Marriott Arbitration Results

(The following statement was emailed to the Arisia corporate membership and convention staff yesterday, August 9th just before midnight. The Aloft arbitration award and decision can be viewed here, and the Westin arbitration award and decision can be viewed here.)

This morning, the Executive Board received notice of the fees and interest due to the Aloft in addition to the $44,417.50 award. These total $16,731.71.

This afternoon, the Executive Board was informed that the ADR with the Westin was decided against us. Judgment was set at $50,000 plus fees and interest, exact amount still unknown but probably similar to the Aloft.

This, combined with the loss in the Aloft case, presents Arisia with obligations that far exceed our reserves and expected immediate income. Whether this is a loss in excess of what Arisia can manage depends a great deal on what terms of payment can be agreed. Paying $125,000 is impossible now, but might be possible over some number of years, even with interest.

The Eboard is continuing to consult with legal counsel and attempting to negotiate with Marriott in order to clarify exactly what our options are and what the costs of these options would be. We will keep the membership informed as the situation develops further.

We recognize and appreciate our community’s willingness to support us with additional dollars. Fundraising is likely to be a part of any scenario. We should have more information there within a few weeks. Fundraising details will depend on pending legal questions, so we would prefer not to speculate on what shape that will take until then.

This matter will certainly be discussed at the upcoming corporate meeting on August 22nd. At this time, the Eboard has no motion or recommendation that it plans to bring. Until we learn otherwise, nothing is off the table.

We would also like to thank the Arisia community for its continued support through the uncertain days ahead.  Your enthusiasm is why we do this, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Nicholas “phi” Shectman
President, Arisia Inc.

Apology, Introduction, & Updates

TL;DR / table of contents:

  1. Apology and Introduction
  2. Incident Review and Management Committee
  3. Marriott Arbitration Hearings
  4. Social Gatherings and Community Engagement
  5. Coming Soon
  6. Conclusion

Apology and Introduction

to the Arisia Community—

The Executive Board (Eboard) would like to acknowledge that the level of communication between ourselves and the public has been severely lacking throughout the past eight months. Most of us ran in the special election last November with a promise of doing better than those who came before us, and while we have been working hard to follow through, this means little if it isn’t visible. 

We sincerely apologize, and in order to course correct, we are taking the following steps:

1. Forming and filling a committee to drive the Eboard’s communication and take the pressure off of our convention communications division. The proposal to create a Corporate Communications Committee (CorpComms) was approved by the membership at the March corporate meeting, and appointments have taken place throughout the late spring and early summer. We can already see the effect this support squad has had, and we are extremely grateful. 

CorpComms consists of the Arisia, Inc. Clerk, Sol Houser, who was elected to the Eboard in November and who chairs the committee; the Arisia 2020 convention communications (ConComms) Division Head, Etana, to ensure coordination between the two bodies; and—at this point—five other members. They work directly with the entire Eboard via Slack and Google Docs to make sure messages to the membership and community are appropriate and timely. A number of initiatives are also planned for the near future—stay tuned for updates!

2. Blogging regularly (monthly at a minimum) about what we’re doing. We intend to increase transparency and accountability not only to corporate members and convention staff, but to all Arisians. CorpComms will drive this, and it will include input from the entire Eboard. We’ll give you updates on our progress with regard to the Incident Review and Management process, as well as our other efforts during the 360 days of the year when we aren’t putting on a big party for over three thousand of our best friends.

We hope that this will be a major step toward improving our openness, and that this will keep you not only informed, but engaged. We enthusiastically encourage anyone who wants to contribute to Arisia to come to a corporate or convention meeting and see what it’s all about – there’s a place for everyone, no matter your skills or background.

Incident Review and Management Committee (IRMC)

The IRMC is currently working through the 32 pre-con and 41 at- or post-con Incident Reports (IRs) that have been filed. This volume of reports is unprecedented in Arisia history, and as such, we have brought several motions to the membership for approval to modify our policies and bylaws to accommodate the workload. 

One such approved motion allowed the Eboard to appoint non-Eboard members to the IRMC. Since that motion was approved in March, two members with experience dealing with incident response inside and outside of Arisia have been appointed to the IRMC. These new members have provided much-needed fresh perspective and momentum. The IRMC is meeting weekly to review progress on our path to closure for all IRs, which is reported out every month at the corporate meeting. We are already seeing an increased closure rate with the addition of these new members, and we are going to work hard to keep that momentum going.

The 73 IRs filed before, during, and after Arisia 2019 resulted in 56 incidents for investigation (as some incidents had multiple reports filed). Of those 56 incidents, 20 have been reported to the membership and closed. 

We will continue to report progress on IR closure here on this blog, as well as at monthly corporate meetings. Additionally, we have a more comprehensive post planned later this summer to talk more about the details regarding our incident response process, the motions that have been passed recently to improve that process, how we’re handling recusals, and how the 56 incidents break down in broad categories. 

Marriott Arbitration Hearings

On November 16th, 2018, Arisia, Inc. notified Marriott that we would be breaking our contracts with the Westin and Aloft due to the ongoing Local 26 union strike affecting their hotels (which was resolved the following day) and moving Arisia 2019 to the Boston Park Plaza. Since that time, we have been involved in arbitration to determine whether the “force majeure” clauses in our contracts apply in this case.

On July 9th, we received notice that the decision for the Aloft case went against us. The arbitrator awarded Marriott $44,000 plus fees, the exact amount of which is currently unknown. We are working to figure out what our options as an organization might be in the aftermath of this loss, and are expecting to hear the decision for the Westin case soon.

A more comprehensive post is planned later this summer to discuss the details of arbitration and our situation to this point, as well as any new information we may receive between now and then.

Social Gatherings and Community Engagement

In late April, an Arisia team walked in the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Walk for Change with 20 humans and 3 dogs, and fundraised $3140, which well exceeded both our initial and stretch goals. Eboard member-at-large Andy Rosequist was among the top individual fundraisers for the entire event. We welcome more ideas on how we can give back to the greater Boston community!

In late May/early June, we held Relaxacon, an annual weekend get-away on Cape Cod for corporate members, convention staff, and any other Arisians who want to take part. Planning for next year’s Relaxacon is not yet underway, and anyone who wishes to take part can reach out to president@arisia.org about joining the Relaxacon committee!

We are actively considering other ways to gather and socialize throughout the year, including camping, games, movies, and a book swap. Stay tuned!

Coming Soon

Preparations for Arisia 2020 began as soon as Arisia 2019 wrapped, but there are still plenty of opportunities available for volunteers! If you are interested in helping to make the ethically sourced sausage, please visit http://www.arisia.org/volunteer.

Nominations for Arisia 2021’s conchair are still open and operators are standing by to talk to you about how these things work. If you have questions, please reach out to the Eboard, and we can connect you with a past conchair.

The corporate meeting on Sunday, September 22 (to be held at the Westin Waterfront, 2:00-5:00 PM) will include our annual elections for President, Vice President, Clerk, Treasurer, and three Member-at-Large seats. If you would like to participate—vote or run!—in these elections, you need to join as a member before or during the corporate meeting on Thursday, August 22 (to be held at a location TBD, 7:30-9:30 PM). Dues are pro-rated throughout the year, and waivers are available; see http://corp.arisia.org/membership.

Conclusion

Arisia is a community, not only a convention, and it is because of you that we have stood the test of time. We were shaken last October by an existential crisis, and rebuilding trust is our primary responsibility right now as leaders. We take this seriously, and are ready to show you.

Please feel free to reach out to the Eboard at eboard@arisia.org, or any individual members, for whom contact information is listed at http://corp.arisia.org/officers.

Thank you for reading!