WIT Code of Conduct

This code is designed to work in tandem with WIT’s Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Prevention policy. 

 

Improv and Community

Washington Improv Theater has a strong commitment to creating an educational environment that serves students and an artistic environment that serves artists by providing a safe place to study, grow, and practice our craft. 

Many positive friendships and relationships – even marriages – have grown out of the WIT community. We celebrate that, and this code of conduct is not meant to discourage connection, which is part of what makes WIT a warm and welcoming community. 

However, those in a position of authority or heightened visibility (staff members, teachers and teaching assistants, directors and coaches, performers, workshop facilitators, board members) must thoughtfully consider the real and perceived power dynamic involved in any interaction with members of the WIT community. The guidelines in this code of conduct are intended to help everyone do just that.

 

Washington Improv Theater strives to maintain:

An environment free from predatory and exploitative behavior. These policies are designed to challenge and prevent such behavior. 

Objective and impartial class promotion, hiring, and performer casting. These policies are also intended to illuminate and help us avoid allowing personal biases (positive or negative) to affect class advancement, workshop hiring, job hiring, or performer casting. 

Direct communication. If someone’s conduct seems or feels inappropriate to you, say something to them. The sooner the better. If you feel you cannot say anything to them, find someone at WIT you feel you can speak with. The sooner the better. 

Each interaction we have builds not only this community, but our personal reputations. Beyond the strict dos, don’ts, and consequences of the policies below, common courtesy, direct communication, and thoughtful consideration can go a long way in keeping our community and our reputation strong. 

Washington Improv Theater expects its staff members, teachers, coaches and directors, players, and board members to demonstrate mature judgment, ethical and honest behavior, and to represent WIT as a role model both in the classroom, on stage, and in social situations throughout the larger community. 

A culture without retaliation. Encouraging people to raise concerns is important for a transparent and healthy culture. No one will suffer punitive effects from raising a concern at WIT.

In support of this, the following policies have been put in place.

 

Instructors and Facilitators:

  • Do not engage in a sexual or romantic relationship with a student currently enrolled in a class, workshop, or training session. This includes flirting and/or asking students while class is ongoing to explore a romantic relationship after the class is over. 
  • If an instructor or teaching assistant has or begins a relationship with a student not enrolled in his or her class, they must inform the Education Director and Artistic/Executive Director as soon as possible. (This includes a relationship that began before the class started.)
  • If a student takes a class taught by an instructor with whom they are or were in a relationship, that relationship must be disclosed by the instructor to the Artistic/Executive Director and Education Director. If the relationship is current, it must be disclosed to the class on the first day for transparency purposes. If the relationship has ended, disclosure to the class is not mandatory.
  • Previous mutual consent to the relationship does not prevent the instructor from being charged with sexual harassment later.
  • Consequences for violating these policies: WIT will not renew the contract of instructors who violate these rules. Furthermore, WIT reserves the right to terminate a contract and/or replace a teacher or teaching assistant mid-class. WIT reserves the right to take disciplinary action at its discretion regardless of circumstance. If illegal behavior is reported, WIT may be obligated to report the incident to law enforcement.

 

Coaches and Directors:

  • Do not commence a sexual or romantic relationship with a player, or assistant coach/director, or co-director on a team you coach or direct.
  • If there is a pre-existing relationship, or if one develops, both parties are responsible for disclosing their relationship to the Artistic/Executive Director and to the cast or team as soon as possible. 
  • Any past relationships with players, or relationships that were started before the beginning of rehearsals, must be disclosed to the Artistic/Executive Director and to the cast or team.
  • Anyone participating in the audition panel process who has had a sexual or romantic relationship with a player auditioning must recuse themselves from the discussion of that player (you need not disclose why).
  • Friendships or previous/current artistic collaborations must be disclosed by those on audition panels as well, but recusal is not necessary.
  • WIT reserves the right to take disciplinary action at its discretion, which could include removal from coaching, teaching, and/or performing roles.

 

Players:

  • Romantic or sexual relationships between performers on the same ensemble or cast are discouraged. 
  • Anyone participating in the audition panel process who has had a sexual or romantic relationship with a player who is auditioning must recuse themselves from the discussion of that player (you need not say why). 
  • WIT reserves the right to take disciplinary action at its discretion.

 

Staff Members:

  • Staff members are discouraged from engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with other staff members, interns, other contractual employees (e.g. teachers, teaching assistants, workshop facilitators, coaches), students, WIT Board members, Improv For All workshop participants, WIT@Work client contacts and client participants, and/or volunteers.
  • Avoid any behavior or language that could be interpreted as sexual harassment, especially when in one-on-one situations. 
  • Any such relationship must be reported to WIT’s Executive Board members (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary), and the Artistic/Executive Director.
  • WIT reserves the right to take disciplinary action at its discretion.

 

Board Members:

  • Board members are strongly discouraged from engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with staff members, teachers, performers, students, volunteers, or contractual personnel.
  • Any such relationship must be reported to WIT’s Executive Board members (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary) and the Artistic/Executive Director. 
  • WIT reserves the right to take disciplinary action at its discretion.

 

Reporting

  • Do not assume that WIT is aware of the situation.
  • Anonymous submissions can be submitted through THIS FORM
  • If you have any concerns about any potential policy violations, please bring them to WIT’s attention.

 

How WIT Handles Complaints

  1. WIT will attempt to talk to the complaint filer and reach out discreetly, with their permission, to others who may be involved to gather information. If the complaint alleges illegal activity, we will urge the complaint filer to contact the authorities (we will not contact the authorities on their behalf). If the complaint is anonymous, we will be unable to get further details.
  2. WIT will invite the person named to have a private discussion. For teachers this will happen with the Artistic Director, Education Director, and a third party. For coaches/players/directors this will happen with the Artistic Director and a third party. Requests made by the filer of the complaint will be considered. At this meeting we will share what we have heard and will ask the individual to share their account.
  3. We will clarify the official WIT policies, discuss possible violation/s by the named person, and ensure they understand the policies in full.
  4. After the meeting, we will explain to the named person what formal decisions and/or consequences there will be for them at WIT. We will discuss possible steps they might consider going forward, including, but not limited to, apologizing, training, and behavior modification. In severe cases, termination may be warranted.
  5. For WIT’s records, we will document this conversation and will share documentation with all present, always including the person who lodged the complaint. This documentation may include an action plan for WIT and for the named party which will require sign-off by all present.

 

Anti-Retaliation Policy

WIT seeks to encourage disclosure and discussion without penalty for the person who raises an issue or alleges misconduct. Accordingly, if someone named in a complaint retaliates or attempts to communicate with the complaint filer in any way after an alleged incident, WIT reserves the right to take whatever actions it deems necessary.

 

If you have questions or concerns regarding anything in this Code of Conduct, please reach out to Mark Chalfant, WIT’s Artistic & Executive Director, at mark@witdc.org