Mark Oshiro (Mark Watches Star Trek) announced on Facebook he will be a member of MidAmeriCon II’s Incident Response Team, which responds to code of conduct violations, or people’s other problems with members of the con.
I am the Deputy of the Incident Response Team, working under our team Head Kris ‘Nchanter’ Snyder and Jesi Pershing, who is head of the Member Services Division. Both of them approached me to work with the Incident Response Team, and I am pleased that I’ll be able to help out on a necessary are…a of the convention.
What is the Incident Response Team, you may ask? Well, the entire group of us (and our committee is listed in full at this link: https://midamericon2.org/general-informat/committee-list/) will be on-site at the con itself. There’s a longer description of the IRT at this link: https://midamericon2.org/incident-response-team/. In short, we are responsible for responding to incidents and situations at the convention that involve member behavior, especially in relation to violations of the convention’s Code of Conduct. It’s something I’ve wanted to do more with at cons, and I’m thrilled that I get to work with the entire Incident Response Team to help make MidAmeriCon II the best convention possible.
The team is led by Kris ‘Nchanter’ Snyder, with Mark Oshiro as Deputy, and Staff members Anna Bradley, Jaime Garmendia, Kris Pelletier, Summer Plum, Kate Secor, Pam Burr, John T. Sapienza, Jr., and Liz Gilio.
MACII has posted an explanation of its Incident Report Process for members and staff. The portion for members reads —
So you have a problem at the convention, what should you do?
If you’re having an issue, come to Con HQ, flag down one of our rovers, or call HQ (number will be provided before the convention) and we will be happy to help!
If your issue is with another member of the convention, you will be handed off to our incident response team, to discuss your experience and decide if you would like to make a report.
We will make a written report, and ask you for the details needed to understand and resolve the problem or prevent further harm. If you give us your name and contact information, we will follow up with you as needed, but we also will accept anonymous reports.
We will tell you what our next steps will be and further action(s) to be taken, if any. If you request, we will follow up with you and let you know the outcome of our actions.
If other people are named in the complaint, they will be told that there is a complaint against them, but if the reporter wishes to remain anonymous, the identity of the person making the report will not be named.
Oshiro’s participation is one way in which MACII is leveling up, having fallen under a shadow cast by a local KC convention.
Last year Oshiro was ConQuesT’s Fan Guest of Honor. He publicly aired on Facebook his grievances about the racism, sexual harassment, and abuse he experienced there, saying that working within the con’s complaint process produced no action. Several of those giving rise to the grievances apologized online after he spoke out. The fact that he’s working another con in KC may be a sign of reconciliation.
The two-time Hugo nominated fanwriter (Mark Watches Star Trek) attended his first Worldcon in 2013.
This is a good sign. Obviously Mark is qualified, sympathetic, and cool under pressure.
Good to see MACII stepping up above other KC cons — hope they raise the tone for the others.
On MACII, everyone knows you are a dog.
An incident response team?? When did this become necessary? Is MACII expecting people to show up carrying weapons or something? What can happen at a con that cannot be handled by the concom? And that at last resort–can’t people look out for themselves?
More like: What can happen at a con which the concom has delegated to an incident team. So they have tone for other things.
I do not think “leave everyone to look out for themselves” is a responsible way to handle a convention.
Cathy: Whatever it’s called, this team is in fact how the concom is preparing to handle possible problems. Not everyone who is working at the convention is on the committee, or should be.
We wouldn’t, I hope, ask “what’s going to happen that can’t be handled by the concom” if they say “these are the people who are running the Hugo ceremony” or “A, B, C, and D will be running at-con registration.”
Leaving people to look out for themselves means privileging malicious actors–who may well be planning their acts in advance, and choose the location–over the person who wasn’t expecting the next person they walk past to grab at them, or call them names, or worse. It’s telling people “go ahead and mistreat your fellow con members, we don’t care what you do if it’s not illegal (or if the police are too busy with other things).” This was tried, for many years, and it doesn’t work if your goal is to prevent harassment.
Vicki Rosenzweig: The name “incident response team” is what drew my attention to the story. In the end, I decided that if I felt it was a dramatic-sounding name, to a large extent I was bringing that to the topic myself, because another con calls it “Safety” and I still react — on some level, I don’t want cons to need that, and that’s part of what my reaction is about. But cons do need CoC’s, and to make preparations for handling whatever might come up, and from past conrunning experience I know these kinds of problems do come up.
Cathy Palmer-Lister on July 16, 2016 at 7:59 am said:
The Con Com delegates its authority on all sorts of matters to people with valuable experience in those areas–running the Hugos, programming, the masquerade, gaming, films, filking, con suite, operations, tech…. Why do you think they must handle violations of the Code of Conduct themselves instead of delegating it to people with experience in that area?
Yes, any ConCom ought to expect people to show up carrying weapons, both functional and not, are inherent in cosplay after all. The con must have a policy to deal with that.
Finally, what do you expect the average member to do? You and I or any other typical WSFS member do not have authority to do anything to someone violating the Code of Conduct. We can’t revoke memberships, we can’t have a serious talk with authority with a violating member, we can’t be speaking to the convention center or hotels on behalf of the Con about CoC violators.
Without a Safety team, or Response team, or Ops staff, or whatever you want to call it, to handle violations, you leave members with no recourse when harassed by people violating the CofC. We have seen what happens when there is no accountability by the con. It’s not pretty.