A decision to ban an individual from all Arisia convention and other sponsored activities was announced November 20 by the Arisia Inc. Eboard and Acting Convention chairs.
Trigger warning: sexual assault of a minor.
The incident occurred away from the Arisia convention in 2009 and was reported to a senior staff person during the 2010 Arisia. Although multiple reports were received at the time, there were no records in Arisia’s Incident Report Management Committee files. The subject of the report continued to attend Arisia and serve on staff. It was only when the IRMC-assisted vetting process for 2022 convention staff was taking place that the reporters stepped forward again, and otherwise they say the individual would not have been restricted from working on Arisia staff.
The Eboard and Acting Chairs statements follow the jump.
Statement of the Arisia EBoard
Trigger warning: Child sexual assault
At the November corporate meeting, Arisia’s EBoard and Incident Response Management Committee (IRMC) reported on a decision to ban someone against whom serious and credible allegations of child sexual assault had been brought. This person has been banned permanently from all Arisia-sponsored activities.
The IRMC recently received multiple reports about the alleged sexual assault, which took place in 2009 in a non-Arisia location. However, the recent reports are not the first time that this incident was reported to Arisia staff. It was reported to a senior staff person at the 2010 Arisia convention, and several senior staff members were later made aware of the situation. Most of those people are not currently on Arisia staff. The subject of the report continued to attend Arisia and serve on staff.
Despite several reports of this incident, there were no records in the IRMC files. If it were not for the multiple reporters who stepped forward in 2022 during an IRMC-assisted vetting process for staff, the IRMC would have vetted the subject and placed no restrictions on their serving as staff for Arisia.
Prior to 2013, Arisia did not have any formal explicit policy or process to remove people from the community permanently. Instead, we took measures that, while well-intentioned, probably resulted in greater harm. Some of these measures were: keeping certain people away from each other by having them work in different areas; keeping all of the “missing stairs” in the same, pre-con place; and/or keeping unofficial, area-specific banned staffing lists, commonly referred to as “no fly” lists. A missing stair, as defined by Wikipedia, is “….a metaphor for a person within a social group who many people know is untrustworthy or otherwise has to be ‘managed,’ but whom the group chooses to work around, by trying to quietly warn others of their behavior, rather than deal with them and their behavior openly”. By 2018, we had a robust process, but not enough people to fully implement it, especially given the huge backlog.
The Eboard, as an institution, stands culpable for the current state of affairs. We as a community are responsible for these harms: both the harm to those who saw us welcome abusers into our ranks, as well as the further harm they may well have caused that we may not even know about. For this, we owe an apology to the Arisia community.
We propose the following ways to mitigate this from happening in the future:
- Get help from qualified organizations on how to prevent, address, and make amends for harm from such errors
- Produce better documentation, including reporting process document; going through all of the back files available to us
- Communicate better to the community that these tools are available and that we will take their reports seriously
- Establish better collaboration and communication with other conventions and communities regarding such matters, while also staying within the bounds of existing policy regarding confidentiality listed under the Disciplinary Process
We recognize that apologies are not sufficient to repair the harm done and that the Arisia community may have strong reactions to this announcement. We are committed to listening, learning, doing better, and changing the culture of Arisia as a convention and as an organization. We will carry out these processes with transparency and humility, and we welcome the community’s ideas and involvement.
Statement from the Acting Convention Chairs, Arisia 2023
Dear Arisia Community,
We would like to take this opportunity to express our regret for our part in causing harm in unintentional, yet impactful ways. We are writing to follow up about our commitment moving forward.
In 2010 we learned about this incident and informed senior staff at the time; however, we did not follow up even though the individual has been on staff for many years between 2010 and now. This year, we asked the individual to consult on an area they had worked before and there was the chance they could have been on staff again. We understand that our failure in regard to this incident calls our judgment into question and has caused some people to lose trust in us.
We are sorry for the ways we have failed the community, and damaged Arisia. We need to be accountable for our mistakes and for the work that has to be done to repair harm. We commit to collaborating with the Eboard to improve our processes and data, and work to build systems that will be more resilient against individual peoples’ mistakes as well as participating in any restorative justice process.
It’s possible that you may be aware of past incidents that were not acted on or where your attempts to let Arisia know about problems were rebuffed. If that’s true for you, we encourage you to re-report these incidents so they can be examined again. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org can be a first step; if you want a way to report anonymously, that can also be arranged.
Arisia, Inc. maintains a list of people who have been banned (sorted alphabetically), “Disciplinary Process Decisions”, however, it not known whether it has been updated with this case.