(Ratified: September 21, 2020)
The Che Café Policy on Brave Spaces and Community Accountability
*This document must be acknowledged by artists before they play at the Che Café.*
This document may also be accessed by the public.
The Che Café is dedicated to the safety and well-being of all members, visitors and volunteers. Quoted below is our current policy:
This is a Brave Space.
Regardless of your race, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, faith, creed, abilities, or background, you will receive the respect you deserve. Remember that your words have power. If you are made uncomfortable by a fellow attendee's words or actions, please inform a volunteer. Homophobic, sexist, racist, or transphobic language will not be tolerated in this space, nor will physical violence. Respect each other, respect this space.
This is the ideal that the Che Café strives to achieve, but as a social and event space, as well as a learning/teaching space, the Che Café also acknowledges that: “a safe space is never actually safe” and that “ambiguity around the term safety” may make it “impossible to clearly define what this means” . Brave spaces, as described in the NASPA Policy in our resources, more adequately describe the space and our commitment to the well-being of people in our space and community. Because of this ambiguity, this document clarifies the parameters and limits of our ability to maintain a space that is as comfortable as possible, and that seeks to consistently improve and grow from challenge, adversity, and difficult situations.
What does happen here: As this is a performance, learning, and community space, freedom of expression and artistic liberty will be upheld (as long as it is not actively harmful or discriminatory). This means that a performer might say or do things on the stage or interact with the audience in ways that may be uncomfortable for some people (e.g. swearing, mosh pits, etc.). These things sometimes happen in the space, and have a right to happen in the space. By attending the performance or event, you as an individual with agency are “opting in” to an experience that may be uncomfortable or challenging. You can opt out at any time by physically distancing yourself from the event, or by coming to talk to us about it. We are always willing to hear your concerns.
What is not allowed: The Che Café is a sober all ages brave space.
Sober: This means there is no smoking or vaping any substance, drinking alcohol, or other drug consumption allowed on the premises. (Note: this is a university campus rule as well as our own). Volunteers will tell you to stop or leave if you are violating the sober space, and you should feel comfortable to ask a volunteer to ask others to stop if you witness drug use on the premises.
All Ages: Minors are allowed access to the space in the same ways as adults. Be aware that there are minors at events and that they are allowed the same respect and dignity as any other person. If any person witnesses a minor in any distress or discomfort, please tell a volunteer immediately. If you are a minor and feel uncomfortable in any way, please tell a volunteer immediately.
Brave Space: Everything included in the above Brave Space policy above is explicitly not allowed in the space. This means that any verbal discrimination or use of slurs is not allowed, even by the performers (unless it is an explicit reclamation of a slur as a political act). Any form of sexual harassment or misconduct is also prohibited, and the offender will be asked to leave. Any form of physical violence, such as fighting or assault, is prohibited and the offenders may be asked to leave. Any dangerous or detrimental actions such as climbing in the rafters or on the roof, destruction of property or self-harm will also be treated very seriously on a case-by-case basis by the volunteers present. *Special note on mosh pits: Mosh pits can lead to bodily injury and this does occur on occasion. By entering a mosh pit during a show you are opting-in to a potentially injurious situation. Please always be aware of your surroundings and stay away from the center of the room if you do not wish to participate in a mosh pit. If you are injured in any way, please come find us and our first aid kit in the kitchen area.
What we will do and how to find us:
If you feel uncomfortable for any reason (listed above or not) please tell us. If you are unsure if something is allowed, and it makes you uncomfortable, it is better to come to us and tell a volunteer about it. At the beginning of each show (and sometimes between sets), volunteers will be identified, and we will all be wearing a volunteer tag around our necks (or an equivalent). Sometimes, it can still be difficult to identify a volunteer. When in doubt, people in the kitchen, sound box, or taking money at the door are almost always volunteers, and will be able to help you with anything you might need.
The Che Café Collective only has the ability to control the space that is the Che Café. If something makes someone uncomfortable in this space, we can deal with that situation when it occurs (see above section). However, because of its status as a community space, it sometimes happens that something happens in the communities that we serve and a part of that needs to be addressed within the space. For instance, sometimes a band or artist who wishes to use the space is dealing with interpersonal conflict or is being accused of harmful or predatory behavior. Sometimes members of the collective are likewise accused. In these cases, the following tenets may help the collective attempt to work through these issues as they arise.
Note: Interpersonal conflict, violence, and trauma is never to be taken lightly or dismissed, especially not through the use of this document. In practice, the collective acknowledges that each instance of conflict/harm is a unique situation, each must be worked through on a case-by-case basis. Nor is this document law, but a declaration of the values that we strive to uphold. The Che Café recognizes that this is an imperfect policy reflecting imperfect situations, and we can only do our best to also learn, grow, and reduce future harm.
The Che Café Collective is not a court of law, and its members are merely members of the community. We are not trained in law, or in mediation of any kind. We are all in favor of fairness, accountability and restorative justice, open and honest communication, and are committed to doing our best to assess every situation. These situations are complex, nuanced, and unique, and as they always involve harm, are very delicate and difficult to navigate effectively. It is also possible, depending on the circumstances, that the collective may decide that the issue is better resolved within the community it originated from. In this case the collective can provide resources to help all parties work through their conflict, such as the contact information of mediators, counsellors or trained individuals.
1. Bodily Autonomy of all individuals: Every conscious being is entitled to bodily autonomy, or the right to make decisions concerning their own body. This means that any situation involving one’s body or person requires consent from all parties. If consent is not established, interpersonal conflict, assault, and harm is the result. Enthusiastic and continuous consent is the ideal, and anything less risks miscommunication, trauma, and harm. The best way to avoid harm and the need to use this document at all is to understand and engage in consensual communicative practices.
2. Understanding the Survivor’s experience: When someone comes to us with a concern, the Che Café will always listen to and support the individual(s) who has been harmed/feels uncomfortable in the space. A goal of our collective is to make people feel comfortable, safe, and supported. Further, all accountability processes should be approved of and suggested by the survivor(s) to ensure Growth and Healing (see 4) . If the survivor is not willing or able to do this directly, alternative avenues can be discussed, such as appointing a representative. Likewise, if the survivor desires anonymity, the Che Café will always respect the wishes of the survivor to the best of our ability. For more on the importance of siding with the survivor, see “Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures.” in resources noted at the end of document.
3. Advocating for Rehabilitation and Reconciliation: Unless explicitly communicated otherwise by the survivor, the Che Café feels that the end result of accountability processes should ideally be for the perpetrator, in whatever way feels best to the survivor, to be accountable, rehabilitated, and reconciled with the survivor and/or the larger community. This is called restorative justice. The remaining tenets only qualify/expand upon our collective’s commitment to the nature of our space as one of accountability, reconciliation, and non-violent conflict resolution (see 7). We know this is not always possible (see 5), but we believe it should always be the ideal.
4. Growth and Healing: The ultimate end of accountability processes should involve accountability on the part of the perpetrator, and healing on the part of the survivor. These are both processes of growth, and can be difficult. Self-reflection is crucial to these processes, and should be central to any attempt to be accountable or to heal. One cannot be accountable without emotional growth, articulation and understanding of harm done, and the passing of time. For more on restorative/transformative justice see “We are all Survivors, We are all Perpetrators // What to do when someone tells you that you violated their boundaries, made them feel uncomfortable, or committed assault.”and “Accounting for Ourselves: Breaking the Impasse Around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes.” in resources below.
5. Net reduction of Harm: As an anti-authoritarian collective dedicated to ideals laid out by Angela Davis and others, our desire as a collective is to resolve conflict while avoiding punitive systems of control wherever possible. Our goal is to create a safe space and reduce harm, primarily for the survivor, but ultimately also for all those involved. According to Paul F Maul, “In speaking about accountability processes, we’re referring to collective efforts to address harm that focus not on punishment or legal “justice” but on keeping people safe and challenging the underlying social patterns and power structures that support abusive behavior.” Therefore, when appropriate as defined by the current collective, we intend to do our best to help facilitate, directly or indirectly, mediation to all parties as necessary to come to an understanding and consensus on the situation as well as how to best reduce net harm.
Note that if the survivor(s)/community make good faith attempts to resolve the situation, but if the perpetrator is unable or unwilling to be accountable and to grow at this juncture (see 6), or by some other set of circumstances a resolution may not be possible, then there is an impasse. Practically speaking, this would mean that a perpetrator of harm is indefinitely not welcome in the space. This should not be considered the default stance of the collective, but a necessary last resort in egregious instances of harm. For more on any of this, see resources below.
6. Accountability: When there is the need for accountability, harm has already been inflicted. As a community we can encourage education and prevention, but once accountability is necessary there can be no undoing of the initial instance(s) of harm. It is the community’s job to ensure that the survivor is supported in the aftermath and help them heal, and it is the perpetrator’s job to be accountable. But what does accountability actually look like? This must be decided on a case-by-case basis, but ultimately, the perpetrator needs to be the one to actively participate in any plan of action, as that in of itself requires self-reflection and a desire to change for the better. Some substantive options include: apology and articulation of harm, education of the perpetrator and the wider community (beginning with the resources below if desired), pooling of resources to invest in the expertise of (collective-approved) trained professionals, fundraising for relevant organizations and raising awareness, mediated communication between affected parties (including clearnesses), and, in extreme cases, sanctions limiting them from the space. Remember that these actions should be weighed and considered in conjunction with what the survivor needs to heal, grow, and move forward as well.
Note: in situations concerning the greater anti-authoritarian community of San Diego/So Cal, the Che Café will stand in solidarity with the decisions made by ideologically aligned groups more closely involved with the harmed parties.
7. Non-Violent Accountability Practices: The history of leftist circles is littered with extrajudicial attempts at accountability, and accountability has taken often the form of violent vigilante actions against perpetrators by the community. This often goes against the wishes of the survivor, and perpetuates authoritarian, punitive, and hypermasculine ideas about justice. Violence or punitive measures, especially internal violence within an affinity group, is not what accountability looks like, and can fragment communities. To side with the perpetrator would be an act of violence against the survivor. To commit violence or impose punishment upon a perpetrator perpetuates a cycle of violence and does not reduce harm. Using the framework outlined in previous points, the Che Café will always work towards the least net harm for the individuals and communities involved through non-violent accountability practices.
Note on language: In this document, the terms survivor and perpetrator have been used to describe someone who has been harmed, and someone who has committed harm. These terms are inadequate to describe many situations, and come from a society that is not only complicit with rape culture, but also one that is not dedicated to restorative justice: “This language creates categorizations of people rather than descriptions of their behavior, reducing an individual to an action.” These terms are only used here because they are widely-known and in popular usage. The black and white survivor/perpetrator dichotomy can in fact hinder the restorative accountability process, making accountability more about punishment and blame, and making any communication a futile attempt to uncover ‘truth.’ This is a misuse of the restorative process and must be always in consideration as long as ours is a collective that believes in accountability and restorative justice.  This is a living document and will reflect amendments and changes as they occur in the future.
The Che Café
(All accessible as of September 3, 2018)
Ali, Diana. “Safe Spaces and Brave Spaces: Historical Context and Recommendations for Student Affairs Professionals.” NASPA Policy and Practices Series, October 2017. At https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/Policy_and_Practice_No_2_Safe_Brave_Spaces.pdf.
Augusta-Scott, Tod. “As If They Were Human: A Different Take on Perpetrator Accountability.” 2010. https://www.transformativejustice.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/augusta-scott-comp-zine-imposed.pdf.
CrimethInc., pfm. “Accounting for Ourselves: Breaking the Impasse Around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes.” At https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/crimethinc-pfm-accounting-for-ourselves.
CrimethInc., pfm. “We are all Survivors, We are all Perpetrators // What to do when someone tells you that you violated their boundaries, made them feel uncomfortable, or committed assault.” At https://ia802305.us.archive.org/0/items/WeAreAllSurvivorsWeAreAllPerpetratorsWhatToDoWhen/we_are_all_survivors-screen.pdf
Surprise Party Collective. “I Owe You Nothing: A Zine About Consent.” At https://surpriseparty.blog/84-2/.
Words to Fire Press. “Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures.” At https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/words-to-fire-press-betrayal.
 For instance, “oppressed students are unlikely to experience truly risk-free spaces, even within the confines of resource centers, on friendly campuses, or in the most inclusive classrooms… identified ambiguity around the term safety…argue[s] that it may be impossible to clearly define what this means in the classroom.” For more information see NASPA in resources.
 “For men who are supporting a survivor, however, it is absolutely essential that you put aside your desires for masculine retribution and interrupt the cycle of male violence… It is not your responsibility, or right, to come in vigilante-style and take matters into your own hands.” See CrimeThInc.
 “We must make it safe enough to come out as an assaulter, so that each of us is able to address, openly, honestly, and without fear, everything from the most minor acts of inconsideration to the most serious boundary violations.” For more on this problem, see Crimethinc.'s “We are all survivors, we are all perpetrators.”