From the Archives: The “SCA Gazette” Proposal of 2015–2017

In April 2015, the Society’s Publications Office undertook a survey, variously referred to as the “Evolution of SCA Communications” or “Newsletter & Communications Survey,” which asked participants about the channels they used to obtain information about SCA activities.

Survey announcement sent to kingdom chroniclers

At the next quarterly meeting of the Board of Directors, the Publications Office submitted a flurry of proposed policies and actions based on the survey results.

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New York City’s Knife Law and Historical Reenactment

In a couple of recent discussions as part of our local NYC chapter of the SCA, folks have expressed concern about running afoul of the city’s notoriously-strict knife law.

Obviously that law was written to deal with people being menaced or attacked on the street, rather than to crack down on our local fencing practice, but it’s reasonable to wonder whether a well-intentioned historical re-creationist might get caught in the same net.

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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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Branch Pollings Have Been Stymied by Member Data Problems

TL;DR: Democratic governance requires logistical competence, but for more than half a year garbled address data and other issues with membership records have complicated the branch pollings that are supposed to be part of routine Society operations. 

As previously discussed here, the SCA recently migrated its membership database from the Members Only platform it had used since 2012 over to a service offered by Neon One.

This transition took quite a bit longer than anticipated. (It had been announced by the Society’s President at the July 2022 Board meeting, with an anticipated launch date in October. At the October 2022 Board meeting the anticipated launch date was pushed back to November; data import issues were mentioned as contributing to the delay. On January 1 it was announced that the old membership portal would be taken offline on January 3 for “several days” to launch the new system, but the site did not launch as scheduled. At the January 2023 Board meeting three weeks later, the delay was attributed to bad weather. The eventual launch of the membership portal was announced on February 8.)

Unfortunately, the data migration appears to have introduced errors in the membership records that have been difficult to correct. Some people found that their address had been reset to a location where they had lived years ago; others found that their zip or post codes were wrong; and some had their membership numbers changed. Folks with family memberships had their own set of problems; in some cases, membership numbers were swapped between two relatives, and in one case a person who requested a new membership card instead received one addressed to a recently-deceased relative.

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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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