Edmonton Expo: When a Harassment Policy Works

Over at Sequential Tart Suzette Chan reflects upon when an anti-harassment system works as it should and did at the Edmonton Expo (held in late September with 50,000 in attendance). Full disclosure, Stephanie Chan is a founding member of Smash Pages.

We experienced one incident of harassment. Edmonton Expo handled it in a way that shows that it is serious and prepared to deal with harassment at the con.

… Steph was standing behind the table, and fledgling new Tart Kelaine Devine was seated behind the table.

A fellow walked up to Kelaine and told her to smile so that she would look better in a photo. She declined. He then turned to Steph and said, “She’s pretty. Is she an actress, too?” I told him, “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Steph tried to get his name and photo, and a bit of a chase ensued. It ended up with the guy yelling at Steph and following her until she got to the customer service desk. I caught up with them there. Four Edmonton Expo personnel were at the desk. One took Steph aside to get her story. Another spoke to the fellow, or tried to. Eventually a response team was called in to speak with him.

The volunteer who took Steph’s story escorted us back to our table. Later, the response team visited our table to check on us and to give us an update. Apparently, the fellow was bellicose and unrepentant, which led to his expulsion.

Looking back, I appreciated the process: A) We reported it. B) The report was taken seriously. C) Edmonton Expo took steps to ensure that the fellow would not harass anyone else at the event. D) The team followed up with us.

We wanted to share this story as an example of a policy about harassment that is in place and that worked. We felt heard, and, though I’m sure he was not happy to be expelled, the person identified as a harasser also was heard. The main takeaway is that there was immediate response, action, and follow-up.

-ed crcs

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