Processo Disciplinare

***English text below. Remove this message when translating, otherwise the page may be overwritten:***

Club Disciplinary Process

Agora tries very hard to be an open, inclusive, and tolerant community, where everyone can express freely their ideas, speak passionately about the things that matter to them, and help make the world a better place.

Unfortunately, many times there are people who just do not want to participate in this community in a polite and civilized way in adherence to the coexistence rules.  At some point, these people become a threat to the club's existence and atmosphere, and sometimes - by association to their public behavior - to Agora itself.

Before considering a disciplinary process, always try to walk in the other person's shoes. Maybe they're going through a hard period? Maybe there's some context that you're lacking? Maybe you have only one side of the story? Did you personally witness the offending behavior, or are you simply hearing someone else's narration of events?

Reasons for Initiating a Disciplinary Process

A Disciplinary Process may be initiated against a member for any of the following reasons, irrespective of whether the events of behaviors described occurred within the framework of club meetings or not.

  • Any and behaviors that violate the ideals, goals, mission, T&Cs, Intellectual Property, and/or core principles of the Agora Speakers International Foundation.
  • Any acts that would constitute criminal offenses punishable with jail time in the local jurisdiction. Note, however, that an actual criminal process later acquits the member for charges brought for those acts, the club must reinstate the member immediately upon request. 
It is taken for granted that the role of a club is not to replace the country's judiciary system or to provide a repeated description of all the possible felonies and misdemeanors that are already very precisely defined in each country's Criminal Code or the equivalent set of laws.

It is assumed - and strongly encouraged -- that anyone that has suffered such acts committed by another member should file the appropriate criminal complaints with the corresponding authorities in addition to requesting a disciplinary process against the corresponding member.
  • Any repeated behavior that disrupts the normal operation of the club or its meetings.
  • Repeated violations of the club's governing documents, including those related to speech content.
  • False, inaccurate, or misleading reporting of educational, financial, or other activities.
  • Inappropriate or unauthorized use of club funds.
  • Any acts that create a hostile environment towards a specific member/members, such as direct personal insults, bullying, harassment, spreading rumors on individual members, unwelcome sexual advances or physical contact, sexual insinuations, threats, repeated personal nonconstructive criticism or highlighting of personal shortcomings, failures, or disabilities, etc.
Please note that merely expressing one's own moral, religious, sexual, political, or other ideas, either formally in a speech project or informally in a conversation, does not constitute a "hostile act" no matter how offended someone might be upon hearing them.

Also note that there's a difference between attacking someone else's ideas or views ("Your idea is stupid") and attacking someone else as a person ("You are stupid"). The former - while probably not the best debating strategy - is nonetheless allowed and may not be grounds for a disciplinary process.

Also, mockery, satire, humor, sarcasm, and criticism of any ideas is a protected type of speech and may not be grounds for a disciplinary process.
  • Retaliation against members truthfully reporting any of the previous behaviors. False or misleading reporting of any of the above behaviors, or withholding important information regarding them during the disciplinary proceedings.
A disciplinary procedure may never be initiated against a member due to disagreement with the content of their speeches or projects, unless these violate pre-existing rules on Speech Content.

Also, although it should be self-evident it's worth mentioning nonetheless that "gut feelings", "I heard that", "I'm sure in the future he/she will", "I just don't like him/her" are not grounds for initiating a disciplinary procedure.

Disciplinary procedures must always be based on actual behaviors that have already happened, and have been directly observed or experienced by the complainer.

Double Jeopardy - A member may not be subject twice to a disciplinary process for the same offense.

Ideally, members should be able to solve interpersonal conflicts using just regular communication, friendly comments, and warnings.  A disciplinary procedure should always be the last recourse in dealing with a problematic member.

Starting the Disciplinary Process

The disciplinary process may only be started by a simple majority approval from the Club's Executive Committee. The vote may be requested by any club officer acting on their own or on behalf of a complaining member, or by any representative or Ambassador of the Foundation. The person requesting the vote must accompany the request with all the necessary evidence, which should be directly provided by the offended party.

Never share or accept anyone's private communications unless you've been authorized to do so, or unless they clearly constitute criminal behavior or criminal intent such as bullying, harassment, threats to violence, etc.). Not only sharing someone's private talk to you without approval is wrong, but may get you into serious legal trouble.  Having a bad private conversation with someone, or learning that some other member doesn't exactly like you or speak wonders of you doesn't constitute grounds for a disciplinary process.
If the complaint is against an officer, the Club's Executive Committee must meet without that Officer, both to discuss and to vote on whether the issue merits a disciplinary process.

Phase 1 - Amicable Resolution

Once the Club's Executive Committee has approved the initiation of a Disciplinary Process, the first step will always be trying to resolve the issue in an amicable way.

Amicable neither means using threatening ("Do this or else...") nor formulating things in a way that's so polite as to make the problem nebulous ("you see, I know that you like to speak about killing all politicians, and sometimes I also feel like we have to do that as well, but I think we sometimes get too carried away in our emotions. But I understand how upset you are.")

Instead, be assertive. This means:

  • State in no uncertain terms what the problem is.
  • State why you believe this is a problem, and how it makes other people feel
  • State what is what you expect to change
  • Ideally, offer specific suggestions on how to do that.

For example:

"John, in your last speech you spoke about killing all politicians, and you said that with quite a straight face. This constitutes hate speech, which is not permitted under the club's and Agora's rules. Inciting violence is not a way to solve problems and is not the way leaders lead. Also, some of our members felt threatened by the tone, even they're completely unrelated to politics. This may land the club as a whole and you personally in legal trouble if these members decide to escalate how they felt to the authorities.

If it was intended as a joke, then please make sure it's absolutely clear that it is one, and maybe change the joke to one that cannot be mistaken for actual hate. Either way, the next speeches should not contain any of that

The attempt at an amicable resolution should always happen in a private, 1 to 1 conversation. When asking for that member to join that conversation, do not hint in front of others what the conversation is about.

Always recognize the need of everyone to "save face" in front of other members, and to maintain their reputation intact. Never corner someone into a position where their only option is pushing back.

Since the Club Officers initiate the disciplinary process, it's also the VP of Membership or the President the ones that are tasked with trying to resolve the issue amicably. If the problematic member is one of these roles, then any of the other Officer Roles may be tasked with the initial amicable attempt.

The following are NOT goals of the amicable resolution phase:
  • An admission of guilt.
  • Humiliating the other person (publicly or not)
  • Changing the other person's ideas
  • Extracting an apology
  • Punishing the other member

The only goal for the amicable resolution phase is a change in behavior. If the behavior that triggered this phase stops (for whatever reason), then there are no grounds for a disciplinary process.

Phase 2 - Proposal and application of remedies.

If the amicable resolution phase does not produce results, the Club's executive committee should decide on appropriate remedies, which must be from any of the following:

  • Removal from office (for Club Officers)
  • Not allowing the member to perform certain roles in meetings.
  • Withdrawing of certificates, awards, or recognitions given by the club.
  • Removal from contests, including withdrawal of sponsorship.
  • Removal from the club altogether.

The remedy may be permanent or limited in duration.

Financial remedies (such as fines) are not allowed.

The process needs to follow these steps:

  1. The officer tasked with attempting an amicable resolution notifies in writing the rest of the officers that his attempts have failed, detailing what was tried and what was the outcome.
  2. The Club's Executive Committee will decide on a reasonable remedy, and on a club meeting during which the issue and the proposed remedy will be put in front of the members for voting. The selected club meeting should be between 15 and 60 days in the future.  The member subject to the disciplinary process may ask for the selection of a different club meeting date if there are external, objective circumstances beyond their control that would impede their attendance.
  3. A notification is sent to all members with the full details regarding the reasons for which a member is considered for removal. All evidence must be included, with the exception of the identity of the initial reporter (whenever possible).
  4. At the time of the meeting, a quorum of 50% of the members must be present. If this is not the case, a new date will be set. If on the second date the club still can't manage to get a 50% quorum, the disciplinary proceeding will be dismissed under the assumption that it's an issue that doesn't appear to bother the members enough.
  5. In case the necessary quorum is present, the club's Executive Committee will present the case for up to 10 minutes. After that, the accused member will have up to 20 minutes to defend himself.  If the accused member is not present at the meeting, it will be considered that he has forgone his right to present an opposing and disputing view of the facts, and the process will not stop.
  6. After the accused member has finished, the club will make a recess of 10 minutes, after which a secret vote will take place using the regular voting procedures specified in the Club Democracy section.


Phase 3 - Appeals

Any decision during the previously described disciplinary process may be appealed by any of the affected parties. This includes:

  • The decision to start (or not to start) a disciplinary process, and the rationale.
  • Aspects related to the process, such as whether enough attempts were made to resolve the situation amicably and the ways in which this was attempted, whether the process is being unduly delayed (or to the contrary, done in an excessively expedient way that renders the member defenseless).
  • The selection of the date for the club vote.
  • The proposed remedies.
  • The club voting procedure and results

First-level appeals are handled by a group of three Ambassadors selected at random. The following restrictions apply:

  • Each of the selected Ambassadors must be from a different country.
  • None of the selected Ambassadors may be the member under the disciplinary process
  • None of the selected Ambassadors may be from the country from which the member under disciplinary process is a member, or a citizen of. For example, if a US national living in Spain is under disciplinary process, Ambassadors from Spain or the US may not be among the randomly selected to decide.

The group of Ambassadors will


Contributors to this page: agora .
Page last modified on Thursday June 17, 2021 22:08:27 CEST by agora.