Proposal to amend the Bylaws of OWFI. This proposed amendment was passed by the Board of Directors on 26 August, 2018.

Current wording

ARTICLE VIII

  Plagiarism and Expulsion

  1. Persons discovered submitting work other than their own shall be permanently barred from entering any OWFI contests. The entry shall be rejected and any entry fee forfeited.
     
  2. Any member of the Federation may, by a two thirds vote of the members of the Board of Directors present at a scheduled or called meeting, be expelled and divested of honors for conduct deemed by the Board to be unprofessional conduct harmful to the Federation. Any person considered for expulsion will be invited to meet with the board. Voting shall be by secret ballot.

Proposed changes

ARTICLE VIII

  Plagiarism, Harassment and Expulsion

  1. Persons discovered submitting work other than their own shall be permanently barred from entering any OWFI contests. The entry shall be rejected and any entry fee forfeited.

Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) is committed to sponsoring events that are free from sexual harassment. OWFI also values a collegial and fun writing environment and recognizes that some related social interactions will inevitably happen or originate from OWFI activities.

The intent of this policy is to ensure that all members understand organization policy relating to member relations and to set up a procedure to ensure that complaints about behavior that violates this policy are promptly and adequately addressed.

Policy

  1. Sexual Harassment Prohibited. OWFI prohibits and will not tolerate acts of sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment is defined by law and generally includes any unwanted or unsolicited sexual gesture or physical contact, unwelcome visual conduct in a sexually suggestive manner (staring or leering) or any statement of a sexual nature that, when viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated, is offensive, threatening, humiliating, or interferes with a person’s ability to enjoy OWFI membership or perform a member duty.

    Some examples of unwelcome actions that, depending on the circumstances, may in and of themselves meet the definition of sexual harassment, include but are not limited to the following:

    1. Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo;

    2. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature;

    3. Touching or grabbing of a sexual nature;

    4. Repeatedly standing too close to or brushing up against a person;

    5. Repeatedly asking a person to socialize when the person has said no or has indicated that he or she is not interested;

    6. Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive; or

    7. Making or posting sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons, or other materials on OWFI social media platforms.

  2. Scope of Policy. This policy applies to every person in or associated with OWFI regardless of gender, sexual orientation, function, seniority, status, or other protected characteristics. It is incumbent upon those with authority not to abuse or appear to abuse the power with which they have been entrusted. Should an allegation of sexual harassment be brought by a person in a subordinate position, “consent to the relationship” shall not be deemed a sufficient defense or justification for conduct that otherwise would be deemed sexual harassment under this policy. This policy seeks to protect OWFI members from harassment not only by other OWFI members but also by non-members and guests doing business with or providing services for OWFI.

Complaint and Problem Solving Procedure

  1. Formation of Investigative Committee. Upon the start of the new fiscal year after the Annual Meeting, the President shall appoint three Executive Committee members to a standing committee to investigate claims of sexual harassment (Investigative Committee). The Investigative Committee will consist of the Publicity Director and two other persons from the Executive Committee. These members shall serve a one-year term that may be renewed. The purpose of the Investigative Committee shall be to receive, review, and investigate claims of sexual harassment.

  2. Complaint Process. A written complaint shall not be required to initiate the complaint process. Any person having a complaint based on the above policy shall contact a member of the Investigative Committee or President, who will refer the complaint to the Investigative Committee. Members of the Investigative Committee shall provide their contact information on the OWFI website.

    If the complaining party does not wish to prepare a signed, written complaint, written documentation shall be prepared by the Investigative Committee. Such written documentation shall include the nature of the complaint and the date(s) on which the alleged incident(s) occurred.

    Investigations of complaints will be formally administered by the Investigative Committee. In the event of a report of such harassment, the Investigative Committee shall convene with a quorum of two members present. Members of the Investigative Committee will meet with the complaining party to understand the nature of the harassment, plus any witnesses to the harassment, and meet with the accused to understand his/her account of what took place. Each meeting will take place separately. If a member of the Investigative Committee is either the complaining party, a witness, or the accused of such activity, the person(s) will be automatically recused from the Investigative Committee during the investigation phase, and the President will appoint another member. The Investigative Committee will present a recommendation based on the investigation of facts to the President, who will decide how to proceed.

  3. Additional Forums. In addition to OWFI’s internal procedures, a complainant may use any available state, local, or federal legal remedies.

  4. Confidentiality. OWFI understands that some individuals may be reluctant to tell anyone about harassment or to have their names disclosed. Every reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality of all parties, and to all conversations and all documents concerning a sexual harassment complaint. The Executive Committee will be kept informed on a “need to know” basis such as in the case of a recommendation of expulsion. (See Article VIII. Plagiarism and Expulsion. 2.) All persons involved should maintain confidentiality to the greatest extent possible, except to the extent needed for processing complaints under this policy.

  5. Malicious Allegations and Protection Against Reprisals. Allegations of sexual harassment that are malicious or without foundation are very serious with potential for great harm to all persons involved and are also prohibited by this policy. Intentionally providing false information also constitutes grounds for disciplinary actions, up to and including expulsion.

    Reprisals or retaliatory action against a person who, in good faith, reports or provides information in an investigation about behavior that may violate this policy may be unlawful and will not be tolerated. Such action may be regarded as a separate and distinct cause for disciplinary action.

  6. Disciplinary Actions. Disciplinary Actions for violation of this policy may include oral and/or written reprimand, reassignment, expulsion, or any combination thereof.

    Any member of the Federation may, by a two thirds vote of the members of the Board of Directors present at a scheduled or called meeting, be expelled and divested of honors for conduct deemed by the Board to be unprofessional conduct harmful to the Federation. Any person considered for expulsion will be invited to meet with the board. Voting shall be by secret ballot.

Your Voice

This proposal was discussed at the Board meeting on 26 August, 2018. If you have any questions regarding this proposal, please contact your affiliate representative or the Members at Large delegates. If you have further questions, contact your Board directly. When you feel ready, cast your vote for or against this proposed change to the bylaws by entering your name and email and selecting "Yae" or "Nay" on the form below.