This is the email I sent to the Member Advocate in response to the decision:
I'm writing to object to the decision made in the Jim Frenkel harassment case. It is unsatisfactory both as a resolution to this case and as an indication of how Wiscon will handle harassment cases in the future. It is especially disappointing coming from a feminist organization. I've seen Wiscon go through turmoil and divisive arguments over the past ten years (the POC Safe Space, Moonfail), but I've also seen Wiscon demonstrate a commitment to doing better by reversing those previous mistakes and poor decisions. That is what I expected to happen with the two mishandled harassment cases (Jim Frenkel and F. J. Bergmann) that have been under scrutiny.
The Wiscon Subcommittee on the harassment case stated that "WisCon will (provisionally) not allow Jim Frenkel to return for a period of four years (until after WisCon 42 in 2018)." This is a very obscure way of saying that he is only definitely banned for Wiscon 39 in 2015 and may return by 2016.
I am not in favor of zero-tolerance policies, primarily because they discourage people from reporting. However, Jim Frenkel's actions more than suffice for a permanent ban. The suggestion that he might be permitted to represent the con in an official capacity as a program participant or volunteering in another capacity just adds insult to injury.
To review Frenkel's actions:
1) He harassed Lauren Jankowski and Elise Matthesen on separate occasions in front of multiple witnesses at Wiscon 37.
2) Multiple women have come forward to attest that he has a long-term pattern of harassment of a period of years.
3) When his presence was challenged by Liz Henry at the con, he said that he had deliberately chosen to attend Wiscon 38 because
of the public outcry after Wiscon 37, rather than showing any contrition or understanding of the impact of his actions.
I would be in favor of a permanent ban even if he had
shown some sign of learning better, but the third point makes it especially outrageous that you are taking so many pains to give him opportunities to "reform".
This prioritizes the harasser over his targets, and is only compounded by the Committee's statement that
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.
This requires the targets of his harassment to argue
that their safety supersedes a harasser's well-being. How is this even an argument
rather than an assumption
at "the world's leading feminist convention"? This doesn't offer the targets the opportunity to speak for themselves; it just exposes them to public and protracted discussion of their harassment. I, personally, still do not ever want to see or hear the names of people who harassed me much longer ago than four years. Or one year.
I am not sure what can be done to amend the damage this decision has caused, but the following would be a start:
(1) The institution of permanent ban against Jim Frenkel.
(2) Yet another apology to Elise Matthesen and Lauren Jankowski for mishandling this case.
(3) Publishing the guidelines developed by this committee to handle harassment cases for review by the Wiscon membership. What to do after that would depend on whether the problem here lay in the process or the people. I regret to say this because I like and respect several individuals on the current Committee, but if it's necessary to rewrite the new guidelines, this should be done by people other
than the panel for the Jim Frenkel case. This should not be allowed to delay the progress of Bergmann case, which has already gone on too long.