Vallecitos Ethics and Reconciliation Committee (VERC)
The Ethics and Reconciliation Committee sets in place and enforces the code of ethics governing the relationships between teachers and students and between teachers and the natural environment of Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center. The Code of Ethics applies to all faculty during the time period they are on the premises teaching at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center.
In any community conflicts inevitably do arise. The health of our community is not measured by the presence or absence of conflict as much as by our willingness to find effective, responsible, and compassionate means of resolving conflicts when they do arise. The Ethics Committee is here to offer support should conflict arise. It is the role of the Ethics Committee to hear ethical concerns and, if deemed to be of benefit, to help resolve those concerns and conflicts through a formal reconciliation process. The Ethics Committee consists of an alumni, a member of the Teacher’s Council, a Board Member, and one or two faculty member(s). If a member of the Ethics Committee is the focus of an ethical complaint, he or she will step off the Ethics Committee and be replaced by an alternate.
Code of Ethics for Teachers at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center
1) We undertake the precept of refraining from killing.
In undertaking this precept we acknowledge the interconnection of all beings and our respect for all life. We agree to refine our understanding of not killing and non-harming in all our actions. Acknowledging the deep environmental crisis we face, we understand that this precept extends also to our care of the earth and the way we use the earth’s resources.
2) We undertake the precept of refraining from stealing.
We agree to not take that which does not belong to us and to respect the property of others. We agree to bring consciousness to the use of all of the earth’s resources in a respectful and ecological way. We agree to be honest in our dealing with money and not to misappropriate money committed to Dharma projects. We agree to offer teachings without favoritism in regard to student’s financial circumstances.
3) We undertake the precept of refraining from false speech.
We agree to speak that which is true and useful and to refrain from gossip in our community. We agree to hold in confidence what is explicitly told to us in confidence. We agree to cultivate conscious and clear communication, and to cultivate the quality of loving-kindness and honesty as the basis of our speech.
4) We undertake the precept of refraining from sexual misconduct.
We agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or relationships of a sexual manner that are outside of the bounds of the relationship commitments we have made to another or that involve another who has made vows to another. Teachers with vows of celibacy will live according to their vows. Teachers in committed relationships will honor their vows and refrain from adultery. All teachers agree not to use their teaching role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student.
- A sexual relationship is never appropriate between teachers and students.
- During retreats or formal teaching, any intimation of future student-teacher romantic or sexual relationship is inappropriate.
- If interest in a genuine and committed relationship develops over time between a single teacher and a student, the student-teacher relationship must clearly and consciously have ended before any further development toward a romantic relationship. Such a relationship must be approached with restraint and sensitivity – in no case should it occur immediately after retreat. A minimum time period of three months or longer from the last formal teaching between them, and a clear understanding from both parties that the student-teacher relationship has ended must be coupled with a conscious commitment to enter into a relationship that brings no harm to either party.
5) We undertake the precept of refraining from intoxicants that cause heedlessness or loss of awareness.
It is clear that substance abuse is the cause of tremendous suffering. We agree not to use intoxicants at any time while on retreat premises. We agree that if any teacher has a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it should be immediately addressed by the community.