The End of an Era

How’s that for a melodramatic title? “The End of an Era”? My narcissism knows no bounds!

Today I have opted to resign from the Penguicon Board of Directors, ending more than a decade of service to the convention nearly half of which as a member of the Board. There are numerous reasons for this, but as much as I will discuss publicly is described in my letter of resignation, reprinted below. Suffice to say, this isn’t a “rage-quit”, it’s not a call to brigade those who may or may not have done wrong, and it’s not the start of some battle. The direction of the Board and my direction are no longer aligned and so I am distancing myself from them; no more, no less.

I wish the Board and Penguicon both the best, and I will see you all at this year’s event!

Fellow Directors:
Several years ago we as a group met with members of our community to discuss the concerns those members had about the direction of our newly expanded code of conduct and that of the extension of those guidelines by the convention committee. Their apprehensions were and remain valid: certainly the policies outlined could be abused and over-applied; similarly, these policies could be misapplied as zero-tolerance mechanisms for antagonism by those so inclined. All behavioral policies carry risks, and–without strong stewardship and careful oversight–ours could as easily become tools for abuse as they could empty words. We knew this then, and we promised to provide that stewardship and oversight.

I made assurances then as I did over the ensuing years that the purpose of those policies was not to allow such abuses and that those of us on the Board of Directors considered it our responsibility to ensure that these policies were applied evenly, intelligently, and judiciously. I made a personal promise on that call–a promise that I have reaffirmed numerous times in the years since–that I would fight overreaches of these policies as strenuously as I would fight to see them applied where needed; that I would not be a part of a governing body that allows our codes of conduct to fail to be applied nor would I watch them be maliciously applied. I would resign before I would be a part of either type of misconduct.

Since that time, I have had numerous opportunities to honor that promise alongside many of you. I have fought to apply the code of conduct to situations requiring it and I have wrestled with those that would use the policies as a star chamber to punish or expel those they found undesirable. I have found it simultaneously exhausting and fulfilling to do that alongside a board membership that was largely like-minded. Even when we have personally disagreed with one another, I have genuinely felt that we were doing the right thing and fighting together in the direction of that judicious, intelligent application of our guidelines.

Today, however, I come to the end of a much more exhausting and much less fulfilling period. One member of the Board seems to have decided that their agenda is more important than our shared mission and that any attempts that aren’t in alignment with that agenda are to be met with hostility and subversion. More recently, I have watched with some disappointment the formation of cliques within the organization that overlap significantly with the Board and that member. Those cliques, in turn, have started to leverage the guidelines in order to push this singular agenda and–especially since the January 2019 Board meeting–actively abuse the harassment guidelines with the goal of engineering a convention committee of their liking. I remain firmly devoted to our code of conduct, so much so that I cannot abide by the willful abuse of it; an abuse that undermines and lessens the authority of it. With those potential abuses now coming from within our numbers, I find that I must honor the second half of my promise and tender my resignation to the Board of Directors, effective immediately. I cannot prevent the abuses that are on the horizon, and I will not be a part of an organization promoting such malfeasance.

I wish you all well and I know that this year’s convention will be another amazing year. I can only hope that the remaining Directors can find someone with more time and energy to ensure that this mismanagement doesn’t continue to grow.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve,

Signed by…you know…me :)