The Board’s submission is in blue, and my remarks in black.
The Board had previously ‘suspended’ my membership, under conditions such that it would be impossible for me to have that suspension lifted. In effect, they imposed upon me a de facto expulsion.
The Board’s insistence that I, effectively a non-member, should still be subject to their authority and to the provisions of the Policy Manual is therefore risible.
2022 July 22
Mr. Glenn Hawley
I am writing to inform you that the Board of Directors of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (the “RASC” or the “Society”) has determined that you should be expelled from membership in the Society, pursuant to the Board’s authority under, and in accordance with the procedure provided in, section 3.6.1 of the Society’s By-Law No. 1 (the “By-Law”).
As you are well aware from the Board’s previous decision suspending your membership, section 3.6.1 of the By-Law provides that “The Board has the authority to suspend or expel any member from the Society for any one or more of the following grounds:
violating any provision of the articles, By-Law, or written policies of the Society;
carrying out any conduct which may be detrimental to the Society as determined by the Board in its sole discretion;
Basically, the Board can abuse any member it sees fit to do so.
for any other reason that the Board in its sole and absolute discretion considers to be reasonable, having regard to the purpose of the Society.”
As is explained below, the Board is of the view that sections 3.6.1(i) and 3.6.1(iii) apply to you.
Under the provisions of section 3.6.2 of the By-Law, this letter provides twenty (20) days notice of your expulsion from the Society. You are entitled to make written submissions in response to this notice within the twenty (20) day period. Should you choose to make such submissions, the Board will consider your submissions and will notify you of its final decision within a further twenty (20) days from receipt of those submissions. The Board’s decision shall be final and binding, without any further right of appeal.
Reasons for Expulsion
Heather Laird’s December 2018 Complaint Against You
On 2018 December 17, RASC member Heather Laird made a written complaint against you under Society Policy G24 (Anti-Harassment). The details of the complaint are not relevant. You responded with lengthy and detailed written submissions on 2019 January 18. In a decision dated 2019 March 30, the Society’s Board of Directors dismissed the complaint and stated as follows: “the Board dismisses Ms Laird’s complaint based solely on the technical reason that the allegations of harassment, even if true, and even if they amount to conduct that the Board disapproved of, do not fall within the wording of Policy G24”.
The Board delivered its decision to you and Ms Laird (the parties to the complaint) on 2019 March 30. In the covering e-mail and paragraph 31 of the decision, the Board reminded you and Ms Laird of the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24. In paragraph 32 of the decision, the Board reminded both parties of the anti-retaliation provision of Policy G24. In an e-mail to the Board on 2019 April 1, you acknowledged receipt of the decision, stated that you were pleased that the complaint had been dismissed and thanked the Board for finally resolving the matter, and then listed various disagreements that you had with the content of the Board’s decision.
Nicole Mortillaro’s January 2019 Complaint Against You
On 2019 January 8, RASC member Nicole Mortillaro made a written complaint against you under Society Policy G24 (Anti-Harassment). The details of this complaint are also not relevant. Various communications about the complaint ensued involving the parties and the Board. As the Board’s 2019 July 12 decision states, “the six (non-recused) members of the Board split evenly, three to three, on the question whether Mr. Hawley’s conduct amounted to prohibited conduct under Policy G24 and therefore whether or not the complaint had been made out. As a result of this tied vote, the complaint was dismissed”.
The Board delivered its decision to you and Ms Mortillaro (the parties to the complaint) on 2019 July 12. In both the covering e-mail and paragraph 68 of the decision. the Board reminded you and Ms Mortillaro of the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24. In paragraph 69 of the decision, the Board reminded both parties of the anti-retaliation provision of Policy G24.
The Applicable Society Policies
Since I have not been an actual member since 2021, none of these is applicable to me, regardless of what the Board might have hoped.
It is possible that the Board thought to continue to have influence and authority over me by proceeding with suspension in lieu of expulsion, but that was never going to work. It is also possible that the Board used the suspension in an effort to stop me from running for election to the Board, despite the fact that a Board member need not even be a member of the Society at all, suspended or not.
Section J of Policy G24 provides as follows with respect to the confidentiality of complaints, investigations and determinations [underlining added]:
J. Confidentiality of Complaints, Investigations and Determinations
Confidentiality of the identity of any Complainant and of any person who is alleged to have been harassed or discriminated against contrary to this policy is of the utmost importance to the proper operation of the policy. Confidentiality of the identity of the Alleged Offender is also important to the fair application of this policy, unless the Alleged Offender is determined to have violated the policy. Subject to the exceptions listed below, therefore, all persons who become involved in a complaint under this policy, and all members of the Society who may learn that a complaint has been made under this policy, are required to keep confidential and not to disclose to anyone any of the following:
the particulars of the complaint;
the identity of the Complainant and of the Alleged Offender;
the particulars of any investigation of the complaint;
any of the contents of an investigator’s report; and
the arguments and representations of the Complainant and of the Alleged Offender, if any.
Exceptions: The foregoing confidentiality provisions are subject to the following exceptions:
The fact that a complaint has been made may be disclosed, but the particulars of the complaint are confidential.
The identity of the Complainant may be disclosed but only with the written consent of the Complainant.
The identity of the Alleged Offender may be disclosed, but only if the person is determined to have violated this policy.
The determinations made by the Centre’s Board of Directors or Council, or the Society’s Board of Directors, as the case may be, as to (i) whether the Alleged Offender has violated this policy, and (ii) if so, what discipline was imposed, may be disclosed.
The Complainant and the Alleged Offender may disclose the particulars of the complaint, the identity of the Complainant and of the Alleged Offender, and the particulars of any investigation of the complaint for the purpose of obtaining evidence and presenting their positions for the investigation and to the decision maker (the Board or Council of the Centre, or the Society’s Board of Directors, as appropriate).
Disclosure may be made that a complaint was made, the name of the Alleged Offender, that the complaint has been dealt with in accordance with this policy, and the determinations made by the Centre’s Board of Directors or Council, or the Society’s Board of Directors, as the case may be, as to (i) whether the Alleged Offender has violated this policy, and (ii) if so, what discipline was imposed, are not confidential and may be disclosed.
Section G of Policy G24 provides as follows with respect to retaliation for the making of a complaint [underlining added]:
G. Retaliation and Bad Faith Complaints under this Policy are Prohibited
It is ironic that the Board should emphasize these two provisions, as the Mortillaro and Laird complaints against me were both arguably in bad faith. moreover. later events have made it clear that a retaliatory campaign against me of calumnies and misinformation has been operated for some time, culminating in some members (who have never even met me) at the recent AGM claiming me to be ‘unsafe’.
It is without precedent that the leadership of the Society should not only condone, but promote and enable, bullying against individual(s).
Retaliation of any kind against anyone who makes a complaint or participates in the investigation of a complaint, and the making of any complaint in bad faith, violations of this policy and are prohibited.
Society Policy GS provides as follows:
Members are expected at all times to conduct themselves appropriately and with due regard to the best interests of the Society and their fellow members. Failure to comply may result in discipline, or eventual expulsion in accordance with By-Law #1.
Your “Astropithecus.ca” website
You have created and you maintain a publicly accessible website with the URL “Astropithecus.ca” (the “Website”). In addition to other content, the Website has a page titled “Royal Astronomical Society doings”. On that page there are subpages, two of which are titled “RASC Bullying and Harassment – Heather Laird Complaint” and “RASC Bullying and Harassment – Nicole Mortillaro Complaint”. On both pages you (i) discuss in great detail these two G24 complaints, (ii) identify the complainants by name, (iii) reproduce portions of the complaints verbatim, and (iv) reproduce portions of your responses to the complaints verbatim.
On the introductory page to your discussion of the Laird and Mortillaro complaints, you also state this:
Some examples of bullying and harassment targeting Glenn Hawley, supported and encouraged by the National Board, are found here.
The Society’s Policy Manual would have these interactions kept secret, but since the National Board has decided I am no longer a member, those constraints no longer apply to me.
The statement “(t]he Society’s Policy Manual would have these interactions kept secret” is a clear reference to the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24, reproduced above.
Your Violation of Policies G24 and G5
Your actions in publicizing the Laird and Mortillaro complaints on your Website constitute a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24. You are incorrect in your assertion that, since you have been suspended from membership in the Society (or to use your words, that “the National Board has decided I am no longer a member”), the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24 no longer apply to you.
The first sentence of Policy G24, under the heading “Statement of the Policy”, says “This policy applies to and protects all members, guests, staff, contractors, exhibitors and others (collectively, “Participants”) who attend or participate in any meeting or other activity of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada .. .”. Section D of the Policy provides that a complaint of harassment may be made against “someone”; there is no requirement that either the complainant or the Alleged Offender be a member of the Society in order for the Policy to apply. Various other provisions of Policy G24 are to the same effect.
Your argument amounts to this: If a complaint against an Alleged Offender such as you were dismissed, and no discipline of suspension or expulsion were imposed, then you would be bound by the confidentiality provisions of Policy G24. But if the complaint were upheld, and you were suspended or expelled from membership in the Society, then those confidentiality provisions would not apply. The Board is of the view that this is an erroneous interpretation of Policy G24, and that you are using this argument to justify what amounts to a continuing vendetta against Ms Laird and Ms Mortillaro.
The policy manual applies to members of the Society. Someone who is not a member is not subject to those policies.
The Board had already removed from me all of the privileges of membership, and since it was clearly impossible for me to lift that suspension, I have not been an actual de facto member for some time.
The Board is also of the opinion that these actions by you constitute retaliation against Ms Laird and Ms Mortillaro, and are therefore a violation of the non-retaliation provisions of Policy G24.
If there has been any ‘retaliation’ involved in this matter, it has been conducted against me, amounting to attacks against my character and reputation behind my back.
Finally, the Board is of the opinion that your actions are a violation of Policy G5, in that they constitute inappropriate behaviour and a failure to have due regard to the best interests of the Society and members of the Society, especially the complainants. There is simply no possible justification for you displaying, on a publicly accessible website, the details of the Laird and Mortillaro complaints against you, however much you may disagree with those complaints. This is particularly the case since the Board dismissed both complaints. It is clear to the Board that you have no regard for the interests of the complainants and no appreciation of or concern about the harm that your continuing disputes with them and the publicizing of such disputes can be expected to have on them.
The Board’s 2021 Complaint Against You
In deciding to expel you from membership in the Society, the Board has also considered your suspension from membership resulting from a separate complaint against you made in 2021, and your reaction to that suspension.
On 2021 April 30 the Board brought a complaint against you under section 3.6.1(ii) of the By-Law, stating that “The Board has deemed that your conduct is detrimental to the Society and has voted to suspend your membership in the Society.•
The Board itemized the reasons for this action in details, and summarized them on page 2 of the notice as follows:
The Board forgot to mention thier reference to “snide remarks” in that previous notice, though no examples of what the Board considers ‘snide’ were offered, nor any justification for how ‘snide’ might be a reason for expulsion.
aggressive, sarcastic, demeaning and uncivil statements to and about fellow members of the Society,
No examples of my supposed incivility were given, making it impossible for me to acknowledge anything about them.
continued evidence of microaggression in your correspondence with the Board and the Society,
No explanation of what the Board thinks constitutes ‘microaggression‘ was offered, and a quick look on the web suggests that the concept has no objective reality. So again, there’s nothing here I could acknowledge.
support of the rascrenegades web site’s bullying and defamation of the Society, its Leaders and targeted Society Members,
providing content to John Kelly that he in turn uses to continue the bullying and defamation of Members and,
Neither of the above is the case, and I’ve even exhorted the Board to be rid of Mr Kelly… and been treated with contempt for doing so.
posting and re-posting content on Social Media that demeans and threatens various individuals and groups.
Social media have nothing to do with the Society. I cannot be expected to change my own opinions to suit those of the current Board.
Or, since Robyn Foret appears to be the only Board member interested in stalking me on my FaceBook account, it appears that the opinions of Robyn Foret are the ones I’m not going to be adopting.
The vast majority of my posts described by Robyn are quite anodyne, and the more radical ones are, at worst, ‘fair comment’ on political issues of the day. If Robyn, or anyone else, disagrees with anything I post, that is an opportunity to present counter-arguments… or if none can be thought up, simply don’t follow me any more.
And I have continued to cling to the values of the Society, the support for ‘astronomy and related sciences’, even as the Board continues to move away from that laudable position… relegating it to merely one of four or five elements in our mandate.
For example, I unequivocally support the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, even though the Board fails to do so.
The appendix that was attached to the complaint provided details and examples of the behaviour complained of.
Except… the appendix offered nothing of the sort, neither examples, nor details, nor explanations.
You responded to the complaint by way of several e-mails within the twenty-day response period. After considering your submissions, the Board voted to suspend your membership in the Society indefinitely in a decision dated 2021 June 15.
I tried to set up a Zoom meeting with members of the Board to discuss various aspects of that suspension, but was told that no questions would be answered and no discussion permitted.
The impossibility of my being allowed to do anything to lift that suspension was merely confirmed.
The Board’s intransigence had already resulted in the creation of John Kelly’s website , and such intransigence continues to apply in my case.
In its decision, the Board also stated this:
The Board of Directors further states as follows:
The Board will consider terminating the suspension only upon acknowledgement by Mr. Hawley of his inappropriate conduct, and only if his posting of offensive, belittling, and demeaning material, as described in the Notice, ceases.
Should Mr. Hawley share the suspension materials, directly or indirectly through anyone else, with John Kelly, such action will constitute ground for immediate expulsion from the Society
If Mr. Hawley continues with his other offensive actions, as described in the Notice, the Board may also move to expel him from the Society.
Since your suspension, you have voiced your disagreement with the Board’s decision, including on your Website. You have also characterized the conditions set out in the box immediately above as constituting “unanswerable demands”. It is clear that you do not accept that your conduct has been unacceptable, and that you have no intention of acknowledging the inappropriateness of your conduct.
The impossibility of determining what that ‘conduct’ might be, in the absence of any examples or explanations, or why the Board keeps insisting on vague accusations of inappropriateness, makes it clear that the current Board has never had any intention of allowing me back into the Society.
For these reasons the Board proposes to expel you from membership in the Society. We await any submissions that you wish to make within the 20 day period provided for in the By-Law.
The Board accomplishes nothing additional to its 2021 de facto expulsion by this action, but seems determined to consume time and energy on harassing me.
There is nothing I can do, within the bounds of honesty and integrity, about the Board’s excesses. But the hobby of Astronomy, its Star Parties, its volunteer work, and its public education I can continue regardless of their malicious attitude.
President, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada