The mission of Shantideva Center (SC) is to serve all sentient beings by sharing the Buddhadharma as we strive to achieve liberation and enlightenment. As a spiritual home with equal compassion for all, our center cultivates mutual respect among students, teachers, facilitators, volunteers, and guests. All teachers, facilitators, and leadership staff of Shantideva Center have formally agreed to abide by the FPMT Ethical Policy. The SC Code of Conduct codifies our expectations of students, volunteers, and visitors at the center. Our Non-Discrimination Policy establishes our commitment to be of equal service to all. The grievance procedure described here is offered as a mechanism for students and volunteers to address concerns regarding the conduct of other students, volunteers, teachers, leadership, or center policies. These procedures seek to create a path to resolution consistent with our core values of non-harm, compassion, and accountability.
A healthy community is one in which differing views are a source of learning and growth rather than the root of conflict. When working together, it is normal for disagreements to arise. This affords us the opportunity to open our hearts and minds to finding effective, responsible, and compassionate resolutions for interpersonal tensions in ways that are most beneficial to the community. With a Buddhist mindset of equanimity, conflict resolution does not ascribe blame, guilt, or seek to label offenders and victims, but instead takes into account the suffering of everyone involved. Forums of conflict resolution are safe zones in which everyone may speak honestly about their experiences and feelings. Respectful dialogue is an essential path to understanding.
The SC Grievance Procedure comprises two tiers:
- Informal Conflict Resolution
In many cases, conflict arises from misunderstanding or miscommunication. With this in mind, members of the SC community are strongly encouraged to resolve, to the fullest extent possible, conflicts and disputes directly with each other. Seeking guidance from a senior student or a member of the Grievance Council are two good options in seeking informal resolution. If sincere attempts at informal resolution have been exhausted, or if the nature of the situation is such that informal resolution is inappropriate, a formal resolution process may be needed.
- Opening a Formal Complaint with the SC Grievance Council
The Grievance Council is comprised of the Director, Assistant Director, Spiritual Program Coordinator, and two senior students respected for their integrity, wisdom, and compassion. They are available to anyone with ethical concerns or seeking guidance in resolving a conflict. An informal discussion with a member of the Grievance Council is strongly advised before opening a formal grievance procedure. The first responsibility of the Grievance Council is to offer support in resolving conflicts informally. All communications with members of the Grievance Council are held in strict confidence among members of the council.
The following steps outline the formal grievance process:
A. A formal grievance procedure is initiated by submitting a letter of request to the Grievance Council. The letter must include:
1.) A statement that a formal grievance procedure is requested.
2.) The name of the person(s) whose behavior the complaint involves.
3.) A detailed description of the alleged behavior so the Grievance Council can decide whether initiating a formal grievance procedure is appropriate.
4.) A history of attempt(s), if any, to resolve the complaint through other means.
5.) A general statement about the resolution desired.
B. Evaluating the Concern
Within two weeks, the Grievance Council will review the concern. All parties will be notified in writing of the matter under review and whether the concern is deemed appropriate for a formal grievance process.
C. Accepting or Rejecting the Concern
Having reviewed the concern, the Grievance Council will notify all parties in writing whether the matter merits further investigation.
D. Investigating the Concern
A closed meeting will be scheduled in which the Grievance Council will welcome all parties to present their understanding of the concern. The Grievance Council may ask questions of all parties, request additional information, and request other community members for pertinent information. All parties will have a full and fair opportunity to review and respond to all information (oral, written, or other). The Grievance Council will document the proceedings and hold that documentation in perpetuity. This documentation will be held confidentially unless a court of law requires full disclosure.
When the Grievance Council is satisfied that it has been adequately informed, it will review and discuss the concern and information collected. At its discretion, the Grievance Council may seek non-binding advice from the FPMT or legal counsel. The decision of the Grievance Council on the disposition of the concern and any further steps required should be reached by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, majority and minority decisions will be recorded. Within two weeks of the decision, all parties will be notified in writing of the decision, which will also be formally transmitted to the Board of Directors if the decision requires legal action or has any possible legal implications or ramifications for Shantideva Center.