Many of you know me. My name is Alex, and I was one of the founding members of the Order of Gallifrey. Much of the Charter, as it stands, was written by me, and approved or amended by vote of the membership. At the time we began the Order of Gallifrey, there were five people. Within a year, there were 200. Within another year there were 500, and so on. The Order was created, as I have said countless times, to create an open, and inclusive place where costumers and prop builders who were interested in pursuing Doctor Who and Whovian related projects could get together, make friends, and assist in educating each other regarding the fine points of costuming and prop building. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and I continue to remain proud of the members.
This year, one of the many portions of the Charter that I wrote requires that I become ineligible for the office of Lord President for one full year. This was done specifically in order to prevent any one person from occupying the office of Lord/Lady president and and to ensure that an institutional "president for life" did not become an issue. In compliance with that matter, I am stepping aside. And, as requested, I have accepted the nomination for Castellan.
The Castellan was created to ensure that one, completely apolitical office be created within the Order of Gallifrey, and that this completely apolitical office be concerned solely with the well being of the membership, their rights, and the code of conduct. Thus far, we have had two individuals in that role - Shawn and Jana, who have both done their jobs magnificently well, given the strain placed upon them at times and what can be a very difficult job. I could not have asked for two people more responsible to carry out the duties of the Castellan, and I consider it an honor to be considered for the position.
So, why should you consider voting for me for Castellan? In the first place, I am probably the person who is most familiar with the Charter. Of all the founders who participated in the creation of the Charter, I am the most active. I understand how the Charter was intended to work, and I understand the path that is being set in order to continue to make our charter as accessible as possible. Secondly, inclusiveness and protection of our members is, has been, and will continue to remain my priority as a member of this group. This was the primary motivation for me as a founder of this club, and it remains so. Third, perhaps critically, I am utterly apolitical when it comes to the Order of Gallifrey. Some people don't care much for that - they would rather see me involved in political power plays and giving long, absurd speeches rather than doing my job. But I -have- done my job, and I have done so without stooping to politics. In fact, I have often taken offense at the attempt to involve me therein. This, I think, sets me apart as a rather qualified candidate for this job.
The thing is, I love this club. I built it with my bare hands. I maintained the forums, ran the elections, set up every Facebook page, wrote a huge portion of the charter and most of the costume templates we currently have. I fought long and hard to ensure that the code of conduct was written and to ensure that the rights of all members were respected, regardless of personal passions regarding matters. I want to continue to serve you, and I believe that running as Castellan will absolutely ensure that I can do so, at least for the next year, in the way I can best do it: by protecting your rights and ensuring that our charter, as it is, and as it will be, is protected and that our members, as they are, and as they will be, feel absolutely safe.
I hope that you will consider doing me the honor of voting for me. I enjoy serving you. And the fact that so many of you have expressed your support of and friendship for me... just means the world.
Thank you! Alex Bagosy
I'll answer your questions in the next few posts.
"And he will have other names in the end.... Beast, Storm, Valeyard..." - Yog Sothoth, the Great Intelligence
"1. Do you have an understanding of what the Castellan does, and what is expected of that individual? Please explain your understanding of the position."
I do understand the position. It was the position I had the most direct role in creating, though I suppose you could argue that my two terms as Lord President set what I hope will be that tenure for the office in years to come. The Castellan's job is to act as the chief disciplinary officer as well as the chief advocate for membership and to do so whilst remaining apart from politics. This often involves speaking to members, moderating discussions, and at times removing offensive material. Occasionally it regrettably but necessarily involves overseeing tribunals for members who have violated our Charter, Code of Conduct, or Anti-Harassment Clause.
As regards the Anti-Harassment issue, I have been working with Jana (our current Castellan) on a new, Anti-Harassment Clause. Jana is doing most of the heavy lifting on this, and she has written what I feel is a worthy document. It will be my pleasure to endorse that document when the time comes.
I want to speak for a moment about "bureaucracy." I respectfully disagree with my opponent in that regard. We have a twelve page Charter for a group with 800 plus members. It is simplicity in the extreme. Never once when speaking to costumers or prop builders have I been told "you guys are too bureaucratic" or "you guys have too many rules." Not once. Nor has anyone contacted me as President regarding the issue. If anything, the concern has been that some areas are too open, too loosely defined. The problem is that one must strike a balance. If we acted in a bureaucratic way and outlined every single possibility for every single action we take, we would run the risk of creating a huge, unmanageable mess.
Here's the other thing: virtually every event we go to as the Order -requires- an established Charter. And as such, whether we like it or not, our Charter is an absolute necessity of our existence.
As a side note, as a potential Castellan candidate, I have noticed something rather interesting. And that is that, when an individual complains about the Charter, at least three fourths of the time that individual has not read the charter, or has been told something about the charter which actually isn't true. It would be a goal for me as Castellan to make the Charter available to everyone and as accessible as possible.
"2. The Castellan is required to be quite active during the year, even though he/she may have long periods of time when they are virtually invisible to the average member. Can you adjust your schedule to meet this activity requirement? "
I do not anticipate any problems adjusting my schedule to meet with the requirements of the Order.
"3. The Castellan holds a great deal of power under our system of self-governance, much of it still being defined. Are you able to execute this power responsibly and free of bias?"
Yes, I believe I can. My bias is quite admittedly against elitism and self aggrandizement, whilst being aggressively pro-inclusion.
"1) Above all else I feel any cosplay group needs to be a safe place for all the members in it and the safety and well-being of said members is my top concern. If elected, would you be open to re-investigating rulings from prior administrations if you or another member felt that the ruling could potentially compromise the safety of the members of OoG? Additionally, how would you ensure that the comfort and safety of our membership is your top priority?"
I agree completely. I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel it was a safe place. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, patches, "challenge coins", and scars. Won't be doing that again.
I do not believe it is the place of the Castellan to challenge a previously decided ruling. If we revisited a ruling every time a portion of the Charter was changed, or every time somebody said, "I really didn't like that ruling," we would be greatly imperiling our ability to function as a democratic and safe organization. I do disagree with some of the previous rulings made, but I respected them, because they were made by the Castellan in concert with Tribunes and approved by the membership. It is not my place to gainsay the desires of the membership.
Now, would my dislike for some of these rulings affect future decisions? More than likely, yes. Indeed, one of my preferences is to create new rulings based upon new information when the opportunity presents itself. These may or may not trump previous decisions. It's very much on a case by case basis. But again, this would be done when and if the matter was appropriate. I have no intention of returning to the back catalog and the four major matters that have come close to Tribunal (two of them have actually made it that far) and saying, "Well, that was a terrible tribunal. I completely object to that ruling. I'm bringing it back and will be making a different decision." As I said in the privy council when this matter was raised, that is referred to as a bill of attainder or a post-facto judgement, and it is inherently anti-democratic.
See, here's the problem. If I disagree with a ruling, I can make future rulings and keep previous mistakes in mind as I set about my tasks, or I can choose to revisit them. Let's assume I did. Aside from dragging the individuals through the mud yet again, I would be setting a very dangerous precedent. It would say that any time an officer (particularly the Castellan or the Lord/Lady President) decided that something the previous officers had done struck her the wrong way, she could simply change the entire process to suit her needs. Can you imagine how badly that can be abused? I can tell you - I was a member of the Rebel Legion for five years. I saw it done on multiple occasions. People were banned with no explanation, whilst people who had been banned for very good reasons were suddenly members again. And discussion regarding these matters was absolutely forbidden. That's what happens when every administration aggressively and immediately seeks to delete the decisions - at least those they view as "mistakes" from the record and to "try it again." There's a reason that most democracies have "Double Jeopardy" prohibitions.
As regards the matter of safety - if it was a matter that potentially caused us to be unsafe, it would be the authorities I'd be contacting first before revisiting any previous decisions. And if someone committed an act that clearly displayed that they were making anyone unsafe, it wouldn't be a matter of revisiting a decision. It would be a matter of swift and very decisive action, again almost certainly requiring the participation of the authorities. Thus far, something rising to this level has been held to a very high standard, however. It has to be proven. And "he told me that she saw him do..." is -never- sufficient for any democratic system. Why should it be sufficient for ours?
2) The role of Castellan has been described as “(a role) where you are specifically prohibited from even giving the appearance of being political” and one where you are “to work with the President to protect the rights of the Membership.” The current & outgoing Lord President of the Order as well as a current & outgoing Commander of Bad Wolf are the two candidates for this office. You’ve both been serving in positions where people may scrutinize and criticize your work. It’s been well documented that I have personally done that in the case of Alex during his time as Lord Commander. How will you be able to compartmentalize those types of interactions you’ve had in the past and govern without factoring political leanings or personal feelings from said interactions during your time in your current offices?
I have no political leanings, period. My will is to ensure that the Order survives. I don't think, in any reasonable critique of me, any person could say I have been political. Defensive when accused of unfair things, yes. Angry when I've asked, politely, for an end to the use of certain language and behaviors when that has been ignored. In my first term, I made the mistake of being far too forgiving. For that, I was accused of being "inactive". When I went in the opposite direction, it was a matter of me being "dictatorial." No matter how you lead, you are going to be criticized.
But I am fully capable of doing my job, and I believe the vast majority of members know that. I have done my job despite everything from sexual harassment to basic bullying to absurd threats of blacklisting. And I will continue to do my job in this new role. Will I make my rulings absent of bias? To the best of human ability, yes. That much I can promise. Will bias affect me? Sure. And I'll recuse myself if I feel it interferes with my duties.
3) While the Order of Gallifrey has 805 members only 26 people voted for Lord Commander in the 2015 Elections. That means you could effectively win the Presidency with as few as 9 votes or 1.06% of the member base. Do you feel the group warrants so many elected officials when they end up out numbering the general active membership?
That's actually inaccurate. Bad Wolf alone has that many members involved in some of our larger events. The fact is that if we do not have elected officials, we shouldn't have any officials. When the Order was created, the Founders agree that all positions would be elected democratically, and that no one person could be tasked with running the affairs of an international costuming/prop building club.
At minimum, in direct answer to your question, I do feel that the national offices are absolutely necessary. I can speak with authority on this having been president for two years and unofficial head for a year before that, along with the other founders. We have a million things to do as officers. Event coordination. Merch runs. The website. Keeping our members active and included. That cannot be done by one individual, and it should never, never be done by an individual who is not -elected-.
Local offices? That's a tough call. People demanded Sectors, so we gave them to them ahead of schedule. When we talk about getting rid of them, they balk. I think people want to feel included. Most sectors probably need just a Commander to remain functional. Others, like Skaro, for instance, need more. And some Sectors, in my opinion, should be re-configured as "Outposts" - the term we were originally determined to use for smaller groups, as determined in vote by the membership. I don't think that would offend them, and it would certainly make matters easier. Ultimately, we do need some sort of local representation because those are our primary points of contact with the events we participate in and, occasionally, with Uncle Beebe.
But burning the charter simply to make a point isn't the answer. In fact, since the Charter -allows- for Outposts, that's a very simple fix.
"4) The role of Castellan requires strict impartiality. Depending on the outcome of these elections, we could have a scenario where a married couple could concurrently hold the two most powerful offices (“Lady President” and “Castellan”) in the Order of Gallifrey. I would like each of you to speak not on the individual people, but rather whether having those two roles in the same household is in the best interest of the Order of Gallifrey given that there is inevitable negativity that arises from the role of Castellan and they might not always be on the side of the Lady President."
Any healthy marriage accepts that the two people involved therein are different people. Jennifer and I would not have survived this long if we agreed about everything. We are very different people. We have had disagreements, sometimes very vehement, regarding policy in the past. It's the way we work. We love each other but we are, shockingly enough, capable of independent thought, as Jen often grouses. Jen has respected my role as president, and I will respect her in the same light.
Jennifer is one of the founders of the Order. She has a huge stake in this. She is hugely qualified for her role, being highly experienced in club leadership elsewhere. But more importantly, she's a Member in good standing and has a right to run, regardless of whether the two of us live in the same house.
So, yes, it's a fair question, but I want to assure anyone reading this that there is no risk of "nepotism" as far as the two of us are concerned. We enjoy each other's company. But I don't step into her office at the firm, and she never interrupts me on stage with a line or stops to tell me how to do my work in the lab.
And one fun one for the road…
"5) If you could only do one of your cosplays for the rest of your life – which would it be and why?"
Unquestionably the Sixth Doctor. He is my doctor, and I enjoy him immensely. That would be tightly tied with my other doctors, Three, Nine, and Twelve, but ultimately, if I had to choose, it'd be Sixy. There aren't many of us.
More answers coming soon.
"And he will have other names in the end.... Beast, Storm, Valeyard..." - Yog Sothoth, the Great Intelligence
"1) At what point do which types of disciplinary actions become necessary? In a general sense, what I mean is, where do you draw the line between minor offenses and major offenses, between a letter of warning and a partial ban, between a partial ban and a full ban. And what other options are there?"
It's a very fine line, and fortunately, it's something we haven't had to develop a great deal of experience with, because the vast majority of "offenses", as it were, have been minor in nature. So, a lot of this is still very exploratory. And while that's a good thing, we need to be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best.
A minor offense, as it were, would in my estimation involve something that would involve something such as having a public and embarrassing argument with another member of the Order, throwing a tantrum, posting something unflattering, generally making a nuisance of onesself. It might also involve a personality clash that, upon review, appears to be just that, rather than some sort of deeper issue involving harassment and the like.
I would rank bullying as a moderate to severe offense, and I believe it straddles the line in that regard. Bullying is always cruel and never ok, but sometimes bullying comes from another issue, and sometimes, strangely enough, it actually comes because the person accused of doing it doesn't realize that she is doing it. That said, it would have to be a case by case basis... and because I have very little tolerance for bullies, I can only say that I'd be on the harsh end of the equation in most cases.
A major offense would involve the various things that violate our anti-harassment policies (soon to be formalized by the anti-harassment clause Jana and I have been working on, with legal input from Jennifer). Jana has done an exceptional job of putting it all to paper, but essentially this involves matters where "bullying" becomes out and out harassment, often based upon the sex, orientation, religion, or race of another person or persons. I think that essentially qualifies from the beginning as a serious offense, and if found to be genuinely culpable, the individual so accused should be dealt with to the fullest extent permitted by our Charter. Sometimes it may well involve contacting the authorities, in which case the matter is more or less out of our hands (aside from making it clear the person so accused is not welcome.)
Other things to constitute major offenses. A few examples...
Repeatedly harassing someone not based upon any of the above qualifiers but harassment nevertheless. "Please don't say this..." "I'm going to keep saying it because I know it makes you angry!". That may seem very minor, but as a person who suffers from PTSD, I can tell you that such things -absolutely- rise to the level of harassment.
Deliberately violating the rules of our organization, be it in the stealing or manipulation of funds intended for the causes we support, or attempting to fix a poll in an election, these are rather major issues which must also be dealt with head on.
I would say that public relations offenses of a significant nature would also be major offenses. Things I've actually seen in other organizations: throwing a tantrum in front of a major celebrity; openly and repeatedly cursing about an event that has hosted the group in question; stealing funds from members in a merch run. These are all things that could potentially occur, and deserve precisely zero tolerance when and if they are proven to be actionable and culpable offenses.
Where does which judgement fall? Along a case by case basis, quite frankly. Every single person who has held this position has had their own determination of how best to deal with situations. Each judgement must be rendered carefully. Overly harsh sanctions do nothing to support a situation, and in addition, the rights of the victims of any kind of offense must be kept paramount in one's mind when making such judgments. I do believe, at the very least, that someone who is proven to have violated our anti-harassment clause should at minimum be banned from both service and membership for a period of not less than six months. I am also of the opinion that such a person should, at the very least, be prevented from serving as the Castellan at any point in the future: the integrity of this position is simply too great. Do I think they should have the right to appeal that? Yes, yes I do. But do I think that applying the harshest judgement possible is always the one and only option? No.
There are multiple ways to deal with a problem. Sometimes a letter of warning is sufficient, but this rarely gets the point across. In my experience, actually speaking to the person is the first real step with which to make any headway. Further actions could include bans from panels and table duties, restrictions upon movement within events involving the Order, and the like. We're a club, not a government, so we do have the flexibility to develop different approaches to different problems. I would of course be open to suggestion by Tribunals in this matter, when appropriate.
But I do oppose, in general, a list of "this must happen when this happens" actions except when it comes to violations of the Anti-Harassment clause that are -proven- (not rumored, not matters of hearsay, etc.) or when it is clear that an individual or individuals have committed offenses of a criminal nature. This must be a safe space, period. That said, in regards to other matters, mandatory sentencing and judgement have been proven, in general, to have failed in actual legal settings, and I think the same applies here.
"2) I don't think any single candidate for this office is unqualified for the role. But I do want to know your honest assessment of the hardest part of a hard job: dealing with the inevitable negativity that arises from it, even when people clearly see that you are doing your job in everyone's best interest. How would you handle such a situation? What if an issue strikes to close to home?Would you recuse yourself, or do you feel that you'd generally have the impartiality to judge fairly? (Assuming it's not something that the Charter would absolutely insist you recuse yourself from."
The Castellan's job is to be neither political but to play favorites, but to do the Castellan's job. This necessarily involves ignoring the negatives, or, paradoxically, when the situation necessitates it, engaging the negatives and defusing them. I'm not terribly concerned about making friends. I am concerned with making sure that everyone feels involved, safe, and wanted. That means respecting all rights of all parties, but it also involves doing the right thing. Even if the right thing is something not everyone is terribly happy with experiencing...
Of course I'd recuse myself if I felt a matter was something I could not objectively deal with. For example, I'd have to recuse myself if my wife was accused of something, though as she knows I'd have no problem calling her on it if I felt she was violating some aspect of the charter in whatever role she held. I'd also have to recuse myself if I myself were to file charges for whatever reason. I believe I am capable of being quite impartial - but some things do strike very close to home, and I would absolutely recuse myself if those matters seemed to touch me too personally to judge objectively, with all facts presented.
"And he will have other names in the end.... Beast, Storm, Valeyard..." - Yog Sothoth, the Great Intelligence