limited-access events in common space
From: Muriel Kranowski (murielkvt.edu)
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2010 19:34:22 -0800 (PST)
We're having an internal disagreement over an issue that is evoking some strong feelings, and I very much want to hear feedback from other communities.

The situation is that a subgroup of members who feel they have a lot in common (let's say they are "left-handed redheads" or LHR for short) have been getting together once a week in the Common House, for a congenial snack-and-chat hour. These get-togethers are posted on the community calendar and everyone knows about them. The group has made it clear that only left-handed redheads are welcome.

A member who is neither left-handed nor a redhead objects strongly to the idea that other members can be excluded from social events that regularly occur in a common space. This person would like to join in and have the pleasure of snacking and chatting too.

But if these get-togethers became general y'all-come social events, they would no longer be of specific interest to the LHRs, who really value being able to talk about their own specific issues in the semi-privacy of that CH space. They feel entitled to this private use of the common space, which doesn't appear to inconvenience anyone else.

Other members occasionally reserve space in the CH for meetings or events of external groups that they belong to, and there don't seem to be any objections to those events being open only to the members of that group. The LHRs' gathering is the first time an internal subgroup has intentionally scheduled closed events in the CH and we have no norms or rules about it.

So, is it legitimate for a self-defined subgroup to meet in a common space and exclude other members? Has this come up, or does this occur, in other communities? And even if not, I'd like to hear your philosophical take on it.


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