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Lessons From the Ethics Crisis at RWA

A report sheds light on how to avoid such a meltdown

What role does an association have when it comes to disputes among members? The crisis at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has been providing a few lessons on the matter, though not in the way anybody in the organization would have wished for.

To make a long and complicated story as short as possible: Last fall, RWA fielded formal complaints from two members about fellow member and RWA Ethics Committee Chair Courtney Milan regarding tweets she made alleging racist conduct. RWA’s Ethics Committee (with Milan abstaining) convened to discuss the matter and decided to suspend Milan from RWA for a year. Under the association’s process, the decision was approved by the RWA board.

The move exploded spectacularly, with the larger romance community asking (especially on social media) why one of their own was punished by RWA for speaking her mind. RWA walked back the decision, but the damage was done: By the end of 2019, eight board members had resigned, and by February 10, the entire board and two staff leaders had resigned. Among the board’s final decisions was to commission a full report on the incident.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Associations Now.

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