Apologies From Two Former Arisia Officers, and Other New Statements

Cody Lazri, who was on the Arisia, Inc. Eboard for the year-long term ending September 2017, serving as corporate Vice-President, and who resigned from the convention committee on October 27, 2018, has posted “My Arisia Statement”, a detailed history and apology:

To My Beloved Arisia Friends and Family,

As someone who has been part of Arisia leadership in recent years, I am sorry for what my actions and inactions have wrought. I am sorry for hurting people who work year round to make the convention happen. I am sorry for hurting attendees. I am sorry.

First, let me get the important bits out of the way:

  1. I was a voting member of the ‘16-’17 EBoard.
  2. I am taking a year (or longer) off from Arisia to self-crit.

It feels strange to be putting this out after several people have already resigned, but I’ve been working on it for days, and several people have assured me that more stories will be welcome and useful.

What follows is long….

…I am sorry for my complicity in Arisia’s toxic culture. It’s not right for new people to need to step in and clean up our mess. Thank you for stepping up anyway to do the difficult work that we failed in, of making Arisia a safer place. Good luck and Godspeed.

Arisia founder Matthew Saroff, although not engaged in the con since 2005, issued “A Public Apology 27½ Years Overdue”.

I just wanted to make a note:  I founded Arisia over 25 years ago, filed the original paperwork, and the 501(c)3 application, and chaired the first two conventions in 1990 and 1991.

While it has been a while since I have done anything involved with Arisia (2005, because I decided that it was bad for me on a purely personal (as in in obsessive/addictive behavior) issues.)

However, I am aware that I made numerous errors during my tenure running the con, particularly in the last 6 months as chairman:  I was a legendary asshole during that time, and I believe that some of the organizational issues that Arisia appears to have to this day likely flow from this.

To the degree that Arisia has cultural and organizational issues, and I have been away for 13 years, so I honestly do not know anything about the current organizational culture, I was in at the beginning, and contributed to that.

I am profoundly sorry, and I wish that I had the common sense to realize in mid-1990 that my behavior was destructive and harmful, and do better by the convention and my then staff.

Kris Snyder confirmed some background about Arisia’s incident response handling from personal experience in a new Facebook statement on October 30.

So yea, this thing, people telling a member of Arisia staff and then nothing happening? Is an actual thing. It continues to happen. I have heard of it happening in the past few years, and know of several claims of it from the past few years that I 100% believe took place, including at Arisia 2018. That someone went to members of The Watch or a staff member with a Black Ribbon, and then no paperwork was ever filed for someone to follow up on post-con.

We need to do better. All of us. Not JUST the eboard in their post-con follow up, even though that is the thing that currently needs the most work. We’ve improved at-con since 2011, though there is still more work to do on the at-con side in educating the rest of staff to call the at-con IRT when faced with disclosures that look even faintly like they could be a report.

Erik and Eppu Jensen announced “Arisia: A Point of No Return for Us” at Co-Geeking.

We take this stand as a response to Crystal Huff’s blog post where she shared her experiences with Arisia’s response to serious safety concerns, including stalking both during the convention and elsewhere.

Arisia is a volunteer-run con for fans of science fiction and fantasy, in all forms of media, held annually in January on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Boston.

The con staff and/or Arisia Executive Board have failed in following and enforcing their own Code of Conduct and problem reporting process. This failure has been long-standing, and has had the practical effect of protecting a stalker.

Therefore, we will not return to Arisia nor recommend the con in the future. It is unacceptable to hold people to a different set of rules depending on who they are.

Arisia’s actions over the past few days have regained the support of this convention worker:

One thought on “Apologies From Two Former Arisia Officers, and Other New Statements

  1. I think I am impressed that Matt Saroff recognizes that even though he’s been away from Arisia for years, he recognizes both his own past bad behavior, and his role in creating the lasting toxic culture in the organization.

    Need to give it more thought, though.

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