What Is the Energy Committee?
If a youth or sponsor breaks a rule and it is brought to the attention of GA Youth staff and/or Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff, regardless of how, the Energy Committee is convened. The Energy Committee is made up of one of the deans, a UUA staff member, a GA chaplain, the actor, and the actors' sponsor (if the actor is a youth).
The Energy Committee is not about punishing people or getting people in trouble. We don’t excommunicate if you can’t follow the rules or stay in covenant. That said, in order to be a community that works towards its priorities and goals, we must agree to certain group norms, rules for safety and ways of being together. The Energy Committee helps us have a restorative process (rather than a punitive process) for staying in community.
What Are the Rules Again?
Remember, these rules apply to both sponsors and people who register as youth (including 18 year olds who register as youth). Rules are policies or non-negotiable statements that have clear consequences if broken. The complete list of nonnegotiables can be found on the GA Youth and Sponsor Forms you signed.
No drugs, alcohol, illegal or impairing substances
No sexual or sexualized activity, no sexual harassment as youth or with or in the presence of youth
Sponsors are the primary providers of supervision for youth
Follow state and local laws
For rule infractions where an actor has harmed themselves or another or where trust cannot be repaired within the limited time left of GA, the actor will be sent home at their own expense. If the actor is a youth, the sponsor is responsible for ensuring they make it home safely. If the actor is a sponsor, UUA staff will support them in finding an appropriate replacement for their youth.
What’s a Covenant Again?
Simply put a covenant is an agreement we make together about how to be in community and we consider these promises sacred. An aspirational covenant is an articulation of values about how the group wants to be together and a behavioral covenant is an agreement or promise about how the group will act or behave in accordance with it’s values, including what will happen if the promise is broken. We’ll be creating a covenant together at General Assembly.
How Does the Energy Committee Work?
The Energy Committee's purpose is to get the facts of the situation and discern a course of action.
The Chaplain's role is to be there as a support and advocate for the actor(s). They are there to make sure the person is treated with respect and is listened to. They are there to help with temper and frustration.
The Dean is there to advocate for the community as a whole and the needs of the community.
UUA staff are present in their role of maintaining safety and policy advocacy. They are the holders of our legal responsibilities and liabilities. They are responsible for making sure the course of action it is carried out.
The Actor and Sponsor (if Actor is a youth) are present to speak their truth, strives to be accountable for their role and participates in deciding what repair needs to be done.
When Would the Energy Committee be Called?
Please don’t live in fear that the Energy Committee might be convened on your behalf at the slightest mishap. As Unitarian Universalists we know that even when we really want to be living in covenant and abiding by the rules, sometimes we make mistakes, haven’t learned the skills necessary or just need a reminder. So well before the Energy Committee would be needed we hope we can be a community that looks out for each other and holds one another accountable. For example, if we’ve chosen to put “no put-downs” on our covenant, and a member of our community overhears another member of our community using put-downs, we would expect that the following steps would be employed before calling the Energy Committee:
Direct communication: “hey I heard you say that negative thing to my friend. Please don’t use that unkind language.”
Contacting a GA Youth staff person: “a person I met here is still using put-downs, even after I asked them to stop.”
Contacting their sponsor: the Sponsor Coordinators or UUA staff will inform their sponsor about the behavior and offer support.
If we’ve taken multiple measures to support the person in changing their behavior, but they’re still choosing to not abide by the covenant, then we would convene the Energy Committee.
On the other hand, if someone breaks a rule or local law, an energy committee will be convened immediately. We know that the curfew laws can seem unreasonably early some years, so GA Youth and UUA staff will do everything we can to support youth in being accompanied by responsible adults after curfew.