General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by physicsnerd »

This is part of a broader issue in qb (if you disagree with me, we have a whole other set of issues to talk about, so I'm not gonna go off about this here), and I have a few proposals:

1. Have the community (especially those most affected by issues like these) collaborate to write a code of conduct [*] along with clear consequences for offenses.

2. To ensure that tournaments use/enforce this code of conduct, start with set editors: make set use conditional on acceptance of this code of conduct by tournament directors (perhaps along with additional rules as needed) and the existence of a clear plan for enforcing these rules.

3. Reports of lack of enforcement of the code of conduct on any qb platform (be it tournament, discord server, etc) should also lead to a clear set of consequences.

4. Moderators of servers, tournament directors of online events, etc, do not currently have any true requirements in place. More needs to be done to ensure that teams of directors/moderators/etc are diverse and capable.

5. Most controversially, a clear list of offenders needs to exist.

This is all predicated on community involvement; and indeed, this seems possibly draconian. Why do I suggest this? Because there is case after case of scandals rocking the qb community. I may not talk much, but I lurk quite a bit. This is (unfortunately, and with all apologies to Ms. Doe) the latest in a slew of issues, not all as extreme as sexual harassment. Scandal results in discussions of what punishment is appropriate, arguments over whether 'it is worth it to ruin a qb career' (perhaps we need to frame it less as justifying the ending of careers and more as the justification of making people uncomfortable - because that is in fact what it is). This is incredibly unproductive and often ends in nothing much changing. Supporters of the accused come out of the woodwork. When something does happen, it is after a discussion that leaves everyone so exhausted as to end in no true long term result. Am I being overly harsh here? Possibly. But the points stand: there needs to be a clear code of conduct, with clear, strict enforcement, by reliable members of the community who can also reference a list of past offenders to help them contextualize behavior.

Also a side anecdote backing up number five: part of the discussion of Basil seems to center around most people irl/some people online not knowing of the issues there have been with him. This is an entirely preventable problem, and a clear list of offenders would help alleviate this. Better solutions here are welcome, but honestly? If people on that list come back and become productive members of the community, they can be removed. But the people on that list would be on there for serious issues anyway, and I have no qualms currently about that.

[*] - There is a group formed recently starting to work on this currently named the Collaborative Organization for Academic Equality. It hopes to help minorities in quiz bowl. However, this work falls not only on them but on the community as a whole.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by db0wman »

Not related to this specific incident, but I think that PACE, NAQT, and ACF should do more outreach about the misconduct form. I think that all NAQT tournaments, ACF tournaments, and PACE qualifiers (as well as pretty much every other tournament) should require the hosts to inform all players and coaches of the misconduct form during the opening meeting or awards ceremony. Right now, it seems like a lot of non-online people are unaware of its presence. If you email the coaches directly about the form's existence, they might not feel the need to pass it on to their players. That's why it's important for the information to be going directly to the players.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Cheynem »

The creation of a (public?) offender list is interesting. On the one hand, I agree that whisper networks are horribly flawed. As I alluded to in my post, there are probably numerous people, including and most pertinently people who run organizations/clubs/tournaments, who do not know who Basil (or any of these other folks are) and their reputations (of which I am only aware that Basil has a reputation of wrongdoing). It would be good that "open secrets" of this sort are made public or exposed. In some cases, that might help the perpetrators who may not be aware of how offensive their behavior is to others!

I would be concerned with how this list would be maintained, who would run it, and what behavior is codified as to "place someone on the list." As some have said on Discord, some of this is contingent on major quizbowl organizations defining a code of conduct. I would also say adult or authority figures, especially moderators/TDs/coaches, need to do a much better job at nipping public-facing offensive behavior in the bud. Online Discord bad behavior is perhaps only noticeable once it is exposed, but from what I have heard, Basil was engaging in some very negative behavior in online and in person tournaments.

Nobody wants to see a blacklist where people get dumped on for making a couple ill-advised comments. But nobody (should) also want to see repeat offenders keep getting numerous second chances and make people want to leave quizbowl and never face punishment. This leads to broader questions--is the misconduct form sufficient to address this issue? If not, are there better reporting mechanisms? Is there a way to make "public offender" data that doesn't just turn into an anonymous whisper network of its own?
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by CPiGuy »

db0wman wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:27 pm Not related to this specific incident, but I think that PACE, NAQT, and ACF should do more outreach about the misconduct form. I think that all NAQT tournaments, ACF tournaments, and PACE qualifiers (as well as pretty much every other tournament) should require the hosts to inform all players and coaches of the misconduct form during the opening meeting or awards ceremony. Right now, it seems like a lot of non-online people are unaware of its presence. If you email the coaches directly about the form's existence, they might not feel the need to pass it on to their players. That's why it's important for the information to be going directly to the players.
This is a good suggestion. I have done so for ERIS, and encourage all other head editors of sets to impose similar conditions on mirror hosts. (Replacing the PACE rules with the ACF or NAQT rules would probably make sense for different levels of play -- a college tournament should follow ACF's guidelines rather than PACE's.)

I would also encourage PACE, ACF, NAQT, etc. to expand the "ethics" section of their gameplay rules into a separate collection of rules -- in the same way that organizations currently have "gameplay rules" and "eligibility rules", I would like to see them have a third set of "conduct rules" which are not connected to the gameplay or eligibility rules, both so that people using their own formats, gameplay rules, eligibility rules, etc. could freely borrow a trusted national organization's conduct guidelines, and so that it could be expanded with much clearer guidelines and examples for what is and is not acceptable conduct from players, staffers, TDs, et cetera -- since it seems that leaving large amounts of judgement calls to TDs can result in significant failures like this one.

Furthermore, once a clear code of conduct (or multiple similar codes of conduct for different levels of play, etc.) has been established, there should be a clear community norm that tournaments use such a code of conduct or be illegitimate. Providing a link to the code of conduct in your tournament announcement should be as established a norm as saying what questions the tournament will be played on. Announcements that do not establish this should be replied to on the forums and elsewhere asking them to; tournaments at which the TDs refuse to establish a satisfactory code of conduct should be actively avoided and teams pressured by the community not to participate in them.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by ryanrosenberg »

db0wman wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:27 pm Not related to this specific incident, but I think that PACE, NAQT, and ACF should do more outreach about the misconduct form. I think that all NAQT tournaments, ACF tournaments, and PACE qualifiers (as well as pretty much every other tournament) should require the hosts to inform all players and coaches of the misconduct form during the opening meeting or awards ceremony. Right now, it seems like a lot of non-online people are unaware of its presence. If you email the coaches directly about the form's existence, they might not feel the need to pass it on to their players. That's why it's important for the information to be going directly to the players.
I like this idea. I agree that there's a communication gap between the misconduct form organizers and people who might make use of it, and mentioning its existence along with a brief summary (reports are strictly confidential, only shared/contacted as necessary) would do a lot to help close that.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by ryanrosenberg »

A standard code of conduct like Heather proposes is a good first step towards developing better norms of behavior in the community. Not speaking officially for PACE or ACF here, but I certainly imagine that if the community developed a code of conduct PACE and ACF would integrate it into their rulesets/guidelines in some way.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Carlos Be »

db0wman wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:27 pm Not related to this specific incident
physicsnerd wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:08 pm Can we actually discuss this issue as a community?
I think a general discussion about misconduct warrants its own dedicated thread or threads. This is a sensitive and important topic, so a discussion about it should have more structure than a typical forums discussion. (In particular, some guidelines for discussion should be posted somewhere obvious.) Also, the general discussion should not be presented as a mere corollary to an isolated event, which it may appear to be if it is attached to this thread.

Relatedly, I think the topic of misconduct can be broadly split into three subtopics: "What is misconduct?", "How frequently does misconduct occur?" and "What can we do about it?" While the last question is the one we all want to answer, I don't think it can be addressed productively until the first two questions are sufficiently answered.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

ryanrosenberg wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:32 pm A standard code of conduct like Heather proposes is a good first step towards developing better norms of behavior in the community. Not speaking officially for PACE or ACF here, but I certainly imagine that if the community developed a code of conduct PACE and ACF would integrate it into their rulesets/guidelines in some way.
Unfortunately it didn't wind up being sent out to teams and staff this year, since the cancellation of the NSC preempted it, but PACE did develop a Code of Conduct this past winter for use at NSC. It looks like it hadn't made it to our website yet because we weren't able to use it, so I've remedied that right quick and apologize for the oversight (we're in the process of building a new, more user-friendly site, and it will be more prominently viewable and easy to find there once that's up and running, as well as sent out to teams and staff early in the signup process for future NSCs). There's a fair bit of NSC-specific language, but other organizations and independent tournament directors are more than welcome to borrow from it.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Zerowaltz »

I propose that if such a clause is not present already, add a clause explicitly involving disciplinary action (eg being kicked from the team/banned from participating in team activities) for misconduct like harassment to club constitutions so that club leadership can take action.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by navman18 »

Something I believe would be prudent, would be to mandate that TDs for tournaments run by centralized organizations like PACE/NAQT/ACF be required to undergo harassment training, so that they are well equipped to handle cases of harassment and misconduct at their tournaments. Obviously, it would be a lot harder to require this at guerrilla events where there is no centralized authority, but in those cases, the onus would be on the community to push for the tournament organizers to adopt a code of conduct and ensure that their TDs are competently able to deal with harassment. Additionally, if a tournament refuses to adhere to a code of conduct, then it would be wise for people not to play that tournament.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by physicsnerd »

Carlos Be wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:51 pm Relatedly, I think the topic of misconduct can be broadly split into three subtopics: "What is misconduct?", "How frequently does misconduct occur?" and "What can we do about it?" While the last question is the one we all want to answer, I don't think it can be addressed productively until the first two questions are sufficiently answered.
In answer to question one, "What is misconduct?", I refer to Chloe Levine's stellar report (https://coloradoqb.org/assets/levine-ft ... munity.pdf):
Sexual harassment is physical, emotional, psychological, or club-related mistreatment due to gender or sexuality, and includes harassment perpetrated by people with more power than you and harassment perpetrated by teammates or opponents which recurred or was not properly dealt with by a coach, staffer, or administrator.
I am drafting a code of conduct in which I will elaborate on that definition, but I think it does provide a very good base moving forward.

To answer your second question, "How frequently does misconduct occur?" I would again suggest reading through her report. While it is somewhat out of date (by about two years), it is the most recent information we have on this. It suggests that it occurs with alarming frequency, and anecdotal evidence backs this up. (And even if it wasn't, I should think a clearly defined policy on the issue would be a good thing.) I am in the process of creating a fresh survey expanding on her report, but until those results are in this is, again, the best we have, and it makes it clear that it is quite frequent.

So to sum up - yeah this needs to be addressed, and not side-stepped with questions over whether this is actually occurring.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by justinduffy »

I think that the creation of an offender list is a good idea. One problem that has been discussed in relation to sexual harassment and also the (much less important) cheating allegations is that the identity of offenders is often an "open secret" that is not really "open." Tournament directors (and really every member of the quiz bowl community) have an obligation to make events safe for everyone, and a list of offenders would help organizers meet this responsibility.
Cheynem wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:57 pm I would be concerned with how this list would be maintained, who would run it, and what behavior is codified as to "place someone on the list." As some have said on Discord, some of this is contingent on major quizbowl organizations defining a code of conduct.
Mike brings up some valid logistical difficulties with such a list, but I think these can be resolved. When an incident occurs, a victim should be able to bring their concern to a relevant authority figure. This might be a TD, a coach, or a captain. NAQT, ACF, PACE, and IAC maintain a misconduct form that can be used to report misconduct at any tournament; I would hope that the maintainers of this form could act as a final arbitrator (perhaps as an extension of NAQT's Advocate program) on incidents if none of the aforementioned authority figures are available. The authority figure addressing the incident should contact the offender to inform them of the accusation and hear their side of the story (although a victim should not be forced to confront the offender directly in person). The authority figure and victim can then decide an appropriate course of action, which could range from a warning to a formal report. As other people have mentioned, it would definitely be helpful to make sure that all tournaments use a set code of conduct and a more publicized misconduct reporting system.
Cheynem wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:57 pm Nobody wants to see a blacklist where people get dumped on for making a couple ill-advised comments. But nobody (should) also want to see repeat offenders keep getting numerous second chances and make people want to leave quiz bowl and never face punishment.
I think that most people would agree with this sentiment. I'm not completely sure, but I believe that mods can create threads that are only viewable if a user is logged in. One of these forums could contain a list of minor and first-time offenders and a brief description of the incident. The list could be maintained by the aforementioned group of Advocates from major quiz bowl organizations and updated on the request of a victim or authority figure (after due investigation of the incident). After some designated time period without another incident, perhaps 6 months or a year, a person would be removed from this list. Because users have to be logged in to view this list, I believe the name of a minor offender would not come up from a simple google search.

If someone commits more offenses while on the list or commits an extremely severe offense, they would be moved to a second list of major and/or repeat offenders. This list could be made fully public. TDs and organizers could use these lists to avoid harmful players and make sure that everyone at their event feels safe.

My idea is by no means perfect. For example, the idea of moving from the minor offender list to the major offender list is somewhat arbitrary, i.e. if someone on the minor offender list commits another minor offense, should they be punished as severely as someone who commits a major offense? What if they commit two or three more minor offenses? Regardless, I want to facilitate conversation on ways that we could make quiz bowl as safe and peaceful for everyone involved while not being too punitive on people for small and isolated bouts of stupidity. I welcome any suggestions and further discussion on these ideas.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by meebles127 »

This is a list of suggestions from the Discord server about what we can do going forward. These are copy/pasted straight from the chat with some additional context added where necessary. I'll be making another post in the near future about my own thoughts on the issue, but here is a list of ideas that were thrown out today in the Discord server.

Pranav Veluri [Purdue]Today at 21:10
TDs for tournaments run by centralized organizations like PACE/NAQT/ACF should be required to undergo harassment training

Arjun Nageswaran (Stevenson)Today at 21:10
since the tournament database is maintained by the HSQB website, maybe making TDs agree to a standardized procedure before getting their tournament approved and listed?

L Zhu [EB]Today at 21:10
Then there need to be concrete rules as well for banning/allowing people with a.... record to play

Walter [Brown]Today at 21:12
I am also posting this to the forums but I propose that if such a clause is not present already, add a clause explicitly involving disciplinary action (eg being kicked from the team/banned from participating in team activities) for misconduct like harassment to club constitutions so that club leadership can be the ones to take action

Conor [Michigan '20, Iowa State]Today at 21:12
"I think that training is a good idea but we need to think about what specifically needs to be covered"
Perhaps those organizations could work together to create a quizbowl-specific harassment training?

Ananya (State College)Today at 21:13
maybe editors of sets could require all mirrors to follow certain guidelines wrt harassment

Em Gunter [Salem, VA]Today at 21:15
Sure then at opening meetings you could point out that there is a designated person with a phone number available that you can reach out to if there are miscondut issues during the tournament

Ananya (State College)Today at 21:16
a general point is that people might not be comfortable admiting this stuff in person to someone because its a bit confrontational and the current climate isn't the best (though ik we're trying to change that)

DrMikToday at 21:17
In this case it might be useful to have a community contact of some sort through the forums/discord who can be contacted when local authorities are absent/unwilling.

Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD Today at 21:18
in the context of in person tournaments where TDs or staff are unwilling to address harassment
harassment line on call

Mike SoriceToday at 21:22
The last thing I'd add for now is: the school-bound nature of this activity affords other avenues. It's very reasonable to go to someone's coach and even a school's administration if redress isn't otherwise available. Coaches and schools will not be happy if their names or facilities are being misused and will tend to act accordingly.

Aalok [Staples HS]Today at 21:43
I thought it would be prudent for any tds to post this or some derivative in their events, im not entirely sure what the right channel for this is, but here goes hopefully change:
Hello @ everyone. Below is a misconduct form. This form is for reporting misconduct anywhere in quiz bowl (such aggressive behavior and sexual harassment). Please use it if you witness any instances of misconduct. This survey is completely anonymous and will remain anonymous if you so choose so.
Link: https://tinyurl.com/qbmisconduct
Link for TD's: viewtopic.php?f=297&t=22317
Who runs this: viewtopic.php?f=297&t=24183

Ryan RosenbergToday at 22:14
I think a standard code of conduct and more resources for TDs to deal with/know how to deal with misconduct would help a lot.

I think that a lot of productive ideas came out of the discussion that was had in the Discord.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by CPiGuy »

Another point that was raised in the discord:

There should probably be a similar norm for online tournaments as there is for IRL tournaments, where high schoolers cannot run a tournament by themselves with no adult supervision. (I don't know if this is a universal norm for IRL tournaments but it seems like a fairly wide one.)

I am by no means suggesting that the majority of high schoolers cannot be trusted to run a tournament -- I have staffed several very successful online tournaments run by high schoolers, but that it is in general a good idea to have at least one trusted adult (and "adult" can mean a college player here) on the staff to, at the very least, turn to for guidance in how to deal with situations like the one that occurred at THAT. And I also don't want to try to discourage ambitious high school players from writing or running tournaments -- enthusiastic young players being involved in logistics as well as just playing is an unqualified good! -- but in the event that we see five or six high school freshmen and sophomores announce a fairly large online event in the future, we should probably ask them whether there's anyone older and wiser on the staff helping them out.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Carlos Be »

physicsnerd wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:57 pm So to sum up - yeah this needs to be addressed, and not side-stepped with questions over whether this is actually occurring.
The reason I asked "How frequently does misconduct occur" was because I think it occurs a lot more than people think. It's not sidestepping the issue to discuss its scope.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by physicsnerd »

Carlos Be wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:54 am
physicsnerd wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:57 pm So to sum up - yeah this needs to be addressed, and not side-stepped with questions over whether this is actually occurring.
The reason I asked "How frequently does misconduct occur" was because I think it occurs a lot more than people think. It's not sidestepping the issue to discuss its scope.
Ah, I see, my apologies. But yes, Chloe Levine's report is probably the best we have in terms of data on how frequently this sort of thing occurs.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Carlos Be »

CPiGuy wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:44 pm it is in general a good idea to have at least one trusted adult (and "adult" can mean a college player here) on the staff
I think the key word here is "trusted," not "adult." There's no reason that a trustworthy high schooler can't perform the role you are describing.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by bkmcavoybickford »

I'd strongly encourage all outreach e-mails to schools to include information about the misconduct form and codes of conduct for quiz bowl. The PACE newsletter right now does not contain a link to the misconduct form as far as I can tell. If we want programs that might not be very plugged into the community to be aware of the code of conduct and the misconduct form, starting at the very beginning in an outreach e-mail would be very useful. Tournament hosts making all players aware of the code of conduct and misconduct form is a great idea, but it should be reinforced in earlier outreach e-mails. While the main reason for this would of course be to encourage reports of misconduct in quiz bowl and to make it clear to players and coaches that there are standards of behaviour that they must follow, this also could have outreach benefits; schools tend to prioritize safety and I hope that they would like to know that we're not asking their students to play quiz bowl without making some attempts to provide them of a safe environment. I'm definitely going to raise this issue when we send out any outreach e-mails in NC and would be interested in knowing what other people think and how to best present this information for the benefit of newer teams.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Ndg »

Carlos Be wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:17 am
CPiGuy wrote: Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:44 pm it is in general a good idea to have at least one trusted adult (and "adult" can mean a college player here) on the staff
I think the key word here is "trusted," not "adult." There's no reason that a trustworthy high schooler can't perform the role you are describing.
Likewise, it's not exactly wise to assume that every college player is trustworthy. There are lots of college students I wouldn't trust to handle the sorts of incidents we're talking about in a mature and competent way (not least of which being college-aged me).
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by cchiego »

bkmcavoybickford wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:50 am I'd strongly encourage all outreach e-mails to schools to include information about the misconduct form and codes of conduct for quiz bowl. The PACE newsletter right now does not contain a link to the misconduct form as far as I can tell. If we want programs that might not be very plugged into the community to be aware of the code of conduct and the misconduct form, starting at the very beginning in an outreach e-mail would be very useful. Tournament hosts making all players aware of the code of conduct and misconduct form is a great idea, but it should be reinforced in earlier outreach e-mails. While the main reason for this would of course be to encourage reports of misconduct in quiz bowl and to make it clear to players and coaches that there are standards of behaviour that they must follow, this also could have outreach benefits; schools tend to prioritize safety and I hope that they would like to know that we're not asking their students to play quiz bowl without making some attempts to provide them of a safe environment. I'm definitely going to raise this issue when we send out any outreach e-mails in NC and would be interested in knowing what other people think and how to best present this information for the benefit of newer teams.
This isn't a good idea for initial outreach emails to schools without quizbowl teams. Initial outreach emails already have to explain the concept of quizbowl in a relatively short amount of space to overworked admins and teachers and then invite follow-up responses. Keeping these emails short without mentioning all of the positives/opportunities/initiatives in quizbowl should be a priority.

It is, however, an excellent idea to include these in emails to schools once they respond with interest in starting a team or any emails inviting extant teams to a specific tournament. I think this would best work as part of an overall commitment to newer/less-experienced teams that their experiences matter and that they're not simply cannon fodder for the name-brand teams and extra $$ for the hosts. As was eloquently pointed out by Tamara in the 2018 thread, the worship of PPG and rankings can lead some members of the community to tolerate bad behavior by certain players/teams. That there are clear codes of conduct and routes for reporting bad behavior would be a key part of this commitment, among other things (i.e. mods not venting publicly to teams about being placed in "the bad" brackets).

That said, I do have some questions about the current misconduct form and a suggestion. I'd be interested in summary data on how often the misconduct form has been used so far and perhaps feedback from people who've served on the form committee simply to get an idea of what topics, issues, and incidents have come up as well as suggestions.

A suggestion: One thing that I've seen at some colleges for potential honor code violations is a publicly posted written summary of what took place in each case using pseudonyms for all the individuals involved so as to maintain public anonymity while still contacting/working with relevant authorities in private on the consequences unless a case is so severe that it merits public announcement of the individual names. This might be a good way for the misconduct committee to catalog specific incidents while also informing people about incidents and their consequences without resorting to a public "shaming list" (I share Mike's concerns about that) or public discussions on the boards/Discords in which names of targets of harassment get publicly thrown out by people.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by nickdai »

This is related to the subject, but if needed I think this may need a separate thread, so if so, can the mods please split this into a new discussion topic?

In the summer of 2019, Charles Meigs attended SoCal's NASAT mirror, Lindsay, and played the tournament. He has also staffed a few other tournaments in southern California.

Today, in the Quizbowl discord, multiple Quizbowlers brought up numerous serious harassment allegations against Charles Meigs, describing numerous things that he has done. I do not want to publicize those events yet, seeing as I have not yet received permission to go into detail as to what the allegations were. I was also informed that he was banned from staffing NAQT events due to other sexual harassment reasons. Regardless, they were serious offenses.

The issue that struck me was that the people in the discord server addressed those issues as "well known" and the accusations against him were "open secrets." This does not seem appropriate at all - None of the tournament directors, all of whom are incredibly active on the forums, knew anything about Charles Meigs's dubious history. There is no information about this on forums, or any official location, despite even NAQT banning him.

I do not understand how this is acceptable. Because no known information regarding his harassment issues existed, he was allowed to attend an event he would otherwise be banned from. Furthermore, the event was attended by numerous minors, including even a middle schooler (rising freshmen) that attended. If these allegations were known, he likely would not be allowed to attend the event.

Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.

Going further in - how are we then supposed to know about Quizbowlers that have been abusing and harassing others? Certainly if we had known about them, they would not be allowed to attend our events, but currently we have basically no way of knowing. There has to be some feature in place, perhaps a database for tournament directors, to use to see what is going on. Even a list of people banned from staffing NAQT events would be a helpful thing to have.

On a less related note, why is Charles Meigs allowed to be a teacher around children? I do believe that if his offenses were publicized, perhaps he would not be allowed to work with kids.

Regardless, I made this post to advocate for the idea of somewhat of a database for individuals that should not be allowed at tournaments, whether they be people banned from staffing by NAQT or other people who have been accused by multiple other people of harassment. As members of Quizbowl, we have a duty to ensure the safety and well-being of the community, and this is the least we can do.

Thank you very much for reading this through, and I hope you all take in my suggestions.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire »

I think there should be guidelines in what should be done when there is micro aggressive language or other situations where someone isn’t necessarily being Intentionally malicious. This is where training could help as listing all possibilities on a ruleset would be endless, but an online module would allow players and staff better understand some of the more subtle discriminatory actions and words that could be made.

I support the idea of a governing body that could hand out bans for misconduct. I feel that it’s more accountable when done on an organizational level instead of on an institutional level, especially when you’re at an open tournament not even associated with an institution.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Stained Diviner »

I am speaking just for myself here.

Thanks to the people making this discussion happen. Some good is already resulting from it, and more good will continue to result from it.

As some people have already pointed out, the idea of implementing a list of offenders is an extremely complex one. If you are advocating for one, it would be very helpful to find examples of such lists that have worked and/or talk to somebody who has completed law school about this issue. I know that such lists in the way they are being discussed here do not exist within quizbowl, but there are a lot of realms that have had to deal with the same issues we are dealing with. Keep in mind that these lists are not the way we usually address misconduct by students--schools do not publish lists of students who are either punished or required to undergo counseling.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by 1.82 »

nickdai wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:41 pm Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.
By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by ganman0305 »

Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:03 am I support the idea of a governing body that could hand out bans for misconduct. I feel that it’s more accountable when done on an organizational level instead of on an institutional level, especially when you’re at an open tournament not even associated with an institution.
Stained Diviner wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:37 am As some people have already pointed out, the idea of implementing a list of offenders is an extremely complex one.
To follow up on Joe and David's excellent posts, I believe that its time for a new approach to misconduct. I will not rephrase some of the issue statements better conveyed above in this thread and elsewhere (namely, this thread), but the biggest problem I see is the acceptance of "open secrets" over time. Harassment rarely fits the TV image of a dark figure in a trench coat hiding in an alley: it most often includes verbal and online misconduct, which the general public is more likely to dismiss (source: I work frequently with the Title IX Coordinator at Iowa).

Before there is the idea of a list of people who have performed misconduct in the past, I believe its important to set a code of conduct and standards from which punishments and violations can be judged. There is work on this right now, for instance, in a Discord workplace with concerned community members (DM me if you are interested in joining). Like any enforceable rule, its important that the many different organizations and events which conduct quizbowl agree to the same Code of Conduct as formalized.

One important component for this I don't know much about is a misconduct committee that would supervise, moderate, and hand down punishments for misconduct violations. The current misconduct form (found here) clearly shows the beginning of what this committee would look like.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by thederpyaxolotl »

1.82 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm
nickdai wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:41 pm Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.
By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
I do not see why it's unreasonable for someone banned from national tournaments to be banned from regional tournaments. The issue that we are seeing is not the extreme case of "being a child abuser or imminent danger," it's the subtle cases of extreme discomfort, microaggressions and sexual harassment masquerading as jokes. Someone who has felt many individuals feel uncomfortable due to being a creep or on discrimination basis of their race, gender, sexuality, or other characteristics should not be allowed to staff. And in this case, a key part of Nick's post is that Charles was around children, who should not be under the threat of the above under any circumstances; some of us feel that we've betrayed the trust of our communities if we discover that we've let people with a history of harassment near individuals at our tournaments, who we are to some degree responsible for.

Furthermore, the Discord presented statements that this person allegedly "groped another quizbowler" as well as other evidence of harassment. If this is indeed the case, your point of an "imminent danger" is moot. I don't know about you, but if I heard this, I would not want myself, my friends, other players, or staffers around this individual in any capacity, whether at a national or regional tournament.

In this context, the callousness of the quoted post is astounding.

And as we've stated before, allegations of sexual harassment and knowledge of people making others extremely uncomfortable seem well known in the community, yet most of us do not hear about these problems until they are casually brought up in conversation like on the Discord server yesterday. These are only the most public of the issues, and rest assured that for every one, many die behind the closed doors of club practice rooms. I find it concerning that so much is known about these allegations, yet they are brushed away casually as if they do not severely affect the mental health of those affected, perpetuating many of us becoming remaining afraid to speak out.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Ben Dillon »

Disclaimers: I'm new to this discussion, and I've never participated in a Discord or online quiz bowl tournament.

As a coach for 25ish years, I would be interested to know if one of my players had committed misconduct. I would have consequences for a player, regardless of whether they were playing for my school or not.

I have also TDed in the past, and I would have been interested to know if a team that was coming had a player who had committed misconduct.

For in-person tournaments, should it not be the job of the coach to inform the TD that they will be bring a player who had strikes against them? The TD then can inform moderators to watch said player for further misconduct (not that they shouldn't be watching everyone anyway). Maybe the TD should even have the power to veto that player's attendance.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by nickdai »

1.82 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm
nickdai wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:41 pm Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.
By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
You are missing so many points here. I don't want to repeat Caro's points because they are very well written, but there are so many other issues with this. First off, I literally mentioned that they were specifically banned from staffing NAQT for sexual harassment. Being held accountable for sexual harassment isn't some sort of "higher standard." If you can't even handle the basic minimum requirements to "don't harass someone else while staffing a tournament," you don't deserve to be allowed at any tournament. I don't understand what makes this some sort of "high standard for you." I'm unfamiliar with your status or placement in the community but if you staff tournaments and don't include preventative measures to disallow sexual harassment, I strongly recommend others to not play in that tournament. Fortunately, it does seem that you have graduated, so everyone can be safe from that eventuality.

Second of all, as a student leader in my church specifically dealing with kids, I have a set of protocol that I need to follow to ensure those kids's safety, including making sure that they are not around anyone with a known history of sexual harassment. Although we don't have some sort of directory, as long as I know that there is someone with a history attending our campus, I have a duty to report it to a specific group of people. While we host the tournament, we need to not only follow tournament guidelines but also campus guidelines. My church was happy to sponsor our tournament as it was an academic event. But if we cannot even guarantee the basic safety necessities to everyone on campus, what makes you think SoCal Quizbowl will have any standing in the community to host any more tournaments in the future?

When we pursue Quizbowl, we are pursuing knowledge, knowledge that can help our communities, whether they be applying it to our jobs or using it to teach our friends, or even just improving the general education standard around us. How do you expect us to benefit the community if we cannot even guarantee basic safety? Safety isn't some added bonus, some unimportant feature. Upholding the safety and well-being of our community is the number one priority of anyone in Quizbowl!
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by junusong »

1.82 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
I don't see why tournaments run at local levels should be held to a lower standard than NAQT-hosted national events, especially on the sexual harassment and misconduct grounds. Not harassing/assaulting people is the lowest standard of decency in general, and Charles seems to have a history of such offences, as discussed in the Discords. If the "higher standards" of NAQT is not sexually harassing/assaulting somebody, it’s frankly worrying that you believe those standards should not be applied to any other quizbowl events.

As a person who participated in the socal NASAT mirror that Charles was a part of, there were plenty of minors (mostly high schoolers) at the tournament, both as staffers and players, and the presence of someone with a history like Charles being in close proximity to others, especially minors, is extremely disturbing. That he was afforded another opportunity to potentially harass others and generally perpetuate an atmosphere of extreme discomfort, as he has done before, is upsetting.

One of my friends, another underage student who played at the tournament, said that she would never gone to the tournament in the first place if someone with that history was going to be there. In addition, there was another female underage mod who was continuously pressed my Charles to let him help her with scorekeeping. Thankfully nothing horrifying happened, but in the context of him having stalked and harassed a northeastern qb member to the point of trauma creates a horrifying image of what he could have done (I received permission from both people in question to post their stories on the forums).

I'm genuinely concerned that you are fine with letting a person with that history being allowed near minors like what happened at that tournament.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock »

1.82 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm
nickdai wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:41 pm Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.
By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
I’m sorry, but this is just a ridiculous hill to die on. Why does abusive behavior or misconduct only reflect on quizbowl as a whole at a national tournament? I understand that you may feel that an organization like NAQT needs to have higher standards as part of being a professionalized company, but that doesn’t mean that local mirrors can’t have similar structures in place, particularly when it comes to protecting vulnerable populations from abuse.

Additionally, as has been proven by this discussion, Charles’s history has not been a universally known and acknowledged truth by the entire community, as evidenced by the fact that the organizers of this SoCal mirror did not know of his past. Quizbowl cannot and should not be a place where people with a history of abusive behavior/misconduct can wander into an event without organizers, staffers, players, etc. being aware of that history and being able to make an informed decision on whether they want to allow said person to participate. I would thus strongly disagree with Naveed without casting any aspersions on Nick or any organizers in similar positions who have not been the beneficiaries of such important knowledge.
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by nickdai »

On an unrelated note, I would like to propose for the moderators or admins to split this off into a separate thread. While we started off discussing the harassment in the THAT Discord, I feel it is necessary to let that topic stay by itself as we divert from an extremely specific recent case into a more general study of harassment in Quizbowl
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

nickdai wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:52 pm On an unrelated note, I would like to propose for the moderators or admins to split this off into a separate thread. While we started off discussing the harassment in the THAT Discord, I feel it is necessary to let that topic stay by itself as we divert from an extremely specific recent case into a more general study of harassment in Quizbowl
Agreed (sorry y'all; been busy this weekend). The THAT discussion will remain in the subforum with an approval queue for privacy purposes (we did catch a few accidental references that needed to be fixed before posting), but I'm moving the more general discussion to the larger Community Discussion forum, which does not have a post approval queue.
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General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Because splitting the thread would catch a few posts I don't want to move and the forums software won't move only certain posts without an existing topic for them to go to, this post exists. Moving the more general discussion posts from the THAT incident discussion thread here (posts display in chronological order, so this post will show up after the split once I've moved posts). Some further splitting may well be warranted, but it gets a bit messy when people address multiple topics in the same post, so this is the cleanest I can break it, at least for now. Note that this forum does not have an approval queue, so you should only have to wait for your post in this thread to be approved if it's one of your first 7 posts.
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by Important Bird Area »

NAQT is listening to this discussion, and welcomes input from the community about the best ways to share information and make sure that all tournaments are welcoming and safe environments. As David pointed out, though, there are a number of challenges when it comes to implementing policy around these issues.

In particular, there are serious legal concerns that would need to be addressed by any organization interested in maintaining and updating a public ban list (especially since a major purpose of such a list would be making recommendations to independent tournaments). This is especially true if the list publishes allegations that have not been verified (and possibly cannot be verified) by the organization that maintains the list.

Other challenging issues to confront: the process by which a person might be removed from a public ban list, particularly if that person was under 18 at the time the misconduct occurred; how to adjudicate what public consequences will follow from what behaviors (including the issue of what organization or group of organizers will be responsible for making final decisions); and the limited knowledge that national organizations may have of local circuits or online incidents.

In the case of NAQT, the reasons why people might not be invited to staff our championships include a very wide range of actions, including issues such as 'repeatedly showing up late to the staff meeting' or 'failing to properly fill out scoresheets,' that do not pose a threat to public safety and do not, in our opinion, call for a public statement to the community. (Please note that we have a relatively low threshold for implementing a staffing ban at our championship events, in part because there are often more potentially interested staffers than staff positions available.)

The challenges discussed above are not necessarily insurmountable, but they are important factors to consider when thinking about how a public ban list might work. In the meantime, we're open to suggestions for how NAQT can help to improve everyone's tournament experience.

If community members have information they would like to share with us, either about specific instances of misconduct or about NAQT's policies in general, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].
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Re: [TW: Sexual Harassment] Harassment in the THAT Online Quizbowl Discord

Post by 1.82 »

thederpyaxolotl wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:46 pm
1.82 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm
nickdai wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:41 pm Even more, from a more personal perspective, this event was held in my church, who's campus we borrowed. I did not attend the event myself because of a church event, but as someone heavily involved in my church, I understand the events and policies that we have. On Saturdays we have many other children go to the church campus for numerous events. I know for a fact there were numerous elementary school and even younger kids that were on church grounds that day. While our church has a policy of "allow the sinner a chance to repent," we still do have specific policies regarding how to deal with people with previous harassment offenses, including making sure they are closely watched, and not allowing them around kids (and much more). If I had known that he was attending, even if the TDs allowed him to attend, I would have to notify the church in order to ensure that precautions were taken. Although this took place almost a year ago, looking back, we are lucky that nothing happened. I sincerely hope that things like these do not happen ever again. I do feel very upset over the fact that I basically failed my fellow Quizbowlers and church members by not knowing anything about Charles Meigs's history, yet I am also upset by the fact that there is no way for me to learn of this type of topic.
By way of explanation, staffers at national tournaments represent the organization running the tournament and, by extension, quizbowl as a whole; it's reasonable to expect that they be held to a higher standard than ordinary members of the community. In this case, if an individual is not welcome as a staffer at national tournaments (as is the case for Charles), it doesn't mean that they're a child abuser or otherwise present an imminent danger by being in the same place as children. Your worry is understandable, but there's no reason to believe that you failed the quizbowl community or, particularly, your church community in any way because Charles Meigs was at your church campus at the same time that there were children at a church event.
I do not see why it's unreasonable for someone banned from national tournaments to be banned from regional tournaments. The issue that we are seeing is not the extreme case of "being a child abuser or imminent danger," it's the subtle cases of extreme discomfort, microaggressions and sexual harassment masquerading as jokes. Someone who has felt many individuals feel uncomfortable due to being a creep or on discrimination basis of their race, gender, sexuality, or other characteristics should not be allowed to staff. And in this case, a key part of Nick's post is that Charles was around children, who should not be under the threat of the above under any circumstances; some of us feel that we've betrayed the trust of our communities if we discover that we've let people with a history of harassment near individuals at our tournaments, who we are to some degree responsible for.

Furthermore, the Discord presented statements that this person allegedly "groped another quizbowler" as well as other evidence of harassment. If this is indeed the case, your point of an "imminent danger" is moot. I don't know about you, but if I heard this, I would not want myself, my friends, other players, or staffers around this individual in any capacity, whether at a national or regional tournament.

In this context, the callousness of the quoted post is astounding.

And as we've stated before, allegations of sexual harassment and knowledge of people making others extremely uncomfortable seem well known in the community, yet most of us do not hear about these problems until they are casually brought up in conversation like on the Discord server yesterday. These are only the most public of the issues, and rest assured that for every one, many die behind the closed doors of club practice rooms. I find it concerning that so much is known about these allegations, yet they are brushed away casually as if they do not severely affect the mental health of those affected, perpetuating many of us becoming remaining afraid to speak out.
I'm sorry that my quoted post came off as callous. Nick seemed concerned that he had brought children in proximity to someone who posed a physical danger to them, and I posted in response to reassure him that he had not acted unreasonably or been a failure on a personal level. Specifically, for at least one event in Southern California, my understanding is that the information that was available about Charles Meigs was that he had not been invited back to staff national tournaments. Obviously Nick has good reason to be frustrated, since he wasn't put in this situation of his own accord, and better communication would help avoid these situations in the future.
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by nickdai »

I noticed that this thread has seemingly died off without any definitive solution presented to the problems that we presented. I think it’s best if we come up with some sort of reasonable plan to tackle the possibility, or more likely, the eventuality that a situation similar to the Charles Meigs incident takes place. What happens next time? What happens when another sexual harasser whose presence is an “open secret” but isn’t well known to the rest of the community is allowed to play at a tournament they would otherwise be banned at? What happens when they actually do hurt someone else? We’re lucky nothing major that we know of happened with the Charles Meigs incident, but what if something actually happens next time an offender is allowed to play?

I’m a high schooler, and my knowledge of legal procedures is artificially inflated by reddit and discussions with friends. I’m not sure what can specifically be done by Quizbowl organizations to ensure that future harassers will not be allowed at tournaments. I requested a good Quizbowl friend of mine to ask his dad, a lawyer, some legal questions for me, so we could come up with some solutions, but ultimately there wasn’t much to come off of. An open list of bans, especially given a list of reasons for bans is always open to mistakes, and the people on the list could always sue for defamation. Even a list of bans without reasonings could still result in lawsuits regarding implicit defamation, and I fully understand the want of organizations to avoid legal troubles. Which leads me to a proposition another friend offered for an internalized list of bans that organizations could review with specific tournament directors or regional directors to go over. As far as I have been informed, this process could force specific requirements for the directors though. Another friend offered an idea where an anonymous group could update an online list of dubious individuals that should be banned from tournaments, although that idea I do not approve of since it results in a question of the trustworthiness of the source, and legally is still in a dark grey area.

I even researched other high school extracurricular events for their process of handling misconduct, although I am honestly surprised with how little information I was able to find (I might have been looking in the wrong places). Yet, Quizbowl does seem to be unique in that we even have a misconduct form in the first place, and many, if not most of the extracurricular competitions I’ve looked into don’t even have any publicized procedure with organizational handlings of misconduct. A decent amount of them don’t have any information at all regarding handling harassment, which seems to suggest a systematic failure of handling misconduct in high school extracurriculars. So unfortunately, that route did not work out.

But I don’t think that should deter us from looking out for ways to prevent future issues. If we are to be the frontrunners of ensuring safety for our peers in extracurricular events, that is totally fine.

There’s no way I, and hopefully the whole community, should accept this discussion to be continuously postponed. When I think of the kids who could have been abused by Charles Meigs, or my other friends who were in the same room as him and luckily avoided assault, my thought is that our job is to ensure that no one else should be put in the same risk. What do we do 1 year down the line when another offender is put in the same room is elementary age kids because we did not have preventative measures, and this time the kids are sexually harassed and traumatized. Is there any of us who are shameless enough to be able to look those kids straight in the eyes, and without hesitation, tell them that what happened to them happened even though we could have taken much earlier preventative measures, but decided not to? I sure hope none of you can do that! We have no excuse to wait for Meigs 2.0 or 3.0 before we act. If we are to make a change, we are to make it now!

To be perfectly honest, I am not exactly sure what changes we can make to prevent similar occurrences from happening. I’ve presented the suggestions that I’ve been offered, with their pros and cons, but ultimately I think it is the community’s job to discuss ideas, find a solution and institute it. I trust that all of you might be able to come up with better ideas than mine, and hopefully those can actually be integrated so we can have a systematic change. This was a community issue that I was really upset about, and I believe that we can fix these problems. I just hope that we can all ensure the safety of our peers in the future. If we, as Quizbowlers, are seen as the intellectual future of the world, then it is also our duty to act the part!
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by Cheynem »

I think Nick makes some good points. Charles should not have been allowed to play the tournament. Part of the issue with his case is that it is such an "unique" edge case--not unique in terms of his harmful behavior, but that there were a string of unique circumstances surrounding his story--his behavior still remains oblique to many people (I have met Charles and was only like a year off from being active as the same time as him, but I don't fully know everything he did) and he was out of the country for about a decade prior to his sudden return to quizbowl.

He also showed up at what is going to be the hardest kind of tournament to regulate--a regional open. It's pretty easy for organizations to ban someone from playing or put them on a "do not staff list"--NAQT, ACF, PACE, etc. While exceedingly imperfect, even tournaments in which teams consist of members of a school offer some regulation. But a regional open features many players showing up--they have a wide variety of backgrounds and ages--it is not uncommon for high schoolers and long graduated doctorates to be squaring off and interacting, and obviously many people, including the staff, might be unaware of the history or problematic aspects of all the players.

All of this is an explanation, not an excuse. It's obvious that something needs to be done. The challenge, I guess, is what--Meigs was presumably never misconducted posted, since he was out of the country years before the form was invented. He was banned from staffing by NAQT, but that doesn't inherently prevent someone from playing a tournament (and I don't know why he was officially banned). If more people had been aware he was playing or going to play, perhaps someone might have spoken up or expressed concerns--I don't know if perhaps fields for these regional opens could be reviewed by experienced, independent people for potential issues. Barring all of that, I guess it's incumbent for the folks who were playing the tournament, who knew of Meigs' issues, to say something.

Finally, I'd like to gently suggest Nick think about the rhetoric being used in the post. I don't say this to shout him down or mock him or defend harassers, but some of the wording in the post basically implies that Meigs is like a sex offender who poses a danger to elementary school children (I realize that may not have been Nick's intent). I have never heard any accusation in that vein regarding Meigs. That doesn't mean Meigs wasn't a danger perhaps to staffers or players, that he should have been allowed to play, and that there aren't other hypothetical threat quizbowlers who do pose such a danger. But I think Nick's actual point, which is a very good one, has the danger of getting masked by this piece of rhetoric, which also could potentially result in the legal threats he hints at. There's a lot of reasons to express concern about Charles Meigs playing the tournament; I don't think bringing up elementary school children helps this concern.
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by nickdai »

Yeah, I concede that my rhetoric is wrong in specifically implying he was a threat to young children, although to the best of my knowledge he has posed a significant threat to others, and possibly older minors. Most of the information I know about Charles Meigs that was not public on the discord were from multiple sources who wished for me to not fully publicize what they told me, especially the situation regarding his NAQT ban, though I can probably offer a bit more information if you DM me.

I maybe shouldn’t have referenced elementary age children in my post, but at least given his past he posed a threat to my friends who staffed and played, and it should not happen again.

I appreciate Mike Cheyne’s insight on the issues regarding older players with a more ancient history of problematic behavior, and how organizations may have a harder time dealing with that kind of behavior. I appreciate his points a lot, but I think it also points out that maybe this is something we could change, though I’m not specifically sure how it could be changed. Logically, most banned players would probably try to lay low and come out later to open tournaments if they still wanted to play, since those would be somewhat easier places to conceal their identity or avoid the public eye.

Regardless, my main point is that we shouldn’t just put aside these issues. Charles Meigs won’t be an isolated case, and unless we tackle the issue, it won’t be the last case either. We’ve already made a mistake when we first let him into that tournament, and I believe it’s our duty to learn from our mistakes and move forward with newer solutions, and institute them into our community.
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Everyone is focused on people with a past history of misconduct. What about people with future potential for misconduct.

Suppose, for example, that you, a player, are having a conversation with a friend, and it becomes clear to you that your friend is suffering from some kind of severe mental illness and may be a threat to himself or others (or may not be - odds are you are not a psychiatrist so you may be incapable of even determining if this person is a threat or not). This friend is scheduled to play, score-keep, moderate, or perform some other function at a tournament. What should you do?
Last edited by Skepticism and Animal Feed on Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General Misconduct Discussion (TW: sexual harassment)

Post by Perturbed Secretary Bird »

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:05 pm Everyone is focused on people with a past history of misconduct. What about people with future potential for misconduct.

Suppose, for example, that you, a player, are having a conversation with a friend, and it becomes clear to you that your friend is suffering from some kind of severe mental illness and may be a threat to himself or others (or may not be - odds are you are not a psychiatrist so you may be incapable of even determining if this person is a threat or not). This friend is scheduled to play, score-keep, moderate, or perform some other function at a tournament. What should you do?
With all due respect, I think this post is missing the mark a lot. Many of us players have various mental illnesses. Many of us players have done some sort of misconduct (whether it's of a large magnitude like sexual harassment + abuse cases seen here, microaggressions, or just being a dick). I do not think we should be looking at this two issues as linked together. Frankly, I feel like this post stigmatizes mental health and draws attention away from how people should educate themselves about consent, power imbalances, and healthy relationships (and hopefully doing all of those things on an individual level will prevent us from perpetrating future misconduct). I believe that "mentally well" people are just as likely to harm others in our community as those who are mentally ill.

If you're concerned about someone's safety due to mental health, you can straight up ask if they have plans to hurt themselves or others (in my suicide risk assessment training we covered how asking this question does not make someone more likely to hurt themselves). You can ask how they want to be supported. Maybe they'll agree to call a hotline with you. Maybe they'd ask you to help them get home to friends and family, or maybe to a hospital. I highly highly highly recommend going through as many non-911 resources as possible assuming there is not an immediate threat to someone's life. Local or national behavioral help lines can do a better job assessing risk and getting someone help than either you or a bunch of police officers would do (here's a link to one: https://www.crisistextline.org/text-us/ or you can text 741741 for emotional/mental support for any issue, thank you to my teammate Helmi Henkin for making me aware of this great resource).

I admittedly do not have as much training with people who are verbalizing a premeditated intent to harm others. Anecdotally this is way way less common than quizbowlers (like myself) harming themselves. I would like to hear more thoughts about that, but I don't think it should be completely intertwined with the conversation about misconduct as a whole.
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