This is me, taking a break from section numbers. Let me tell you, bears no longer like to be workaholics. Apparently, the therapy worked.
A brief update: our Lorna still remains in the hospital. Yesterday, while I sneaked away to the Secret Registration Bunker (TM) to work on registration materials (I close my eyes and I see synonym numbers), the rest of our office staff worked very hard to make payroll. I’ve had 21 minutes that have been mine the last two days. Woot!
Tonight I’ve been taking a bit of a break. I’ve used my writer time to submit to a few more agents and to update my links page with some Viable Paradise XIII’er journals. (If I’ve missed you, please let me know.) I’m going to take some time out to do some writing tomorrow, at least for a couple of hours.
I’m going to comment on this in two capacities: as someone who supervises at a large organization, Kirkwood Community College, and as someone who is currently president of the Mindbridge Board, which hosts three conventions in Iowa: Icon, Gamicon, and AnimeIowa.
My first brush with inappropriate convention behavior happened when Julius Schwartz, famous DC and Marvel comic book editor, groped my butt because I was wearing revealing space armor at a comic book convention. I was shocked. It never occurred to me in my embarrassed state to complain to anyone at the convention. Later I would find out that Schwartz was legendary for his impropriety. Regardless of what I was wearing, that shouldn’t have happened, and I should have called DC. But, yeah, I’ve been there.
What I could have used at the time was some more experienced fan, male or female, to have supported me, and helped me figure out what to do. I make attempts to be that older fan now.
While I can’t talk about any sort of specifics, I’ve recently had a brush with this issue at work as a supervisor. Kirkwood’s procedures are much like the large publishers that Jim lists in his entry. You can expect a procedure like our EEO/AA program at most corporate and educational institutions. Just this week, I was contacted by our Human Resources director, who is investigating the issue I allude to cryptically further. There are several reasons why corporations have clear policies, including several federally mandated legal ones.
Our steps are clearly outlined, as are issues concerning consensual relationships in power situations (teachers with students) and the college’s rules along those lines. Kirkwood’s bottom line is to protect employees and have a clear process that protects the complainant and the organization, and investigates the incident thoroughly. I would not be surprised if similar processes were followed at large publishing houses.
What about this issue from the viewpoint of someone who helps organize conventions? Mindbridge is a fairly large organization. We become more organized with each convention. We cover insurance and tax preparation for all of our conventions. We have a copyright policy for our art show. We will be talking about food preparation standards for our con suite very soon.
We do not have a spelled out harassment policy. I imagine, with the attention this has been getting, the issue will come up at a board meeting in the near future.
What we do have RIGHT NOW is a black list. If a member is reported as behaving inappropriately at conventions, we reserved the right to remove that person’s membership. What we would like you to do if you experience any kind of discomfort at any of our events is come to the con committee or a member of the Mindbridge Board, or any handy staffer, and get the word to the people in charge about what’s happened. We WILL take what appropriate action is required, from removing a member if it is warranted all the way up to calling the police. Be assured that we are very tuned into this issue. I think more and more cons are becoming that way. The trick at a convention is that since we are a social venue, we need you to let us know if you’re feeling uncomfortable. It’s your choice to talk to us or not, and we recognize that can be difficult. But we will listen if you do come forward.
We are particularly protective of our AnimeIowa crowd, as they tend to be teen-aged and college-aged, and we like it best when we have lots of parental chaperones who come with their kids and keep an eye out.
Whether at work or at play, remember that one of the things we can do as a fan culture is to model certain kinds of appropriate behavior and disapprove inappropriate behavior. Individuals decide what they will and won’t accept, but unwelcome attention and discomfort should be something we all make an effort to prevent.
Comments are welcome.