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How to handle a harassment complaint at your event

Alternate title: Good practices for organizational management of a harassment complaint

Note: This document is not exhaustive and may be updated with additional suggested policies. I am not a trained harassment manager and there may be more detailed documents that you should reference when planning your event.

Step 1: Have a harassment policy
You can call a Code of Conduct, or some other name, but you must have a policy that clearly states what behaviors are not allowed at your event. The policy should state that failure to follow it can lead to expulsion from the event without refund. It should also have clear instructions for how to report a violation. All of your attendees should be asked to agree to this policy if they want to attend your event. If you do not have a policy, stop running your event un

4 comments to How to handle a harassment complaint at your event

  • Martin Bonner

    I shudder to think what might have prompted this.

    … and if it didn’t happen to you or yours, it certainly did happen to someone yesterday.

    • A local event has been publicly failing at this, so it was on my mind. None of it directly affects my family, but some of my friends are tangled in the mess.

  • lurker

    As written, I think it leans to much towards presumption of guilt, and not enough protection for the accused. For one thing, getting a counter-report from the accused is absolutely necessary, as well as only fair; not just something that ‘can be useful’. And I am sorry to say that false reports are NOT ‘exceedingly rare’; adding that phrase does rather tend to prejudge the issue!

    I say this out of some experience: while I have never had anything to do with a convention, I have for years dealt with harrassment matters in my professional setting.

    Now, if I may be forgiven for offering personal advice to someone I have never met: if you are going to be active in this area you need to be careful of your own emotional/mental well-being, because you may have to deal with quite horrible people and it can be dreadfully sad.

    • Fair point. As I was writing this I had multiple situations in my head where events did not listen to or respect a victim, so that probably slanted my language. I’ve changed some wording, because I do believe that an impartial evaluation is important before action is taken.

      As for being active in this area, I don’t intend to dive into it. I wrote this up because it was on my mind and I think that many volunteer run events could benefit from a (very) basic road map on how to manage. Large or professional organizations should hire someone who is specifically trained to manage these things.