Tag Archives: anti-harassment

WisCon in solidarity with its community — a letter from our Anti-Abuse Team

WisCon Anti-Abuse Department
(And endorsed by the entire Concom.)

Dear WisCon Community,

We on the Anti-Abuse Team have been in a state of shock and horror since November 9, when the U.S. Presidency was won by a candidate who campaigned on a platform of explicit racism, misogyny, ableism, and autocracy. He and his supporters ridiculed, traumatized, and dehumanized Mexican-Americans, immigrants and undocumented people, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx, Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Muslims, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, Jews, survivors of sexual assault, women, Palestinians, prisoners of war, and their allies. Since the election, we have seen and heard about countless examples of racist, misogynist, homophobic, and transphobic abuse across the U.S., from diverse urban neighborhoods to rural towns. We have never needed the ability to imagine and enact a feminist, anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-fascist future more. We have never needed WisCon more.

This May, when we come together in Madison to strategize, speculate, and celebrate the feminist science fiction whose imagination now feels so desperately urgent, we know that things are going to be fraught. We know that for many members of our community, the idea of coming to a small, majority-white city in a state that (however narrowly) voted for Trump in the election, feels terrifying, for reasons that are far from unjustified. We want you to know that the Safety and Anti-Abuse Teams are here for you before, during, and after the convention. Whatever we can do to help you feel supported, we will do. While we recognize that we are not able to control the climate in Madison outside of the Concourse Hotel, we will do whatever we can to mitigate that risk: we can walk with you and stand with you so that if anything does happen, you will not face it alone.

The job of the Anti-Abuse Team is to challenge and prevent harassment of our members from people within and outside the WisCon community, and to be proactive in keeping our convention spaces diverse, inclusive, and equitable. We want to support our community’s ability to disagree in an atmosphere of mutual respect, without reinforcing the disparagement of people inside and outside our community that Trump’s election has intensified. As we all work through complicated, controversial issues, AAT is here for you to call on if things get out of hand. We also know that you might be doing your political organizing elsewhere and want WisCon to be a place for relaxation and celebration. Our Statement of Principles and Code of Conduct are here to facilitate that too.

The Code of Conduct exists for your protection, and we take it seriously; this includes revising it to make WisCon better. Our mission may involve fostering conversation, providing training opportunities, or facilitating dialog; it may also mean supporting the convention’s provision of safer spaces, facilitating a buddy system, or even helping to provide opportunities for self care. We welcome your suggestions as we plan for WisCon 41.

Together, we can make sure that WisCon continues to be a space that allows us both to engage with politics and to escape from them in a space where our existence and humanity will not be under threat. We look forward to seeing you there.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us: antiabuse@wiscon.net

If you need to talk with Safety during the convention, please call: 608-957-7233 (957-SAFE)

Update to our Safety team’s phone number

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

We have had to quite suddenly and unexpectedly change the phone number for our Safety team.  Please make note of this new phone number:

(608) 957-7233

(That’s 957-SAFE.)

Unfortunately this has happened in the year that we added the Safety phone number to the backs of everyone’s badges.  Please take a minute to cross out the phone number on your badge and write in the number above.  There are also signs around the convention announcing the new phone number.  And remember that you can also use Safety’s online form to report an incident.

We are so, so sorry for the inconvenience!  This took us by surprise and we are working to get the information out to everyone as quickly as possible.

Anti-Abuse Team

  • contact: antiabuse@wiscon.net

WisCon’s Anti-Abuse Team (AAT) is the permanent, year-round Concom department that both handles any report that is submitted to WisCon outside of the convention weekend and maintains the records of all reports brought to Safety during the convention. The AAT is also Concom department that directs WisCon’s Code of Conduct, reviewing and updating the policy annually.

If you have any questions or concerns related to WisCon’s anti-harassment policies and procedures, please review our FAQs or contact us at the email address above.

Safety

  • email: safety@wiscon.net
  • phone: 608-957-7233 (957-SAFE)
  • reporting form:  wiscon.net/report

Safety is the at-con team that handles all concerns and reports that arise during the convention weekend.

Contacting Safety during the convention

Members of the Safety team can be easily spotted by their neon hi-vis vests. If you need to make a report and you don’t see a Safety team member, you can also get in touch by:

Anti-Harassment

  • contact: antiabuse@wiscon.net, safety@wiscon.net

WisCon is dedicated to working towards a harassment-free convention experience for all members, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, origin, religion, or class. We do not tolerate harassment of WisCon members in any form. Convention participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the convention without a refund at the discretion of the convention organizers.

Code of Conduct

Our full Code of Conduct details WisCon’s working definition of harassment, recommendations for how to handle incidents, and the process to follow once a report has been made.

Anti-Abuse Team

The Anti-Abuse Team is the Concom department that oversees WisCon’s anti-harassment policy and processes.

Safety

Safety is the at-con team that handles all incidents and reports during the convention weekend.

Code of Conduct

  • last updated:  May 2017
  • contact:  antiabuse@wiscon.net
 WisCon is dedicated to working towards a harassment-free convention experience for all members, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, origin, religion, class, or other marginalized identity. We do not tolerate harassment, whether of WisCon members or of hotel staff and others in our community, in any form.

Educating ourselves and one another is our best hope of ensuring a harassment-free convention for everyone. We encourage WisCon members to hold one another accountable to the Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles, and to take the perspectives of others seriously when a disagreement arises. We expect participants to follow convention rules at all venues, including those online, and convention-related social events.

Harassment

WisCon’s definition of harassment may not necessarily align with legal definitions of harassment. Harassment includes: Verbal comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, geographic origin, or class); deliberate intimidation; stalking; body policing (including gender policing in all bathrooms); unwelcome photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Exhibitors in the Dealer’s Room, volunteers, and Concom members are also subject to the anti-harassment policy.

Harassment does not include: respectful disagreement or critique in good faith. WisCon continues to welcome and appreciate the reading or performance of risky, transgressive material and the discussion of controversial ideas.

Incidents at WisCon

If a participant engages in harassing behavior at the convention, the Con Chairs and pre-selected Concom members (with or without consultation with Safety and/or the Anti-Abuse Team) may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the convention (with no refund). If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact Safety on duty and/or a member of the Concom immediately. At the convention, Concom members can be identified by badges, lanyards, stickers, or buttons (this may vary from convention to convention), while Safety team members wear neon vests. You can also use Safety’s online reporting form, email (safety@wiscon.net), or call 608-957-7233 (957-SAFE) to file harassment reports at any time, including after the convention has ended. General concerns about the climate at WisCon may also be directed to the Anti-Abuse Team (antiabuse@wiscon.net).

Concom members will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the convention. Your participation makes WisCon what it is, and we’ll do everything we can to honor it.

Important Contact Information

  • WisCon Chairs: chair@wiscon.net
  • Anti-Abuse Team: antiabuse@wiscon.net
  • Safety: safety@wiscon.net
  • Emergencies: 911
  • Wiscon Safety On Call: 608-957-7233 (957-SAFE)
  • Madison Police Department (non-emergency): (608) 255-2345
  • Dane County Rape Crisis Center Crisis Line: (608) 251-7273
  • Mental Health Center of Dane County 24-hour Hotline: (608) 280-2600
  • Union Cab: 608-242-2000

Incidents outside of WisCon

At times, concerns may be raised about members (or potential members) based on conduct that has occurred outside of WisCon that may include gross violations of our policy and/or put members at risk, including:

  1. Individuals who have not attended WisCon, but have a history of abusive behavior and/or known incidents that took place outside WisCon that may cause risks to a member’s (or members’) safety, or which may contribute to a hostile or non-inclusive climate at the convention.
  2. WisCon members who have been reported to Safety for outside incidents, including (but not limited to) conduct at other conventions, threatening or abusive behavior online, or assault.

These may be individuals who may or may not have expressed interest in attending the convention, and for whom reports may or may not have been filed, but who have come to the attention of the Concom’s Anti-Abuse Team.

WisCon considers online behavior to be just as important as offline behavior. Doxing or outing, online harassment or stalking, or deliberately connecting a pseudonym with a wallet name are all considered violations of our Code of Conduct and will be treated accordingly. These actions need not occur in WisCon-affiliated spaces (e.g., our blog) in order to be considered.

We understand that at times, our members will have disagreements or interpersonal conflicts that do not necessarily escalate to the point of harassment or abuse. WisCon will not arbitrate feuds; we ask that you please leave these conflicts at the door to the extent that you are able. If, however, conflicts escalate to the point that they 1) threaten member safety, or 2) violate our Code of Conduct or policies at the convention, the Anti-Abuse Team may become involved.

The Anti-Abuse Team

The AAT is a permanent Concom department with the long-term goal of making WisCon safer and harassment-free for all members. The team should represent our diverse membership (e.g., including representation from Safety, Access, members of color, LGBTQ members), and may appoint ad-hoc members as needed (e.g., to replace a member with a conflict of interest, or in the events the team lacks the background or perspectives relevant to address a particular case). The team also includes a Chair and a Secretary/Archivist to ensure continuity and transparency. The AAT may also appoint member-specific advocates on a case-by-case basis for reporters or reported members if requested.

Situations involving harassment are not always clear-cut. One of AAT’s roles is to help WisCon members navigate the complexities when they ask for our assistance in doing so. We respond to all complaints on a case by case basis and take as much contextual information into account as we are able to do. If you disagree with or have questions about AAT’s decisions or policies, you can write to us at antiabuse@wiscon.net. We will discuss your issue at our next meeting and respond as soon as we can.

Once a violation has been reported

Following the convention, the Anti-Abuse Team will review all reports in a timely manner, following the procedures outlined in our Code of Conduct. The AAT will also review all reports made throughout the year, including general concerns about convention policies or climate brought to our attention (the AAT will document all concerns or informal reports about specific individuals with a formal report to Safety). All reports will be entered into a secure database with access limited to Safety chairs and relevant members of the AAT as deemed appropriate.

If the Anti-Abuse Team decides to take action (including but not limited to a preemptive ban, programming restrictions, volunteering restrictions, etc.), they will communicate all decisions to Safety, the co-Chairs, Registration, Programming, Volunteering, and any other relevant departments, and may notify the Concom as a whole. On a case-by-case basis, the AAT may seek a vote or a review by the Concom before finalizing a decision. The Anti-Abuse Team may also notify local law enforcement if necessary, and will work with Safety and other departments to be on alert during conventions.

Once the AAT’s decision has communicated to the relevant parties, all have the opportunity to appeal this decision with an email to SF3 at board@sf3.org, WisCon’s parent organization.

WisCon’s new Anti-Abuse Policy: Reflections on the first year

Anti-Abuse Team and Safety

This year was the first convention where we had a formal procedure in place for what to do when individuals attending WisCon violate the code of conduct described in our anti-harassment policy. The policy is intended to be flexible to allow for different situations, but its basic idea is that if somebody reports a harassing behavior to Safety, the person responsible can be issued a warning and asked to do something differently (such as staying away from a place or person). If warnings aren’t attended to or harassing behavior escalates, the policy describes a few more options, including –– in the worst case scenario, which we hope to avoid –– that Safety and Chairs in consultation with available Anti-Abuse Team members can make a collective at-con decision to ban someone from WisCon.

Now that the convention is over, Safety has handed off their at-con reports to the full Anti-Abuse Team, which is reviewing reports that are still open post-con and evaluating how well the policy performed on- site. Here’s how things looked in our first year:

  • 11 issues relating to the anti-harassment policy were reported to Safety.
  • 4 attendees were issued warnings for harassing behaviors.
  • 1 disruptive non-member was escorted off the premises by hotel staff.
  • 1 person was banned, after several warnings, in response to reports both from multiple departments and from the hotel –– some relating to patterns of behavior going back several years.

What have we learned from the first year of the harassment policy?

Many members have stated that WisCon felt safer this year because they knew that the concom was explicitly trying to make WisCon a place where members could be free of microaggressions and harassment, even if that’s a goal we can’t ever expect to 100% reach. This is what we have been hoping for in our work on the policy and we are very pleased to hear it.

Other members have stated that they fear not being welcome because of the new policy; we have heard terms like “feminist thought police” thrown around. To this we can only say that we do not intend to be a disciplinary committee, and our intention is not to police but rather to be part of a community that holds its members accountable to the principles that we have organized ourselves around. But we also understand that the line between accountability and policing can be a hard one to walk, and we will continue to listen to your feedback on how well we are managing to walk it.

A member who received a warning stated that they would like further information about recourse: what is there for someone to do once they have been given a warning? We agree that this is a gap in the current policy, and we will revise the policy to fix this before WisCon 40. In addition to providing a process for members to appeal decisions with which they disagree, we want to be able to support members who receive warnings that they recognize as justified, so that they can reflect on their behavior, make amends if necessary, and work to be a part of change for the better in future. After all, the structures of white supremacy, patriarchy, cissexism, ableism, colonialism, and capitalism live within all of us as we live within them. Our aim is to make WisCon a place and time in which everyone can be liberated from these oppressions as much as is possible, not to punish those who misstep.

Anti-Abuse Team new policies & procedures — Public comment period April 3-17

Anti-Abuse Team

Since last fall, members of the WisCon Anti-Abuse Team have been working on developing new anti-harassment policies and procedures for our convention. We have been guided by the goal of making WisCon a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone. To that end, we have worked to develop a policy that 1) makes reporting easy, 2) is compassionate and reporter centered, 3) facilitates a timely response and clear communication, and 4) reduces incidence of harassment through member education and by fostering a supportive, respectful climate.

We have adapted this document from the Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment policy, which they have graciously provided for general use. The most significant change that we made to this document involves the addition of behavior outside of the convention, including online behavior, which may put members of WisCon at risk.

The Anti-Abuse Team (AAT) is a new, permanent, 6-member (or more) Concom department, consisting of a chair, a secretary/archivist, a Safety liaison, and three other members. Our goal is that the makeup of this committee reflects the diversity of our membership. Going forward, the AAT will handle incoming reports, including informal concerns raised about the general climate at the convention and concerns about safety and harassment. We worked closely with members of Safety on this policy, and also sought feedback from the rest of the Concom. Safety will continue to handle incidents at the convention, and is working closely with Application Development on our new secure reporting database.

Much of our work on this policy has been informed by the mistakes that have been made in previous years. We have built in a series of redundancies to make sure that reports can never be lost or ignored. For example, prior to WisCon38, harassment cases were handled by the convention chairs, who typically step down shortly after a convention. By establishing a permanent team, including an archivist and Safety liaison, we have multiple checks in place to make sure reports move forward.

Another function of the AAT is to protect member confidentiality — only a limited number of individuals have access to our secure reporting database, and the bulk of the convention committee will not be involved in making decisions about individual cases. Additionally, we have built in the flexibility to allow us to appoint ad hoc members as needed, including advocates on a case-by-case basis (rather than our previous trial model of a single, permanent Member Advocate).

Our hope is that in sharing our draft policy with our members we will receive valuable feedback, as well as provide transparency about our policy and procedures moving forward. We have recommended that once our policy is approved, all members must acknowledge our statement of principles and harassment policy during the registration process. We understand that the goal of a safe convention is something we must always strive for, even if we may never attain it. We thus see our policy as a living document that will grow and adapt with our needs and the needs of our members.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below, or send an e-mail to antiabuse@wiscon.info. Our open comment period will last two weeks (though we are always happy to receive feedback), after which we will make appropriate edits and then consult with the SF3 board and our lawyer. We will then provide a final draft to the Concom for approval via a vote. Our goal is to have this done in time for our new policy to be in place for WisCon39.

Jacquelyn Gill (chair)
Jackie M. (secretary/archivist)
Ann (Safety)
Lenore Jean Jones
Alexis Lothian
Sandy Olson
Two anonymous members

The draft policy below involves two sections: the first is our anti-harassment policy, which will be posted online and in the Pocket Program Book at the convention (we also have short and medium versions for other applications, which are a subset of the following full text). The second part outlines procedures for the rest of the convention committee; this text will be shared with Concom members. Bracketed text will be updated for each convention as necessary.

I. Anti-Harassment Policy

WisCon is dedicated to working towards a harassment-free convention experience for all members, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, origin, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of WisCon members in any form. Convention participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the convention without a refund at the discretion of the convention organizers.

We are not always able to perceive the ways in which our words or actions reinforce the oppressive structures that are part of dominant languages and cultures, and so at times we must rely on others to let us know. We encourage WisCon members to hold one another accountable to the Anti-Harassment Policy and Statement of Principles [link], and to take the perspectives of others seriously when a disagreement arises. Educating ourselves and one another is our best hope of ensuring a harassment-free convention for everyone.

Harassment:
WisCon’s definition of harassment may not necessarily align with legal definitions of harassment. Harassment includes: Verbal comments or displayed images that reinforce social structures of domination and oppression (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, geographic origin, or socioeconomic status); deliberate intimidation; stalking; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Exhibitors in the Dealer’s Room, volunteers, and Concom members are also subject to the anti-harassment policy.

Incidents at WisCon:
If a participant engages in harassing behavior at the convention, the Con Chairs and pre-selected Concom members (with or without consultation with Safety and/or the Anti-Abuse Team) may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the convention (with no refund). If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact Safety on duty and/or a member of the Concom immediately. At the convention, Concom members can be identified by badges, lanyards, stickers, or buttons (this may vary from convention to convention), while Safety team members wear neon vests. You can also use Safety’s [online reporting form], [email], and [phone number] to file harassment reports at any time, including after the convention has ended. General concerns about the climate at WisCon may also be directed to the Anti-Abuse Team (antiabuse@wiscon.info).

Concom members will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the convention. We value your attendance.

[Email address for organizers]
[Phone number for convention security or organizers]
[Phone number for hotel/venue security]
[Local law enforcement]
[Local sexual assault hotline]
[Local emergency and non-emergency medical (e.g., urgent care, day clinic)]
[Local taxi company]

We expect participants to follow these rules at all convention venues, including those online, and convention-related social events.

Incidents outside of WisCon:
At times, concerns may be raised about members (or potential members) based on conduct that has occurred outside of WisCon that may include gross violations of our policy and/or put members at risk, including:

  1. Individuals who have not attended WisCon, but have a history of abusive behavior and/or known incidents that took place outside WisCon that may cause risks to a member’s (or members’) safety, or which may contribute to a hostile or non-inclusive climate at the convention.
  2. WisCon members who have been reported to Safety for outside incidents, including (but not limited to) conduct at other conventions, threatening or abusive behavior online, or assault.

These may be individuals who may or may not have expressed interest in attending the convention, and for whom reports may or may not have been filed, but who have come to the attention of the Concom’s Anti-Abuse Team.

WisCon considers online behavior to be just as important as offline behavior. Doxing or outing [link to Geek feminism wiki], online harassment or stalking, or deliberately connecting a pseudonym with a wallet name are all considered violations of our Anti-Harassment Policy, and will be treated accordingly. These actions need not occur in WisCon-affiliated spaces (e.g., our blog) in order to be considered.

We understand that at times, our members will have disagreements or interpersonal conflicts that do not necessarily escalate to the point of harassment or abuse. WisCon will not arbitrate feuds; we ask that you please leave these conflicts at the door to the extent that you are able. If, however, conflicts escalate to the point that they 1) threaten member safety, or 2) violate our Code of Conduct at the convention (e.g., racist or sexist language), the Anti-Abuse Team may become involved.

The Anti-Abuse Team:
The AAT is a permanent Concom department with the long-term goal of making WisCon safer and harassment-free for all members. The team should comprise a diverse membership (e.g., including representation from Safety, Access, members of color, LGBTQ members), and may appoint ad-hoc members as needed (e.g., to replace a member with a conflict of interest, or in the events the team lacks the background or perspectives relevant to address a particular case). The team also includes a Chair and a Secretary/Archivist to ensure continuity and transparency. The AAT may also appoint member-specific advocates on a case-by-case basis for reporters or reported members if requested. Current members include: [to be filled out upon final completion, and updated as needed].

Once a violation has been reported:
Following the convention, the Anti-Abuse Team will review all reports in a timely manner, following the procedures outlined in our Anti-Harassment Policy. The AAT will also review all reports made throughout the year, including general concerns about convention policies or climate brought to our attention (the AAT will document all concerns or informal reports about specific individuals with a formal report to Safety). All reports will be entered into a secure database with access limited to Safety chairs and relevant members of the AAT as deemed appropriate.

If the Anti-Abuse Team decides to take action (including but not limited to a preemptive ban, programming restrictions, volunteering restrictions, etc.), they will communicate all decisions to Safety, the co-Chairs, Registration, Programming, Volunteering, and any other relevant departments, and may notify the Concom as a whole. On a case-by-case basis, the AAT may seek a vote or a review by the Concom before finalizing a decision. The Anti-Abuse Team will also notify local law enforcement if necessary, and will work with Safety and other departments to be on alert during conventions.

Once the AAT’s decision has communicated to the relevant parties, all have the opportunity to appeal this decision with an email to SF3 [link], WisCon’s parent organization.

II. Internal policies for Concom use

Warnings:
Any member of the convention committee (listed on our website) can issue a verbal warning to a participant that their behavior violates our anti-harassment policy. Warnings should be reported to Safety as soon as practical. The report should include:

  • Identifying information of the participant
  • The time you issued the warning
  • The behavior that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behavior (if different than the time of warning)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Your identity
  • Other people involved in the incident

Pre-selected Concom members who volunteer and are vetted by Safety, as well as Con Chairs for that year (with or without consultation with Safety and/or the Anti-Abuse Team), may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference (with no refund). Individual Concom members may give a warning at any time as individuals, but Safety, the Con Chairs for that year, and these pre-selected Concom members are empowered to make official and timely decisions in these cases.

Programming:
Panels or similar events should not be stopped for one-time gaffes or minor problems, although someone empowered to issue formal warnings (as indicated above) should speak to the presenter afterward as appropriate. In the event of repeated or serious violation of the anti-harassment policy, moderators, panelists, and audience members can contact Safety, who will send a representative to evaluate the situation. The Safety contact number for phone calls and texts will be printed on panelist name tents and can also be obtained from Registration. Members who recognize harassing behavior on a panel they are moderating have several options based on the specifics of the incident and their comfort levels: moderators might choose to challenge the behavior while it is occurring; to do nothing and make a report later; or – in the worst situations – it might be appropriate to politely and calmly stop the panel without explanation before reporting the incident to Safety.

Taking reports:
When taking a report from someone experiencing harassment you should record what they say and reassure them they are being taken seriously, but avoid making specific promises about what actions the Concom will take. Ask for any other information if the reporter has not volunteered it (such as time, place) but do not pressure them to provide it if they are reluctant. Even if the report lacks important details such as the identity of the person taking the harassing actions, it should still be recorded and passed along to Safety. If the reporter desires it, arrange for an escort by a Concom member or a trusted person, contact a friend, and contact local law enforcement. Do not pressure the reporter to take any action if they do not want to do it. Respect the reporter’s privacy by not sharing unnecessary details with others, especially individuals who were not involved with the situation or Concom members.

See sample Safety report form [link] for information collected while taking reports — WisCon members can also be invited to submit a report to Safety directly. If a reporter prefers to work with you, inform the member that the report will be forwarded to Safety, but kept secure at all times. Make sure the member knows who (the names of the Safety Chairs, the Anti-Abuse Team, Con Chairs, other parties if relevant) will see the report.

Expulsion:
During the convention, a participant may be expelled by the decision of the co-chairs or Safety Chairs (in consultation with the Anti-Abuse Team if need be) for whatever reasons they deem sufficient. Here are some general guidelines for when a participant should be expelled:

  • A third offense resulting in a warning from concom members
  • Continuing to harass after any “No” or “Stop” instruction
  • A pattern of harassing behavior, with or without warnings
  • A single serious offense (e.g., punching or groping someone)
  • A single obviously intentional offense (e.g., taking up-skirt photos)
  • Complaints from attendees.

Hotel/venue security and local authorities should be contacted when appropriate.

Public statements:
As a general rule, Concom members should exercise discretion in making public statements (including on privately maintained online media accounts such as Twitter) about the behavior of individual people during or after the convention when possible.

Clarification on how WisCon’s policies have been & will be applied

Chris Wallish
Media & Communications

We received the following question on Friday’s statement on the findings and recommendations of the recently-concluded subcommittee:

Is it the intent of the Concom to apply this policy universally, such that anyone who has a pattern of directing caustic comments at people they disagree with will also be excluded from public-facing volunteer positions?

Everyone attending WisCon, including all volunteers and Concom members, is held accountable to WisCon’s policies and rules of conduct.  These policies have never been, nor will they be, applied on a universal pre-emptive basis — quite the opposite.  Reports of harassing behavior will always be approached on a case-by-case basis and investigated according to the specifics of the report.

In particular, WisCon’s approach to volunteers at the convention has always been that if someone isn’t appropriate for a position — whether because of complaints of behavior or because of behavior that has been observed by another volunteer or by a Concom member — our volunteer coordinators have discussed the situation with the individual volunteer and asked them to do something else or to step down.

We will continue to address concerns and reports of harassment, including those involving volunteers, on a case-by-case basis.

Information on our revised anti-harassment policies will be posted for public comment tomorrow, Friday, April 3.

Subcommittee public statement on findings & recommendations

WisCon Concom & SF3

The subcommittee convened to review Rose Lemberg’s report of harassment by F.J. Bergmann has finished its work and issued a report of its findings and recommendations to the Concom. The Concom has voted to approve the subcommittee’s work and agreed to facilitate the recommendations. Once the Concom had concluded its vote, the subcommittee’s report and recommendations were sent to both Rose Lemberg and F.J. Bergmann for review and comment.

To start, we, the Concom and SF3, extend our sincerest apologies – first and foremost to Rose Lemberg, who has endured much due to our bureaucratic lapses. We also apologize to both F.J. Bergmann and, especially, the WisCon community that collectively as an organization we have taken so long to bring this matter to a conclusion.

Subcommittee findings and recommendations

The subcommittee considers F.J. Bergmann’s poem “Meet and Marry a Gorgeous Russian Queen” to be both anti-immigrant and potentially sexist. Given the timing of the poem’s genesis and publication, however, the subcommittee was unable to characterize this particular incident – the reading of the poem during the “Moment of Change” open mic at WisCon 36 – as harassment. The subcommittee’s research has documented that the poem was written long before the conflicts between Bergmann and Lemberg began.

However, although the subcommittee could not characterize this incident as harassment, they did find that Bergmann has a pattern of caustic behavior toward anyone she disagrees with – including Rose Lemberg. This has led to a series of recommendations, which the Concom has approved and will carry out.

Rose Lemberg’s primary request has been that F.J. Bergmann leave her alone and not attend any of her events, should Lemberg attend WisCon in the future. The subcommittee recommends that this request be honored and facilitated by SF3, and SF3 and the Concom fully agree. The subcommittee has conferred with the Concom to determine the specifics of how this will work at WisCon, and relayed those specifics to both parties. Furthermore, the subcommittee recommended, citing Bergmann’s above-mentioned pattern of caustic behavior, that should F.J. Bergmann volunteer at WisCon in the future her volunteer duties will be limited to non-public-facing positions. The Concom has approved this recommendation and will facilitate it by coordinating among all volunteer departments.

Related posts

Subcommittee

WisCon Anti-Abuse

Subcommittee work complete; next steps

Chris Wallish
Media & Communications

The subcommittee convened to consider Rose Lemberg’s report of harassment by F.J. Bergmann has completed its work.  The Concom is currently voting on whether to approve the subcommittee’s recommendations.  We plan to post a public statement next week on the outcome of the subcommittee’s work and the Concom’s vote.

Last week in a blog comment someone asked if it would be possible for Programming Sign-Ups to remain open until after the public announcement about the subcommittee’s recommendations.  We hope to be able to do so!  We’re currently looking at our schedules to see what adjustments we can make.  We should know in a few days if we’ll be able to extend the Sign-Up deadline.

Update from Anti-Abuse

Jacquelyn Gill, chair
Anti-Abuse Team

Since last year, members of the concom have been hard at work developing new policies and procedures for handling harassment reports and for improving member safety and well-being at WisCon in general. Our guiding principles have been to make harassment and abuse rare, reporting easy, and follow-through timely, respectful, and reporter-centered.

One of our first steps was to implement a new Anti-Abuse Team model.  The AAT will be a permanent, year-round concom department that will include a Safety representative and a historian/archivist — a model which we hope will help prevent past issues with institutional memory, mishandling of reports, and lack of follow-through.  The policies that the AAT will operate under will afford improved flexibility to handle both individual reports and to address general concerns.  The AAT will also strive to maintain a diverse team that reflects the diversity of WisCon’s membership.

Here are a few of the things we have been working on:

  • We completely rebuilt our anti-harassment policy, working off of the Ada Initiative policy for conventions. Our draft policy is currently under review by the concom.  We will also be sharing it with our membership for public comment.
  • We have developed a new policy to address member conduct outside of WisCon that may threaten member safety at the convention, including doxing, outing, stalking, assault, and online harassment.
  • We have been working very closely with Safety, Registration, Programming, and Volunteering so that decisions on reports (e.g., bans, programming restrictions) are communicated to and enforced by relevant departments.
  • We have been working with Safety and AppDev to design a secure database for incident reports.  We have also adapted our policy to include informal communications or general concerns raised about individuals or the climate at WisCon in general.
  • We are re-evaluating the formal member advocate position (implemented just before WisCon 38) and have drafted some alternative policies.
  • We are investigating training opportunities in advocacy, bystander intervention, and other relevant skill sets for members of the concom.

A draft document of our new policies will be available for public review in the next few weeks, so that we will have our new policy implemented in advance of WisCon 39. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me and the Anti-Abuse Team (antiabuse@wiscon.net) or Safety (safety@wiscon.net) with any concerns or questions.

[Footnote:  The policy and procedure revision is a separate process from the work of the subcommittee convened to consider Rose Lemberg’s report of harassment by F.J. Bergmann.  That subcommittee should soon be asking the concom for the final vote.  We will announce when that vote happens.]