Geographers said: wake up or you are on doubtful ground! Society warns of “microaggressions”
- 1,200 geographers received a code of conduct before their conference
- But as the Newcastle event drew to a close there were no reports
- The organizers set up a “recreation room” with an advisor that was hardly used
- Large banners read: “Keep your hands to yourself. Misogyny is a hate crime
Above all, they warned of bullying and “hate crimes” through to “microaggressions” and clearly expected the worst.
But the bright organizers of the Royal Geographical Society’s annual international conference seem to have misjudged the participants.
As the Newcastle event drew to a close yesterday there were no reports of “inappropriate behaviour” – and the “recreation room” manned by an advisor went largely unused.
Around 1,200 geographers from around the world had been ordered to adhere to a strict code of conduct, with the threat of “expulsion” for any violators.
A pre-conference workshop on ‘Preparing for Disclosure’ was organized for anyone who felt they might be reported to have been harassed, discriminated against, bullied or used violence.
A geography conference was held at Newcastle University where around 1,200 geographers from around the world were asked to follow a strict code of conduct, with the threat of “expulsion” for any violators
And a special “recreation room,” overseen by an advisor, was set up for those who wanted to “report an incident” or needed a place to “relax and unwind.”
Large banners in the foyer of Newcastle University read: “Keep your hands to yourself. Don’t judge what you can’t see. Misogyny is a hate crime.”
But yesterday, without even a report of a verbal bust, delegates touched on topics like “fulfilling the radical potential and promise of vegan geographies” and “geographies of the domestic energy-hydrogen transition.”
The industrious atmosphere seemed at odds with a prominent section on the RGS conference website about “inclusiveness and safety” at the event. Delegates were told at conferences that “inappropriate behavior has not been challenged in the past”.
The council added: “Bias, microaggressions and abuses of power — however executed and whether overt or subtle, conscious or unconscious — disproportionately affect geographers beginning in the field.”
All present were asked to help implement changes and were told that “bullying and degrading behavior” would not be tolerated.
In the “recreation room,” counselor Joy Easterby was alone and had no one to help her, but she said she “saw a few people.”
She added: “It doesn’t have to be something that happened here. It could be something that triggers someone based on a past experience.”
Professor Joe Smith, Director of the Royal Geographical Society, said: “The statement relates to academic conferences in general. We are not aware of any improper conduct… at the Annual Meeting this year or in previous years.
“It is a response to unacceptable behaviors that are endemic in society. It’s part of our code of conduct.’