ConQuesT and Why Harassment Policies Need Follow Through

On Saturday, Mark Oshiro detailed the negative experiences he had as a guest at last year’s ConQuesT on Facebook. Oshiro goes into detail about his negative experiences, and goes so far to name names of those responsible.

You should really read the entire post (seriously, go do it), but for me the most important part is what happened after the convention. You see, ConQuesT 46 had a harassment policy in place, so Oshiro reported the incidents to the staff. He went through the proper channels, and do you know what the convention did with this?

Well, if you guessed “Absolutely Nothing” you’d be right.

Writing down harassment policies are all well and good, but they are absolutely meaningless if nothing is done to enforce them. If offenders don’t get at least talked to, what exactly is the point? Without penalties any policy becomes meaningless, and that to me is alarming.

Don’t get me wrong, the actual harassment was alarming too, and the fact that in the second decade of the 21st century we’re still dealing with this kind of awfulness in con culture is worse. — But follow through is how we move towards correcting it, and we sorely need to.

In ConQuesT’s defense, current Convention Chair Keri O’Brien (who was not in charge during last year’s event) has publicly apologized for the incident and says the convention is taking steps to handle things better in the future.

Let’s hope they do.

Update (2/24): After a rather weak-sauce attempt at a public apology from the KaCSFFS Board of Directors, Mark Oshiro has posted an extensive follow up to his original post.

  • Nicholas S Schneider

    After reviewing a few more posts on facebook, I found a post made by Jesi Pershing (whom is married to a friend of mine from Sci-fi con’s past here in Omaha) ( https://www.facebook.com/artzfreak/posts/10154669633126808?pnref=story ). Jesi pretty much backs up -everything- that was done or wasn’t done by ConQuesT’s own BoD and previous con-chair. Just a whole lot of nothing was done over an 8 month period.

    I’m glad Jesi decided to step away from that and that Mark decided to post this. This kind of crap has been a battle within the Scifi convention groups (in the midwest mostly) for the past 10 years. They need to get it through their skulls that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

  • PandoraWilde

    Handling of harassment complaints is why I quit staff at the first con I staffed for–after 8 conventions. I couldn’t support an administration that puts up with bullying. I fully support the staff who work there still and hope they never have to deal with what I had to.