10/25 -Arisia Guests of Honor Daniel José Older and Malka Older will not be attending as things stand.
10/26 – Arisia posted the following on Twitter:
“Regarding a recent influx of comments, the Arisia Executive Board takes our Incident Response process and the safety and concerns of our community very seriously. We will follow up with a statement by the end of the weekend.”
10/26 – Nalo Hopkinson has turned down Arisia’s invitation to be their 2020 Guest of Honor.
10/26 – Arisia Artist GoH Elizabeth Leggett announced on Facebook that she’s waiting until Monday to see how the convention handles things, at which point she will decide whether or not to attend.
“Effective immediately, Noel Rosenberg is no longer President of Arisia, Inc. On October 26th, at an emergency meeting of the other members of the Arisia Executive Board, the first step we took was to ask Noel to resign as President of Arisia Corporate and we have accepted that resignation. The Arisia 2019 Conchair has informed the Eboard that Noel is no longer the Operations Division Head, and will not be placed in any other staff positions.
“Yesterday we issued a short statement that ‘the Arisia Executive Board takes our Incident Response process and the safety and concerns of our community very seriously.’ We mean that, but we acknowledge that we failed severely in this case…”
“This one set of incidents–not just Morgon’s behavior but the complete lack of backup from [the head of security at the time] and the general chain-of-command fumbling that led to Morgon keeping his badge and ribbon well after he was known to be violating Arisia’s code of conduct–was the immediate cause of Arisia losing two dedicated, hardworking volunteers who might otherwise have contributed a great many more hours to the convention, and of Arisia’s community losing two people who had previously been very involved in the convention’s social aspects.”
10/28 – Per the Arisia Eboard, Noel Rosenberg has been permanently banned from Arisia. (Though there are ways this ban could be overturned.)
“I have taken too long to make this public statement; I apologize for that. Between now and the convention, I intend to frequently put out messages like this one indicating what we are doing to make Arisia a safer place…”
“What I can tell you is this: There was an investigation about the allegations against Noel, but it was taken so lightly, and without seriousness, they didn’t even bother to tell the person running con safety, someone who worked closely with him, anything about it. I believe Crystal Huff. And I feel utterly betrayed by so many people I thought I could trust.”
“At this time I, Gregorian Hawke, have accepted the resignation of the the following Eboard members (those who stood for re-election in September). Anna Bradley – Vice-President, Rick Kovalcik – Clerk, Benjamin Levy – Treasurer, and Sharon Sbarsky – Member-at-Large. Anna Bradley has resigned effective immediately. Rick Kovalcik, Benjamin Levy, and Sharon Sbarsky have resigned effective upon the election of a replacement (per Bylaws 3.12) at the November 11th meeting when elections will be held.”
I’ve known Crystal Huff for years. She’s active in fandom, and was one of the people helping to promote the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon bid. She’s chaired or co-chaired at least half a dozen conventions. She’s been one of the moderators of the Journeyplatypii of Fandom conrunners group. She’s the Executive Director of Include Better and the former Executive Director of The Ada Initiative.
She’s also a rape survivor. Like many survivors, her rapist wasn’t a stranger hiding in the bushes, but a man she knew and trusted.
A few things to keep in mind:
- 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by an acquaintance, friend, family member, or significant other — not a stranger. 25% of rapes are committed by a current or former romantic partner.
- Being in a relationship does not equal consent.
- Consenting to one act does not mean consenting to another. (For example, consenting to making out doesn’t mean consenting to sex.)
- “Freezing” is not consent. (Often it’s a fear or trauma response.)
Conventions have gotten better in recent years about establishing policies on abuse and harassment. When it comes to following and enforcing those policies, the record is spottier. I know of some instances where conventions have done an amazing job of following through and working to promote the safety of their attendees.
Crystal’s experience, when she reported this to Arisia, was … well, it sounds like she’s correct when she says she doesn’t think Arisia was prepared to deal with this situation. It’s one thing to create a policy. It gets messier when the accusation is against someone you know. Possibly a friend. Possibly an officer in your organization.
That doesn’t change the organization’s obligation to follow through and protect its attendees.
One objection Crystal encountered was that people didn’t want to have to choose between her and her attacker. And sure, that can be a lousy position to be in. But let’s be clear about who’s responsible for putting people in that position. Hint: the one creating this “awkward” situation for everyone is the guy who committed the assault in the first place, not the person who reported it.
This is a long post, but an important one. We have a lot more work to do to make fandom a better, safer place. I hope Crystal’s post, which I’m sharing at her request, can be another step in that process.
Trolling, harassing, and victim-blaming comments will be deleted, and the commenters tossed into the moderation queue.
Content warnings: rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, stalking, and general asshattery of a group of people in general and one rapist in particular.
This is really long, and I am sorry, but it is mostly depressing.
I know why my rapist wins.
TL;DR: After a few years of intimidation and stalking behavior that drove me more and more from the Arisia community, my rapist, Noel Marc Rosenberg, was appointed as the Operations Division Head of Arisia 2017. I’d objected to his positions of authority in Arisia before, privately, to leadership, but I strenuously objected at that point, and did not attend the convention. That appointment made Rosenberg the person responsible for oversight of the safety team of the convention. In September of 2017, he was also elected as president of the umbrella corporation of Arisia. The president of Arisia presides over the executive board, which is apparently the entity to which safety concerns and incident reports are referred if they are too complex to address during the convention itself.
This year, on September 23, 2018, Rosenberg was re-elected as president of the organization. The election was held less than two hours after the executive board notified me that they would not be addressing my safety concerns regarding him.
The Arisia Code of Conduct states:
“…all Staff are representatives of Arisia and therefore are held to a higher standard of behavior, even when off duty.
“…Arisia forbids abusive, insulting, harassing, and / or intimidating behavior which includes, but is not limited to, stalking, physical or verbal intimidation, discriminatory comments, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
“Please report any incidents in which a member of the convention is abusive, insulting, intimidating, bothersome, or acting in an unsafe or illegal manner to Incident Response Team (IRT), an Assistant Div Head, a Division Head, an Assistant Con Chair, or the Con Chair.”
It’s impossible to start at the beginning, or even know where the beginning of this story should be.
Arisia was the first science fiction event I attended, my first year in college. It was the first convention for which I volunteered on staff. After working on the convention for several years, it was the first one I chaired, in 2011. I served on the executive board several times. I used to regard Arisia as my “home convention,” and I was proud of the things I did to make it happen. I regarded the progress on the con’s inclusion and diversity efforts in recent years as having roots in things I did years ago, in ways great and small, and I was thrilled to see accessibility and safer spaces and diversity of program participants expand beyond those efforts. I was, to be honest, chuffed that Arisia was considered a feminist convention by other convention-runners. My online handle, for many years, was “ArisiaCrystal.”
You can therefore perhaps imagine how awful and gutting it was for me when members of Arisia leadership, over the past few years, told me that there was nothing to be done about the fact that my rapist was also on staff, in positions of authority, and has in recent years involved himself with the safety processes of the convention. Over the past few years, these developments have edged me out of the Arisia community. I didn’t feel safe attending Arisia in 2017 or 2018, given Rosenberg’s position and authority over the safety team.
This post is because I think he’s finally won. I can no longer imagine attending Arisia.
I share some of my thoughts here in the hopes it is useful for other organizations in the future. It’s my hope that talking about this in public might help address the underlying problems. If nothing else, as my friend Nóirín Plunkett once urged me, I’m going to refuse to participate further in my own gaslighting.
So. Here is a list of some of the reasons why my rapist has won.
These factors all tie in together, but this only happened because Arisia, as an organization and as a community, decided that this was all okay.
1. He wins because he thinks it wasn’t rape. At first, I didn’t, either.
In the moment Rosenberg violated me, I couldn’t believe what was happening. “What the fuck are you doing?” were, I believe, my words. A note: “WTF” is not consent to a sex act. When he replied with, “This is what you wanted,” though, I froze. And yes, those words are etched into my memory. That is exactly what he said.
In case you weren’t aware, freezing is a common response to rape and sexual assault, in the moment. It took me a long time to figure out that just because I froze, that wasn’t actually me consenting to what he did. That’s not what consent looks like.
During my relationship with Rosenberg, we had had explicit, specific agreements about requiring barriers (condoms) for all penetrative sex. Those agreements were in writing, even, because they were so important! He intentionally and with premeditation violated my consent. When I objected, he simply informed me that it was what I wanted, and kept going.
I objected, and I continue to be outraged whenever I’m reminded that he explicitly and intentionally violated my consent in this fashion. This was a violation of my consent in a sex act. (If you are here to tell me that “stealthing” isn’t included in the legal definition of rape in Massachusetts, kindly sit with why you think that is, and also please read this. The legal definition of rape in MA requires “physical violence,” which, as we all should know by now, has nothing to do with whether or not a sexual encounter was consensual.)
It took me a while to figure out that this was not “what I wanted,” and that it had happened without my consent. But it did.
2. He believes he can’t be the bad guy.
Rosenberg thinks he’s a good person, so he can’t have done something bad to me. Rosenberg spent a lot of time in voicemails and in emails trying to convince me that he wasn’t in the wrong — that he loved me, even. He left me over 90 voicemails in the year after raping me, according to the count in my journal, trying to convince me or himself that he loved me and wasn’t in the wrong. He sent text messages and left voicemails when he knew I was on a plane, so that I’d receive them when I landed. He thought that was a romantic thing to do, even after we “broke up” (his term). At the time, I was tremendously conflicted about communications from Rosenberg. Now I find all of that very creepy.
3. People kept asking me, “Are you sure it was rape?”
When I told friends in positions of authority and leadership at Arisia, friends I’d known and worked with for years and who I trusted to understand the violation of my consent that had occurred, the first response I got from Arisia leadership, literally, was this question, from Rick Kovalcik. Was I sure it was rape? The legal definition of rape might not have included “stealthing,” then, but the violation I experienced was real. A sex act that was explicitly against our agreements occurred. I was violated. Yes, I’m sure it was rape.
4. Other people consider his expertise too valuable to lose, and some feel that he shouldn’t experience consequences for his actions.
When I said that I didn’t want to work with Rosenberg anymore, two or three people on the executive board told me that his experience was invaluable and Arisia staff needed his expertise in order to have the best possible event. One Arisia senior staffer and a former president of the organization literally told me I should “prioritize the needs of the convention” over my own needs or wants. Rosenberg’s participation was deemed important; my expertise and involvement were treated as disposable if my feelings became too inconvenient.
Rosenberg also insisted he still had a “right” to be on staff of Arisia after raping me, which he informed me of even after I emailed him to say that I wanted nothing further to do with him and no communications from him. Other senior people on staff also told me that I shouldn’t “use [my] position of authority inappropriately.” I shouldn’t “blackball” him from being on Arisia staff, because that would be “unfair.” I had to read Rosenberg’s emails, I was told, if they were related to the event. I’m sure you can imagine how quickly my inbox filled up with messages from him that I didn’t want to read and shouldn’t have had to. But I wasn’t supposed to forward his emails immediately to the trash without reading, because I had a “responsibility to Arisia.”
5. His creepy, stalker behavior was barely acknowledged as problematic, even to friends.
I was told by a member of the executive board of Arisia that I was being “overly emotional” and “making a big deal of it” when Rosenberg was seen walking past my house, within feet of my front door.
Another Arisia executive board member verified that Rosenberg had walked past my house, but then told me to my face that it was “reasonable” for him to walk past the door of my house when he was en route to a meeting. The meeting was a 25 minute walk away from my house. He lived a 45 minute drive from my house in the opposite direction. Google mapping suggests that the most expedient route to the meeting would not go within a quarter of a mile of my home. It seems only reasonable to me that he stay away from my home, but at minimum, surely he could avoid the extra exertion involved in going out of his way to walk down my street.
He followed me from room to room at Relaxacon, a small Arisia staff event of 30 to 50 people, for at least two years running before I stopped attending. One year, Rosenberg even invited himself along to a six-person lunch that my friends planned in order to get me away from him. Some of my friends ended up going to lunch with Rosenberg instead of me that day, so that I could be away from him and know where he was.
For one Relaxacon, Rosenberg contacted my partner and asked to share a hotel room with him for the weekend. Friends on Arisia staff agreed that that was a weird thing for my rapist to do, but they claimed I was being unfair to characterize it as “creepy” or “stalker-y” behavior.
He also showed up and stood around in the parking lot for some time at Readercon while I was the conchair of that event. He did not have a membership. His ex convinced him to leave, eventually.
At Wiscon in 2016, members of the safety team told Rosenberg to stay away from me. He was told not to enter a room if I was in it, and leave if I arrived. He initially agreed to this, but later did not behave according to the agreement. I discovered this by virtue of his tweets on a Wiscon panel hashtag. I’d asked a question of the panelists and was looking at the hashtag for responses online. He was tweeting from within the panel room. I had been the first person to ask a question at this panel, for which Justine Larbalestier rewarded me with a book. She made a big deal of giving me the book in the middle of the panel — there was no way he could have missed my being in the room. And yet, Rosenberg did not leave as he had agreed. Despite not being a regular user of Twitter at the time, he apparently tweeted twice from that room, on that hashtag. They were the 17th and 18th tweets he had ever made, and the only time he ever tweeted from a convention panel. Given the context, it seems to me that those tweets were a form of intimidation, which he hoped I would discover.
He did this kind of thing a few times during that Wiscon: Rosenberg publicly and clearly behaved in direct violation of the boundaries set by convention safety staff — boundaries to which he had agreed. He escalated the situation over the course of the weekend, even coming up to my table at the banquet event and staring at me. The safety team decided to take action, which they asked to do in consultation with me. They banned him from attending the event on alternating years, so that I could attend then without concern.
There were plenty of other situations over the past several years, many of which occurred at Arisia corporate meetings and staff events, most of which I have less documentation for. More incidents happened than I want to recount or remember, to be honest. At each juncture, I was told by people I considered friends, by people who were in senior positions of leadership at Arisia, that I was being “unreasonable” or “Arisia’s hands were tied.”
6. I was told I shouldn’t file for a restraining order because that would be inviting drama.
One member of the Executive Board of Arisia informed me that it would be a “drama queen” move to file a restraining order against Rosenberg. This conversation happened shortly after the incident where he was seen walking in front of my house. My attorney said that I had sufficient proof to get one, but I decided to listen to Arisia leadership. To be fair, going through the restraining order process might have been grueling. I don’t know if I would have been up for it. I wish now that I had done it, though.
7. Apparently, people think they shouldn’t have to choose sides between me and my rapist.
I ran for an election in which Rosenberg was my opponent for the position, a few years ago. Someone literally wrote on their ballot slip “I love you both” as their vote, rather than one of our names.
In 2017, he ran unopposed for the position of president of Arisia. I had already stopped attending any Arisia meetings, at that point, since that was after he’d become a manager of the safety team at con. I definitely wasn’t going to run against him again. Out of 56 people, eleven of them voted against his candidacy when the secret ballots were counted, but no one ran against him or said anything publicly when he was elected. Privately, I received several text messages of sympathy, but that was all.
In 2018, Rosenberg again ran unopposed for the position of president of Arisia, and was elected with 42 out of 54 votes. He was publicly endorsed by vice president Anna Bradley, someone who I had thought was a friend of mine. When I tried to ask her about the situation a few years ago, she said “there are some conversations I’m not able to or willing to have.”
Choosing to not get involved supports the status quo, which is that I suffer the consequences of Rosenberg’s actions and remove myself from his vicinity in order to avoid more stalking and intimidation behavior from him. Anna is not the only one who decided to not be involved, despite knowing many of the details, and that is part of the party line that Arisia upper leadership has decided to adopt.
8. He thinks he has every right to be wherever I am, even if I can’t leave freely when he shows up.
There were several points over the past few years when I was staffing an informational table in a public space. Rosenberg developed a habit of casually walking by with alarming frequency.
At Arisia 2016, the last year I attended, Rosenberg “coincidentally” struck up a conversation with someone at the table next to mine, and stood there for at least 15 minutes, staring at me the whole time, before I finally called a nearby friend over for help. That friend’s job was to block my rapist from making eye contact with me anymore. That was all. Given the way Arisia leadership had treated me over the years, I didn’t trust Arisia’s safety team to intervene. Interrupting the stare was all I could manage. After another incident in which Rosenberg decided to ride the elevator with me after I got on (staring at me for the entire length of the ride), I tried complaining to a former member of the executive board. I was told my rapist “was probably doing his best” to avoid me, or words to that effect.
At Wiscon one year, Nóirín Plunkett and I timed Rosenberg walking past my location three times in one hour, then standing alone across the hall from my table for over fifteen minutes, staring at us. We were at a table in a hallway that led to the dealer’s room, and had been there for only three hours at that point. Nóirín finally convinced me to call the convention safety team and ask for help. They set boundaries with Rosenberg, to which he agreed, but which he then repeatedly pushed and violated. After Wiscon had documented his aggressive behavior at their convention over the course of two years, they decided it did warrant consequences. I proposed we trade off years of attendance, since I did not think I could afford to lose fandom goodwill, and I was convinced my reputation would suffer if it became public that I had requested he be banned while I was co-chairing a Worldcon. I had already been chastised about “abusing my position of authority in fandom” when complaining about his behavior elsewhere, and I figured the likelihood of internet harassers aligning with my rapist were pretty good if it became public. I wish I had asked for what I really wanted, that Wiscon ban him entirely for his stalking behavior toward me, but at least they did make sure that I wouldn’t run into him again on years when I do attend.
9. I’m told that my rapist’s behavior at events other than Arisia has no bearing on Arisia. The rape also didn’t happen at Arisia; therefore, it’s not considered the business of the convention.
Rosenberg has been banned from at least three other events due to his behavior toward me, in addition to the Wiscon decision. Arisia’s executive board believes that none of that has anything to do with Arisia, though, so it apparently can’t be considered when weighing what to do about my concerns. One Division Head of the convention told me that the rape didn’t happen at Arisia and I didn’t file criminal charges at the time, so “Arisia’s hands are tied” with regard to the situation. This is despite the fact that Arisia’s Code of Conduct explicitly states that staff are “held to a higher standard, even when off-duty.” While the rape wasn’t at Arisia, some of the stalking was at the con and Arisia-related events. Rosenberg, in his position as president and a division head of the convention, obviously represents Arisia at the con and at those events.
10. Many people believe his public persona, that of a “feminist” and “ally.”
He has identified himself as a feminist and ally to women for longer than I’ve known him. He’s a queer rights activist. Clearly that means he can’t have violated my consent, right?
Relatedly, someone who believes Rosenberg is a feminist said that my issue with him is a personal one, that he wouldn’t violate someone else’s consent and isn’t a danger to anyone else.
11. No official report was filed using Arisia’s new reporting process, so nothing could be done about my rapist’s behavior or my concerns.
In 2016, Conchair Anna Bradley appointed Rosenberg as the head of her Operations division, which managed the safety team of the convention. I emailed her to say that I would not be attending the convention (for the first time in at least 15 years) because of my safety concerns. Her staffing decision didn’t make me feel safe, and she knew why I felt this way, because she was one of the people I told about Rosenberg’s stalking behaviors years ago, sitting in her car on my street. Anna’s email reply encouraged me to email a report to the safety team, apparently not recognizing the irony of asking me to submit a report about my rapist that would land in his inbox.
When the stalking and intimidation first started, I spoke with at least eleven senior members of Arisia leadership (presidents, vice presidents, division heads, convention chairpeople, and other members of the executive board) about my experience and my concerns about Rosenberg being on senior staff. Apparently, those discussions no longer counted under the new reporting system in 2016. I was even chastised for “not following procedure” and “using the whisper network.” During the Arisia “investigation” of this issue that went on for the past 14 months, I spoke with another four members of Arisia leadership in April of 2018, including a future conchair, and answered questions from some of the current executive board.
In words and actions, over the years, Arisia’s leadership has told me that either they don’t believe me or they don’t care.
12. Arisia decided to proceed with an actual investigation in July of 2017, absent consent from me. They interviewed my rapist months before talking with me.
In July 2017, at Readercon, I was asked if I was attending Arisia. I reminded then-conchair Jaime Garmendia (another person in Arisia leadership that I’d told about Rosenberg’s stalking behavior in the past, in the lead-up to Jaime’s race against my rapist for vice president of Arisia in 2015) that he’d received the email explaining why I wasn’t attending Arisia — and he had reappointed Rosenberg as management over the safety team, so I would not be going. Jaime and I tried to schedule a chat to discuss things, but he then decided it should be a formal meeting, and he added seven people to the cc line of our emails without checking with me.
A particularly memorable paragraph in his email stated, “After some thought and discussion with the ConChair team, we’d really like to take this meeting more formally. This does not obligate you in any way to any specific course of action, but it does mean that per policy we need to have a second senior staffer present to take notes.” If only that had been an accurate statement, that Jaime’s actions didn’t “obligate” me.
At some point, Jaime decided to file a report to the safety team of Arisia without my participation, since he hadn’t heard back from me quickly enough. I resent that choice being taken from me, although in his defense, I was out of the country for most of the next few months. Rosenberg was apparently notified in November or December of 2017 that there would be an investigation, and he was told it would be about his behavior toward me, specifically. He was interviewed in February of 2018. (I was told in August 2018 about this having happened.)
By the time anyone from Arisia spoke with me about the new process, I was having a meeting with members of the Incident Review Team (IRT) instead of Jaime. It was April 2018, months after they’d decided to proceed with their process and speak with Rosenberg. I was asked to recount my concerns and the events that had transpired. I did my best. Toward the end of the discussion, I asked the people on the IRT if they believed me that I was violated without my consent and that Rosenberg behaved in the ways I described, which I’ve recounted here. Two of them said they believed me, that I was raped. One of them equivocated, “I believe something happened, at least.”
I also supplied a list of seventeen people who I had told about my concerns over the years, which included some people who’d witnessed pieces of Rosenberg’s stalking behaviors, not limited to Arisia spaces. At least some of those people were since contacted by Arisia’s executive board at the end of August 2018. One person has said they don’t remember what happened and “don’t want to get involved.”
13. He tells other people I’m crazy, so clearly my desire to have nothing to do with him is suspicious.
I’ve heard from multiple friends that Rosenberg tells people that I’m “crazy,” that I’m out to ruin his life, that it was “just a bad breakup” but I apparently couldn’t handle it. If someone heard first from him about the situation, and then asks me about it, it’s a “he said/she said” situation.
There is plenty of research concerning first impressions that might apply here, but essentially, him “getting his side of the story out” means people are less likely to believe me. I’ve been reluctant to go around telling people I was raped and stalked, as you might imagine, so this has simply resulted in many people believing Rosenberg’s claim that I’m “crazy.” It gives me cause to wonder, too, that Arisia’s official process while investigating the code of conduct complaint was to speak with him months before they spoke with me.
14. Apparently, I have gone through all of this for nothing to change.
After the April 2018 meeting, there were months of little to no contact from the Arisia executive board or the IRT, broken occasionally by a promise that something would happen at some point soon.
April 15, 2018 at 5:16 pm
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with us.
This is the email to confirm email addresses, as promised.
June 12, 2018 at 7:03 pm
My apologies that this email wasn’t sent earlier. This is to let you know that we are still reviewing my notes and hadn’t forgotten you.
July 13, 2018 at 3:53 pm
I’m sorry. Travel plans, etc. delayed progress. We will be reaching out to some of the people that you mentioned in our meeting.
August 15, 2018 at 10:57 am
FYI, we are still actively working on this. We are still working on contacting your witnesses, we hope we will hear from them by the end of August and hope to wrap this up by the end of September.
August 28, 2018 at 12:19 am
Status update. We believe that we have sent emails to all of your requested contacts and are hearing back from them. Some may be contacting you privately for permission to reply with personal information.
In answer to your questions at Worldcon 76, two members of the Arisia Eboard met with Noel and Buzz on February 1, 2018.
That same day, August 28th, one of the people on my list messaged me that they’d gotten a message from the executive board. A second has since confirmed that they spoke. I have no idea how many they reached of the other 15 people I recommended speaking with, but it has become clear to me that they had only recently begun trying. I know at least two people were not able to reply to the executive board’s email in the short window of time available.
For my part, I was shocked to receive the following email at 11:49 am, on the morning of the September 23, 2018 Arisia corporate elections meeting. This email was sent 11 minutes before the meeting started.
The following statement will be made at the September Arisia Corp meeting:
The outgoing Eboard resolved the last two incident reports that have been brought before the Eboard to go through our disciplinary process. Notice about them will be submitted to go into the next Mentor with 12 days notice and reported on at the October meeting.
The notice for the incident involving you will be:
During Readercon 2017, the Arisia ’18 Conchair received information regarding reports of possible Code of Conduct issues that happened five or so years ago and elevated them to the Executive Board after the 2017 Annual Meeting. Because of the time that has passed and sensitive nature of the concerns, and the availability of witnesses, the investigation took place in fits and starts throughout the year.
Due to the complexity of the situation the Executive Board has decided to request that the two parties stay away from each other at all Arisia events and is taking no further action on this IR.
Noel Rosenberg will be named at the meeting, but not listed in Mentor. Your name will not be brought up and will not be printed in Mentor.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Arisia Eboard Member-at-Large
Due to them sending this email eleven minutes prior to the meeting in question, I had insufficient time to even decide whether to attend the meeting in person, let alone have any emotional space before the public announcement process began. In the grand scheme of things, this is such a minor detail, but it was so unkind and, if intentional, it was cruel.
Then, the executive board DID disclose my name to the corporate members present at the meeting, in direct violation of the Arisia Code of Conduct on the website and contrary to the above email. I don’t know who disclosed my name, but Sharon Sbarsky (as above, a member of the executive board, and the only member of the executive board to attend the meeting I had with the incident response team in April 2018) told me that they did so “since you requested that this be announced, and [Rosenberg] also requested it.” I never requested that my name be disclosed to the corporate members or to Rosenberg, to be absolutely clear, and that is in violation of their own policy.
Rosenberg was re-elected as Arisia president less than 2 hours later.
I don’t think any of this followed the new reporting process on the Arisia website, but I’m particularly bitter to note that step 7 of their instructions to staff taking a report is “Find out if there is a specific action being requested or an action that would remedy any harm that has taken place.”
I don’t recall such a question being asked of me. Certainly, I do not feel that this process has benefited me or the Arisia community in any way. It significantly harmed me to relive all of these events in recounting them, and to what end?
15. Even the follow-up after the announcement prioritizes and is supportive of Rosenberg.
In the day after this announcement, I texted Ben Levy, another member of the current executive board, and a person who I thought was my friend. I said, “Is this a decision you personally agree with? That the solution is to be told to stay away from each other, which I’ve been doing for the past several years by myself by absenting myself more and more from Arisia? Like, I’ve not attended anything related to Arisia in about 3 years.”
I received his reply, “With 4,000 people at the convention, it should be possible to attend and still stay away from each other.”
I wrote, “And yet, the last time I was at Arisia, he got in the elevator with me and stared at me the whole ride.”
“If something like that happens again, please let the IRT know,” came Ben’s answer.
Having told the IRT and the executive board that I was raped, then stalked, and intimidated at Arisia and in other fandom spaces over the past several years … what, a new complaint would cinch it for them? That seems ludicrous, and monstrously unfair to me. I must expose myself to further bad behavior in order for Arisia to take it seriously, because what happened up until this point was insufficient?
In addition, this response clearly assumes that I will not attend Arisia corporate meetings (of which I have continued to be a member, despite not feeling comfortable attending for several years) nor smaller staff events, some of which have had only 10 or 15 attendees. Arisia’s response is tone-deaf and shows complete disregard for my safety or comfort.
No plan or suggestion to make it easier for me to rejoin anything with regard to Arisia has ever been presented, throughout this entire process.
None of the members of the executive board asked me how I was doing or if I was okay, in the wake of their decision.
I’m left to assume that either Arisia leadership doesn’t believe me, or they don’t care that they’ve re-elected my rapist as their president.
16. Organizationally, I do not think Arisia was prepared to deal with this situation.
For years, I’ve told myself I would not talk about this in public because I was not up for the emotional toll.
In the year of Trump and the week of Kavanaugh hearings, however, I am fucking done being silent.
Arisia leadership wanted to have an official report from me on what happened? This is my report. It contains the things I already told them over the past several years, most of which I have had to repeat several times over the past three years, in particular. The difference now is that I’m not quietly waiting for them to quietly do something about the situation. I’m not quietly hoping that Arisia doesn’t want to have a rapist as their president.
I am angry, writing this. Especially after the horror show Kavanaugh hearings, which happened at the same time as Arisia announced this decision, I am incandescently angry. I have tried to tone down my language here because, as everyone knows, an angry person isn’t believed or cared for or prioritized unless they are a cis dude.
I don’t know that writing this will actually solve anything. But I’m tired of hoping that Arisia, as an organization, will try to be better than any other institution built in rape culture.
… and finally, perhaps my rapist wins because I haven’t known what to do about all this. If I could list some wishes, however, I think these are chief among them:
I would like an apology from Arisia, as an organization, and from the individuals in leadership who I trusted over the years with pieces of what happened. (To be absolutely clear, I continue to wish to never receive any further communications from my rapist. Just to be completely, utterly clear.)
I would like the members of the Arisia executive board who supported this decision to resign. Immediately.
I would like Arisia as a community to decide they do not, in fact, want a rapist as their president or in a position of authority over their staff, but especially not as a manager of their fucking safety response team, or in oversight of the incident responses. Fire and ban Rosenberg. He’s again been appointed as the division head to whom The Watch (the Arisia name for their safety team) reports to at-con, and he’s been re-elected as president, which means he’s also involved in the oversight of all “complex” incident reports that are referred to the executive board. He “recused himself” from the vote on this matter, I’m told.
I wish that you, the person reading this, would commit to not attending Arisia or working on the staff of Arisia or presenting on panels at Arisia until changes are made and my rapist is no longer the president of Arisia or involved in any way with senior leadership or staff of the event.
I wish that people would hold Arisia accountable for this.If you feel that these events were bad, and that Arisia leadership has treated me badly, I would appreciate it if you would say so. You could tag @arisia on Twitter, or post to the Fans of Arisia Facebook page. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please be aware that I think the people who are operating the social media of the convention probably have no idea that this has been happening, and they are humans who don’t deserve harassment.)
I would like an official reexamination of how Arisia actually implements its code of conduct, in light of how it so spectacularly failed to even follow its own procedures, here. Preferably a reexamination with someone who has professional skills in this area, like Sage Sharp of Otter Technology.
I would like all members of Arisia staff to take trauma-informed training on how to respond to an incident. (When I was chair, we used to optionally offer such a training through BARCC, but I don’t know if this is still done, and it is clear at any rate that it’s insufficient.)
As my friend Vicka likes to say, “Don’t hang around with people who make you feel like shit.”
To those of you I told who have treated me kindly and supported me, I thank you. To those of you who I didn’t trust with this story or some details, whether out of fear of not being believed or due to exhaustion (the topic is, understandably, rather draining to revisit), I am sorry you’re hearing of it this way. I hope you understand.
I put over a decade of my life into Arisia. Closer to two decades, actually. Yet even after the work I did for the convention, and in the middle of the public discourse about #MeToo and #TimesUp, the very week that the Kavanaugh hearings began, Arisia announced this decision, that my rapist was more important than I am and that Arisia as an organization would continue to have a rapist as their president. Arisia would have to do a lot of work before I’d ever consider trusting them with my time or my safety again. I’m not sure it’s possible, after this.
This is why I have absented myself from Arisia, for those of you who’ve been asking. This is why I’m gone.
I’d ask you to consider who else has been missing, and why. Others have even worse stories than mine, but they are not my stories to tell. This is not the first time I’ve heard of Arisia’s safety team telling someone to “just avoid your rapist for the weekend.” If nothing changes, it won’t be the last, either.