Jul. 22nd, 2014

alexandraerin: (Default)
Is "Member Advocate" merely a title for someone who runs committees at the behest of committees in order to deal with the disposition of reports and generate new reports... or is it, as the title suggests, a person whose number one job is to be an advocate for WisCon members, the representative and voice and liaison between members who have a safety issue and the powers that be?

Because while I have heard many positive things about the person holding the title, I have not gotten the impression that she has embodied the role of Member Advocate in a way that lives up to the ideal conjured by the words.

She saw no need to keep in touch with the people who produced the complaints during the process of handling them, which feels really jarring given that the position was created in part to end the troubling silence that resulted from lost/mishandled/ignored reports.

She apparently picked and chose which members' concerns would be represented in the write-up that the sub-committee worked with, leading to conspicuous absences and the appearance at least of weighing some members' comfort and safety over others.

And when the uproar and confusion greeted the poorly-worded initial statement, she did nothing to address that.

Now, I'm not writing this because I think the Member Advocate is a terrible person and I'm not even calling this her failure, because I don't know who defined the role exactly, or how it was defined to her. It might be that she did exactly what she was asked to. It almost certainly is the case that she did the job she thought was before her, to the best of her ability.

That's why this is phrased as "a question WisCon needs to be asking itself".

What is the Member Advocate actually there for? Are they really just another committee head? Should it be their job to simply reduce conflicting opinions to a consensus and then write a statement?

Or is their job to be an advocate for the members involved?

I think it should be the latter. There has been some criticism of the sub-committee's attempt to mimic a judiciary approach. This is especially troubling if--as I understand--the Member Advocate serves as the chair of the harassment sub-committees that she convenes. Because that's her in the position of the one moderating the discussion, the one acting as "judge" (to the extend that anyone on a committee of equals is)... as a chair, it might seem natural to serve the interest of perceived impartiality.

And there is nothing wrong with impartiality. There should be impartiality.

But if your title is Advocate, you are not and should not be impartial, because it is your job to represent a party.

An advocate is not neutral.

An advocate is one who has taken someone's side.

One of the most trenchant criticisms of not just the product of the committee but the process that created it was that it did not center the victims of Mr. Frenkel's behavior. This should be astonishing, given that the proceedings were called and ran by the advocate of these people.

I realize that the proceedings are confidential, but as the members of the sub-committee are no doubt also participating in the conversation about how to change or save or revamp the process they participated in, I would ask them to ask themselves:

Was the Member's Advocate conspicuously on the side of Elise, Lauren, and the other people affected by James Frenkel?

Assuming the harassment sub-committee system is not scrapped entirely and a completely different model put in place instead, making sure that this happens--that there is an advocate in the room who is completely centered on the concern of the complainant--would go a long way towards addressing the shortfalls of the current system.
alexandraerin: (Default)
The Daily Report

I did not make it through the "write the outline" stage of my plans for yesterday. This is the thing about trying new things, they don't always work quite the way you expect them to. The newness of it was a big part of the problem, as it's often harder to just sit down and write something completely unaccustomed.

I did hit on something that might work slightly better for me than the informal outline I was attempting, and that's the idea of just writing a summary, in-character/in-voice. Not exactly a rough draft, although it's possible that some of the wording might be passed through to the final version.

Even without the written seeds in hand, I still feel like I have a good enough handle on the next few chapters to continue with my plan for the week. I'm in a good position for today's chapter, and I think between this morning and tomorrow morning, I can be caught up for the rest of the week's writing.

The State of the Me

Doing okay. Slept pretty well last night. My mornings are somewhat hampered by a cat who thinks that the sun being up means I should be up.

Plans For The Day

This morning I'm working on getting my house in order for the rest of the week's writing. This afternoon I'll be threshing out the next chapter.
alexandraerin: (Default)
There's one theme I keep seeing in comments about the Jim Frenkel case, and while this particular thought mostly seems to be coming from erstwhile defenders from outside the immediate community (and people who probably be Frenkel's peers in age and other demographic markers, I imagine), I do have to wonder if it's related to why one piece of evidence in particular apparently didn't seem compelling to the sub-committee's chair.

Author/journalist Mikki Kendall reported that on her first meeting with Frenkel, he spent the entire conversation openly leering at her cleavage. She has written and spoken about this incident and about WisCon's handling of Frenkel here, with an addendum taking specific note of how the recently-released apology reflects (or rather, fails to reflect) the treatment she's still receiving.

The reason I'm speaking about this has to do with the picture that one of her friends snapped of the incident. This picture has been dismissed by the commenters I described above as being just a single moment of time and not proof of anything... you know, because a picture flattens perspective, he could have been in the process of moving his gaze down to something on the floor when the camera went off, he could have been suppressing a sneeze, et cetera.

I could point out that it's really unlikely someone would have managed to snap a picture just in time to catch an accidental juxtaposition like that, as compared to noticing something both obvious and ongoing and getting a picture of it while it's still ongoing. And I guess I just did. But let's forget that.

But the thing is, this line of argument requires us to throw out Mikki's own testimony as to what happened. She was there. Don't you think she knows the difference between someone who is supposedly engaging with her instead staring directly at her chest, and the same person glancing down at the floor next to her? Is there any reason to be interrogating her claim, especially when it's perfectly in line with other reports of Frenkel's typical behavior?

The photograph as a single piece of evidence, a single snapshot in time, might not be damning. But it doesn't have to be. It's supporting evidence; it backs up what Mikki has to say. Other people's experiences were believed without such support.

That the one supported by a picture is also the one that was apparently thrown out is interesting to say the least.

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