The Community Standard sets out guidelines for how faculty, staff, students, and caregivers should treat one another, and how they should engage with members of the broader community of which Insight is a part. Every member of Insight will be held to this standard, which has been designed to nurture a community in which everyone can learn and grow together.
This standard does not just apply to members of Insight’s community during school hours or at school events, but in our interactions across our lives. Some particulars of the standard apply specifically to situations at school or school-related events, as described in detail below.
The short version of our standard is:
We will be respectful; compassionate; honest; engaged; just; and brave.
HOW TO READ THE COMMUNITY STANDARD
It’s important to emphasize that, although the Community Standard is written in a way that you may not be used to, the explanations of what’s expected from you below are not suggestions. These are requirements for how we conduct ourselves in community with our peers and the larger world.
For example, in the section outlining how to be respectful below, we explain that you must “make sure that the clothing you wear to school could not be read to endorse alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drug use.” If you pay close attention to our standard, this means that if you come to school with a tee shirt that depicts someone drinking alcohol, you have failed to uphold the Community Standard, and may be asked to go home and dress appropriately (or, if this is the second or third time you have failed to uphold the standard, there may be additional consequences). If you forget the standard, or if you didn’t think about the fact that a shirt showing someone drinking could be read to endorse alcohol use, you have still failed to uphold the standard, which places the responsibility to consider how your clothing could be read and to make sure on you.
This means that every member of the Insight community should be very familiar with the Community Standard, and should think about their actions before they take them. If you aren’t sure whether a particular action would constitute a failure to uphold the Community Standard, it is your responsibility to discuss your actions with staff before acting.
Details about each part of the Community Standard can be found on the following pages.
We will be respectful of others in a way that is appropriate to our relationship with them and to the situation. Insight does not ask members of its community to respect everyone they meet the same way regardless of circumstances. Members of our community may have different positions on the kind of respect afforded to those who don’t treat us with respect. Some people may think it is better to treat such people with respect in spite of their disrespectful behavior, and others may not, but the Community Standard holds each of us to think carefully about the kind of respect that we afford others and why we do so. In the case of students, instructors, staff, and caregivers, a certain amount of good-faith respect is important to maintaining a healthy learning environment, allowing people to make mistakes and grow from them among peers.
Dress appropriately for the situation. When you come to school and school-related events, wear shoes and clothing that you could walk around outside in if there was an emergency. Wear a shirt and shorts, skirt, or pants, or wear a dress, or other clothing similarly designed for wear out in the world, to school and school-related events. If a school-related event involves swimming, make sure to bring clothing and shoes that you could wear in the event of an emergency in addition to your swimwear. Make sure your clothing does not depict any kind of bigotry, whether against a race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious group. Speak and act without bigotry. Make sure that the clothing you wear to school could not be read to endorse alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drug use, and make sure that you don’t endorse those things while you are at school or school-related events. Come to school or school-related events without alcohol, tobacco, drug paraphernalia, recreational drugs, or weapons of any kind anywhere on your person or in your possession. Come to school and school-related events sober, and don’t consume alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs while at school or school-related events. While you’re at school, or dealing with students, instructors, staff, and caregivers, call them by their preferred names and use their preferred pronouns. If you choose to refer to someone in a way other than their preference when not at school events, make sure that your speech is compassionate and just as described below.
Use buildings, spaces, and supplies in ways that you are invited by their caretakers to use them. While at school, write only on paper, whiteboards, and other surfaces meant for writing. Take care not to break or damage buildings, spaces, or supplies. When you are a guest in a building or space, treat the space as you are asked to treat it. Clean up messes, even if they’re not yours. If someone loses something, help to find it. If you see something that isn’t yours, help to find who it belongs to.
Compassion is a core value at Insight, but compassion doesn’t mean just “being nice” to people. Compassion is about caring for one another in the ways they need. Sometimes this means being nice, sometimes listening, and sometimes setting clear boundaries.
Carefully consider the intentions of your speech. Speak and act with an intention to help and support your community. If your intention in speaking or acting is to harass or bully, restrain yourself. Regardless of your intention in speaking or acting, allow other people’s reactions to have an impact on your decisions. If your intention is to prioritize your freedom over the safety and well-being of others, restrain yourself. If someone is hurt by what you said or did, allow their hurt to take precedence over the desire to assert yourself. If someone doesn’t want you to talk about them or treat them in a certain way, or ask certain questions about them, allow those preferences to restrain you unless you have a sincere concern about their welfare. If you do have a sincere concern about someone else’s welfare on a topic that they would prefer not be discussed, restrain yourself from speaking about it in public places, and seek out someone who can help (staff while at school). Practice constructive criticism of others, and be sure that your criticism is guided by the intention to help. If you see someone acting inappropriately tell them, and be sure that your speech and actions in these circumstances is guided by the intention to help the community. Especially when dealing with students, instructors, staff, and caregivers, listen with a generous intention. When listening to these people, assume they have good intentions and respond accordingly, unless you have a very good reason to think otherwise.
When you or other members of the community are in distress, seek help in ways that are considerate and appropriate. Prioritize the well-being of others over your own preferences, but not over your own well-being or the well-being of the community. When someone’s distress can be alleviated by listening or caring for them in a way that you are confident that you are capable of doing without sacrificing your own well-being or the well-being of the community, then help them. Avoid overestimating your ability to help others on your own, especially if their distress is severe. If you think someone is in danger of self-harm, harming others, or being harmed or harassed by others, or someone expresses that they are in danger of these things, seek help from a trained professional immediately (staff while at school). Restrain yourself from relying on peers or people who are not professionally trained to provide you with the kind of support you need. If you aren’t sure whether your distress is something that it is appropriate for a peer to help with, ask a staff member for advice. If a peer suggests getting advice from staff, take that advice.
In order for a community to thrive, its members must be honest with themselves and with each other. Being honest doesn’t mean that you have to be an open book with everyone in the community, disclosing details of your life that you would prefer to keep private, but it does mean that we shouldn’t misrepresent ourselves or attempt to mislead each other. In an academic context, honesty is especially important when it comes to the work that we do together. Insight is a school that is evaluating the things that we’ve learned, and if we give people credit for things that they didn’t do, Insight’s position as a trustworthy evaluator of learning could be harmed.
When you’re asked to write or present material, make material that is your own creation. When you use the work of others to make a point or get inspiration, make it clear that you are doing so by citing your sources. When you copy the exact words of someone else, use quotation marks to make it clear that you’re quoting someone. When you’re asked to complete an exam, assignment, or other kind of work on your own, do the work without looking for the answers from peers, caregivers, or other community members. When you do work with others, make sure to do your assigned part. If you’re not sure what kind of help you can ask for, ask the person who assigned it before you get help. In all cases, be clear about the kind of help you received and the source of your ideas and inspiration. Err on the side of caution, citing your sources whenever you’re in doubt.
Read your evaluations and do your best to improve your performance based on their feedback. When you are asked to evaluate yourself, reflect seriously on your work and do your best to accurately assess yourself. When you encounter academic difficulties or make mistakes, bring them to your mentors and instructors so that you can get guidance and help. Praise other members of the community for their contributions when appropriate, and be prepared to forgive them when they make mistakes. Apologize when you’ve hurt a member of the community, and accept thanks and praise from your peers graciously. When you critique other members of the community, whether on their academic performance or their interpersonal behavior, base those critiques only on the actual academic work or behavior of others as you have observed it.
Being engaged means participating in our communities and following through on our commitments to those communities appropriately. Sometimes following through with our commitments means that we need to assess our commitments and let some of them go. Nothing is served by taking on more than we are able to do, and being engaged isn’t a contest to see who can do the most. While this part of the Community Standard applies to our interactions with all kinds of communities, the detailed guidelines below are written to help us understand our commitments to the educational community of Insight in particular.
Take the initiative to understand what your commitments to your communities require of you, and follow through. In the case of school, come to your classes prepared to participate by doing your homework on time. When you can’t complete all of your homework, complete enough of it that you will have something meaningful to contribute to class. Sometimes things come up in life and very rarely you may not get any homework done. In these cases you should come to class prepared to actively listen so that you can participate in the course as it continues. When you commit to working with others, come to meetings prepared so that the group can make good progress towards accomplishing its goals.
Take the initiative to understand the purpose of your communities, and contribute appropriately to that purpose. Restrain yourself from using communities you are a part of in ways they aren’t meant to be used. In the case of school, have deliberate conversations with peers and mentors about the educational goals of the community, both academic and social. Pursue friendships, professional peer relationships, and mentoring relationships with one another that are rooted in your academics. Learn to socialize around your academic interests, and use the social study hall to learn how to work with peers to draw connections between your interests inside and outside of school. Use the school facilities and resources, including internet access, for educational purposes.
Rather than being fair, Insight holds its community members to be just. Every member of the community has different strengths and faces different challenges, and a just community is one in which these people come together, drawing on one another’s strengths to meet one another’s challenges. As we discussed in the sections on Respect and Compassion above, we believe that civility is an important standard that can help us function and thrive as a learning community. However, civility is not the only standard we use to govern our actions. Insight prioritizes justice over civility, because there are times when our actions might be civil, but unjust—when we might politely prioritize our privileges to speak over our community’s ability to function and other community members’ abilities to thrive and participate. In circumstances where civility is not a sufficient standard to maintain a thriving and welcoming community, we are committed to basing our decisions about what is just on the best information available. We commit ourselves to subject our information to critical analysis and attempt to understand its limits. When we have developed a good understanding of our communities on the basis of sound analysis, we are committed to prioritizing the thriving of the community over the preferences and privileges of individual members.
Cultivate an active curiosity about the realities of the communities that you inhabit, and act to investigate and understand those realities. Use a variety of methods to investigate. Listen critically to members of your community and those who report about them. Look at the social position and motives of your sources of information. Remember that all members of a community have a social position and a motive for speaking, and that what they say will reflect this. Develop an understanding of the limits of what you know, and remind yourself of those limits. Investigate the ways in which you are part of, and dependent on, a variety of communities, and cultivate an appreciation for the ways in which those communities are a part of you. Use this understanding to examine your own social position and motives, and subject them to assessment both by yourself and the communities of which you are a part.
Once you have taken the time to understand the realities of your communities and have investigated effective ways to address their challenges, commit yourself to acting to better those communities. Remembering the ways in which you depend on the communities around you, seek out and work with others when you act. Be willing to join others who are already acting effectively to better their communities. Understanding that your communities are dependent on other communities just as you’re dependent on your communities, act to better your own communities in ways which do not harm other communities.
Bravery is about facing our fears and anxieties wisely and appropriately in order to grow and help our community. At Insight we value the bravery it takes to face our fears and anxieties, understanding that members of the community will experience fear and anxiety differently. What may be easy for one person may be very hard for someone else. We also distinguish bravery from recklessness. While it’s important to face our fears and anxieties, it’s equally important that we do so from a desire to improve ourselves and our community, and with a strong understanding of the risks involved. Being brave also means talking about the risks we intend to take with others rather than deciding alone what is appropriate.
Think carefully about the risks involved in what you’re doing before you act. Restrain your impulse to act if the risks are not appropriate. Do not needlessly endanger yourself, others, facilities, or supplies. When you are engaged in work for school or when you are at a school-related event, you should always restrain yourself from putting the physical or mental safety of yourself or others at risk, or from subjecting the buildings or supplies being used to risks outside of those normally associated with their use. Consult with mentors and other members of the community about the risks you intend to take, especially if you are at all uncertain they’re appropriate.
After doing your best to understand the risks involved, be willing to take risks to pursue your goals. Set goals for yourself that you may not be able to accomplish fully so that you can test your limits and learn how to face setbacks. Make sure that you understand the potential consequences of the risks that you take and be willing to accept those consequences. When you take risks, be sure that you are doing so in order to better yourself and your community. Remember that every member of the community is different and may approach risks differently.
The Insight community is committed to resolving conflicts and misconduct in a way that is forgiving, and that allows its members to learn from their mistakes. That being said, Insight does not prioritize individual privileges over the safety, security, and well-being of the community. When possible we will resolve conflicts and misconduct through conversation and agreement, but when a community member’s words or actions begin to pose a threat to the ability of the community to function, consequences may be imposed by the staff.
RESOLVE CONFLICTS BEFORE THEY BECOME PROBLEMS
The best way to uphold the Community Standard is to take the initiative to identify potential conflicts, misconduct, and difficulties before they become problems, and to either resolve those issues yourself, with peers, or with the help of staff. The Community Standard has been designed to help you resolve these kinds of conflicts, especially when all parties involved are acting in good faith.
That being said, vulnerable members of the community (especially students) should not be expected to handle their problems without drawing on the resources of the community. Whenever a student wants help trying to resolve a problem, they are encouraged to seek out an instructor or a member of the staff, and to trust that person to act in the best interests of the community as a whole. Staff members are familiar with the Community Standard and can help students assess whether or not a particular action would count as misconduct. It’s best when staff members are consulted before misconduct occurs. Listen to one another if a peer raises concerns about potential misconduct, and ask staff for advice before acting. For this reason it’s also important to take the Community Standard seriously, to read it and think about it, and to keep it in mind when you consider what you might do.
In some cases, a conflict or misconduct will occur when someone acts without consulting staff, either because they have not considered the Community Standard or because they have misinterpreted it. In these cases, staff will assess whether or not there was a serious failure to hold to the Community Standard and, if so, what action to take.
Whether an action constitutes a serious failure to uphold the Community Standard will be determined by the results of the action.
If someone is physically injured or harassed; or if community facilities or materials were destroyed or damaged; or if Insight’s educational mission was compromised; or if Insight’s standing in the community was compromised; or if the Community Standard itself was undermined either through deliberate disregard or repeat violations; then the action will be considered a serious failure to uphold the Community Standard.
FAILING TO UPHOLD THE COMMUNITY STANDARD
If an issue turns into a problem, and a member of the community fails to uphold the Community Standard, staff may have to intervene in the situation. Whenever there is a question about whether a member of the community has seriously failed to uphold the Community Standard, a minimum of two staff members will meet with the community member to discuss the matter prior to determining any consequences. The only exception to this rule will be instances in which a community member’s behavior poses an immediate threat to the physical safety of another member of the community, or to the safe operation of the community’s facilities or equipment, in which case the offending member of the community may be asked to leave the premises immediately.
As a reminder, members of the Insight community are expected to uphold the Community Standard at all times, not only during school time and at Insight events, and at the Executive Director’s sole discretion, members may be subject to consequences for a serious failure to uphold the Community Standard even when it does not involve an Insight student, instructor, staff member, or facility.
In most circumstances, Insight will only administer consequences for serious failures to uphold the Community Standard that occur outside of school and school events, and that do not involve members of the Insight community, in especially egregious cases.
If there is an allegation that a member of the community has seriously failed to uphold the Community Standard, that member will meet with two members of the staff. If they are a student, they will meet with their advisor; as well as the Director of Programs or the Executive Director; and any other members of the community that these two deem necessary and appropriate. If they are faculty or staff, they will meet with the Director of Programs and the Executive Director, and other members of the community that these two deem appropriate. Conferences involving an allegation that a staff member has failed to uphold the Community Standard will be subject to additional requirements and procedures.
The purpose of this conference will be to gather information, and to listen to the community member and other involved parties as necessary.
After this conference, the staff will determine:
- Whether or not more information is needed, and from whom.
- Whether the incident is a serious failure to uphold the Community Standard.
- What consequences, if any, will result from the incident.
- Who needs to be informed of the decision, when, and how.
CONSEQUENCES FOR SERIOUS FAILURE TO UPHOLD THE COMMUNITY STANDARD
In the event that staff determines that there has been a serious failure to uphold the Community Standard, the member of the community will be required to thoroughly review the Community Standard and discuss it with their advisor or supervisor. They will also be asked to reaffirm their commitment to the Community Standard. Additional consequences will be determined based on the seriousness of the results of the incident, and whether the incident is a result of deliberate misconduct or negligence, according to these guidelines.
The Executive Director may diverge from these guidelines when there are extenuating circumstances.
WAS SOMEONE PHYSICALLY INJURED?
When someone is physically injured as a result of a community member’s deliberate misconduct, the consequences may be quite severe, up to and including expulsion from the community for a first offense. If someone is injured due to negligence rather than deliberate misconduct, the consequence might still be as severe as expulsion, depending on the nature of the incident and injury, however more moderate consequences (such as a temporary suspension from the community; an assignment to produce a written reflection on the incident; a conference with those injured; safety training; or any of the above) may occur, especially for a first offense.
WAS SOMEONE HARASSED?
When someone is harassed as a result of a community member’s deliberate misconduct, the consequences may also be quite severe, up to and including expulsion from the community for a first offense. Depending on the community member’s role in harassment and the specific nature of it, more moderate consequences (such as a temporary suspension from the community; an assignment to produce a written reflection on the incident; a conference with those injured; or any of the above) may occur, especially for a first offense. If a community member continues to engage in behavior that results in the harassment of others, especially when a specific person is targeted, they may be expelled from the community.
WERE COMMUNITY FACILITIES OR MATERIALS DAMAGED?
When facilities or materials are damaged as a result of a community member’s deliberate misconduct, the consequences may include expulsion from the community for a first offense depending on the nature of the facilities or materials damaged, the extent of the damage, and the resulting impact on the community. Regardless of the extent of the damage, any member of the community (or, in the case of students, their caregivers) who deliberately damages facilities or materials may be held financially liable for the cost of repair or replacement. If facilities or materials are damaged due to negligence rather than deliberate misconduct, the consequences will almost always be more moderate, especially for a first offense. In this case, consequences may include temporary suspension from the community, required training in the proper use of facilities and materials, community service repairing damaged facilities or materials where this is safe and appropriate, a written reflection on the incident, or any of the above.
WAS THE EDUCATIONAL MISSION OF THE COMMUNITY COMPROMISED?
When the educational mission of the community is compromised as a result of a community member’s deliberate misconduct, the consequences may very rarely include expulsion from the community for a first offense. For example, if the educational experience of a full class or semester of students is significantly undermined due to deliberate actions, the member of the community who engaged in these actions may be expelled. In most cases, a first offense will incur less severe consequences, including temporary suspension from the community, a written reflection on the incident, or both. In the case of any form of educational fraud (cheating, plagiarism, etc.), the member of the community will at minimum lose credit for the work in question, and may lose credit for the course or workshop for which they did the work, especially in the case of repeated offenses. If the educational mission of the community is undermined as a result of a community member’s negligence, the consequences will be relatively mild, and may be limited to a written reflection on the incident for first offenses.
WAS INSIGHT’S STANDING IN THE COMMUNITY COMPROMISED?
When Insight’s standing in the broader community is compromised as a result of the deliberate misconduct of a community member, the consequences may very rarely include expulsion from the community for a first offense. In cases where a community member has jeopardized Insight’s capacity to formally operate as a school through their deliberate misconduct, they may be expelled from the community. When the results of a community member’s actions are less severe, the consequences may include temporary suspension, suspension from off site activities on a long-term basis, a written reflection on the incident, or any of the above. When Insight’s standing in the broader community is compromised as a result of negligence, the consequences will likely be less severe, especially when Insight’s capacity to function and maintain good relationships with the community is preserved.
WAS THE COMMUNITY STANDARD UNDERMINED?
When a member of the community deliberately or through negligence undermines the Community Standard by failing to uphold it repeatedly, after warnings and intermediate measures, that person may be subject to consequences regardless of whether or not their misconduct has resulted in other harm to the community as detailed above. Consequences for undermining the Community Standard include, in the most severe cases of such disregard, expulsion from the community. Less severe cases will always result in the community member being asked to write a written reflection on the incidents, demonstrate their understanding of the Community Standard in full, and may result in temporary suspension from the community.