July 12th, 2010

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The Latest on Pennsic Univesity Fail

So the most recent contribution to this comes from the Mayor of Pennsic, distributed on several mailing lists. I append the rather lengthy text below. To summarize (with my own editorial comments).

a. After the SCA got sued over a member abusing a minor, the Board ordered that we get youth policies in compliance with state law and best practices.

b. While doing this, we suddenly got inundated with a lot of teachers panicking about what could happen and whether they could get sued. It also prompted a lot of people to complain about past issues dealing with minors.

c. While some of these concerns were obviously crazy, others were very legitimate. Some comments raised troubling questions. Some concerns looked very hard to address. Some concerns looked like they might require instructors to act according to their judgment rather than according to a set policy.

d. So we decided to do the standard SCA thing -- initiate a draconian universal policy designed to address the craziest objections possible with one, uniform, universal rule that addressed all the concerns of the staff making the rule and did not address the burdens on members subject to the new policy in any way, shape, or form.

e. We then compounded this by simply announcing the policy without any explanation or solicitation of any comment. I mean, hey, why should we learn from experience, right?

f. Oopsie! That created a total sh** storm/Society-wide freak out. Who'd a thunk it? So we responded by modifying the craziest part of the policy to make it slightly less crazy. Of course, we continued to believe that absolute refusal to explain any of this, accompanied by strategic leaks to friends and general invocations of about SCA being all volunteers and all wonderful and stuff.

g. In a radical break with tradition, the Pennsic Autocrat/Mayor of Pennsic will actually explain the above and adopt a more reasonable policy:
(Established 7/12/2010) Minors are welcome to attend Pennsic University classes. Individual teachers and classes may have restrictions due to topic, materials, request of instructor and such. Unruly or disruptive youth will be asked to leave the class as per Society Seneschal Handbook Policy. Classes specifically geared for minors are handled through Youth Point and will adhere to all relevant policies for youth activities. No classes through the University and Youth Point specifically for minors will be permitted in private camps or merchant booths. Further, any minor who wishes to attend regular University class in a private encampment or in a merchant booth must be escorted by a responsible adult appointed by their parent or legal guardian.
And we will accept volunteers to help us with the "two deep leadership" model implemented by orgs that train minors (must have two adults present when training minors).

h. The Mayor of Pennsic asks everyone to forgive us because I actually acted smart about this after my staff got whapped up the head for several weeks for acting like typical SCA bureaucrats. Please forgive them, and remember to keep volunteering.

[To which I must add: Would it have been so hard to have gotten this right in the first place? Really? At least the communication part?]

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