sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2018-10-26 01:55 am

Safety concerns at Arisia

Dear Arisia Info and Programming,

I am deeply distressed to read of this convention's handling of the safety concerns raised by Crystal Huff regarding Noel Marc Rosenberg.

I have been attending Arisia as a program participant since 2008; I consider it one of my two home conventions. My other is Readercon, where I have served on the safety committee since 2014. As a safecom member, I understand the complexity of recommendations that touch on interactions that may occur under the aegis of a convention but not technically at-con. I am also somewhat stunned by the dismissal of behavior that has been so well documented as code-of-conduct-breaching at multiple fandom events including Arisia, whose list of unacceptable behaviors explicitly includes stalking and non-verbal intimidation. Like all attendees of Arisia, I am given an expectation of safety by the convention's Code of Conduct and Behavior Policies. It is difficult for me to put much confidence in the code and policies of a convention that is not prepared to ensure the safety of even one of their own longtime staff.

As a member of the Readercon convention committee in 2012, I had a ringside seat when the similar failure of a convention to abide by its own stated policies led to the creation of its safety committee, the total overhaul of its code of conduct as well as incident report protocols, and the resignation of all members of the Readercon board. All steps including public statements of apology and accountability were necessary to restore the trust of a membership built over decades and burned in hours. I do not joke when I say it was a near-death experience for the convention. We still work to make its reputation inclusive, responsive, and safe, as opposed to tarnished by double standards and more tolerance for perpetrators than victims.

It is my sincere hope that the executive board of Arisia can heed the lesson of Readercon in choosing from this moment forward which kind of convention it wishes to be.

Thank you for your time and attention,


I just sent the above e-mail to Arisia Info and Programming. Thanks to [personal profile] kate_nepveu, [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, and [personal profile] swan_tower for the heads-up on the situation.

The near-immolation of Readercon is not even a decade past. My faith in historical memory is getting fainter all the time.
spatch: (Default)

[personal profile] spatch 2018-10-26 05:59 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for speaking up and sending it in. And thank you for not using my anti-recommendation for the subject line.
swan_tower: (Default)

[personal profile] swan_tower 2018-10-26 06:12 am (UTC)(link)
I hope that you being able to speak from the position of a front-row seat for Readercon's own encounter with trouble will make them give your words the weight they deserve.
swan_tower: (Default)

[personal profile] swan_tower 2018-10-26 07:34 am (UTC)(link)
. . . okay, now I'm curious.
spatch: [Don Music] (Don Music)

[personal profile] spatch 2018-10-26 08:50 am (UTC)(link)
It was in all-caps and sounded like "HEY TRACKPASSES"
strange_complex: (Willow pump)

[personal profile] strange_complex 2018-10-26 09:03 am (UTC)(link)
Oh dear. I don't know anything about the circumstances with Arisia, but well done for using your position and experience to try to speak up for participant safety. I hope it does some good.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2018-10-26 12:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Good response (not that anything else was possible)

I read Crystal Huff's account earlier, and however you consider the evidence (not that I'm doubting her), there's something seriously amiss with the way it's been handled.

If someone has been banned from any con on a safety issue, never mind three (or was it four?) for stalking, there's simply no way you can responsibly place them in a position of authority over safety at your con. The liability issues it invites for Arisia are mind-boggling.

Equally you can't restrict someone from interacting with someone else, and then appoint them to oversight of the safety function. Except if you are using the restriction as smoke and mirrors for doing nothing. Which itself says that the safety function at Arisia is not fit for purpose.

All this goes double if you're the President of the con. And if you're the President of the con, having been banned from multiple other cons for stalking, then something is seriously wrong with the entire structure and management of the con. Even if you want to bluff it out, putting yourself at the top of the safety management tree is just stupid, because it pretty much guarantees someone is going to say "Wait, what!?!"

I'm not sure anything short of the Readercon response would be adequate.
lauradi7dw: (Default)

[personal profile] lauradi7dw 2018-10-26 01:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I have been watching artist friends on Twitter, in distress, deciding that since they have paid for sales space and depend on Arisia for income, they will still attend. They are working on ways to insist on better actions without entirely dropping the con.
gilana: (Default)

[personal profile] gilana 2018-10-26 03:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Good for you.
moon_custafer: (shot)

[personal profile] moon_custafer 2018-10-26 03:35 pm (UTC)(link)
dramaticirony: From my game Return to the Stars. (Default)


[personal profile] dramaticirony 2018-10-26 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Well and clearly said.

Hopefully the Readercon experience can serve as a template for response.

The Marriott strikes, if unresolved by January, already raised questions about attending Arisa this year.

This is obviously far more serious.
pameladean: (Default)

[personal profile] pameladean 2018-10-26 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm so sorry you had to do that. I was only a distant spectator for the Readercon events and I still, reading Crystal Huff's account, had sudden vivid recollections of various low points in that process. It's unconscionable that Arisia didn't take the opportunity to learn better without having to have its own apocalypse.


heavenscalyx: (Default)

[personal profile] heavenscalyx 2018-10-26 07:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I am sadly unsurprised by any convention's lack of self-awareness despite the proximity of Readercon at this point. Given Wiscon's bobbling-and-recalibrating in a similar situation in even closer temporal proximity to the Readercon explosion, nothing surprises me at this point.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)

Re: Arisia

[personal profile] redbird 2018-10-26 08:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for reminding me about the strike; if it's not settled in time for Arisia, it's likely to still be an issue for Boskone, which uses the same hotel.
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)

[personal profile] rosefox 2018-10-27 12:48 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, we went all out on that statement for a reason. When a con needs a heart transplant, you don't fuck around with band-aids.
choco_frosh: (Default)

[personal profile] choco_frosh 2018-10-27 11:49 am (UTC)(link)
Apparently you raised enough hell.