Controlling participants in an A&S activity

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I am running an A&S activity. There is a person that I do not want involved. Can I stop them from participating?”

A reply from the Minister:

I’ll reply to this with some caution. Questions like these are likely loaded with a lot of personal circumstances and they do not come with an easy answer.

Are you hosting this A&S activity for your local group? Is it to be an SCA function? Or is this going to be a private matter separate from official SCA activities?

Is this a private activity?

Your private activities are your own affair. You’re welcome to make plans and limit participation, as you need it. These activities would be outside of the SCA and your own responsibility.

Is this an SCA activity?

We’re an open organization. We welcome members and newcomers alike. Please keep an open door as much as possible.

That said? We are also volunteers. We need to keep people safe and comfortable.

Now, there are a variety of A&S activities you may be running. Here are two examples that may come up.

Are you hosting an A&S night at your home?

Of course you need to be careful about who comes into your personal space. If you are not comfortable sharing your address with strangers in your home you may instead want to find a separate venue. If you have individual conflicts with existing members you may want to set up conversations with independent people to mediate issues.

If you’re not able to welcome all people, that’s okay. You do not have to welcome everyone into your home. Set your activity up as a private event, then, so that you are able to control your space and not cause conflicts within the group.

Also be prepared that others in the group may set up the same kind of activity in order to welcome the whole populace. That’s okay too. A private activity and a group activity can exist at the same time if it needs to.

Are you running a competition at an event?

Publish your entrant rules. Set up restrictions or expectations as you need them. You can require original work or documentation or only beginners. Those things are okay. Or perhaps entrants have to meet the expectations of the Crown or local Nobility. That could be okay too.

If a person then qualifies you would allow them to enter.

Still. You may have judges that would not feel comfortable judging the individual. We’re all volunteers. We are not going to force ourselves to do things we are not comfortable doing. So, try to find a judge that is okay with working with the individual. Do not force people into positions that would be difficult to manage.

As I said, these are just a few examples. Please treat each instance individually. Ask for help. Talk to your local Seneschal and your up-line A&S Ministers. Figure out what your options are and go from there.

This is all kept in balance. We’re providing a welcoming and safe environment for all individuals, both visitors and volunteers.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

Note, I have not addressed individuals who have received a Revocation and Denial of Membership (R&D). These people are not involved with the SCA in any function. People also receiving Banishment may have limitations on their participation. SCA rules apply in these situations.

Note, also, there may be modern legal circumstances that affect participation. Legal direction will always be followed first.

Just like getting a PhD?

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“They say that getting a Laurel is equal to getting a Ph.D. but is that really true?”

A reply from the Minister:

I’ve heard that comparison, too. Probably most of us have.

If I think about it, the description happens more when people are trying to describe the award/recognition structure of the SCA to brand new members. And, someone who is not a member of the Order of the Laurel usually gives that comparison.

The association is well intentioned. And, on the surface, it seems like an easy way to help people get an idea of what happens within our structure of recognition.

So, let me be clear here. These things are not equivalent.

Being made a member of the Order of the Laurel is not the same as earning a Ph.D..

While requirements for being awarded an earned doctorate degree vary by institution, they will all involve combinations of intense levels of academic study, coursework, examinations, and original research of a quality ready for scholarly publication all of which is reviewed and approved by the institution.

It is important to me that we respect these educational institutions that award Ph.D.s along with the work that these people do when earning their degrees. I do not want to under represent these accomplishments.

It is a different process and a different level of expectation. They are not the same thing.

As I said, the association is well intentioned. I understand why it is made. The way people become members of the Order of the Laurel can be complicated. This feels like an easy way to help people understand.

Being recognized as a member of the Order of the Laurel is a different process. Candidates are focused on scholarship, research, creation, and teaching with an expectation of mastery within the arts and sciences. The Crown will take feedback from the existing members of the Order on potential candidates. The Crown then makes their decision on what new people will become Laurels.

To become a Laurel you are not expected to do Ph.D. level work. You are not required to publish a dissertation or produce an equivalent level of work.

Candidates are expected to produce a high level of work. That’s true. And we will call that “mastery” within the SCA.

Research and documentation can and will be an important part of that process. To aspiring artisans, and their friends, it may feel like they are expected to write a dissertation. That is not what is being requested.

Please don’t let it sound like I am taking anything away from the artisans of the Society or the existing members of the Laurel. They are doing great work. They are doing great research. And they are publishing important scholarship.

There are people now who will earn a Ph.D. in the SCA but be recognized as a Laurel. There are people who will become Laurels that will never do the work related to earning a Ph.D.. There are also many people who will achieve one first and then become the other. All of those are valid options.

What I do not want happening is people getting discouraged from working towards a personal goal of being recognized as a Laurel because they hear that they have to do the work equal to a doctorate degree. That’s not the case.

So, instead, let me suggest when you are talking to new people, be comfortable saying, “The Order of the Laurel is the highest level of recognition we have for people interested in the arts and sciences.”

That’s a fair an accurate statement. And it easily complements the people who are members of the Order. And it happily gives people something good and dignified to work towards.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,