by our organization.
Chicago Rope is always happy when our policies, statements, and other written materials serve as a model for other groups. We share our published written work under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. We grant permission to use any of our written material, in whole or in part, or to paraphrase our work, on the condition that Chicago Rope is credited as the original source. We also request that a link to the relevant page(s) on our website is included when a substantial amount of our material is used. Please contact us if you have any questions about using our material for your group.