We believe that as Dharma teachers and leaders we must become stewards of the trust students place in us.
It is essential that teachers and leaders have a high level of personal integrity and seek to maintain clear boundaries when serving students. As teachers and leaders, we remain ever aware that students hold us in a position of power. Some may idealize us, projecting more wisdom or attainment upon us than truly exists. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to refrain from exploiting students for personal gain or gratification.
In addition to cultivating an awareness of the power dynamic, we expect New York Insight teachers and leaders to uphold a safe environment within which inner focus can be cultivated. In practical terms, we ask our teachers and leaders to undertake the practice of the Five Precepts set forth in Appendix I and especially to endeavor to refrain from any sexual and/or romantic involvement with students. Our intention is not to be punitive or repressive, but to foster safety for the practice of the Dharma. Because we do recognize that attractions develop and could evolve into a healthy, conscious relationship, we ask our teachers and leaders to, in the first instance, follow the guidelines contained in the Five Precepts and also to seek direction and guidance from the New York Insight Meditation Center Ethics and Reconciliation Committee (EAR)* in these matters.
An important function of the EAR Commitee is to define the guidelines for ethical behavior within our community and to encourage an intention of mutual respect and reconciliation whenever conflict arises. On the rare occasion that a deeper coming together is necessary the following process is available.
1. Bringing a Concern
A grievance process is initiated by communicating in writing to the EAR Committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This “letter of request” must include:
1. A clear statement that a formal grievance process is requested.
2. The name of the person(s) whose behavior the concern concerns.
3. A description of the alleged behavior sufficient enough to allow the EAR Committee to
decide whether the concern is appropriate for initiating a formal grievance procedure.
4. A history of the attempts, if any, to resolve the concern through other means.
5. A general statement about the resolution desired.
After receiving the letter, the members of the EAR Committee will communicate with all parties and may investigate the concern to the extent it deems appropriate (including sharing the letter of concern with the teacher or leader about whom the concern was brought).
The EAR committee may then recommend in writing either a formal grievance process, an informal grievance process or no process.
2a. Informal Grievance Process
If, upon review, the EAR Committee recommends an informal grievance process, suggestions for conversations, informal mediation or other methods for resolving the conflict will be made.
2b. Formal Grievance Process
If, upon review, the EAR Committee recommends a formal grievance process, it will convey its recommendation within two weeks to both parties. As part of this notification, the EAR Committee will state its understanding of the issue under inquiry.
2c. No Process
If, upon review, the EAR Committee recommends no process, it will convey this within two weeks to both parties.
3. Forming a Grievance Council
Once a concern is accepted for a formal grievance process, the EAR Committee will select three of its four members to constitute a Grievance Council. In keeping with the tradition of monastic council, this council will investigate, issue findings, and render a decision on the concern. The EAR Committee will also appoint the fourth member to be the moderator of the Grievance Council who guides the procedures but does not participate in any decisions.
4. Investigating the Concern
The moderator schedules closed hearings in which all parties are given a chance to present their understanding of the issue under investigation. The Grievance Council may question all parties and may request additional information. The moderator will document the proceedings.
The Grievance Council may ask other people to provide information pertinent to the concern. All parties will have a full and fair opportunity to respond to all information – oral, written, or otherwise – gathered by the Grievance Council.
Except for informing the EAR Committee and appropriate community leaders, the proceedings will be held confidentially for the duration of the proceedings.
5. Grievance Council Findings
When the Grievance Council members are satisfied that they are adequately informed they will review and discuss the concern among themselves. At its discretion, the Grievance Council may seek non-binding advice from any other source. The Grievance Council’s decision should be reached by majority. Within two weeks of a decision, all parties will reconvene at which time the Grievance Council will distribute copies of its written findings and read them aloud. For matters involving the potential suspension of a teacher or leader, the Grievance Council will consult with the NYI Board in jointly establishing the best course of action.
For more information, contact email@example.com.