I love the skeptic community, the JREF, and TAM. I intend to attend my 5th consecutive TAM this summer. But I am disappointed that the JREF and its current president, DJ Grothe, have not taken the matters of unwanted and inappropriate behavior head on.
We have ample evidence that sexual harassment can be a problem at atheist and skeptical events. Skepchick Elyse was offered sex by strangers while working at an event. Presenters have been told who to steer clear of in the green room. Both prominent and average members of the community (both men and women) have been affected by harassment in a variety of ways. There is no controversy in stating that we do not want our gatherings to become hostile places.
What seems to be controversial is dealing with this potential (even likely) problem head-on and in advance of the event. Simple preventative measures and a clearly stated code have immeasurable benefit with little or no cost. It should be clear to all attendees that the community cares, and that out-of-bounds behavior will not be tolerated (even with paid admittance).
We should not wait until something bad happens and then react in an improvised manner. We should police our own, be forthright about the basic rules, and ensure safety and fun for everyone.
Before the last Amazing Meeting, the JREF posted a very limited code of conduct to its web site. With this petition I ask the JREF to post a complete and comprehensive Code of Conduct directly to the Amazing Meeting web site and link to it under the FAQ section. Consistent with this code, I would also like there to be designated volunteers available at the even to handle violations in a amicable but firm manner.
Please refer to this example policy for a useful starting point.
I love the skeptic community, the JREF, and TAM. It is important to me that everyone feel safe and welcome during TAM 2012. At this time, there is no harassment policy posted on The Amazing Meeting web site and I consider this a major oversight.
Harassment may not be rampant at skeptical events but it does happen. When it happens, it is important that everyone know what to expect in terms of rules, reporting, and resolution of problems.
Having a clearly posted policy harms no-one, and gives many attendees the assurance that the JREF cares about all its attendees. Please post a harassment policy on the TAM website and link to it from the FAQ page.