I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

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I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby notchole » Mon May 14, 2018 10:24 pm

Okay, this post is long overdue, and it echoes some of the things I’m going to say in my independent study, but whatever, here we go.

It’s recently come to my attention (partly in conjunction with my study, mostly not) that there are several high-level players and officials in the Quiz Bowl establishment with histories of sexual assault and/or statutory rape. Not to pull a McCarthy, but since I don’t actually know any of the information firsthand (and out of respect for the victims), I’m not going to post the names I’ve heard here.

That knowledge is distressing in and of itself, undoubtedly. However, it’s not the most distressing part for me. The most distressing part is that a tremendous number of players and officials who have not partaken in any such activity, people whom I respect deeply and many of whom I am proud to call friends, seem to have known about these allegations and taken no action to prevent offending parties from being allowed to work as staffers around children. Some thought they were open secrets and the problems would work themselves out. I understand that. But I do not excuse it. It is unacceptable that anyone with even the slightest fear that adults in Quiz Bowl might be using their power to sexually abuse minors (or, frankly, anyone) would not tell an authority figure and either provide evidence or prompt the opening of an investigation.

For a variety of reasons, I’m not going to go into details about the following here, but I have somewhat of a personal stake in this issue. Nothing comparable to the trauma the victims of those alluded to above ever happened to me, but I was indeed a victim of abuse of power within a sexual context in conjunction with Quiz Bowl. Please don’t ask me for any further information because I won’t give it to you; I’ve made the decision not to pursue this issue, and I have good reason to believe the other person involved no longer poses a threat to anyone. However, the point is that, like with the cases above, some members of the community knew about what was happening to me and chose to stay out of it. I respect them. I am proud to call them my friends. But also, they are, to a degree, complicit.

I am appalled that adult individuals believed to have engaged in unlawful sexual contact were allowed to continue working for Quiz Bowl organizations providing services to high schoolers, but I am equally appalled that none of the many people whispering about these incidents in private chats and the like pressed the issue. I have spent the past four years playing this game, and the past three trying to make it more inclusive of women and other underrepresented groups. Over that time, I have grown to love this community immensely. But it is that very love that no longer allows me to sit blithely by, chipping away at my research behind the scenes, while it unwittingly destroys itself.
Last edited by notchole on Mon May 14, 2018 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby naturalistic phallacy » Mon May 14, 2018 10:53 pm

Speaking just for myself here, let it crumble. Our validity and humanity is worth more than quizbowl.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby notchole » Mon May 14, 2018 11:00 pm

I agree, but I don't think we should settle for the idea that the two are mutually exclusive.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Amiable Vitriol » Mon May 14, 2018 11:01 pm

fittingly, when i heard about it i was watching silicon valley. the show is exactly what it sounds like- a fictional representation of the boys' club that is the modern tech industry. i'm halfway through season two and they just introduced a new character, a female engineer. she has a blue streak through her hair and has a best friend nicknamed cunty.

she's raw, uncouth. i understand her.

you see, for a woman to infiltrate the boys' club, they have to want it. they have to have skill and work hard and all that but they really have to be able to try on different personalities like coats, always fleeing from the vices inherent in femininity. the woman engineer does not open herself to vulgarity because she wants to, necessarily, but because she must adapt to the boys' club, because the chameleon can take one look at the world and know they aren't safe as is. maybe im projecting, because dick jokes are liberating for some of us. yet quizbowl has changed me in impossibly infinite ways, not all of them good.

when i heard about it i was in a groupchat with some of the men i look up to most in this world. they vary in personality and involvement in the game, but are constant in one factor: i care for them all deeply as members of the quizbowl community.

(they called it an open secret they said that admittance to rape and a coach having sex with a high school player were things everyone knew about but they didn't tell that to my friend who was alone with one of them while at her most vulnerable i think they must have forgotten how could they have forgotten)

here's the thing, quizbowl: when i heard about it i shouldn't have been surprised. it was a matter of if, not when with the insular hell of a boys' club that is quizbowl.
but god. i felt so utterly alone. you let the wolves swarm the sheep and had the audacity to act surprised at our terror.

when i heard about it i was worried i would ramble, that the inevitable stream of callout posts would be too much, that once and for all this game I've felt like a guest in for six years would rescind my seat at the table. because i understand the bystander effect, friends. i wonder what i would have done in your shoes. empathy is hard. you knew and you chose not to tell because maybe you too are hanging on to your seat, maybe you too feel like an imposter at this table.

(and then i remember we are not the same you and i; you may claim fear, but not the terror of knowing you may have just escaped the jaws of the beast )

quizbowl, you brought us to the edge. im not sure if i have hope for this game. i don't know anymore. all i can do is will the open secrets to be shouted, will us not to protect our community from its darkest recesses but to excise these "open secrets" once and for all.

you can do better quizbowl. i know you can. in the immortal words of beyoncé: if we're gonna heal, let it be glorious.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Deviant Insider » Mon May 14, 2018 11:34 pm

If there is anything that I or that PACE can do to address this situation, please let me and/or whichever PACE Member you feel comfortable talking to know. (I do not believe that the incidents being referred to involve PACE directly, but feel free to let us know if they do.) It is a high priority to make quizbowl a safe activity, and it is upsetting whenever quizbowl falls short of that.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Great Bustard » Tue May 15, 2018 12:58 am

I would like to echo David's post on behalf of NHBB / International Academic Competitions and all of our derivative events. If there is anything we can do, whether to rectify a specific situation, or more broadly speaking, to foster a respectful and safe environment for all competitors, staff, coaches, and spectators, please let me know at director@historybowl.com
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby CPiGuy » Tue May 15, 2018 1:17 am

First of all, I want to say that I really respect Chloe for having the courage to come out and say this. As she pointed out, it's a degree of courage that many of us lack. I'm not sure I would have it, were I in her position.

I love quizbowl. I think it's literally the best thing that's happened to me since coming to college, and possibly ever. I was, in fact, since the end of MSNCT yesterday, planning to write a post detailing all the reasons that I love quizbowl, and encouraging others to share their own. That post will come in due time. That's not what this thread is about, so I'll just say this: quizbowl is an incredibly fun game, and it's played by incredibly fun-to-be-around people. The amount of respect that quizbowlers have for each other, even when they've never met each other before, is amazing. I've been astounded by the degree to which I, a newcomer, have been so rapidly welcomed into, and met so many great people in, the community. And I am not saying this to whitewash Chloe's points, but to emphasize them. It saddens and disgusts me that people are being driven away from the game by sexual harassment. It makes me angry to know that there's a nonzero chance that at least one person I know and admire is likely a sexual abuser. These things make me angry not only because they are bad in a vacuum, but also because they mean that fewer people are able to enjoy this activity. But, quizbowl is bigger than any of us. Quizbowl is bigger than me, it's bigger than Chloe, it's bigger than any one person. (If you need proof of that, just look at what happened when noted Member of the Establishment Matt Weiner abruptly resigned from the game -- the community came together and made a fantastic effort to ensure that high school tournaments would go on. I wasn't part of quizbowl when that happened, but I think it's a perfect demonstration of the powerful things that this community can do for good.) Purging sexual abusers from quizbowl, if they exist, will do nothing but make quizbowl a more inclusive and safer place to be. Failing to do so, on the other hand, does actually threaten the community -- how can we come together and do great things in pursuit of knowledge when some of us are worried that others will take advantage of them?

In any event, I believe in the power of the quizbowl community. I believe that the number of good actors greatly outweighs the number of bad actors -- when a team at MSNCT made a Twitter comment stating that one of their female players had overheard a male coach or parent make a disparaging comment about girls, quizbowlers from all over the country stepped up to celebrate the strength of #girlsinquizbowl. I believe that quizbowl is a special game, and that we need to take steps to ensure that everyone who wants to be part of it can be.

And, I refuse to allow the actions of a few disgusting individuals to take away from the incredible people I've met and continue to meet, and the incredible game we all play. I recognize that I am in a position of privilege where I am far less likely to feel unsafe or threatened, and I promise not to use that position to ignore the problems we face. The first thing I did after seeing this post was make sure that my club knew that if they felt uncomfortable in any way in quizbowl, they could talk to me. I think this is something that all people in quizbowl positions of power (club presidents, coaches, etc.) should do, as a first step. I promise I won't perpetuate "open secrets", and allow abusers to remain protected by the rumor mill. I promise that I won't knowingly allow people to be placed in vulnerable situations if I can prevent it. And, if I've ever made you feel uncomfortable, or you've ever felt uncomfortable at a tournament Michigan hosted, or there is anything else that you think I could do to foster a safer quizbowl environment, please reach out to me. I truly want quizbowl to be an inclusive place where anyone at all can feel safe and welcome, and I know that most of you feel the same way.

And, to specifically address the idea of "open secrets": this is a bad idea. I'm not saying that every time anyone in quizbowl does anything objectionable, that we need to crucify them on the forums for it. But, if you hear that Player X was made to feel uncomfortable by a staffer at University Z's tournament, e-mail the tournament director. Tell them there was an incident with that staffer. You don't have to identify who reported it or anything. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding, but maybe there's a pattern of misbehavior that's being missed because nobody wants to speak up. If there was a staffer at a major national tournament about whom you have heard bad rumors, email the organization that ran the tournament. You don't have to step onto the forums and say "BAN THIS PERSON NOW" (and honestly, unless you have more evidence than rumors you probably shouldn't), but you can -- and should! -- email NAQT, PACE, ACF, or whoever it may have been and say "Hey, I'm concerned that [person] was staffing your tournament. I've heard people saying that he did [bad thing], and I don't think someone who does that should be put in a position of power over students." It won't solve every problem, but it will be a good start. Speak up and protect people. Quizbowlers, you're all amazing people. Please help each other, and the next generations of amazing quizbowl people, out.

EDIT: It was brought to my attention that people unfamiliar with the situation might have seen my reference to Matt Weiner's sudden resignation and concluded that he did so for reasons relating to sexual abuse. Matt resigned because he failed to complete his question-writing commitments, and I was just using him as an example of how nobody is bigger than quizbowl. Please do not call Matt a sexual abuser.
Last edited by CPiGuy on Tue May 15, 2018 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby High Dependency Unit » Tue May 15, 2018 1:31 am

I love this game to death and can't stand by while these incredible people feel hurt by the inaction of the quiz bowl community.

As someone in the groupchat referenced above, and an employee of an organization that allowed one of these individuals to staff their national championship, I am a complicit bystander in this issue. Worse, someone I know very well was considering attending a school one of these individuals still plays for, and I failed to tell her what I knew about the behavior of that individual, who I would never let near any female college freshman (or high schooler) I know if it were in my power to do so. I hope I can rectify that by being an active participant in making quiz bowl a safer community.

It's time to raise some questions I thought of when talking to another staffer at NHBB nationals two weeks ago.

If someone is reported for misconduct at NSC, are they still able to participate in or staff ACF, NAQT, NHBB, and various collegiate and high school regular-season events? If they are still part of a program, are those members going to be aware of said misconduct? Quiz bowl is a very decentralized activity, and that's something that needs to be considered when individual organizations step up to address this issue. Obviously organizations like NAQT can do more (better publicizing that Emily Pike is the go-to person for misconduct reporting would be a start), but this issue cannot just be addressed by the more-prominent women of the community, nor by any singular organization. If we don't marshal the entire community to make sure people like Chloe and Olivia feel comfortable playing quiz bowl and have faith in the community to maintain that atmosphere, we are doing quiz bowl a disservice.

Despite the nature of Chloe and Olivia's posts, I am buoyed by the strong reaction of everyone in the quiz bowl community and am confident in this generation of leaders' ability to build a better and safer community.
Last edited by High Dependency Unit on Tue May 15, 2018 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Aaron's Rod » Tue May 15, 2018 1:49 am

High Dependency Unit wrote:If someone is reported for misconduct at NSC, are they still able to participate in or staff ACF, NAQT, NHBB, and various collegiate and high school regular-season events?

Representatives of PACE and NAQT have been in talks about this very issue for a couple of months now, but we've been spread thinly because of nationals season. I hope that we are able to share the results of our joint efforts in the near future. We have been and are very concerned about all of our players and staff feeling safe at national tournaments.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby jessbowen » Tue May 15, 2018 2:45 pm

Perhaps there's something I'm missing here, but I think this post belongs in a thread with wider following than the college discussion page. It seems to be an issue affecting a wide swath of QB, not just the collegiate scene. In fact, I would have missed this important discussion if someone didn't point to it from outside because I don't follow collegiate QB.

This is such a serious issue. We need lots of people involved in both awareness and solutions. If there is any movement towards this - like a committee or something - and you are looking for participation from local coaches, I would be interested.

Thank you Chloe for being among the people first willing to open our eyes to this. Let's all continue to talk - and more importantly work - to make this kind of situation impossible and unthinkable in the future.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Rabbinator » Tue May 15, 2018 3:48 pm

Personally I get really tired of people who have nothing to be afraid of feeling empowered by the reactions of the community to shitty things that happen. I'm sure some of you mean well, but honestly when you say things like you're 'buoyed" by the support blah blah and in the same breath call actual womens' reactions "disconcerting" when we literally live in fear of being assaulted by a large percentage of the Quizbowl population, it just sounds like "women are so emotional" and "you girls are overreacting".
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Father Comstock » Tue May 15, 2018 3:56 pm

Rabbinator wrote:Personally I get really tired of people who have nothing to be afraid of feeling empowered by the reactions of the community to shitty things that happen. I'm sure some of you mean well, but honestly when you say things like you're 'buoyed" by the support blah blah and in the same breath call actual womens' reactions "disconcerting" when we literally live in fear of being assaulted by a large percentage of the Quizbowl population, it just sounds like "women are so emotional" and "you girls are overreacting".


I think you wholesale misunderstood Borecki's post.

EDIT: I think Michael was calling the situation disconcerting, not their reactions, as in all other avenues of communication he has expressed sincerity in his desire to resolve this issue.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby High Dependency Unit » Tue May 15, 2018 4:04 pm

Father Comstock wrote:
Rabbinator wrote:Personally I get really tired of people who have nothing to be afraid of feeling empowered by the reactions of the community to shitty things that happen. I'm sure some of you mean well, but honestly when you say things like you're 'buoyed" by the support blah blah and in the same breath call actual womens' reactions "disconcerting" when we literally live in fear of being assaulted by a large percentage of the Quizbowl population, it just sounds like "women are so emotional" and "you girls are overreacting".


I think you wholesale misunderstood Borecki's post.


Thanks Ben -- And Bunnie, maybe I didn't get my ideas across as effectively as I could have (I did show this to some people before posting and they said it looked good), but I certainly would not want to characterize the reactions to this as "overreactions" of any sort, which I don't believe they are. I've edited the above post slightly to account for possible misunderstanding.

EDIT: Seeing Ben's edit, that is how the sentenced was phrased and should have been taken.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Rabbinator » Tue May 15, 2018 4:06 pm

High Dependency Unit wrote:
Father Comstock wrote:
Rabbinator wrote:Personally I get really tired of people who have nothing to be afraid of feeling empowered by the reactions of the community to shitty things that happen. I'm sure some of you mean well, but honestly when you say things like you're 'buoyed" by the support blah blah and in the same breath call actual womens' reactions "disconcerting" when we literally live in fear of being assaulted by a large percentage of the Quizbowl population, it just sounds like "women are so emotional" and "you girls are overreacting".


I think you wholesale misunderstood Borecki's post.


Thanks Ben -- And Bunnie, maybe I didn't get my ideas across as effectively as I could have (I did show this to some people before posting and they said it looked good), but I certainly would not want to characterize the reactions to this as "overreactions" of any sort, which I don't believe they are. I've edited the above post slightly to account for that.


Thank you, Michael. I don't know you that well but have seen your genuine interest in making things better. Thank you for clarifying and editing so that others may not misunderstand your post.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby halle » Tue May 15, 2018 4:08 pm

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I have some thoughts on some concrete things we can do to make the community better about not tolerating abusive men (or women, I suppose). My thoughts are mostly regarding the problem Olivia highlighted--the fact that many of us have heard things about members of the community but do not tell our friends or acquaintances about them, even if telling them would allow them to make more informed decisions about their own safety.

I posted something similar on the Discord, where there has been discussion of several individuals who have been banned from staffing by clubs or have been reported to organizations for various reasons, ranging from compelling evidence of sexual assault to acting "creepy" on multiple occasions. It seems to me that there's more than one level of accusation being leveled, and thus there should be more than one level at which action can be taken.

At the highest level, so to speak, if you know someone did something (such as harassment or assault, beyond the level of just seeming off or creepy) or you have credible reason to suspect they did, the best thing to do is report them to all the major quizbowl organizations (NAQT, PACE, etc). However, reporting isn't the end all and be all of action you can or should take. The other best thing to do is publicly out the individual in question, but only if you are sure they did the thing you're accusing them of, or are otherwise comfortable making the info public.

In any case, whether you're dealing with high-level accusations or less severe stuff, you should also tell people what you know. Which people you tell, though, should depend on the circumstance. If your club or organization has banned a staffer, you should tell the other clubs in your circuit why you've done so, and let them decide for themselves if they want to proceed in the same way. If you've banned an individual for their behavior in relation to women, you should inform the women you know will come into contact with the person in question, such as female members of your team, and female members of teams at tournaments the individual in question will be present at. If you only know rumors, frame the story as just a rumor, but one that might be relevant to the person you're telling; you can say something like "I don't know if this is true, but it's probably worth knowing that so and so has been accused of doing such and such, and I thought you might want to know this before interacting with him." Basically, get used to disclosing this kind of bad behavior to anyone who you think needs to know. This can mean sliding into the DMs of someone you've never met, if they're bringing their club to your circuit for the first time or if a problematic player is moving to a school in a different circuit. And don't get out of the habit of passing the information along. Tell new members of your club about accusations before their first tournament where the individual will be present. Keep the information alive so it can't come out later and blindside people after they have met the people in question multiple times.

I think of this process as establishing a culture of increasingly open secrets and a stronger "whisper network." Both of these terms have negative connotations, but I struggle to think of better ones--perhaps "informal communication networks" or "open discourse." Let me emphasize again that resorting to the "whisper network" rather than a public forum is only for cases where it is not clear that the info should be public, such as when you've heard the information from a secondhand source, or if the behavior in question is "creepiness" rather than actual crimes or actively predatory behavior (i.e. If someone has been creepy enough that you don't let them staff your tournaments, but you don't actually think they've done anything beyond skeeve some women out, they probably don't need an official investigation or an official outing, but women should have the chance to hear about the guy's reputation before inviting him to staff, for example). This network of private communications is an intermediate level of action between doing nothing and going fully public. Some of us might feel uncomfortable "spreading rumors," but the unsavoriness is cancelled out, at least in my estimation, by the potential to greatly improve the experience of women in quizbowl. Furthermore, this sort of network is only insider-y if we don't actively work to spread it as widely as possible, which we absolutely should strive to do.

If anyone has more ideas on what we can each do on an individual level, please let me know or post your thoughts.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Sylvia Pankhurst » Tue May 15, 2018 7:32 pm

The idea of resigning this to a whisper network makes me sick to my stomach.

I understand why doing anything more when something might just be 'this person is creepy and did x that isn't a crime but was bad" is also not the best way to approach things, but if we leave this to a whisper network someone is always going to be left out.

I understand where you're coming from, Halle, and agree that sliding into the DM's of someone on a new team is a fantastic place to start!! but i really worry that if we're not more official about how this is done/whose job it is to do that, everyone's just going to assume someone else will and in a year or so we'll be back where we are now with open secrets that just arent that open and whisper networks that yes, keep everyone on Chicago very informed, but never really reach much farther than that.

Edited to add: Mostly, I'm worried about the next generation. People are in quizbowl for so long that what was an open secret 5 years ago, and potentially applies to someone still playing, is just unknown to the next group of college students. Whisper networks are all well and good for now, but what happens when the people who are doing most of the whispering graduate? When they no longer know who most of the entering college players they should be warning are?
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Rabbinator » Tue May 15, 2018 8:32 pm

A safety taskforce should be assembled that is made up of many trusted and influential Quizbowl people as well as Quizbowl women. This would span all the organizations and would be an appropriate way to anonymously report concerns. Keeping victims safe and private is very important, and so is protecting people from becoming victims. People would be able to report everything from X grabbed my ass to more serious offenses. Then, if trends are noticed the group can discuss what the most appropriate thing to do would be.

The whisper network is not a good idea. But neither is hopping onto the boards and triggering people a la Charlie Dees.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby 15.366 » Tue May 15, 2018 8:36 pm

Sylvia Pankhurst wrote:The idea of resigning this to a whisper network makes me sick to my stomach.

I understand why doing anything more when something might just be 'this person is creepy and did x that isn't a crime but was bad" is also not the best way to approach things, but if we leave this to a whisper network someone is always going to be left out.

I understand where you're coming from, Halle, and agree that sliding into the DM's of someone on a new team is a fantastic place to start!! but i really worry that if we're not more official about how this is done/whose job it is to do that, everyone's just going to assume someone else will and in a year or so we'll be back where we are now with open secrets that just arent that open and whisper networks that yes, keep everyone on Chicago very informed, but never really reach much farther than that.

Edited to add: Mostly, I'm worried about the next generation. People are in quizbowl for so long that what was an open secret 5 years ago, and potentially applies to someone still playing, is just unknown to the next group of college students. Whisper networks are all well and good for now, but what happens when the people who are doing most of the whispering graduate? When they no longer know who most of the entering college players they should be warning are?


I fully agree with Lauren's point. As someone who is of a different generation than most of my teammates, and does not spend that much time on most social media, I know that there are many things that were "common knowledge" passed through the networks that reached me late if at all.

As well, whisper networks, especially if done verbally, create error-likely situations. A lot of times in my experience, these kinds of things are passed on when people are relaxing and socializing of an evening and feel they can talk about something they may feel reluctant to say during the day and in other company, alcohol may be involved and fatigue very often is --- and in the clear light of day it may be easy to misremember exactly what bad thing person X did that Emily* mentioned last night, or even conflate it with person Y who came up adjacent in the conversation, even as we support and believe victims/survivors' accounts. And Emily may be stuck having to re-live her experience while correcting errors in hearsay, and having her own veracity doubted because another witness distorted her words.

*placeholder name, not to implicate any real Emilys in the quizbowl community.

Also, in other communities that I am part of that have and are facing problems of their own around sexual assault and harassment --- whisper networks do not actually solve the problem. The common term for that is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_stair. So we walk around Person X by those in the know not being alone with him (or her, or them), and those in the know inviting him to staff fewer tournaments --- but he may not even notice and from his perspective, there has been no consequences for his actions. And as Lauren pointed out, there will, I think, inevitably, be people left out of those conversations --- someone is not on the given social network; someone had to write a paper on the evening of the club party when this came up --- who will catch their foot on the missing stair.

We need to fix missing stairs. And bloody well build better stepladders that don't have them.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Rabbinator » Tue May 15, 2018 8:48 pm

I think we need to talk seriously about ways to address this so we avoid the missing stair problem outlined above.

I also want to say that if there's anything someone is too afraid to say here on the boards, please feel free to reach out to me. You will stay anonymous in all ways.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby halle » Tue May 15, 2018 9:05 pm

I feel as though my words are being misconstrued, so I just want to jump in here again to clarify a bit.

I would never advocate "resigning" the whole issue to a whisper network. I made it clear (or at least I tried to make it clear) that these sorts of individual communications to pass on information were only part of the solution, and not even the biggest part. Here's where I included this in my original post:

halle wrote:if you know someone did something ...the best thing to do is report them to all the major quizbowl organizations (NAQT, PACE, etc)....The other best thing to do is publicly out the individual in question, but only if you are sure they did the thing you're accusing them of, or are otherwise comfortable making the info public.


halle wrote:Let me emphasize again that resorting to the "whisper network" rather than a public forum is only for cases where it is not clear that the info should be public


I hope it's clear that the communication network I'm advocating should never be the only structure in place against this issue. I do think, though, that it is also clear that there are some individuals who don't warrant public posts but do warrant warnings. Thus, posting publicly should not be the only structure in place. A network of individual communications seems like the way to deal with this--again, in tandem with more public discourse.

To address some other points:

Sylvia Pankhurst wrote: i really worry that...in a year or so we'll be back where we are now with open secrets that just arent that open and whisper networks that yes, keep everyone on Chicago very informed, but never really reach much farther than that.

Edited to add: Mostly, I'm worried about the next generation. People are in quizbowl for so long that what was an open secret 5 years ago, and potentially applies to someone still playing, is just unknown to the next group of college students. Whisper networks are all well and good for now, but what happens when the people who are doing most of the whispering graduate? When they no longer know who most of the entering college players they should be warning are?


I agree with this completely, and this is actually why I made the post in the first place! The whisper network that exists now is bad. The open secrets that exist now are not actually open enough, because the people who need to know them don't actually get a chance to hear them. If it were enough for the rumors to reach the ears of Chicagoans, I never would have posted, because that's already been more or less accomplished. The point of my post is that rather than haphazardly telling people about predators and creeps at parties or in other social environments, we should proactively and systematically disclose this information, and should make this sort of disclosure common practice. It should be the sort of practice that we pass down to future generations, just like other best practices of running clubs. This also addresses Tamara's point about error-likely situations, I think, in that it moves the practice of passing on information away from those situations and towards clearer ones.

I hope I've made myself clear. I'm aware of the weaknesses of private communications; I just don't think they're damning. Also, I hope I haven't misrepresented Lauren or Tamara's points, as they are very good points, and I don't actually disagree with most of their posts! As far as Bunnie's post goes, I'm not sure how we would go about forming a taskforce, although I'm not against the idea. I guess for now I think we should all take responsibility by doing everything we can to disseminate information appropriately.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue May 15, 2018 9:08 pm

Bunnie and I just had a very productive conversation and found out we're on the same page in many important ways, I wasn't making anything up when I say that I'm thankful for her willingness to call out flaws because I think this process deserves heavy scrutiny and nobody should trust themselves to be infallible, I couldn't endorse her proposal more strongly, and am thankful that we reached out to each other to hash things out and find a way to move forward into a more productive future.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby naturalistic phallacy » Tue May 15, 2018 9:23 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:Bunnie and I just had a very productive conversation and found out we're on the same page in many important ways, I wasn't making anything up when I say that I'm thankful for her willingness to call out flaws because I think this process deserves heavy scrutiny and nobody should trust themselves to be infallible, I couldn't endorse her proposal more strongly, and am thankful that we reached out to each other to hash things out and find a way to move forward into a more productive future.


This warms my heart greatly.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Wed May 16, 2018 12:18 am

notchole wrote:For a variety of reasons, I’m not going to go into details about the following here, but I have somewhat of a personal stake in this issue. Nothing comparable to the trauma the victims of those alluded to above ever happened to me, but I was indeed a victim of abuse of power within a sexual context in conjunction with Quiz Bowl. Please don’t ask me for any further information because I won’t give it to you; I’ve made the decision not to pursue this issue, and I have good reason to believe the other person involved no longer poses a threat to anyone. However, the point is that, like with the cases above, some members of the community knew about what was happening to me and chose to stay out of it. I respect them. I am proud to call them my friends. But also, they are, to a degree, complicit.


I can't pretend to understand what you went through, and you have every right to deal with this however you see fit.

My only question (not directed at you, specifically, Chloe, but people in general), as something like an elder in this community, is this - how can we not be complicit, like you say your friends were in this whole interaction? Do you feel like you called upon them for help and they didn't do anything? Should they have offered to help you and they didn't?

More than once, I've had a teammate tell me something uncomfortable that happened to them, but told me not to do anything, because they would deal with it themselves. I've honored their wishes every time, even when I thought it wasn't the best thing for the situation. I often wonder what I'm supposed to do there, and I think other people want to know as well.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby 15.366 » Wed May 16, 2018 7:29 am

Further thoughts on building better stepladders without missing stairs: I have been thinking and discussing this quite a bit in the last few years, and have come to several conclusions through a combination of reading and my own reasoning and experience. (And I apologize in advance to survivors of abuse and harassment who may read this that I am taking a distant, bird’s eye, systems-thinking view to what is to them very individual and personal.)

Why have we recently seen such scandals, of thriving sexual harassers and rapists operating with impunity and respect despite a whisper network, in some circles and not others? Why in film (Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey), academia (Florian Jaeger, for one in my own linguistics circles), fiction writing (David Foster Wallace, Isaac Asimov, Rene Walling, the UBC MFA), software development, elite sports like gymnastics and football (Jerry Sandusky, Larry Nassar) — but not in, say, tax accounting, nuclear operations, pharmacy, HVAC installation?

These systems have in common that they are pyramidal: there is a top prize (stardom, major league paychecks, Olympic medals) that by design very few people can achieve. (In the case of the sex abuses in the Catholic priesthood, the prize was no less than eternal salvation.) It is understood that getting to it relies on a lot of individual talent as well as hard work, but also a lot of luck in knowing the right people. Thus we have those who are considered top talent literally being valued as people, and their word being valued, over those who are not, and thus being able to get away with censurable to horrible behaviour with no consequences — people want to get near them anyway --- and your only chance to stay in the network and crawl towards the top prize is to keep your mouth shut and suffer, we can’t kick him out, he’s a star, you raise waves and you’re the one to leave.

Is quiz bowl a pyramidal system like this? Of course. Even though the rest of the world doesn’t care in the slightest, and the financial reward is laughable, we have our top prizes in the Triple Crown of the ICT, ACF Nationals, and the Chicago Open. We lionize the top talent in the players’ poll, and the ones on top get memes, nicknames, and stories told about them over dinner. Knowing the right people and being on the right teams does matter (I am a better player as a B player on the Chicago team than I ever was as the top player on the Ottawa team back in the day, because I get exposed to study techniques, strategy discussion, pressure to excel, and harder questions in practice than I ever did there). I have heard many times that those who deliver the PPG would be kept on teams regardless of whether they were arseholes.

And I have heard, many times, utterances by top players that had been rude or hurtful (almost certainly unintentionally, and I have heard of nothing as bad as rape or sexual harassment, but a lot of ignorance) getting chewed over later by other players, but never called out to their faces, and thus they remain unaware of the consequences of their actions or even that what they did was wrong.

A low-ranked player would easily conclude that in case of bad behaviour by a star to a novice player, the star would be taken as the right, as if his word for what happens in obscure Swedish novels also implies his word for what happened some tired and tipsy evening after a tournament. So the novice player would try to deal with it themselves, because the struggle to be heard and get justice would be even more stressful than what already happened. And a potentially high-ranked player who has aggressive tendencies (and a certain amount of aggression towards the buzzer and the score is part of this game’s skill set) would assume that if he is a big enough star, nobody would care if he does and says what he wants.

Even though most of the top players I know, I genuinely like as people, even some who do get chewed over like this behind their backs because of what I believe to be thoughtlessness and not malice — given the factors we have in our system, it would be more astonishing if quiz bowl did NOT have any sexual harassers in it!

I have never experienced sexual harassment in the community myself, but I have no illusions that this is not a combination of luck and a reputation for being (a) older; (b) openly and happily partnered to a non-community-member, as if my partner’s claim on me has more value to a potential harasser than my own interests and choice; (c) low-ranked enough that I do not pose a threat that needs to be targeted in power plays; (d) I hope, generally doing no harm but taking no :capybara:. Few other women in the community have those advantages. Though I do not know who, I believe that there are sexual harassers in the community, and I would believe a victim’s account.

So as well as dealing with what has already happened, what should we do on a system-wide basis to prevent it from happening again? I am not at all suggesting something like “burn the players’ poll to the ground” because that would just be counterproductive, cause resentment, and a shadow one would spring up in its place anyway. Different PPGs are a fact of this game’s setup. Looking up to those who are currently better than you at a skill you want is part of human nature.

But we should, all of us, even the newbies, kindly but firmly call top players to account on small transgressions so that they do not escalate into big ones, and show that it is safe and there is a clear protocol (so the stress can be reduced as the process runs on rails) for anyone to do so. We should take a long hard look as to how we’ve been letting knowledge of Chinese dynasties and named chemical reactions buy our way out of decent behaviour towards our fellow people. Our top individual prizes have not been used paperbacks, but impunity for rude and callous actions, and every one of us should act to stop this.

How to design the protocol — that would definitely need a lot of input and discussion from the community, and it sounds like some of it has already started.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Here Comes Rusev Day » Wed May 16, 2018 10:24 am

People should take notice of Tamara's post here and take the time to read it.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed May 16, 2018 11:14 am

It's definitely important to have norms and procedures to deter people with institutional positions or community prestige from taking advantage of that. I'm much more skeptical that competitiveness is toxic, or that in-game passion is a symptom of an abuser, or that well-known players are more likely to offend than more anonymous players.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby magin » Wed May 16, 2018 12:18 pm

The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:I'm much more skeptical that competitiveness is toxic, or that in-game passion is a symptom of an abuser, or that well-known players are more likely to offend than more anonymous players.


Matt, I don't see anyone saying these things. I think Tamara is correct that we still tend to place far too much value on scoring highly and winning tournaments; it's good for us to remember that scoring lots of points in quizbowl has no bearing on being a good person, and that as a community, we should value people who treat others well and contribute positively to the circuit, not players with high PPGs.

I think it would be good to scrap the player/team poll. It's fun to be recognized by your peers and stand up for your teammates (and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy looking up my stats from past tournaments sometimes), but Victor's quizbowl awards seem like a much healthier way to recognize positive contributions to the circuit. We can all read SQBS anyway and figure out pretty easily who's good at buzzing in a lot and who won tournaments.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby vinteuil » Wed May 16, 2018 12:35 pm

Tamara, I really appreciate your thoughtful analysis of the situation.

I do wonder if you might be overestimating the quizbowl community's ability and willingness to confront toxic behavior, even if it's not coming from a "prestigious" individual. That's not to deny that there's a detrimental fixation on high-PPG players at the expense of other (more) positive contributors to quizbowl as an activity, and it's certainly not to deny that those players may get more of a (seeming) free pass than others—but I think the threshold for dealing with bad behavior might simply be too high with respect to all community members. (I'm genuinely wondering, and am not wedded to this position.)
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed May 16, 2018 12:41 pm

Jonathan, I see this:

15.366 wrote:And a potentially high-ranked player who has aggressive tendencies (and a certain amount of aggression towards the buzzer and the score is part of this game’s skill set) would assume that if he is a big enough star, nobody would care if he does and says what he wants.


and this:

Even though most of the top players I know, I genuinely like as people, even some who do get chewed over like this behind their backs because of what I believe to be thoughtlessness and not malice — given the factors we have in our system, it would be more astonishing if quiz bowl did NOT have any sexual harassers in it!


as arguing that sexual harassment in quizbowl is a problem with "high-ranked players," and the aggression involved in being a high-ranked player makes them more likely to be sexual abusers. I don't think these generalizations are really warranted by any case that's come to light. It seems like what you and Tamara are really discussing is top players being too aggressive and mean, which may be a problem but isn't really the same.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby naturalistic phallacy » Wed May 16, 2018 1:02 pm

My reading of Tamara's point is that all of us in quizbowl can get caught up in the details of the game (competition, PPG, ranking, tournament wins etc...) to the point where we prioritize that over the creation of a free, open, and comfortable community in which people can exist as themselves. (*) Those who are more talented at the game and/or are more focused on winning often become more focused on such details than those who are not. I do not think this means that the more competitive of us are more likely to be offenders but are less likely to be as concerned about the less game-driven aspects of quizbowl, which include things that foster said open community.

(*) What constitutes comfort here is still an open question, but I feel this includes creating an environment where people have the freedom from sexual discrimination, whatever its forms.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Kechara » Wed May 16, 2018 10:39 pm

The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:I'm much more skeptical that competitiveness is toxic, or that in-game passion is a symptom of an abuser, or that well-known players are more likely to offend than more anonymous players.


Tamara, please correct me if I'm putting words in your mouth. I didn't read Tamara's post as saying that competitiveness is toxic so much as that competitiveness creates a situation where, if other conditions are met, a toxic environment CAN be created. Maybe that competitiveness to an activity or career is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Illinois Admin » Thu May 17, 2018 1:06 am

So I showed my fiance (Kendra) this (and a few other threads) and she after she thought about it for a bit she proposed an idea for how to make it easier to clamp down on these toxic and unacceptable occurrences in real time.

Her proposal is to create some sort of online form (probably Google) that is distributed to everyone attending a given event. The form would just consist of an empty field that anyone who has a concern about abusive, harassing, etc behavior can describe in as much or as little detail as they feel comfortable with and (if they are comfortable with it) providing a way of following up. So if someone were to be making sexually harassing comments, the victim (or a witness) could fill out the form and the tournament director would then be able to make course correcting maneuvers (whether it be eject someone, change room assignments, place someone you trust to monitor the problem person etc).

Obviously I'm a guy and I have not experienced this sort of behavior directly and Kendra is not a quiz bowl player and isn't familiar with the full women in quiz bowl experience, so its very possible that we are missing something important in her design. If there is any input that would improve this idea (or if this idea totally sucks and shouldn't be used) please give any feedback you have on it (either directly to me or here) as we plan to utilize something like this at future events we host. This clearly isn't a magic drug that would cure the disease but it might be able to help cut out infected tissue as we spot it.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby alexdz » Thu May 17, 2018 1:42 am

Illinois Admin wrote:So I showed my fiance (Kendra) this (and a few other threads) and she after she thought about it for a bit she proposed an idea for how to make it easier to clamp down on these toxic and unacceptable occurrences in real time.

Her proposal is to create some sort of online form (probably Google) that is distributed to everyone attending a given event. The form would just consist of an empty field that anyone who has a concern about abusive, harassing, etc behavior can describe in as much or as little detail as they feel comfortable with and (if they are comfortable with it) providing a way of following up. So if someone were to be making sexually harassing comments, the victim (or a witness) could fill out the form and the tournament director would then be able to make course correcting maneuvers (whether it be eject someone, change room assignments, place someone you trust to monitor the problem person etc).

Obviously I'm a guy and I have not experienced this sort of behavior directly and Kendra is not a quiz bowl player and isn't familiar with the full women in quiz bowl experience, so its very possible that we are missing something important in her design. If there is any input that would improve this idea (or if this idea totally sucks and shouldn't be used) please give any feedback you have on it (either directly to me or here) as we plan to utilize something like this at future events we host. This clearly isn't a magic drug that would cure the disease but it might be able to help cut out infected tissue as we spot it.


I haven't had much time to think about this type of system being deployed at a quizbowl tournament, but I can tell you a bit about something similar that I implemented with another student program. For two semesters, I served on the staff of a student theatre group at UIUC as the production manager. More or less, my role was twofold: (1) oversee the tech staff members and run staff meetings; and (2) deal with any grievances or personal issues affecting the production. It is to that latter point I feel I can contribute to this conversation.

In order to most effectively provide an outlet for cast and staff members to be able to initiate conversations on sensitive personal issues, I created a Google form much like Kendra suggested, although it had some guiding prompts so that I could collect useful, actionable information. Cast/staff members were able to submit their issues to me and explain what was happening so that I could either deal with the issue directly, speak to the affected person and collect more information, or simply make a mental note to watch out for further issues. Although I allowed anonymity, anonymous submissions were difficult to deal with because the issues described were often vague and unspecific. (With this proposal, it would seem as if the form would be going out to a much wider group of people and less controllable, so I don't know how anonymity would affect the ability to make this useful and actionable.)

I largely found this "production manager's box" to be a useful resource. Company members who didn't feel comfortable approaching me during a rehearsal had a private, formal means of lodging a grievance/issue. I was able to collect all the information I needed to deal with the issue up front, for the most part, so I didn't have to text or email people back and forth to ask for more details. I was able to set up meetings to resolve misunderstandings, creative differences, and the like, but I also received some more personal issues through the box. With these, I was able to reach out and offer help to those who felt lost or who were struggling with their participation due to issues in their life.

I would be more than happy to share my template(s) with people who are interested or discuss further my use of such a form with a student activity.
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Re: I Love You, QB, So Please Get It The F*** Together

Postby Rabbinator » Thu May 17, 2018 3:50 am

Going off the two posts above, I have to say I love this idea. The ability to report things anonymously without fear of retaliation is of utmost importance to protecting victims and witnesses. It also allows everybody in the vicinity to take action against things they find troubling.

One thing that I can't seem to find a solution for is this:
How do we make people aware of potential dangers in situations that don't warrant removal etc? Obviously there are a lot of different types of dangers involved from verbal harassment to groping and worse, but if something is deemed unactionable, how do we both protect the populace while also not completely ruining someone's reputation for a mistake? How will we make those calls?

I know PACE et al are working on some sort of cross-organization solution, but I worry about
A) The people who will be making decisions on these panels and investigating
B) What input the community will have in this/what level of involvement the general community will play and
C) As I mentioned above, how do we protect people from those who aren't high risk enough for a ban, but at risk of offending enough that one needs to be careful around them?

Any possible solutions Are welcome, as I think it's important to hear many different opinions.
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