The WisCon committee has completed our harassment review process with regard to Jim Frenkel, who engaged in two reported violations of WisCon’s general and harassment policies at WisCon 37, in 2013. A subcommittee of WisCon’s Harassment Policy Committee has reviewed the reports, and all communications with WisCon regarding these incidents, as well as a direct response solicited from Jim Frenkel by the subcommittee. The incoming chair of WisCon 39 has communicated the subcommittee’s determination to Jim Frenkel.
The WisCon committee announces the following actions:
WisCon will (provisionally) not allow Jim Frenkel to return for a period of four years (until after WisCon 42 in 2018). This is “provisional” because if Jim Frenkel chooses to present substantive, grounded evidence of behavioral and attitude improvement between the end of WisCon 39 in 2015 and the end of the four-year provisional period, WisCon will entertain that evidence. We will also take into account any reports of continued problematic behavior.
Allowing Jim Frenkel to return is not guaranteed at any time, including following WisCon 42; the convention’s decision will always be dependent on compelling evidence of behavioral change, and our commitment to the safety of our members. If he is permitted to return at any time, there will be an additional one-year ban on appearing on programming or volunteering in public spaces. Any consideration of allowing him to return will be publicized in WisCon publications and social media at least three months before a final decision is made.
Based on the policies adopted by WisCon’s Harassment Policy Committee before WisCon 38 in 2014, Jim Frenkel has the right to appeal this decision to SF3, WisCon’s governing body. If he enters an appeal, we will make public statements both when he does so and when the appeal ruling is issued.
These are official WisCon actions, and will not be affected by future philosophical or policy discussions.
The subcommittee would like the WisCon community to know that we have been constrained both in what we can do and how we can explain it by matters of confidentiality on all sides. We believe the whole question of confidentiality in harassment complaints–who it benefits, who it protects, and who it constrains–is a matter for deep community discussion. As we continue this broader conversation in the coming months, we look forward to your involvement.
We have decided to sign our names to this decision as an act of transparency and an acknowledgment of WisCon’s previous failures in this regard, although it is WisCon’s policy that harassment incident subcommittees be anonymous. Our choice is specifically not intended to bind or influence any future harassment subcommittees.
We apologize again to Elise Matthesen, to Lauren Jankowski, and to our membership for WisCon’s substantial failures in following up on their reports and completing this process.
Debbie Notkin, chair