Group Norms

MSU Students United Meeting Group Norms

Move Up, Move Back

– If you usually talk a lot, make room for other voices!

– If you usually do not talk a lot, speak up! We want to hear your voice!

-Some people naturally talk less while others naturally talk more. Although sometimes this is genuine, sometimes it is the effect of systematic oppression         and dominance structures. For example, men often times assume the right to talk whereas womyn may believe they are supposed to be quieter and subordinate. While we assume best intentions, these are systematic and learned problems, and power structures that have existed since the dawn of [queers, womyn, men, and trans] and are often not intentional or conscious. We have learned these communication styles and cultural norms, and we would like to unlearn them. “Move up, move back” is a tool used to help remind us of this, mostly at meetings, and open space for those that haven’t been as included in the conversation to speak up if they’d like to.

Speak for yourself!

– Use “I” statements, not “we” statements.

– You don’t know everyone’s experiences!

– Sometimes people say ‘we’ statements to create a common ground, but this often assumes a common ground. For example, somebody may say, “We think the majority of college students are apathetic towards social issues.” This may be true, but it also puts the idea in somebody’s head that students are apathetic, as a fact, somewhat subconsciously, and it can sneak into our beliefs. Somehow, this eventually ties back into power, dominance, and manipulative influence, even if the person doesn’t have ulterior motives, we have to watch what we assume other people know or believe. If you are in a church service, and the pastor says “We are all straight and that’s why God love us,” or “we all know that God will only love you if you are straight,” has a brainwashing effect. I’m sure politicians use this tactic consciously.

Respect personal pronouns

– When introducing yourself, say what pronoun you use!

– Example: “My name is Rich and I use he/his/him pronouns”.

-Some people prefer he/his/him, some prefer she/hers/her, some prefer they/theirs/them, and some prefer other pronouns

– Try to remember people’s pronouns!

-We have learned, and it’s easy to assume and fall back on, the two pronouns the Lord has provided us with: boise and girs. But that’s not all folks! Many people identify as other genders including but not limited to queer, trans, gay, lesbian, and other non-gender conforming identities. I have been practicing using peoples preferred pronouns for a few months and still find it very hard. I have gone 20 years with only using he and she pronouns! It takes time to unlearn and relearn new non-oppressive norms.

Keep statements gender neutral!

– No “hey guys”, “stop being such a girl”, etc.

– Gendered phrases are often integrated into our culture. I have learned that “hey guys” specifically is a mid-western thing to say. But nonetheless, we have to fight these habits! Some gendered statements, such as “hey guys,” seems not vulgar to me, but it still represents and enforces a male dominant society. Other statements such as “you suck” are vulgar, but their original context seems lost. From my understanding, “you suck” or “that blows” stems from the act of a person (I’d assume a womyn) giving oral sex to another person (I’d assume a male), and that to be the “sucker” is a bad thing, ultimately, looking down upon that act and looking down upon womyn. Why can’t “you suck!” be a good thing!? These phrases are everywhere and the original meaning is often blurred and unnoticed, but the meaning can still penetrate and reinforce the current patriarchal and misogynist system of oppression.

Use “oops” and “ouch”

– Used to address mildly offensive situations without sidetracking the meeting completely

– If someone says something offensive, say “ouch” and talk to them after

– If you accidentally say something offensive, say “oops” to acknowledge it

-Tools to accommodate for mistakes and practice using non-oppressive language.

Assume best intentions!

– In a society wrought with all sorts of oppression, everyone is still learning

-Be supportive, give constructive criticism, be willing to receive criticism

-Nobody is cooler or better or more advanced with this stuff for knowing more, or having more practice, or not messing up. We are all learning and will never be perfectly non-oppressive.

Explain your acronyms

– Acronyms can be extremely alienating for newcomers.

– If you see new faces, spell out your acronyms!

– If you use especially uncommon acronyms, spell them out!

-Limit jargon so the information and ability to contribute to the group is accessible

Ask to take or post pictures of people, or take a voice recording

-acknowledge that some people do not want their picture taken nonconsensually.

-some may not mind their picture taken, but do not want it posted publically on facebook, etc.

-same goes for nonconsensual voice recording





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