Readercon 25

Readercon Safety Update

February 1, 2013

Dear friends of Readercon,

In our public statement released August 5, 2012, we pledged to do the following by January 31, 2013:

  • Convening a safety committee of concom members, Readercon regulars, and others who are known for their advocacy against harassment, and who will advise the concom on revising our anti-harassment policy and other anti-harassment and pro-safety actions.
  • Updating our anti-harassment policy to better reflect the reality of how harassment happens at conventions.
  • Updating our protocols for handling reports of harassment, including guidelines for avoiding perceived or actual conflicts of interest, increased transparency of process (while protecting anonymity of complainants and shielding other non-public data), and creating specific procedures to handle reports made while harassment is ongoing and reports made after the fact.
  • Updating our code of conduct to encourage behavior that contributes to a safe and comfortable atmosphere, and to clearly describe the types of behaviors that are not welcome at Readercon.
  • Working with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to train concom members and volunteers in swift, appropriate reactions to observed or reported harassment.
  • Developing extensive anti-harassment and pro-safety programming for future Readercons.

Since today is February 1, we're writing to update you on our progress.

  • The safety committee has been convened and has spent the last few months actively working toward making Readercon a safer and more enjoyable convention.
  • The safety committee has drafted a new code of conduct and a new policy for handling complaints of misconduct. These drafts have been tentatively approved by the convention committee, pending the finalization of internal procedures for addressing complaints. The safety committee is currently working on developing those procedures. We expect to have all three documents--the code of conduct, the policy, and the procedures--approved and made public well in advance of Readercon 24.
  • In December, representatives of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center presented a training session to concom members, educating us in appropriate responses to reports of harassment and sexual assault. We have also invited BARCC to present a similar workshop at Readercon.
  • Readercon's program committee is presently choosing among the 100+ suggestions for program items for Readercon 24. While not all of the suggested anti-harassment and pro-safety items may be feasible for this year, we will endeavor to include as many as possible in the program. Some examples of items we're considering:
    • a "welcome to Readercon" panel that will include discussion of our new code of conduct and policy and procedures for handling complaints
    • a workshop on being a good bystander
    • a workshop on making or helping someone else make a misconduct complaint
    • a basic CPR workshop
    • a fundraiser event for BARCC and/or Operation Hammond
    • a panel on unpacking and replacing the sin-repentance-redemption narrative that encourages a societal focus on perpetrators of harassment and assault rather than on the people they target
    • a panel examining the concept of social "safety" from the perspective of members of minority groups
    • a panel on creating perilous or traumatic scenarios in fiction that do not involve sex or sexual assault

We will continue to provide updates as our policies and program are finalized. As always, our focus is on providing the best possible convention experience for our attendees. We appreciate your patience while we take the time to do a careful and thorough job. Feel free to send us your comments at the addresses below.

Cheers,

Rose Fox, program chair, rose@readercon.org

Kim Riek, safety chair, kim@readercon.org

Crystal Huff, con chair, conchair@readercon.org