Oh, WFC…

I have asked to be removed from programming unless WFC 2015 revisits its harassment policy:

Harassment Policy
In New York State harassment is a defined criminal offense. None of the Committee, Hotel or City Center staff are trained to recognize the difference between legal harassment and incorrect/uncivil behavior. We have consulted with the Saratoga County District Attorney and the City of Saratoga Springs Police Department and been advised to report any incidents to the Police Department so that they can determine if the reported conduct meets the legal definition of harassment to charge the offender. If a Convention member feels that they have been harassed, please report it to any Committee member or the Hotel main desk staff who will promptly notify Police. The Police have said they will respond promptly to deal with the situation. Needless to say the Committee hopes that members behave in an acceptable civil manner toward other Convention members and the staff of the Hotel, bar/restaurant and City Center. No one wants to behave in a manner that draws Police attention. Offenders will be prosecuted and the consequences are severs.

I’m a small fish in a very big pond, and I don’t think my request alone will make a difference, but I hope that if enough fish make the same request (or if some big fish join in) that maybe they will revisit this ineffective policy. For those wishing to contact WFC2015, there aren’t any general contact addresses listed on their site. I sent this email to ChairWFC2015@aol.com and program@wfc2015.org:

Dear WFC Board,

I saw in the most recent bulletin that your harassment policy has been updated from the stub listed on the website. I am disappointed that the concom seems to have abandoned any responsibility for creating and enforcing a community standard because it seems to reflect an attitude that harassment at conventions isn’t a serious issue that is best addressed by a robust harassment policy. Every other convention I have attended, including previous WFC events of the past several years, has addressed this matter in a more robust manner than you have. The policy listed in the bulletin, and especially the closing statement that “No one wants to behave in a manner that draws Police attention. Offenders will be prosecuted and consequences are severe,” displays a disturbing disconnect with how harassers think and act and how harassment has historically been ignored and tolerated within our community.

I am on a convention committee myself for a small regional convention, and if you are looking for a model of what I think is reasonable and easily-enforced-by-volunteers harassment policy, you can check out ours athttp://fogcon.org/about-fogcon/policies/

For examples from your own state, I would direct you to review the harassment policy of the New York City Comicon:http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/About/Harassment-Policy/

I urge you to review your policy and to consider following the standard set by many excellent conventions on how to handle harassment without resorting to police involvement. Your policy as it stands will result in a lot of instances of harassment being tolerated or ignored exactly because the only offered route for addressing them is so severe. This only serves the harassers and perpetuates harassing behaviors. In other words, your policy as it stands actually creates an unsafe environment where harassment is tolerated.

If you decide to continue with the policy as stated in the bulletin, then I request that you remove me from programming. I have already made travel arrangements and can’t rationalize the sunk cost of not attending WFC, but neither can I support a convention that would promote such a cowardly and ineffective harassment policy.

Best regards,

Alyc Helms

P.S. I have brought this issue up several times before, but there is no general contact information that I could find listed on your webpage, which makes it seem like you don’t value input from the attending community.

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