Three Black Directors Resigned from the SCA’s Board In Six Months

During a period of half a year, three members of the Society’s Board of Directors resigned in succession. Resignations from the Board are not unknown, but they are uncommon; I believe the last one before these three was around a decade ago.

The reasons in each case were different, and I am not aware of any overall narrative that ties them all together, but it is notable (and unfortunate) that in a Society that is overwhelmingly white but struggling to be more inclusive, all three of the directors who resigned were Black.

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Ansteorran Prince Removed After Problematic Overture

On the last weekend of August, the Crown Prince of Ansteorra (the SCA kingdom that covers Oklahoma and most of Texas) attended the coronation of the new prince and princess of the kingdom of Álendia. The Ansteorran Prince was there as an invited guest, honored as a visiting royal, and made a short speech to “extend an olive branch” to their populace.

Society royals visit other kingdoms all the time, but Álendia isn’t part of the SCA — it’s the sole kingdom of SMA, the Society of the Middle Ages, a splinter group formed in 2021 by folks who felt the SCA was “too woke.” While there are some interesting elements in their organization, the primary difference is one of modern politics: SMA is a haven for MAGA folks, including anti-maskers, Euro-centrists, and those whose racism, misogyny, homophobic, or anti-trans bias leaves them out of synch with the SCA’s efforts to be more inclusive. Notably, among its earliest members are a number of people who were sanctioned or kicked out of the SCA via an R&D (Revocation of Membership and Denial of Participation), as well as their sympathizers.

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From the Archives: A Prejudiced History of the SCA’s Board, 1969–1981

The attached document, written in 1985, reflects the impressions and opinion of Duke Siegfried von Höflichskeit, an influential co-founder of the SCA. (Although labeled as covering the period from 1969 to 1985, the narrative in this draft ends in 1981, and the author has confirmed he never completed or revised it.)

It’s archived on the West’s history site, but in an awkward format, as a scanned stack of typewritten pages; I’ve converted it to plain text below for ease of reading.

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The SCA Liability Waiver Was Changed in December 2021

TL;DR: The SCA made minor changes to the standard liability waiver agreement we use at events and practices, removing a couple of clauses and tweaking the punctuation.

In the course of this update, an error was introduced in the roster form that garbled the meaning of one of the sentences, but because the populace hadn’t been notified of the change, people didn’t look closely at the new form, and the error went uncorrected for more than a year and a half.

At the end of December 2021, the SCA relocated its corporate office for the first time in decades, shifting from Milpitas CA to San Jose, about five miles south. As a result, the mailing address shown on a variety of standard forms and documents had to be updated, including some that hadn’t been changed in more than twenty years.

Apparently this update to the forms was also viewed as an opportunity to revise the wording of the SCA’s liability waiver, a standard document used at nearly every Society event and practice, in which participants agree not to sue the SCA or its officers for any harm they experience at the event. This agreement doesn’t change often; the version that had been on the website prior to that point contained metadata indicating that it was converted to PDF in 1998 by Rabah az-Zafar.

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When Was the Society President Hired?

The senior-most officer in the Society for Creative Anachronism is the President, to whom nearly all other officers report. (The only exceptions are the Society’s Executive Assistant, and for some reason, the Manager of Information Technology.) As described the last time the position was opened for new candidates, the President is the Society’s executive representative to the outside world, and coordinates much of the Society’s internal operations.

The position of President was held by Isabeau della Farfalla from around April 2013 until around April 2016, when she was replaced by John the Bearkiller. Although there isn’t much documentation on how these appointments work, my understanding is that this was expected to be a three-year term (as it had been in the past), accompanied by a small stipend.

It appears that at some point in 2019 this arrangement was revised, and the position was reclassified as a salaried employee with no scheduled expiration date. I haven’t been able to find any discussion of this change in the Board Minutes or other public records of the Society’s governance.

This topic was brought up during the Board’s “Meet and Greet” session at Pennsic, and director Bricca di Ghelere indicated that she would provide an update on matters of internal staffing during the next quarterly Board meeting.

Archived Board Minutes

For various reasons (ahem), a number of folks have recently been interested in reviewing the minutes of previous Board meetings, but unfortunately the recent replacement of the Society’s “member portal” means that those archives are currently unavailable.

As it turns out, I have been collecting Board minutes for some time and figured I’d share my collection for those who are interested.

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Petition for Restructuring the Leadership of the SCA

In the wake of recent drama, a petition is circulating that calls for the restructuring of the Society’s leadership. It is organized by Iselda de Narbonne, who recently advocated for transparency in the Wistric case, and whose partner Aeron Harper wrote the A Tale of Six Sanctions report.

The petition is light on specifics about the changes being called for, and I’m not convinced that the “call in a consultant” approach is guaranteed to solve things — but I can sympathize with the central thrust of the initiative: something fundamental about the Society’s system of leadership and governance is out of alignment, and significant change is required to address it.

The petition was originally announced on Facebook, but I’ve gathered the relevant links for the convenience of folks who avoid that platform.

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Kingdom Membership Numbers

The SCA publishes historical membership numbers on its website, but sadly those are posted as individual PDFs by year, which makes it hard to view the long-term trends.

(There are also a few unfortunate gaps, including all of 2021, and a few places where the data seems anomalous, like Northshield in April 2022, but there’s not much I can do about that.)

In order to make such long-term analysis easier, I’ve copied the numbers from 2013 on into a single spreadsheet. I’ve attempted to adjust for variations in formatting; please let me know if you spot any transcription errors!

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Collecting Petition Signatures Online

Back in January, as I was watching the video feed from the SCA’s Board of Directors quarterly meeting, my attention was piqued by a discussion of online petitions.

You can find this conversation at the half-way mark of the video recording, starting at 2:22:12: Continue reading “Collecting Petition Signatures Online”

Limitations on Local Control

The ongoing debate about allowing individual events to set masking requirements has been heated, and I think others have done a good job of laying out the argument, but one particular salvo in this dispute caught my eye and seemed worth of note:

The Society’s leadership says that it decided against allowing individual groups to set their own masking policies because “to do so would be cumbersome and problematic for people traveling outside their home groups.”

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