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PASS Summit 2013: An Anti-Harrassment Zone

October 4, 2013 – The PASS Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP), adopted in 2012, continues to be in effect this year at PASS Summit 2013, helping ensure that all attendees feel welcome and safe at the conference.

One of the cornerstones of PASS is our sense of community, and the AHP furthers our goal of inclusion, standing behind the right of all who come to our event to experience a harassment-free Summit.

PASS is a leader among technical organizations for its promotion and support of women. Our AHP further demonstrates our leadership in this area.

Other technical conferences have had incidents of harassment and inappropriate behavior. Most of these did not have a policy in place prior to having a problem. In addition to making all attendees aware of our policy and what is appropriate behavior at Summit and other events, having the AHP means PASS will be prepared should there be an incident.

Alleged violations of the AHP should be reported to any member of the conference staff, who will then contact the Duty Officer, a designated member of the staff responsible for taking a full report. The Duty Officer will notify the Anti-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) of the complaint.

The AHRC is the body authorized by the PASS Board of Directors to take action in response to a violation of the AHP. The process document provides guidelines for how the AHRC will conduct its inquiries.

PASS members can be confident that all parties will be treated fairly and with sensitivity. All AHRC activities will be conducted with the utmost discretion.

Having an anti-harassment policy demonstrates our commitment to providing a professional, positive atmosphere at Summit. Everyone at Summit is expected to follow the policy. We ask that any attendee who experiences or witnesses harassment contact a member of staff so that any issues can be addressed.

Anti-Harassment Policy Adopted for PASS Summit

The PASS Board of Directors recently approved adoption of an Anti-Harassment Policy for PASS Summit.

The policy states: "We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification." It outlines in general terms the type of behavior that is not acceptable and explains the steps that can be taken should someone engage in harassing behavior.

I had three reasons for drafting the policy and proposing its adoption:

  • Other technical conferences have had incidents of harassment. Most of these did not have a policy in place prior to having a problem, though several conference organizers have since adopted anti-harassment policies or codes of conduct. I felt it would be in PASS's interest to establish a policy so we would be prepared should there be an incident.
  • "This is Community" - Adopting a code of conduct would reinforce our community orientation and send a message about the positive character of PASS Summit. 
  • PASS is a leader among technical organizations for its promotion and support of women. Adopting a code of conduct would further demonstrate our leadership in this area.

 

PASS members pride themselves on being inclusive and ensuring that all attendees feel welcome at the Summit. From the many networking opportunities to the First Timers program to the #sqlpass conversations on Twitter, we encourage everyone to particpate fully in the conference. Having an anti-harassment policy is another way we ensure everyone feels welcome and safe at the Summit.

The Board had some thoughtful discussions as we worked through the details of the policy. I applaud the Board's willingness to take this step. I also want to thank PASS Governance Administrator Michelle Nalliah for all of her help in getting us through this process. 

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SQLSaturday History Is Made Again!

Last Saturday, the SQL community had a record-breaking five PASS SQLSaturdays, all on the same day and all around the world. The April 14 lineup included one US event, three in LATAM, and one from the fondly called ANZ Tour (Australia/New Zealand) in New Zealand:

  • #111 Atlanta
  • #124 Colombia
  • #127 Rio de Janeiro
  • #133 Costa Rica
  • #136 Wellington, NZ

I was fortunate to finally be able to attend a SQLSaturday in Atlanta – their fifth event. Audrey Hammonds [blog|twitter] and her volunteer team put on quite a show. Much like Tampa, it was a well-oiled machine. You could see where they implemented lessons learned from previous events and pulled everything together – from a smooth registration check-in and good use of room monitors to appropriate signage inside and out – in high-quality style.

It makes me proud to know that in a single day, over 1600 people around the world were able to take advantage of free, quality training. On occasion, someone will tell me they think there are too many SQLSaturdays, but I beg to differ. These events aren’t intended to be the once- or twice-a-year type of conference like PASS Summit or SQLBits. They are more like a “souped –up” user group meeting, in my opinion, bringing more choices to individual communities and providing it for free.

Every community should be able to experience these free learning and networking events, especially when so many community members aren’t able to make it to the larger conferences every year. Not all the national sponsors and frequent speakers, such as MVPs, can support all SQLSaturdays – and we don’t expect them to. SQLSaturdays are intended to grow the local speaker pool, turning to those presenters first and then rounding out the lineup with featured MVP or Microsoft speakers, especially for more advanced sessions. Still, we absolutely appreciate all the more-seasoned presenters who are willing to contribute their own funds and time to present to as many communities as they can. That’s what I love so much about SQLSaturdays – the balance of beginner to advanced sessions. 

In regard to sponsors, as much as many of them wish they could sponsor and exhibit at every SQLSaturday, we know that’s just not possible. Part of my role is mentoring event organizers about how to market to local companies and show them the value in supporting a community event like SQLSaturday. There are a lot of techniques to try with the different industries out there. If you have a SQLSaturday coming up and are struggling to raise funds, be sure to email me. Let’s talk – that’s what I’m here for!

If you are a SQLSaturday organizer who may be feeling your venue isn’t as unique anymore due to the number of events in your area, my recommendation is to change things up every year. As Andy Warren likes to say, “Try new things.” It might also be time for you to take it to the next level and host a SQLRally. 

SQLSaturdays are definitely helping to spread the PASS message and benefits more globally, an important initiative for PASS. If you look at FY 2012’s already held and upcoming SQLSaturdays through June 30, we have 10 new countries hosting SQLSaturdays. FY 2011 had a total of 33 US events; FY 2012 will have 38. Surprisingly to me, there have been only five new US cities added to the SQLSaturday roster. My goal is still to see at least each US state get to host a SQLSaturday, and from what I’m hearing, at least a couple more look promising. Stay tuned for more SQLSaturdays on the schedule soon!

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Working Together Not Apart

Dear PASS Community,
 
There has been a healthy debate in the community surrounding the election process and the outcome where Steve Jones, a well-known member of the community, did not make the slate. Despite the outcome, the process that was defined and vetted by members of the community and board worked extremely well and addressed the concerns that were laid out by the community during last year’s election cycle. I thank the Nomination Committee for their volunteerism and hard work through the process. The proposed slate was approved by the board. I fully support the process and the decision of the board.
 
We have also come a long way towards transparency. Our books are open to you. You now know the details of our revenues and expenditures. The board has risen to the challenge of ensuring that this organization remains a solvent and vibrant organization. I am proud of the achievements of this and former boards and certainly aware of our many failures as we apply our limited resources to your volunteerism and support to build a better and more vibrant community. Over the past years, we have steadily increased our support to the offline community and also made inroads into the online world with very successful virtual events like 24 Hours of PASS and hosted trials. Your support of these efforts has been invaluable and I hope that you also benefited from these efforts.
 
This brings me to a rather painful topic. It was brought to my attention today that some people in the community have created multiple twitter accounts impersonating PASS and also our management company. The tweets have been divisive and are an attempt to sabotage an otherwise healthy debate. In doing so, these tweets are slandering personal reputations of people that have worked so hard to build this community and PASS. I place my trust in you to help bring an end to such divisive behavior and help protect the reputation of individuals that work for you.
 
In closing, I have one more thought – PASS is supported by an amazing management team that many of you interact with regularly, a volunteer board, and hundreds of volunteers around the world that work very hard with a single goal in mind– to build a stronger SQL Server community. We may not always succeed or make the right decisions, but we promise to keep working hard. All of us deeply appreciate your support and encouragement.
 
If you have questions, always feel free to send me a direct email at rmehta@sqlpass.org. I promise to do my best to answer your questions.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rushabh Mehta
President, PASS

 

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