[THANKS TO CELESTE FOR CREATING THESE MINUTES!]
Everyone in the group went around saying their name and their preferred pronoun usage (ex. she/her). Each time another member arrived we halted the meeting to reintroduce ourselves. There were 3 introductions in total.
A member of the mediation group was introduced to WOW and offered her assistance in the event of any internal conflicts. She explained that she would help facilitate non-violent communication in a multi-biased approach. This presence was in response to a history of conflict that the members of WOW were having internally. She notified us that should her services be needed, we could contact her.
at no point in the following meeting were her services required.
The faciliator then recapped the ground rules for discussion forms that had already been consensed upon in the group.
1. No mic checks are allowed in atrium
2. We will use a progressive stack
The facilitor explained that the purpose of the meeting was to go over and come to consensus on a drafted WOW registration form that we must present to the Spokes Council in order to be admitted into it. The following topics pertain to information on the registration form:
I. Topic one was what the name of the group should be. The name WOW, women occupying wall street, was voted on, and the group consensed to continue being called WOW. There had been previous discussion about changing the name of the group to WFBI or WBI.
II. We then proceeded to agreeing on whether the shared experience of the people in our caucus was “patriarchal oppression”. One member disagreed with the term “patriarchal oppression” because she felt that women were also oppressed by other women, particularly high economic class women. After discussion, the group agreed to change the phrasing to say “gender based oppression”.
III. Under the registration question: “How does your group actively try to include the voices of people who are marginalized by larger society?” the proposed response was a paragraph long. The group then discussed how to come to consensus as to the information in that paragraph. The choices were (a) to agree on it as a whole, (b) to go line by line and agree on each line, or (c) to read the paragraph outloud and then if there is a problem, go through line by line. The group consensed on choice (c).
IV. All the sentences were consensed upon immediately with the exception of the sentence “To maximize inclusion we welcome female-identified, non-male identified, and patriarchy-oppressed people who feel they have a place in women’s spaces.” There were several objections to this sentence.
a. One concern was whether or not this language would allow a male bodied person who was transgender but pre-operation and still identified as male to be a part of the group.
Note. A “male bodied person” is a person that occupies or has male genitalia. A transgender person is a person who identifies or feels that their personality is one of the opposite gender to which they are born. Many transgender people go under a surgery which conforms their appearance to the gender of their personality. At that point, a male to female transgender person would be post operative and female bodied.
While it was agreed that this was a concern, there was never any decision made on how to address it.
b. Another main concern of the group was whether this language was inclusive of men. This discussion point occupied the majority of the time of the meeting.
Many members were confused as to whether men were to be allowed into the group. By definition, the Caucus is only allowed to be members of a minority. Therefore, if men were included, then the group might be considered too inclusive to qualify as a caucus.
There was never any agreement on whether or not the document, as read, includes men.
One member wanted to change the wording of the sentence to include men. Her proposal would change the sentence from “To maximize inclusion we welcome female-identified, non-male identified, and patriarchy-oppressed people who feel they have a place in women’s spaces.” To ”To maximize inclusion we welcome female-identified, non-male identified, and/or patriarchy-oppressed people who feel they have a place in women’s spaces.” She asserted that if the sentence was examined in a legal context, it would mean that a person must fall under all three criteria to be included.
A different member of the group objected to looking at the document through a legal analysis because she stated that the legal system was patriarchal. Several other members agreed with her.
One member made of point of process that the member proposing to have the language changed wasn’t actually trying to change one sentence, but to radically change an already agreed upon principle of the group. The proposing member acknowledged that she was trying to radically change the principle of the group via changing the sentence. She still wanted to change the sentence.
At that point there was a consensus that the sentence should remain unchanged. At that point the opposing member blocked the sentence as far as it related to meaning that any group in the caucus would exclude men that identified as men. This re-opened discussion.
The member proposing change explained how she felt the caucus should operate as an umbrella organization with smaller sub groups with different definitions of membership. She gave an example of two sub groups, one being inclusive of trans people, one not being inclusive. Several members then objected to the idea of there ever being a group that did not include trans people and stated that they would block the formation of such a group. The member proposing change stated as clarification that she meant a group excluding trans people to be an example of a group with limited membership and was not now nor would ever propose a group exclude trans people.
At this point one member pointed out that the document was merely a proposal and was not binding on the group in an operational sense. At that point, the member proposing change withdrew her block and agreed to forego the change. The two choices were then put to a vote.
Choice (1) was to kept the sentence as is, choice (2) was to insert the words “and/or” into the sentence. By a margin of four people, choice one was picked.
V. The time of the recurring general WOW meeting was decided to be @4pm on Sundays.
VI. We decided to propose that we become a Caucus.
VII. Volunteers were solicited for having their phone numbers be the official number of the group. One member volunteered her number and another member volunteered to set up a forwarding number, which eased the reservations of several members about having their phone number used. No one was decided upon to have their number be used.
VIII. We chose a spoke council spoke. There were two volunteers and the person who volunteered first was allowed to be the spoke.
IX. A member of the group offered to buy all the other members a drink after the spokes council meeting.
X. The meeting ended with a progressive clap.