Wiscon still favouring harassers

As you know Bob, Wiscon has had problems getting its house in order after Jim Frenkel was accused of harassment. After Elise Matthesen reported being harassed by him last year you would’ve expected him not to have been welcome this year, but that turned out not to be the case. Fianlly, after lots of anger online and elsewhere and more incompetence from the con, Wiscon finally established a subcomittee to look at the Frenkel case and come to a decision about what to do with him. Today it reached its decision:

The WisCon committee announces the following actions:

WisCon will (provisionally) not allow Jim Frenkel to return for a period of four years (until after WisCon 42 in 2018). This is “provisional” because if Jim Frenkel chooses to present substantive, grounded evidence of behavioral and attitude improvement between the end of WisCon 39 in 2015 and the end of the four-year provisional period, WisCon will entertain that evidence. We will also take into account any reports of continued problematic behavior.

Allowing Jim Frenkel to return is not guaranteed at any time, including following WisCon 42; the convention’s decision will always be dependent on compelling evidence of behavioral change, and our commitment to the safety of our members. If he is permitted to return at any time, there will be an additional one-year ban on appearing on programming or volunteering in public spaces. Any consideration of allowing him to return will be publicized in WisCon publications and social media at least three months before a final decision is made.

Based on the policies adopted by WisCon’s Harassment Policy Committee before WisCon 38 in 2014, Jim Frenkel has the right to appeal this decision to SF3, WisCon’s governing body. If he enters an appeal, we will make public statements both when he does so and when the appeal ruling is issued.

Which really isn’t good enough? Because if I read this right, in the worst case scenario, if Frenkel is really really sorry, he could be back at the con in two years time, the year after it back as volunteer. Even a straight four year ban seems too little for somebody who harassed at least one woman at Wiscon, perhaps more. How could his victims feel safe there with this resolution? In everything this statement seems more concerned with Frenkel’s rights than with that of his victims, especially as it offers some sort of vague rehabilitation process he could undergo to be allowed back in less than two years.

Note that Elise Matthesen has already said she’d rather not come back to Wiscon regardless of the economic consequences for her business; I can’t imagine this ruling will change her mind. By bending over backwards to give Frenkel options for redemption, Wiscon keeps driving away his victims, not to mention those who have no desire to become his victim. The con had an opportunity to make a statement here, by banning Frenkel either for life or for a long enough period that it would actually have inconvenienced him; by not doing this they confirm that his rights to come to their con trumps the ability of any woman to feel safe at it.

This is not how a serious con deals with harassment.

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