Dear SI community,
As many of you may be aware, several allegations of incidents of a both sexual and non-consensual nature have been made about events at OMD cons in the recent past. While there are no allegations of such activities at SI, it is still deeply troubling to the youth leaders of the district that such an event might have occurred.
These allegations led to OMD staff and the SI youth panel to proactively evaluate our policies and our troubling conclusion is this: our current SI policies are not adequate, especially to legally protect us and the district in a sufficient manner.
In changing our policies, we were aware that many changes would be unpopular, and that sacrifices would have to be made. However, we consider this secondary to ensuring the viability and survivability of the youth program by returning responsibility for youth safety to parents.
Our primary change will be to the youth dorm. A dorm that contains mostly youth with a few supervising adults isn’t an option any more, sad as it is. Moving forward (and starting this year) we will have a dorm that is “youth focused” where we will try to house as many youth and their sponsors as wish to be there. Under this new housing change, youth will have to be in the same dorm as their sponsor, no matter what dorm that may be. In doing this we hope to make parents/sponsors the primary enforcing mechanism, rather than the SIYP. This means that we will no longer be requiring any extra forms for who can be in whose room. As long as the respective sponsors are ok with it, youth can sleep in any room they desire, even a room in a different dorm. Note that this does not change the 12 a.m. curfew for youth.
We understand that this will cut down on the amount of socializing youth can do at night. In an attempt to fix this, we will be designating a large lounge in the youth focused dorm (exact location to be determined) as a youth hang-out area. From 12am-4am this will be an area for senior high youth to hang out as they might have done in a lounge of the youth dorm in years past. This area will be supervised by night angels, both youth and adult. Outside of this area, supervision will fall to the sponsors. At 2am and at 4am, we will have the night angels ending their shift escort youth back to dorms. Sponsors can, of course, pick their youth up at times other than those if they so choose.
We realize that this is not a perfect system, nor is it intended to be. These changes were born out of necessity. Needless to say we will be tracking these changes very carefully but we believe this is a good step forward.
Please also know this isn’t the only action we are taking to ensure a healthy community. We understand that ongoing conversations about consent, boundaries, and personal responsibility must always be part of youth programing.
Lastly, please don’t hesitate to contact the youth co-chairs (Nikki Hurlbut and I) if you have any questions or concerns. We understand this will be a difficult transition, especially given the change in location that has already occurred, and we are committed to making this as open a process as possible. We believe our community will adapt, remain strong and preserve our essence by coming together in trust and love.
Dalin Frantz, youth co-chair of SIYP
On behalf of the Summer Institute Youth Panel