USI Events Code of Conduct

The USI Code of Conduct applies from the beginning  to the end of any USI event, including formal work sessions and any social events arranged in between. It applies equally to online and in-person events.

Last Review: 04 August 2022
Next Review: 04 November 2022
Extent: Whole organisation, Residential Events

People in charge of safety at USI events

The Senior Staff Person

The senior staff person present will be introduced to attendees. They will be the person making decisions about the safety of the event and the conduct of the event. For any event in Northern Ireland, there will be two Senior Staff Persons present who will liaise with one another.

The Senior Officer

The Senior Officer will be introduced to attendees. They will liaise with the Senior Staff Persons on decisions about the safety of the event.  For any event in Northern Ireland, the President of NUS-USI will be designated the Senior Officer.

Duty Safeguarding Person

The Duty Safeguarding Person may be a member of USI staff, a person hired by USI for the purpose or a suitably trained person from another organisation. This will be made clear at the opening meeting of any event.

SU Delegation Leader

Your SU has a delegation leader (DL).  This will usually be the Students’ Union President, but it may be someone else on the delegation. The DL is responsible for supporting and leading the delegation of representatives from your SU, and for most circumstances will be your most useful contact. They should supply you with their phone number.

USI Safeguarding Basics

USI residential events (events where USI arranges accommodation) may be attended by adults aged 18 and older only.

At a USI residential event, in your joining instructions and on your Event Wristband, you will find the telephone number for the Duty Safeguarding Person, who you can call at any time of the day or night to seek support or report anything which you think could be unsafe.

It is important that you understand that contacting the Duty Safeguarding Person doesn’t get you or anyone else into trouble – we provide this number to ensure that the wellbeing of attendees at our events is protected. The safety of our members is our highest priority.  If you need to call the number for yourself or on someone else’s behalf, do so.

In an emergency

In what appears to be a medical emergency, you should immediately call for an ambulance by calling 112 and follow their instructions; you should then call the Duty Safeguarding Person to inform them that an ambulance is on the way.

If you witness or become aware of an incident of violence or assault, you should call 112 and ask for the Gardaí (Republic of Ireland) or Police (Northern Ireland). You should not take action which endangers yourself or anyone else.

Responsibility to others

At USI we believe that we each have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to respect the space, integrity and needs of others. Every delegate, facilitator, trainer, committee member and member of staff of USI and its partners is entitled to a safe, enjoyable and productive event. We won’t accept or tolerate any action which causes another person at a USI event to either be unsafe or to believe that they are unsafe.

Your Safety

You are the person primarily responsible for your own safety, and you have a responsibility to promote safety for everyone at an event. You must report anything you feel could endanger yourself or another delegate, and can expect your concerns to be taken seriously.

Protocols

Abusive, exclusionary, bullying or violent behaviour

USI will not tolerate abusive, exclusionary, bullying or violent behaviour at any USI event.  

Anyone breaching this protocol at a USI event can expect to be removed from the event.

Incidents of this sort should be reported to the Duty Safeguarding Person, your Delegation Leader or a member of USI Executive Team.

Respect for others

USI believes in the right to respectful freedom of expression for our delegates which recognises the right of others to a contrary opinion.

Debate about competing ideas is healthy and the basis of our policy process. We don’t shout down others when they’re speaking. We don’t use personally insulting, threatening or offensive language and we don’t stop others from expressing themselves.

Attendees at our events should be respectful of the freedom of expression of others, in particular relating to their identity; their gender and pronouns in particular should be respected by others.

Drugs and Alcohol at USI events

  • It’s not acceptable to share or supply drugs at a USI event.
  • Use of alcohol and unprescribed drugs may be illegal, can impair a user’s judgment and endanger personal safety and health, and by extension pose risks to other attendees.
  • USI would prefer that you didn’t take drugs at our events; national health guidance in Ireland advises that if you decide to take drugs, you should ‘start low and go slow’.
  • Any person engaged in activity which endangers another person or themselves at a USI event can expect to be excluded from the event (or any part of it) and not allowed to participate in future USI events.

 

SexuaI conduct

USI has a zero tolerance approach to sexual misconduct and harassment.

USI expects all attendees at events to apply the highest standard of active consent.

Personal space, privacy and the right to control over one’s own body are key principles within USI. USI will not accept:

  • Unwanted sexual comments, including about someone’s body, gender, sexuality or private life
  • Repeated unwanted sexual invitations or requests
  • Unwanted touching or unwanted sexually motivated activity
  • Sexual assault

 

No Pressure Events

Nobody owes an explanation to another attendee or to USI for sitting out part of an event, skipping a social event or taking some time and space for their own wellbeing.

You must not pressure anybody else into doing anything they are not comfortable doing. 

“No.” is a full sentence.

Accommodation and sleep

  • USI provides accommodation at some events.
  • Rooms provided by USI will often be shared between multiple delegates.
  • Everyone at our events has a right to a good night’s sleep in the room and the bed they’ve been allocated, with no exceptions.
  • Delegates allocated to a room have responsibility for that room and are responsible for loss or damages there. Delegates should secure their rooms when absent to prevent loss or theft of personal effects.

USI Staff and facilitators

USI Staff and colleagues in NUS-USI work hard to deliver USI and NUS-USI objectives and events.  Delegates should feel comfortable with approaching staff for support and information.

USI Staff have no right to participate in the democratic bodies of USI, and no right to reply to public comments about their work.

USI staff should not be mentioned or discussed during debates at a democratic event. Concerns or complaints about staff should be brought to the President. Any violent or abusive conduct towards staff will be treated with the utmost seriousness and if unresolved will lead to the withdrawal of USI staff from the event and the whole event’s termination. You can expect such conduct to be reported to the relevant authorities in every case.

The same applies to staff USI has hired temporarily or employees of organisations with which USI works.

Steering Committee

Steering Committee members are independent of the organisation and entitled to the same respect as staff and delegates. Steering Committee are not responsible for the content of the Congress and have no responsibility to answer for the organisation or decisions they have taken, outside a session.

Investigation

  • If an allegation of misconduct is made to USI relating to which endangers or has endangered our members, USI will always support the right of an affected person to seek support from relevant authorities in whatever way it can.
  • If USI staff become aware of something which endangers attendees, you can expect the staff member to report it to the Senior Staff Person as appropriate.

Why would we eject a person?

In some circumstances, we might need to take the decision to eject a person from an event. Some of those circumstances include:

  • If we feel that the wellbeing or security of participants at the event, or the perception of safety or security of participants would be reduced or imperilled by the person’s continuing presence at the event.
  • If otherwise the order of a democratic or training event would be impeded, where they have engaged in misconduct contrary to this code, or the standing orders of the event, or have threatened to do so.

Authority to eject

The authority to require a person at a USI event to leave the event (temporarily or permanently) in line with the Code of Conduct lies with each of the SU delegation leader of the person in question, the USI President, and the senior staff persons present. Any of these may take a decision to eject a person from an event.

The authority to direct that a delegate be required to leave the floor of a democratic event rests with the chair of the meeting.

The President or senior staff persons present may take whatever advice and make whatever consultations they feel are appropriate – their decision is final for the current event and no refunds may be made in respect of fees paid for attendance for an ejected person.

Banning from future events

In respect of a person who has seriously and/or repeatedly breached the Code of Conduct, appropriate action including banning an individual person may be taken by USI in the interests of the operations of the organisation and the protection of participants and staff.