Code of Conduct

Like any other random collection of people, American Mensa has members who don’t play well with others. This has sometimes escalated to serious illegal acts and harassment.

For a Code of Conduct to be effective, it needs to clearly articulate what is unacceptable behavior. We also need appropriate enforcement mechanisms to deal with breaches. Both these are challenges.

Mensa members are notorious for finding loopholes and pushing boundaries. Codes need to be specific enough to put members on notice, yet general enough to encompass bad acts not otherwise enumerated.

We already have some Codes. AGs, many RGs, and some Local Groups have published Codes. Some social media forums have adopted rules. Even the Firehouse SIG established rules for their Facebook group that formerly had none.

American Mensa long ago established “acts inimical” that can result in formal sanctions. Among other things, it prohibits: “Threatening, intimidating, coercing, calumniating or otherwise interfering with persons involved in the authorized activities of Mensa including volunteers, appointees, or paid staff members.” A motion at our March 20th AMC meeting expanded these prohibitions to include retaliation and  “ongoing, pervasive, or acute harassment . . .”

The March 20th AMC meeting approved “Event Safety Standards”, essentially a Code of Conduct for “all national in-person events”. These guidelines could be adapted by Local Groups for their RGs and other events. Likely these “Event Safety Standards” will need to be supplemented by additional rules unique to each event. As just one example, different venues may have varying policies about the presence of animals.

What we have – and will likely have in the future – is various rules defining acceptable behavior in different circumstances. It’s unlikely one set of rules can cover all events and situations. For example, tampering with food or drink is clearly unacceptable for an in-person event; it’s a non-issue for on-line behavior. What’s acceptable in the Firehouse Facebook group will be different than in Hospitality.

Bottom line, I have and will continue to prioritize and support common sense standards adapted to specific situations. For far too long, we’ve let “problem members” continue their bad behavior, often resulting in other members no longer attending events or leaving the organization entirely. We must also have effective sanctions to deal with unacceptable behavior; otherwise, any rules we establish will be toothless. For more on that topic, please see my comments on our Hearings Process.

For more information about my thoughts on various Mensa issues, please click here: