Yesterday we reported on the controversy surrounding the 2015 World Fantasy Convention‘s highly flawed (read: awful) harassment policy. The policy effectively said that any reports of harassment to the staff would immediately be forwarded to law enforcement, and that no other real action would be taken by the staff.
This, of course, has a myriad of potential consequences — from limiting the convention’s definition of harassment to the legal definition to removing any real consequences for offenders (once you really think about it) to intimidating victims from reporting it in the first place. It was just bad. But with the convention only a week away, it seemed like attendees willing to brave the event would be stuck with it.
Well, miracle of miracles, they’re not.
Earlier today, the 2015 World Fantasy Convention committee announced on Facebook that they were making a change:
So it seems like WFC2015 is adopting the Harassment policy of the 2014 World Fantasy Convention. The 2014 Harassment policy is actually pretty decent:
We do not tolerate harassment of the people at our convention in any form. Everyone is entitled to a harassment-free convention experience, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, national origin, or religion.
Harassment includes inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, offensive verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking or following someone, making harassing photography or recordings, and disrupting talks or other events. Anyone asked to stop any harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately. A request to “stop” or “go away” means exactly that. If anyone engages in harassing behavior, the convention committee may warn the offender, remove the offender from the room, or expel the offender from the convention with no refund.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against or harassed, or if you notice someone violating hotel or convention policies, we respectfully suggest the following:
- If you feel comfortable doing so, point out the inappropriate behavior to the persons involved. Often this will solve the problem immediately.
- If you do not feel comfortable talking with the persons involved or if talking to them does not resolve the issue, please report the situation immediately to a BWAWA, Inc. Board member, a Convention Committee member, or Operations Staff. Try to provide a name, badge name, badge number, and/or physical description of the persons involved.
- In order to take action, we need to know about any incidents during the event.
Assuming this all gets approved (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t) it means that attendees will actually have some protection. Of course, as the original policy is also still in effect, it doesn’t relieve every problem. The mandatory contacting of Law Enforcement still looms it’s ugly head, but this is a good faith step in the right direction.
Honestly, it’s downright refreshing to see a committee change course and do the right thing. I’ve gotten so used to people doubling down on their mistakes that it’s astonishing to see a convention actually admit to them, let alone take steps to make it right this quickly.
If only every convention could respond like this.
Side note: I know a lot of Nerd & Tie’s readers may not be familiar with how events like the World Fantasy Convention work. Unlike most cons, events like this are run by a different staff every year. While the World Fantasy Convention has a governing board, local committees place competing bids to host the event. That is why new policies are drawn up every year.