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Readercon Steps Up
c is for cat
catvalente
Readercon has made a statement.

And it's a doozy.

This stuff so rarely breaks good that it's almost more shocking when people do the right thing--and I think Readercon has gone the full measure in making amends and preserving the con (the list of pros and fans declining to attend was getting enormous, and that overwhelming support for Genevieve and Kate is a testament to the strength of the community). The entire Board has resigned or will at the next meeting, Walling has been banned, and new policies and a new Board will be put into place. Almost everything from vschanoes's petition has been answered in the positive.

It's impressive, and those policies and Board will be both interesting in their content and certainly have their work cut out for them. I dearly hope to attend Readercon again soon, and these are huge strides in the right direction.

Wow. I am (any number of emotions right now, but I'll settle on) glad that they have overturned the original decision and released this statement. Although the concom didn't make the original decision, I appreciated seeing them respond to blog posts, and addressing concerns, not just on blogs, but in an official capacity. The note about getting training for staff although stuck out for me, in a good way. I don't think I've seen that related to a convention before, but it strikes me as an effective practice to put into place.

~Sabrina

The Readercon concom is full of good people who have been put in a terrible position by all this. I'm glad for the thoroughness of this decision.

Arisia has been doing BARCC training for staff for a few years now, and I believe it had been talked about as something we needed to do for Readercon, but it hadn't actually happened yet. This seemed like a pretty damn good reason to get on it. (I'm on the programming committee for Readercon)

I've been convention security on a number of occasions. In my experience anyone who behaved in ways that made others uncomfortable--sexually harassing ladies being the #1 problem--were escorted to their rooms, told to pack up while security watched and were then escorted out of the hotel. They were told not to come back, period.

The fact this guy seems to think it's okay to act this way, and the fact he was not removed from the convention immediately, makes me wonder what in HECK the con organizers were thinking.

There is -never- an excuse for this sort of behavior. Never.

Edited at 2012-08-07 12:27 am (UTC)

The incident wasn't reported to the concom until after the convention was over, or immediate action would have been taken to remove the offender from the premises.

A late response most definitely but good to see concom act in this manner. Frankly I had missed your earlier post and had not heard about it until posting in your name change thread wherein someone made a comment about Readercon. When I then read your earlier post, I was shocked to learn what had happened.

thank you for sharing the information. It is good to hear that they are doing the right thing.

It's a shame it took so much effort by so many people to get them to do the right thing, but at least they've done it, and done it right. Go them.

And thank you for your part in that *hugs*

I will still never attend Readercon. Does not matter that they reversed the decision. They chose to make a bad one to start with and I cannot trust that they will not make another bad judgement. What they did was just so incredibly insulting on so many levels that I cannot express how seriously angry I am at the whole thing.

I'm inclined to agree with this comment. Readercon ended up making the right decision, but it took a LOT of footwork on the part of the community as a large to force that decision to happen. Their initial response was not a good one, was not the right and the just one, and it makes me sad to think that we have to PETITION for our safety.

While you have every right to be outraged, as I understand it, the first draft of the Readercon statement was created before the petition was posted to LJ, and managed to contain pretty much all of the petition's demands before they existed.

The vast majority of us on the concom worked to fix mess as fast as we could, and were far more motived by profound disagreement with the decision of the board than we were by bad PR.

The concom can either work hard never to allow a screwup that bad to happen, or just give up and end the con. Cat's a friend, and her hope to go to the con again some day is, in part, what's motivating me not to give up on it.

If the con has been poisoned for you by the board ever making it's decision on Walling, then that's part of our shame to bear.

I'm not so much outraged as very saddened by how far we have - and haven't - come, as a set of communities (geek, literary, etc). It's quite heartening that the vast majority did sit there and say "no, this isn't right, you made the wrong decision", but the fact that the wrong decision was made in the first place is what I find so distasteful, and so disappointing.

I'm thrilled that the statement was first fleshed out before the petition (and I certainly claim no understanding of how everything timed out), thrilled that in the end, the right thing is being done. I just have a large part of me that's sitting back saying "no, there should have never been a petition in the first place, there should have never been an initial backlash against the people who had been wronged". That's where my disappointment and upset is coming from, and why I say that we should not have had to petition for our safety - because we shouldn't have. Because those of you who sat there and said that this is wrong, that this needs to be dealt with appropriately and with justice should have had that say in the first place.

In the end, the right decisions were made, and I'm glad that the concom and everyone involved in Readercon is invested in making sure that this is more than just lip service.

I appreciate your taking the time to clear up some of the muck surrounding the incident, and I am very glad you and the rest of the concom who disagreed have worked your tails off. You didn't have to reply to me (or anyone else), and I thank you for the time spent doing so. You guys have a lot of work cut out for you; best of luck with all of that. It looks like I'll be adding Readercon back to my list after all.

While you should of course trust your feelings about this and I'm not trying to change your mind at all, I just thought you might not know a couple things, but you may and if so ignore me :)

It was the Board of Readercon that made that decision, and they have all resigned, some even from the con committee also. The committee does elect the board, so you may be right to hold them to the fire too. But I think what happened is that the committee was mostly out of touch right after the con and the board made that decision without reference to them at all. And then getting the committee together (in an internet sense) and getting the actions and apology sorted out and agreed upon just took time. I believe the committee is thirty people, and the board more like five.

My opinion, and it is only that, is I would like to reward the committee for this, for the circumstances, swift turnaround and the beautiful apology and the actions they laid out to take. If those actions are followed that's going to be one of the safer cons out there. I may be a little swayed by having read what's been going on in the atheist/skeptic con world where they seem to have decided that they don't care if women participate at all.

But I can't afford Readercon, so I just say things in comments about it. I especially loved Rosefox during the whole thing. Grace under pressure just begins to describe her actions but they need so much more.

I have to ask: is your judgment always perfect? And if it's not, would you want to have your bad judgment held against you in perpetuity, regardless of the efforts you took to change?

Your anger is justified, and I think you are right to be skeptical and wary. However, it seems to me that if we can't (and don't) move beyond punishing people for making mistakes, then there's not much incentive for people to either stop making them or to change.

Sure there is. But the victims don't have to be the ones they get to test their new behavior on, nor does anyone else. They can try again with new people who are willing to take a chance.

On one hand I'm glad they came to this decision and on the other hand they came to this decision because of the enormous negative backlash they recieved from the community. Pity they didn't do this to begin with because now it feels more like ass covering/putting out PR fires than a legitimate concern for safety for those who attend the con.
Well, still, someday I'd like to attend.

I've got to say, though, that the thoroughness and maturity of the committee's response is far, far beyond typical "ass-covering" fare. It's a sincere apology which really goes all the way, accepting full responsibility and affirming the anger and dismay at the board's original decision. Bear in mind, also, that there were only a week and a half between the board's verdict and the committee's statement - given the excellent statement and the board's resignation, I don't think we're seeing much thumb-twiddling here.

Kudos to the committee for taking the stand so clearly and comprehensibly. Though the circumstances are obviously disheartening, having them addressed so fully is a huge step. The response is much appreciated.

I have to say I am happy to see the proper and positive course of action taking place. There will be many who will still be angry and will not attend. Yet I feel that the people ho are angry need to attend to keep the convention more accountable for their future action and also to sign up for the positions they feel will not get the attention they deserve. This is a chance for the people to make right the wrongs with their own actions. Take the power and use it wisely.

As with most things in this world (slavery, women's right to vote, gay marriage) it took too long and too many actions to make change happen. But the fact is change is happening. Once can criticize the slowness of the change or capitalize on the movement and make is work in the favor of positive progress.

Or something.

I am glad you spoke out and told your fans & LJ readers about this. Your voice helped gather some of the momentum for change. You are still awesome in my book. Even if it does not need to get written. lolz!

-S

And we dearly hope to see you there. Thank you for this.

It's very impressive. Good on them. (And particularly Rose Fox, who has been a shining example of sanity and decency throughout.)

I am so so very pleased to read this!!! Thanks for pointing us to the link. I don't even attend Readercon (or any other lit con), but when I read this I realized how much following the entire incident via the livejournal posts of so many authors I admire had added to my cynical side. I feel so much lighter now! Thanks to you and all the others who posted about this incident and called them out,and way to go, Readercon, for listening and responding so thoroughly and well!!