Arisia 2019 Chair, Artist GoH Make Statements; Wu and Hopkinson Call for Action

Arisia 2019 chair Daniel Eareckson has publicly addressed “what we are doing to make Arisia a safer place”, and artist Elizabeth Leggett announced why she has decided to remain as one of the con’s guests of honor.

Meanwhile, Brianna Wu is calling for feminists to stay away from the con, and “high profile men” as well. Nalo Hopkinson, who turned down an Arisia 2020 GoH invitation, says “There has to be a house cleaning.”

My name is Daniel Eareckson and I am the Convention Chairperson for Arisia 2019.

I have taken too long to make this public statement; I apologize for that. Between now and the convention, I intend to frequently put out messages like this one indicating what we are doing to make Arisia a safer place. Likely turning into a weekly update.

Several actions have already been taken:

– Noel Rosenberg will not be on staff and is banned from attending Arisia 2019.

– Joseph Averett will not be volunteering for Arisia 2019. I have asked the Eboard to open or reopen investigations into the incidents mentioned.

– We are reaching out to third party specialists to review our Code of Conduct and Policies regarding Incident Responses. As these recommendations become solidified, we will share them with you.

– The Eboard has approved refunds for Arisia 2019 memberships to anyone who no longer wishes to attend this convention.

I will announce more actions as they are taken; and recognize that these initial steps are not enough to produce lasting change. I encourage your input. Emailing eboard@arisia.org or conchair@arisia.org is the best way to make sure that people see your suggestions. Although there are a lot of people working on this right now, we may not be able to reply to every individual message, though each message is read and considered.

I want everyone to know what goes on in our meetings and how to be part of making things change. I invite everyone to please come to the next Arisia Corporate meeting on November 11th at 2pm at the Somerville Armory and the Convention Committee meeting on November 18th at 4pm at NESFA to learn about what we do, how we do it, and to become involved directly.

Our structure and Policies are at https://corp.arisia.org/documents. Improving our Policies is one way we can make changes last and prevent mistakes in the future.

I am personally committed to addressing the issues raised by the people who chose to come forward, and to seeing that Arisia 2019 takes place in a environment where people can feel safe. I want you all to feel that this convention is worthy of attending, that we as a convention can learn from and recover from our past mistakes, that we can improve and exceed the level that is expected of us.

Daniel Eareckson

Arisia 2019 Conchair (conchair@arisia.org)

Dear Friends, Fans and Family,
This has been a very long three days.
I have made a decision. After a lot of thinking and soul searching, I have decided to remain as Arisia’s 2019 Artist Guest of Honor.

At no point was this an easy or casual decision. As I mentioned, Ms. Huff’s account is both something I believe and something that is all too familiar to me. The mistakes that were made in handling this and another incident were horrifying.

I wanted to see what was going to be done. I wanted to see the actions behind the words. Here is what I know.
In the past few days the following things have come from Arisia leadership:

* The person accused has resigned from being president and has been officially banned from any and all current and future Arisia functions.
* Some previous incidents are now being re-examined.
* Arisia leadership has opened acknowledged their several mistakes in this, and have announced steps that they are currently making towards changing their policies and improving their awareness of how to handle future such incidents.
* The BRCC will continue to provide training to con-staff.
* Arisia’s no-refund policy has been rescinded, allowing anyone who wishes to pull out to do so.
* They are holding a corporate meeting on the 11th, which the public is (as always) welcome to attend.
* They are reaching out to an outside company for review and assistance with the process so that there are more eyes other than just Arisia volunteers on this issue.
* As of Sunday evening I know that there are several other steps that they are looking to take, but are not finalized.

In the desire to make sure that I was not misinterpreting what I was reading from the corporate emails I made a point of checking with an Arisia affiliate that what I’m saying is right. This was important to me to make sure that *I* clearly understood what was being said and wasn’t getting anything mixed up as it informed my decision in staying with, and supporting the convention.

These steps, along with the many conversations I have had with Arisia staff this weekend have left me believing that Arisia is taking this with the heavy seriousness it needs. I have faith that they will continue to make improvements to their process in the next few months and over the upcoming years.

In addition all sales of my Arisia piece featuring the jellyfish mermaid under Boston Harbor now named, “Depth” (originally entitled, “Illuminate”) will be donated to the Boston Rape Crisis Center. This includes the one issue 24”x36” limited edition dye sublimation along with the 12×18 prints. After that time, the Boston Harbor variant will be gone for good.

Thank you for your patience with me.
Light and Laughter,
Elizabeth Leggett

  • Brianna Wu

(Thread starts here.)

  • Nalo Hopkinson

 

26 thoughts on “Arisia 2019 Chair, Artist GoH Make Statements; Wu and Hopkinson Call for Action

  1. Jeff, yes. If they cannot say definitely that it will be safe for all and that all who were engaged in these abhorrent practices have been banned from leadership roles, there’s really no choice. Nalo is right: there has to be a house- cleaning and if tat means cancelling the Avon, so be it.

  2. Cons should be a place where, to quote Jane Yolen, you touch magic and pass it along. Everything that the Con committee does should intrinsically support that mission, not protect their own self-interest. Any committee, regardless of what they’re overseeing, that fails to that has failed their mission.

  3. Jeff Jones: In essence, you’re saying cancel the convention.

    Well, it didn’t have to come to this, did it? They could have dealt with these harassers and abusers years ago, instead of repeatedly covering it up and enabling it.

    That’s the choice that they made — one they made again and again and again.

    They thought they could get away with doing it, with no consequences for the convention. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them, after they’ve allowed severe emotional harm to be caused to so many people?

    I do feel sorry for the people on staff at Arisia who had nothing to do with that. I hope that they can band together to reform a new convention without the problem staff, or at least find another convention to call home.

    But I’ve taken note of the names of the enablers, and I will be scrutinizing closely any conventions I attend in the future to see whether these people are being allowed to hold positions of responsibility without first demonstrating publicly that they’ve taken steps to educate themselves and actually change their attitudes and behavior. At least one of them — who is involved with several conventions — is still utterly unapologetic about it.

  4. And not still at all getting it. From another post here:

    Update from the Eboard: 10/28

    We are announcing that Noel Rosenberg is banned from attending Arisia and Arisia functions permanently. This decision will be reported to the corporate membership at the next corporate meeting. Per policy, this decision may be overturned by the corporate membership, or revisited by a future Eboard if new information comes to light.

    In other words, we reserve the right to allow him to return to the Con for any reason what-so-ever if we find information to our liking that allows us to overturn this decision that we really, really didn’t want to undertake.

    After all, he’s just a rapist.

  5. I notice that Daniel Eareckson’s quote above says that Noel Rosenberg is banned from Arisia 2019 — that doesn’t sound very permanent.

  6. It seems to me that it doesn’t much matter how great your policies are on paper if you don’t enforce them or abide by them and leave too much leeway for individuals facing a sticky situation to twist one way or another. From my reading of the incidents that were the root of this, they have policies and procedures adopted that weren’t followed or were reinterpreted on the fly to get to a preferred outcome. So all the re examination or having third parties look at their policies isn’t going to help if the people running things aren’t willing to enforce them or live up to nice sentiments on paper. And having seen past actions, I don’t think a lot of the people who are now asking for refunds or deciding not to go will be reassured by the actions thus far. There have already been too many rounds of “Oh NOW we get it, okay give us another chance to fix this” in the previous string of con-tastrophes. It really does look like they are going to have to clear the decks and start over.

  7. I have to agree with previous filers, the current culture at Arisia has become corrupt. It’s very telling that it took a massive outcry and GOHs backing out to get even the slightest concessions.

    There needs to be large scale change, not just a review of policies and promises to do better, they need to see a wave of resignations and new blood coming in. If that means a year of downtime, then you take a year of downtime to sort things out.

    Because that this point fandom will no longer accept half-assed moves and boilerplate expressions of regret.

  8. Well, I still think they’re on the right track to learning this very difficult stuff and doing the right thing, and I support them in this process. It is not easy, and people of good will sadly screw it up all the time, even when they’re trying really hard to do it right.

    It also takes time. At this point the Arisia EBoard has been running on short sleep for days, it still took longer to get this far than many of us would have liked, and they’re not done yet.

    There is still plenty of time for my personal decision about going or not going to be made. I am following with great attention and hoping for the best.

  9. Douglas Berry: There’s no such thing as a year of downtime. Cancelling Arisia with less than 10 weeks notice is tantamount to shutting down Arisia Inc. entirely. Which is an argument that could be argued on its own merits, but should be done straightforwardly.

  10. @Lowell: [citation needed]

    Specifically, do we know of cons that have tried to take a year off from a formerly schedule, and what happened if they tried to come back? [My first attempts at googling got me nowhere; this needs someone who knows their fanhistory.]

    There almost certainly would be problems with the hotel, including cancellation fees–but if enough people decide not to come, there’s plenty of time to cancel a room reservation without penalty, which might also cost the concom money. (I haven’t looked at this in ages, but a lot of contracts include some form of “X space free if and only if we sell at least so many room nights to con members, otherwise the convention has to pay for that space.”)

  11. It is not easy, and people of good will sadly screw it up all the time, even when they’re trying really hard to do it right.

    I have seen no evidence that the relevant persons at Arisia posess good will (towards targets of abuse, we already know how they feel about abusers) or are trying to do it right.

  12. If you cancel a convention on a few weeks’ notice, due to circumstances entirely within the convention’s control, which this was,, good luck getting any hotel with the facilities to hold such a convention to talk to you in the foreseeable future.

    Not the same, but I think parallel enough in the way hotels would view it, in the 1980s, the Boskone From Hell blew up, and the hotel cancelled on us for the following year.

    We scrambled to find a hotel that would even talk to us. At all. We wound up at the far end of the state, in two hotels connected, or separated depending on your point of view, by a mall. We had to make a lot of compromises to get even that, able to hold a convention even a quarter the size of the old Boskones.

    And in the process, we missed off a lot of fans and permanently lost people we’d valued.

    A planned, intentional skipped year can work. Readercon did it early on, and I believe other cons have, too.

    But, “oops, sorry, it’s barely more than two months out and we’ve mismanaged a huge problem for years because we thought it was minor, and now we’ve missed off too many attendees, guests, program participants, and even committee and staff, so we’re cancelling for this year but will definitely be back next year…”

    No. Sorry. Don’t kid yourself. SF conventions don’t spend enough money to get away with a screwup on that scale and expect hotels to be interested in talking to the screwup next year.

    Either argue for ending Arisia, or don’t. However wise a hiatus year might have been if they’d realized before last year’s con and talked to the hotel about skipping this year then, it’s far too late to do it now.

    The choices are find a way to make this year’s con work anywsy, even in a reduced and chastened basis, or don’t, and kill Arisia. There are arguments for each course, but don’t kid yourself that a middle path exists. It’s. Too. Late.

  13. I’m also concerned about the Mariott Hotel Workers strike. Will that be resolved by January? And if not, does Arisia have plans in place that don’t involve crossing Unite Here’s picket line at the Weston?

  14. @Lowell: [citation needed]

    Fair enough. And there certainly have been conventions that took a year off and came back. Just not this close to the convention and not this large a convention.

    Arisia’s financial liabilities would be far beyond its ability to cover if the convention were cancelled now. Aside from room guarantees, there are equipment rentals that are past their cancellation deadlines, as well as a variety of other expenses.

  15. Well, the closest example I can think of Disclave, which did not survive, but after four years a new convention, Capclave, was launched instead.

  16. Steve H. Silver has a recent example: “Lunacon took 2015 off, returned for 2016 and 2017 and then cancelled 2018.”

  17. @Lis Carey:

    Thank you. That’s the sort of information I was looking for.

    Which means the question really is, Is this salvageable, and is it worth saving?

  18. Disclave is not an example; it was permanently shut down by hotel refusals, not paused (Capclave is a different time of year and a different atmosphere; Disclave (which I attended for 20 years) was commonly called the summer’s first party, where Capclave’s front page calls it a “small literary convention” — not so small, and certainly not anti-costume, the year GRRM was GoH, but that was an exception.) AFAICT, Lunacon is dead; I was asked recently whether I could think of any use for what’s in their storage space, which they’re not renewing the lease on. Readercon announced a deliberate one-year suspension (not a pause) long in advance, on the grounds that the 2004 convention would have been too close to a large Worldcon; I’m not sure they even sold 2004 memberships at the 2003 con, and they made clear they were coming back in 2005 — very different from pausing for a “house cleaning” that might or might not leave enough people to run the convention.

  19. ULTRAGOTHA, I have heard many high-level Arisia staffers say they would not cross that picket line, and praying it will be settled in time so the con would not have to be moved, because redoing program this late would be a bear. The concom meetings have been moved offsite for the duration.

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