Minutes from the BiCon Decision Making Plenary (DMP) 2013

20 July 2013, Edinburgh

1. Welcome and Introduction

The Chair – Fred – and Chair’s Aide and Minute Taker – David – were introduced; they welcomed those attending the Decision Making Plenary (DMP). The Chair explained the function of the DMP.

The Chair’s Aide sought permission to record the session in order to help with minute-taking: this was agreed.

2. Previous Minutes

Minutes from 2012 were approved with no changes. Minutes from previous BiCons can be found here: http://resources.bi.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page#BiCon, and also in Bi Community News.

Vote: for – all

3. Ian: feedback on 2013 venue issues

Ian made the following statement on behalf of the team:

“When I run a BiCon, I have two aims in mind (even when I am told not to!) Firstly, to be better than last year, and secondly, to make next year wonder ‘how can we do better than this?’ In some areas, being better than this year will prove easier than I – and many of you – would like. BiCon organisation is a series of compromises, but the results of those should not be a surprise to attendees.

Specifically, some of the accommodation is designed like a hotel, not a series of flats, because it IS a hotel. It just happens to have students staying in it outside holidays. BiCon hasn’t had shared accommodation like that since 1999… the last time we were here. We mentioned it when talking about the venue on the website, but we didn’t realise some of the implications.

Combined with being full with two groups – those associated with golf’s Open Championship and with language schools for teenagers – as well as us, this means that there is not as much bi space as I and many of you would like.

In terms of people staying on the site, we are a ‘one in ten’ minority.

The situation was worse on Thursday evening when, faced with paying about £2,000 for access to here, including having our own bar, we did without. We would not have had any access to run the BiCon registration desk here during the afternoon if we hadn’t needed to set up the dance floor.

But we didn’t have a facility to issue BiCon stuff in the evening, so people arriving then didn’t get badges to show they were here for BiCon.

The result has been that many attendees have been feeling unsafe here.

I am happy to talk later about some of the reasons why this happened, but..
.. I am going to say now that I am VERY unhappy that they were right to feel unsafe.

In the months and weeks before BiCon, Sam has talked to the venue about the discrimination and prejudice that too many of us are too familiar with facing for multiple reasons. She has also talked to them about our behaviour.

It is not just you who have read the Code of Conduct. The venue staff who handled the issuing of the room keys so well have also read it, for example. That’s because as part of our booking, we have had to give the venue a draft of the Code of Conduct. They insisted on a change to it.

If you behaved like some of the golf groups, treating us like a freak show, taking photos, and so on, we would do something about it.

People who break our Code of Conduct will be at least talked to. If someone has been warned before, this year or not, and they break it again, they can expect to be kicked out.

We cannot kick out the golf groups. We will be asking why they are not being held to the same standard.

The venue also know about our child policy – that we expect a responsible adult to be in charge of under 18s. If a child here behaved as the language students have done, including pissing around in the lifts, deliberately crashing into people (including those with visible disabilities), and, again, treating us like a freak show, we would be having words with the responsible adult.

We cannot do that directly. They appear to be without any proper supervision for much of the time. We will be asking why it appears that the language schools are not being held to even the legally required standards.

While in general, the venue security have been helpful to us, we are aware that there has been at least one example of miscommunication between one set of venue staff and security. We will be asking about that too.

You can help us by telling us about your experiences. If you have had any of this crap, or any other kind, please, please, please tell us. Ideally, write it down and stick it in the Code of Conduct box on the registration desk.

I cannot emphasise enough how much we want to know about things that could spoil your BiCon. You may think some may be your fault; you may think some may be our fault; or you may think some may be the fault of others. It doesn’t matter, please tell us.

Thank you.”

Q&A: Ian clarified that if people didn’t want to talk to the venue staff directly, they could talk to the team.

BiCon thanked Ian.

4. Proposed future BiCons:

a) BiCon 2014 – Leeds

BiCon 2014: A proposal was brought to hold BiCon 2014 at Leeds Trinity University from 31 July – 3 Aug 2014 – the team would include Jennifer, Jules and Lindsey. Jennifer confirmed that they had read the BiCon Organisers’ guidelines and agreed to comply with them.

Jennifer noted that Leeds Trinity is a Catholic university, and that the university authorities have been shown several BiCons’ session programmes and were happy with the content.

The team would welcome expressions of interest in helping.
BiCon 2014 will be preceded by BiReCon (http://bisexualresearch.wordpress.com/birecon/birecon-2014/), on 31st July.

This team had discussed their proposal with BiCon Continuity Ltd before coming to the DMP: as a director of BiCon Continuity Ltd, Hessie formally gave the Company’s approval.

Vote: for – all

b) BiCon 2015 – no team yet

2015 – no team came forward, so the decision was deferred to BiCon Continuity Ltd. Expressions of interest in running BiCon 2015 should be sent to info@biconcontinuity.org.uk

5. Proposed guideline changes: (All Guideline changes must be approved by two consecutive years DMPs).

a) From 2012, smoking

In 2012 the following Guideline change was approved: Make guidelines section B read as in attached document.

Dissent was expressed by one person about the proposed guideline B17; they felt that the change was going too far, and that they ought to have a range of places available in which to smoke. There was some further discussion, during which it was suggested that the current wording could make BiCon seem unwelcoming to smokers.

We therefore voted on guideline B17 and then on section B as a whole.

Vote to approve guideline B17 was approved at BiCon 2012: for – 26; against – 13; abstentions – 4. This guideline was therefore accepted.

Vote to approve section B as a whole as approved at BiCon 2012: for – many; against – none; abstensions – 2.

This change is therefore now part of the BiCon Organisers’ Guidelines.

6. BiCon Continuity update

Hessie gave an update on behalf of the directors of BiCon Continuity Ltd.
The company has applied for charitable status and the directors hope that the application process will be completed soon.

The company currently holds the surplus from BiCon 2011 and 2012, and will be giving money to BiCon 2014 to pay its deposit.

The directors can be contacted through the company website at http://biconcontinuity.org.uk/

The directors would be please to receive thoughts from future DMPs of the sorts of projects that BiCon might want them to fund.

BiCon thanked Hessie for the update.

7. Any other business

a) Equality Fund

Natalya spoke to the DMP about the Equality Fund. This year, the BiCon team outsourced administration of the Equality Fund to community members who were not part of the BiCon team. This was to separate decisions about the Equality Fund from decisions about running BiCon. Priority was given to applicants who were first-timers at BiCon or residents of Scotland. More information will be available when accounts have been processed.
BiCon thanked Natalya.

b) Final thanks

The chair thanked the participants, and thanked David for being chair’s aide and Jennifer for being microphone steward.