housemates have anonymous complaints about me
October 30, 2011 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I live in a cooperative housing community of 30-40 people. A person from the conflict resolution committee has contacted me about some anonymous complaints about me and wanted to meet with me. I declined the meeting because I wanted to know what it was about first, and wanted to know who has a problem with me. Am I being reasonable? What would you do?

They said some people were "concerned about some of your behavior" and that I was making some people uncomfortable. I'm not sure what this is about, though I would guess that it's about me talking with some people about my personal problems. Here are some issues I have with what is going on with this:

- I don't think they should be anonymous
- I think whoever has an issue with me should try to resolve it with me first. I haven't heard anything from specific people.

I feel like I'm being blind sided. I don't want to go into a meeting where anonymous people will accuse me of things a) because it's anonymous and b) because I won't be able to talk to the specific people who have a problem with me. I feel like it will be less of a conversation and more of a list of complaints against me and a demand that I change. I wish I could say what the issue was, but I don't even know. I don't like that they were complaining about me behind my back without coming to me first.

Is it unreasonable to want to know what this is about before having a conversation with someone about some other third parties' complaints? How would you handle this situation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd ask for the concerns to be sent to me in writing.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:51 PM on October 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


You already think that it's about you talking with others about your personal problems, and if that's the case, then you know who the complainers likely are. It makes sense to go to the meeting and talk with the conflict resolution committee or representative, find out for sure what the issue is, and then talk it out. I agree that acting on anonymous complaints seems unfair, but at least they are trying to "resolve" the complaint through appropriate channels.

You may be assuming that this is going to be an uncomfortable meeting. It may be something very mild, especially if the complaint is about what you think it is. The person seeking the meeting may just be asking you to tone down your discussion of personal problems.

I think you should go, with an open mind.
posted by jayder at 2:51 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Go to the meeting with the conflict resolution person. That will be a chance to find out what this is about, and at the meeting you can express your interest in talking directly with whoever it is who is upset. For whatever reason, the "concerned" people don't want to come to you directly. It is possible that the complaint and the unwillingness to talk to you directly are related. The conflict resolution committee is there in part to act as third party intermediaries when the two main parties can't or don't want to resolve the issue directly.

I would tell the conflict res person that you want this meeting to be small (as in, just you and one or two people from the conflict resolution committee). It does feel a little ambush-y if they're asking you to come in a face a whole panel of people w/o knowing what the issue is all about.

I think it's appropriate and understandable for you to feel a little defensive right now, but it would probably be helpful if you can go into the meeting with as open a mind as possible.
posted by aka burlap at 2:52 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


How are you supposed to find out what the complaints are about without a meeting?
posted by notsnot at 2:52 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you moved into this cooperative housing community, was this process part of what you agreed to? And no, it isn't unreasonable. In a standard apartment complex, you complain to management, management comes to me with the complaint but doesn't say who lodged it.

By the way, if you are uncomfortable with this process, we can only assume the complainer is similarly uncomfortable with direct confrontation. You may however be able to ask the Conflict Resolution Committee to put the stated case in writing prior to the meeting.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on October 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


You may however be able to ask the Conflict Resolution Committee to put the stated case in writing prior to the meeting.

As I said, that's what I would do. But once I knew what it was about, and had time to consider my response, I would meet with them and address each concern.

I would ask for an email, not a registered letter.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:58 PM on October 30, 2011


If the individuals felt comfortable coming to you personally, they'd do so. They might be wrong to not approach you directly, or they might be right. They might be completely freaked out at something completely innocuous that you did, and it will all come to nothing.

You're not going to fond out what was said without going to the meeting, though. It might be unpleasant, but it's the only way you're going to find out what you did. Also, you have no idea, realistically, what format the meeting will take. Your fears might be completely unfounded.

I was in something like this situation at work, once. I [completely unwittingly] said something that someone else found offensive. I found out at the meeting that directly because I'd said this thing, the individual who raised the complaint didn't feel they could approach me. I wasn't actually told at the meeting what I'd said that was offensive, or who I'd said it to, which I felt was a little unfair. What I did do was approach the people I worked with to apologise for offending them. It was pretty obvious who I'd offended, but to this day I'm not sure what I said.

All you can do is make a good faith effort to rectify the situation. Look at it this way; do you want to continue accidentally upsetting people? Until you find out that it's the fact you sneezed and left a tissue on the side (for example) you might keep doing it by mistake. It might even turn out to be the other person who has the problem, and it's a case of the management's hands being tied.
posted by Solomon at 3:00 PM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would guess that the whole point of the Conflict Resolution Committee in this kind of shared housing situation is to provide a neutral intermediate in order to prevent charged interpersonal conflicts that often arise from confronting people as you would prefer. In the ideal world everyone talks rationally and respectfully with one another without this kind of passiveness, but I'm guessing this committee was founded because past experience in this community has demonstrated we do not live in an ideal world.
posted by schroedinger at 3:01 PM on October 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


It's not unreasonable to hope that people who have a problem with you will let you know what it is, rather than complaining anonymously. But I don't think it's a good idea (or reasonable) to refuse this meeting for that reason.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:03 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


By refusing the meeting, you're raising more red flags, and digging yourself a deeper hole to climb out from.

Yeah, it's kind of annoying to have the "Conflict Resolution Committee" interject itself to discuss your behavioral issues, but those are the breaks when you submit yourself to a communal living arrangement.

You need to decide if this situation still works for you, and if not, to leave as painlessly as possible. If you want to stay, you need to play ball with the authorities, answer to any criticisms or objections as honestly and openly as possible, and prove yourself to be a loyal and reliable member of the unit.
posted by BobbyVan at 3:15 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


i think you're being short-sighted. an anonymous process will help *you* save face as well as the offended party, and will possibly allow you to resolve it without making personal enemies with someone. however, i think you'd definitely be within your rights to tell them to limit the meeting to one or two people, and of course, officers of the coop only.

all of this kind of depends on what the problem is. if you *did* know, what would it be?
posted by facetious at 3:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, you are being unreasonable. The meeting is there to inform you of what the complaints are. So asking to find out what the complaints are in advance doesn't really make sense.

I also think you might not really be grokking what the point of this process is, or what people expect when living in an apartment building. This process doesn't exist so that you can talk out your issue and gain understanding for your behaviour, it's to get you to stop doing things that bother other tenants. When people move into an apartment, they expect a certain degree of interaction with their neighbours, but more than that, they expect to be able to live free of unwanted interactions if they so choose. If they're expectations aren't being met (ie. they aren't able to avoid unwanted interactions with neighbours), they aren't under any obligation to 'talk it out' with you. They have the right to complain anonymously. They aren't under any obligation to you, even if that doesn't seem right.
posted by Kololo at 3:26 PM on October 30, 2011 [25 favorites]


I think that they don't get into details first because they don't want people being complained about to stew over written words, and go seek out people who they think might be complaining and confront them with the letter. I'd look at their failure to provide details in that light -as a sensible conflict-avoidance approach and not as some kind of lack of due process. I would go to the meeting with an open mind. Refusing to go signals that you are not interested in working out problems in a cooperative way, which is a big problem, I would think, in cooperative housing.
posted by Dasein at 3:33 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I agree that you are being unreasonable. Go, find out what the concerns are, then address them rationally and calmly. It might be easier for you to stay calm if the meeting is small, so I agree with the other folk above who suggest requesting a small meeting. Once you know what the issue is, do what you can to make the situation better (even if it isn't your fault-- fault is not so important).

Then, afterwards (say a month or at least two weeks later), if you have concerns about how the conflict was dealt with (anonymity, etc), you can bring your concerns up-- but only when you are not actively involved in a conflict. Otherwise, frankly it makes you seem like a big whiner who wants the rules changed just for you.
posted by nat at 3:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So some of this sounds like standard-issue co-op bullshit to me. That said, standard-issue co-op bullshit is powerful stuff, and if it doesn't look like you're playing the game, it's going to make life difficult for you in this community. So yes, on the one hand, you ARE sort of being blind-sided and it feels awful. On the other hand, you tacitly or explicitly agreed to this conflict resolution model when you moved into this community, so I think you need to go with it and raise concerns about how it feels to be approached in such a way later, at a time that is separate from whatever the issues at hand are. Saying so now just looks like you're blocking the process from taking place.

Signed,
3.5 years of co-operative living gave me a reflexive distrust of anyone who describes themselves as a "non-violent communicator."
posted by liketitanic at 3:56 PM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, I am not assuming this is co-housing or apartments. I'm assuming this is a large shared home in a student community. OP may or may not be a student.
posted by liketitanic at 3:58 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Contrary to the budding pile-on, I don't think you're being unreasonable. This sounds disturbing. "Conflict resolution committee" is a phrase Stalin or Mao would be proud of, and "concerned about some of your behavior" is a supreme asshole phrasing- they're pretending to be "concerned" about you while actually tattling on you for apparently not having done anything. Oh except you "made them uncomfortable" which, unless you're leaving out something major, points to it being 100% their problem.

All that said, if this is the living situation you're in and this is the way they run things, you might have less trouble in the future if you just play along.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:01 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the proposed meeting is just you and someone or some people from the CRC, that does sound fair, like it's a reasonable, information-gathering step.

Details aside, I assume everyone signed some sort of agreement when they moved in; if so and it details what happens when one resident has a concern about another, hard to see how it serves your best interests to not comply with whatever it says.
posted by ambient2 at 4:02 PM on October 30, 2011


Having lived in many cooperative environments over the course of my life, I think you are being unreasonable, and not very cooperatively-minded. I happen to prefer anarchist settings myself, as I am not a big fan of this kind of thing, although I respect it. But this kind of thing is perfectly normal in coops, and I assume the system evolved as a response to past events/particular personalities/conscious choices. To come in and assert your distaste as trumping this process sounds very antithetical to cooperative living. Also, there is probably a detailed decision-making structure in place. If you are that bothered by it, I would assume you could always pursue those avenues for future change.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:09 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's likely that this is a silly thing that even the committee will be embarrassed to bring up. But it's the process. You go, you listen, you say, "Hm. I hadn't realized I was doing that. I'll keep that in mind." Done. Note that you don't have to admit you were wrong or say that you'll never do it again, whatever it was.

Ideally, then, you keep that in mind and everyone, including the original complainer, is happy.

I'm not sure what you get out of refusing. While not quite an admission of guilt, it kind of gives you the reputation that you don't care what everyone else thinks. That's not the impression you want to give in a community.

Worst case, if you go, you have to roll your eyes and say "whatever, ok noted" and it's recorded on your file that you were talked to and the issue resolved. The complainer is happy, and the whole thing never comes up again. If you refuse, that's ammo for someone that doesn't like you to use against you later. Not only did you do [this thing], but you're unwilling to cooperate with any kind of resolution. That will look a lot worse later if these kinds of things keep coming up. And if the complainer doesn't feel some kind of resolution, they will keep finding reasons to complain, so these things WILL keep coming up.
posted by ctmf at 4:11 PM on October 30, 2011


I think you should go, but bring an advocate, ideally a close friend who you know can keep a clear head. Someone who can be on your side, but also someone who can sound super calm and reasonable about it even if someone else says something rude.
posted by anaelith at 4:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


To sound really cynical after years in co-op housing, the worst thing you can do is refuse the meeting. You just proved yourself "uncooperative". While I'm not with DrJimmy about this being Stalinist, the fact of the matter is that living with people is Hard, and this is a process that's set up to make the inevitable conflicts a little easier. Trust me, I wish we'd had something like that for the co-op that was practically destroyed by an intra-house lawsuit.

So, yeah, it sucks. But talk to the person. Tell them you were feeling defensive. Listen to what they have to say. Try not to take your defensiveness out on them. Move on as best you can.
posted by ldthomps at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2011


This is why I don't really like co-op living.

But you are in a co-op. So...you have to go.
posted by sully75 at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2011


It's interesting that you choose to speak on Metafilter anonymously, yet you don't want the other tenant in your complex to remain anonymous. Doesn't this contradict your desires?

People prefer anonymity for they same reasons you probably do-- to avoid being identified or targeted. Just let it go.
posted by nikkorizz at 6:27 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think you might be getting too caught up in the fact that the process makes you uncomfortable, and the situation being kind of embarrassing, that you are overlooking the possible positive outcome (that you can live peacefully in your community).

It often feels embarrassing when some third person comes to you and tells you that they are approaching you because there is some problem between you and another party. And it's easy, rather than to consider the validity of the problem, to focus your anger/identify the problem as the other party. This is where the, "why wasn't x adult enough to address me themselves?" language comes in, as IF the default for many of us is to respond to someone pointing out that we are doing something unpleasant is with civility and circumspection.

You saying that you didn't want to meet with the committee gives whomever had a problem with you more evidence about how you respond to someone raising an issue with you - you're not so much curious as imagining the worst case scenario (some sort of star chamber-ambush thingy), and putting up a wall. There's no way to even suggest this without it seeming harsh, but here is is: perhaps the way you're responding now, like you're being ambushed, is why those folks didn't feel that they could address you directly.

Also, if you're right, and it is that you were sharing/oversharing some personal issues with one (or it sounds like a couple) of people, there is a possibility that those people felt that they had tried to stop you, and failed, so this is their next step. So don't assume that they didn't try to address the issue with you first, even by ending the conversation, or trying to change the topic, etc. It is possible that if it is the personal issues thingy, that you knew you were oversharing while you were doing it?

In the end, whether you like how you're being told, or agree with it, this process is a chance for you to learn something about how you relate to people, or how people perceive you (regardless of what you intended, since whatever your intentions were in sharing personal info - if that's what it is - wasn't to get people to start thinking of you as a problem). And yes, whoever complained might be a conflict avoider, but wouldn't you rather know, one way or the other, if someone is having a problem with you? Because the alternative - once again assuming you're right - to this committee isn't the option that whomever you were speaking to stops seeing your behavior as a problem. The alternative to this committee is that you keep talking to people, failing to realize that they see some of your behavior as a problem. It's the interpersonal equivalent of walking around with spinach in your teeth - you're 'that guy/girl', and no one is telling you.

It doesn't sound like you have to agree with concerns raised by the committee, or justify your behavior. You just have to go and listen. You can listen, thank the committee for sharing the information, and say that you need to think about the information just shared with you. (In case you're the type of person who isn't good at responding immediately). Then consider if it's true, and work with the committee, or figure out yourself what, if anything, you want to do about it.

So, TL:DR
Someone from the committee contacted you saying they wanted to talk about some concerns about some people feeling uncomfortable by your behavior: may feel like an ambush, but not an ambush.

A committee sending you a message that multiple people have complained about you, and expressly telling you that you need to come explain yourself, and failure to do so will result in your being booted out of the co-op: ambush.

So, try to go into the meeting with the idea that others are acting in good faith, until you have actual proof that they are not. If you're worried, just ask the committee member what the process is - be curious! If they are not acting in good faith during the meeting, you can probably at any moment say that you're not confident that the committee is acting in good faith, and ask the pospone any further discussion until you have an advocate in the room. But don't give in to your feelings that it will be less of a conversation and more a list of complaints. Those are just feelings, with no evidence of fact. Refraining from letting those feelings dominate without will stop you from wasting your mental energy and wellbeing on fighting the demons populating all of your worst case scenarios, but may not actually exist.
posted by anitanita at 6:39 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe the complainer wants to be anonymous, but there should not be a default power differential between the accuser and the accused. This sounds like it's a hair away from that, though. In the criminal and civil justice systems a defendant has the right to see their accuser, and you're worried that you'll be de facto convicted by the co-op committee without a similar affordance.

Please request everything in writing: the summons, including any information on the cause (or refusal to provide you information on the cause). Go to the meeting and take copious notes. Ask if you can bring an impartial observer who will also take notes. If not, document the committee's refusal.

Be calm at the meeting. Establish what the complaints are and what you are being asked to do differently. Ask for precise details. Ask for citations of co-op rules. If they ask you to do something without justifying the request, dig in to understand their rationale. Don't agree to anything unless it is specific, actionable and measurable. If they want you to agree to change something, look for common ground that is specific, actionable and measurable. If you agree to a squishy "don't talk about your personal life" demand, for example, you'll be forever paranoid when talking to any of your neighbors, which is unfair and awful. The co-op board needs to be specific - "Some residents are uncomfortable hearing about your your second cousin's stray purple moustache hairs".

After the meeting, send a summary of the proceedings and any specific, actionable, measurable agreed-upon changes. In your summary, state that if the co-op board has anything to add, they should respond in writing. Otherwise you will proceed according to the agreed-upon plan. Bcc: your impartial friend so that you have an independent record of the mail you sent.

All that said, a non-confrontational approach is best - you can be subtle about the note-taking and followup. Maybe there is a simple misunderstanding that can be easily resolved and won't require followup. But if this is (as I suspect) a buddy of the co-op board using the process to air a personal butthurt, you need to pin them down on specifics.

Chummy co-op boards hate accountability. Expect some hostility if they recognize that you intend to hold them accountable. Keep your cool, nail down the specifics, ask them to cite chapter and verse where you've broken co-op rules and document everything. Also, try to learn which residents deserve the cold shoulder from now on. If your sin is minor and the complainer is protected by the board, assume that they'll all be out for your blood going forward.

IANAL, just someone with experience dealing with passive aggressive power structures. Especially hippies who run co-ops, festivals, art collectives or just about anything else. (Totally agree with liketitanic about non-violent communicators. Those who are don't trumpet it. Those who are passive aggressive love to claim the term.)
posted by SakuraK at 7:15 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anon, can you update through a mod to tell us what KIND of co-op you live in? It appears to make a difference in the answers.
posted by liketitanic at 7:37 PM on October 30, 2011


From the OP:
I'm anonymous because those who know the situation could easily identify me, and I don't want them to know my identity on MeFi. I would like my MeFi handle to be completely separate from IRL me so I can be completely honest here.

To answer some other questions:

This is more of a students, living in houses co-op as opposed to an apartment co-op.

I'm not opposed to meeting in general, but I would like to know what this is about before meeting so I have some time to think about it, and figure out how I feel. ESPECIALLY if it's an emotionally charged topic. Depending on what it is, I may then be ok with meeting or not.

I have asked them to put it in writing and email me, but they specifically don't want to do this, and prefer to talk in person. They seem set on doing it in person. To be clear, just me and another guy.

I don't really have anyone who could be an advocate.

There is no formal language about exactly what meetings I would have to go to or not. But hypothetically this could be escalated into something more serious.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:04 PM on October 30, 2011


Hm. I don't think you're unreasonable in wanting to know more about what's going on, but it sounds like the meeting— just you and another guy— is how you find that out. I think you should go and allow them to tell you as much as they're willing to tell you. Explain how being kept in the dark makes you feel uncomfortable, but keep an open mind; see how things feel after you've talked to the conflict resolution person. If they're actually doing their job, they'll listen to your concerns.
posted by hattifattener at 10:15 PM on October 30, 2011


I have an issue wth the anonymous thing, but I think you shouldvtake the meeting. I would go, listen, do very little talking, and tell them thank you for the "heads up" and you really want time to think about the situation and any response, if they ask for one.

Information is power. They want to give it to you. Take it and delay any response until you have time to dwell on it and be prepared. Make no promises or commitments beyond agreeing to consider the matter. I would also take notes at the meeting so you do not miss anything or let your emotions win out. I would even ask if you could record it in a friendly manner so you can get the important part of what they are saying. I doubt they will agree though.

Even if your eventual response is that you don't respond to anonymous complaints, you are better off meeting and hearing what they say.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:51 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


You seem to be assuming this is a meeting to resolve a problem and that therefore it is inherently unfair to expect you to walk in and resolve a problem if you don't know what the problem is in advance. It is fairly clear this is a meeting to advise you of a problem; the point if the meeting is exactly what you want - to let you know what the issue is.

Do you have anxiety issues that could be contributing to your concerns about this? Because genuinely, if this is you and another guy, this is not you being hauled into a committee of people in what passes for some sort of Stalinist trial. There's a problem. A guy wants to alert you to the details of that. Go and get the information you need to make your and your neighbour's living situation better.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:17 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your reaction to this sort of gives some indication.. you're being defensive and emotional. The process (conflict resolution) seems to be set up so people can lodge issues anonymously so they don't feel scared to do so. Yes, that cuts both ways in that the accused now has the burden of proof, versus the complainer, but that's life.

You are making a big deal out of things immediately. Have the meeting. If it's a big deal, write an email/letter yourself after the meeting to document. DON'T react/get defensive during the meeting.

Think about what the complaint is. Are your personal problems you talk about inclusive of behaviors issues? (drinking, drugs, sex, violence)

Some people are very conservative and can react very negatively towards any mention of such behavior.
posted by rich at 6:10 AM on October 31, 2011


From the OP:
There will be a meeting tonight, and if anyone wants a final update after that i can give one.

here's the issue:

"... handful of female ... are uncomfortable with sexual solicitation on your part."

i know that sounds really bad, and i don't have the time/space to give my side of the story. i can assure you it isn't that bad. i'm pretty sure i know which people/incidents this is about. i think this is a case of "i don't know how to act around a guy i turned down". but we will see, stay tuned ...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:14 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I can assure you that you have no idea "how bad" (meaning how threatened/uncomfortable) a woman that you "solicited" thinks the situation is.
posted by Pax at 12:32 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that's not too say the complaint itself has merit. But if you stonewall the process, it's not going to go well for you.
posted by Pax at 12:34 PM on October 31, 2011


I have a really concrete suggestion: send this email or one very much like it to your Conflict Resolution Dude. Then, do exactly what the email describes. I think this will help to contain your anxiety and ratchet down your defensiveness; it will send a clear signal that you are willing and able to solve this conflict; and it will also help to protect you given that you don't have an advocate. Send it today, before the meeting, and be very very open to any small changes that Conflict Resolution Dude proposes.

Hi [Conflict Resolution Dude],

In advance of our meeting tonight, I just wanted to touch base and make sure we have similar expectations about we will accomplish at this particular meeting.

This seems like a pretty sensitive issue, both for me and for others. I know myself well enough to know that I am not always at my best when I am responding off-the-cuff. In the interests of resolving this conflict effectively, I'd like to make sure I have the opportunity to (first) fully understand the issue, (second) think it through carefully, and (third) respond thoughtfully and constructively.

So, I'd like to propose that we set the following expectations for this meeting tonight:

- I will be there to understand the issue you're raising. I will listen, ask questions, and probably take some notes.
- You will be there to explain to me as clearly as possible what the issue is, and whether the complainant(s) have any specific requests or expectations for my behavior going forward.
- Tonight, I will NOT be disagreeing or disputing with you. Even if I disagree, I will just use this time to listen carefully and ask clarifying questions. My listening will not imply that I agree or disagree; tonight, I am just there to understand the issue.
- Tonight, we will NOT make any decisions on next actions; instead, we will set a second meeting within the next week to talk through any differences and make determinations about next actions.

Does this plan work for you? I think that this will give me the best chance of understanding the issue and responding constructively, and I hope that this will give us the best possible chance of resolving this conflict to everyone's satisfaction.

Please let me know if you have any concerns about this plan, and if you'd like to set that second meeting time for follow-up.

Thank you,
[You]
posted by ourobouros at 12:41 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I first read your question, I wondered if the complainants were female and if their complaints were regarding unwanted sexual advances. This is not to accuse you of being a pervert. I'm not saying you're guilty. However, I do hope this helps you to understand why complaints of this nature are usually kept anonymous by the committee until they've at least had a chance to talk it over with you in person.

When I lived in co-ed student housing, I filed a complaint against a male resident who took my polite friendliness as an invitation to make aggressive advances toward me. Due to his previous failures to take "NO" for an answer and respect my boundaries, I did not consider privately hashing it out with him to be a safe option. I asked to remain anonymous, but was warned that he'd likely figure out my identity once given the details of my complaint. It might be a stretch to say that the subject of my complaint threatened my physical safety, but his idea of "resolving" the conflict? Cornering me in the back of the kitchen with a large knife in his hand, and angrily berating me for getting him in trouble with the residence authorities.

Again, this is not to say that I'm judging you as guilty. I agree with you that it's not fair for a conflict-resolution process to be biased in favor of protecting the complainants. But try to understand that when it appears a complainant's safety may be at risk, it's not quite so unreasonable for procedural fairness to take a slight backseat. It's not like you're being charged with a crime or sued in a court of law. You're going to get a chance to tell your side of the story. You already have a good idea of who the complainants are, and you'll probably be pretty darn certain once you've finished the meeting. What else do you stand to gain from insisting on your right to face down your accusers?
posted by keep it under cover at 3:43 AM on November 1, 2011


From the OP:
The meeting happened ... it was OK, I guess. Pretty much what I expected. He didn't seem satisfied though, so this isn't over for me. Despite what they said this wasn't just informal discussion, he was expecting a certain level of repentance, and I didn't fulfill his expectations. Thanks for all the advice.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2011


As a former co-oper, I will say that I only ever responded to unabashedly overt interest from others precisely because I saw so much of this sort of thing happen (both justified and unjustified). I limited actively approaching women I was interested in to campus and other venues (where I didn't live or work).

Is this a perfect solution? no. But it worked for me and perhaps you should consider it.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 10:35 AM on November 2, 2011


« Older Kamado cookers - worth it or not?   |   Please stop screaming and do something Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.