EchoEkhi's Blog

Why 3 out of 5 OTW Directors Suddenly Resigned Admist Row Over Racism

As of the 27th of July, 3 out of 5 of the current OTW Board of Directors have resigned. Antonius Melisse and Natalia Gruber resigned first, and Alex Tischer followed shortly afterwards.

The specific details surrounding the resignations are unclear at the moment, but it is likely that the resignations of Antonius Melisse and Natalia Gruber are separate from Alex Tischer’s departure, and they should be considered more or less separate incidents. To quote a comment on fail_fandomanon (FFA):

“Natalia and Antonius had both been on hiatus for over a month due to both being overwhelmed with RL issues. Per Michelle, they had both already begun the process of resigning prior to the incident with Alex yesterday (but hadn’t made an official announcement because they were still getting all their ducks in a row).”

This would explain why their resignations were announced before Alex Tischer’s on OTW’s news website.

The FFA forum has historically been a dependable (but perhaps not reliable) source of information, due to its popularity with OTW volunteers, so for the purposes of this post I will consider them as facts unless there are conflicting information.

Alex Tischer’s case is different from the other two. Recently she has come under fire both inside and outside the Org for confirming and restating her past allegedly racist comments, and there are calls for her resignation from the Board. The other two ex-Board members are not implicated in this.

Although Alex’s comments (1. You shouldn’t prioritise volunteering OTW over your own personal safety; 2. Let’s agree everyone should speak English in the Org so we can understand each other.) aren’t inherently racist in and of itself, it is important to recognise the context this statement was made under. I do not have access to OTW’s Slack channels, so I will not comment on it because I don’t know the full story, but the pushback from other volunteers should be seen as a sign that this was not an appropriate thing to say.

Internal pushbacks include volunteers asking Antonius Melisse and Natalia Gruber to come back from hiatus to vote Alex Tischer out. Some 11 out of 18 committees of the OTW have signed a joint statement demanding her resignation.

External demands are mainly comprised of (possibly former?) OTW volunteer Dhobi Ki Kutti’s public letter as well as EndOTWRacism’s support for it.
As a result, Alex Tischer has announced her resignation.

This is a developing situation. If you disagree with anything mentioned above, please get in touch with me and I will correct it.

What Happens To The Election?

Despite the three resignations, two of their terms (Alex Tischer, 3-year term starting in 2020, and Antonius Melisse, 2-year partial term starting in 2021) were already ending this year anyways, so only one new seat has opened up. Combined with the two election candidates withdrawing (Audrey R and Emyn a), there are now 5 candidates for 5 seats, making this an uncontested election.

However, two of the seats have a partial term of two years as compared to a full 3-year term, so a vote will still take place to determine who gets the full term and who gets the partial term. Upcoming Q&As and Candidate Chats are unaffected.


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