Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

All information about UCB Hell's Kitchen and UCB East.
Any posts about NYC events/shows/casting NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVING the UCB Theatres should be posted in the OFF TOPIC.

Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby UCB Admin » Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:45 pm

A post in on this board has been removed because it contained secondhand-anonymous complaints naming an individual. We don't feel like it's right or fair to use this message board to spread anonymous complaints about individuals involved with any aspect of UCB.

If anyone has complaints or concerns with any faculty or performer at the theatre's the following people are available to discuss or document:

For the Training Center, including faculty:
Johnny Meeks, Academic Supervisor
Kevin Hines, Assoc. Academic Supervisor
Erik Tanouye, School Manager
Lindsay Lefler

Student Advocates
Chelsea Clarke
Lydia Hensler

For the Theatre
Shannon O'Neil, Artistic Director
Mike Still, Artistic Director

For anything else, or in response to any of the above:
Alex Sidtis, NY Managing Director
Susan Hale, CA Managing Director
UCB Admin

Posts: 1
Users Information
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:34 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby Isco » Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:17 pm

I read this post before it was removed.

Specifically, the post was about reports that a UCB teacher and employee had made repeated unwanted sexual advances on many women in his classes.

It also stated that women do not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints because they feel it would endanger their careers.

These are serious problems.

I understand the concern with protecting individual privacy. However, the issue at large is very serious, and, in particular, silence around sexual harassment charges can make it intimidating or seemingly futile for people to come forward, and can enable people who do sexual harass people to stay in positions of power.

So, I find the response "come talk to us privately" worrisome, especially when the complaint is that the status quo has enabled this person to stay in a teaching position and has not enabled people to come forward.

It seems to me "fair and right" to use this message board to raise these kinds of concerns, especially since directing the message to the community rather than just to the staff serves a specific and important function. I definitely understand the concern for protecting people's names; beyond names, I would hope that the overall strategy of the theater regarding sexual harassment is not to promote public silence.

I have never experienced any of this stuff myself, and I have no standing at the UCB Theatre (other than as one of thousands of students) and little standing the community. But I will be much more comfortable giving money to the theater and recommending people take classes if there's some indication this is being taken seriously.

Posts: 46
Users Information
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby Alex » Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:13 pm

I agree that the issue is very serious and it is something that we take very seriously.

I have personally met with many students and faculty over the years and have dealt with many of these types of complaints on a first hand basis. I can assure you and anyone else interested in this topic that these complaints are dealt with in a private and confidential manner.

Generally speaking coming forward is very hard, and I understand that. We do strive to make it easier, but we need to deal with individuals.

We also started the process of updating and expanding the Training Center's Code of Conduct to cover more potential issues of harassment. As one can imagine this is no easy task for UCB as with the nature of comedy and improv in general means that a number of issues come up in any given setting that may be deemed as in appropriate in any other setting. That being said we have made great headway into narrowing down what we feel draws some clear lines. We hope to have that final version approved and online before the end of the year.

We do NOT deal with these types of complaints, charges or allegations privately because we want to ignore them.

We do so to respect the privacy of the person who comes to us.

We do not investigate or otherwise note anonymous complaints about people because they are impossible to substantiate. The Theatre's deal with an immense number of adults who have various interactions with each other and we could not focus on all the work we do here if we had to track down every rumor that someone else has heard on our behalf.

Anyone who wants to file a report of any type has a number of people listed above to report to. They can choose the person they feel most comfortable with or include all of us. That choice is up to them.

No one at UCB is in a position to use a complaint against a person who makes that complaint.

UCB is not in a position to jeopardize someones career.

There is no "black list" or other means of outing people.

From my point of view, everyone who works at UCB takes their jobs and the community seriously and cares about the continues success of this thing. If that point of view is incorrect I would like actual individuals to tell me about it so I can take action.

Again this is an important topic and your post is an example of how to properly deal with it. Creating a sock puppet and posting allegations online is not helpful. Reporting and discussing with any combination of the above is the best way to make sure we can properly do something.
create, destroy, enjoy

Posts: 57
Users Information
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby Isco » Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:58 pm


Thank you for your rapid and detailed response.

I'd like to clarify my statement. What I hope is being taken seriously is the allegation that a teacher has been allowed to remain employed at the UCB despite multiple instances of sexual harassment, and the report that many students feel they are unable to report this behavior because it would risk their career.

(I have not heard any of these reports about the teacher named; I have heard from a few female students that they fear coming forward about these complaints).

It is possible for these conditions to exist even if (as I believe it is) the intent of the theater is benevolent, and (as I believe they are) individual complaints that ARE made are handled seriously. It can exist because of learned fear, mistaken (or rational) beliefs, cultural attitudes, soft pressures, all kinds of complicated things. But it seems credible that everything you write could be true and everything that student reported could also be true.

It is THIS discussion that I think has to occur at least somewhat publicly within the community, and which cannot adequately be addressed only by private channels. Because the person is suggesting the system has failed to work, a referral back to that system, even if it is believed by administrators to be effective or the best option, seems unsatisfactory.

I hope that you have success in encouraging people to come forward and talk to these people; I think that people should do so, and I appreciate that you are giving them the impetus to make those reports. These are good things and you are trying to accomplish a good thing.

I still think it is worth having an open discussion about whether these channels are adequate, and whether people feel comfortable enough to use them. I'm sympathetic to the original poster's view that it was worth naming the person in order to bring the discussion forward so that people would be encouraged to address the complaints. The person's stated opinion was that the options that existed were not adequate to remove people practicing sexual harassment from their positions.

I really don't know much about anything beyond that, and now I'll get out of the way of people who have more responsibility and experience.

Posts: 46
Users Information
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby Dummonger » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:16 pm

I agree with David Iscoe.

Posts: 83
Users Information
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:32 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby hrackleff » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:06 pm

I agree with David Iscoe. Both his original post and his reply.

Posts: 5
Users Information
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:54 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby WillieBHines » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:07 pm

I didn't see the post.

I'll tell you as a former head of the school that it's really hard to take any real action on an anonymous complaint. It's also basically impossible, possibly illegal, to go to someone and say "We're firing you because an anonymous complaint said you're making unwanted sexual advances. I can't tell you who or what they're talking about. Sorry."

I COULD start an investigation of my own based on a complaint. Then if I came up with stuff on my own I could go to the person and say "i've got X stories from this place and Y reports from here." But I'd want to know who it was making the complaint, and what the story was before I do that.

If you want someone fired or removed from a system --- or punished, or reprimanded, then the person who's going to make that call would want something a lot more substantial than a post on a message board.

What I was always hoping is that the UCB system would have a wide enough variety of people --by which I mean gender, race, and even just personality temperament so that there would always be SOMEONE in a position of pretty high authority that a student would feel comfortable going to privately with a concern.

If this is about a male teacher who is making unwanted sexual advances to female students and because of that you want to go to a female member of the staff --- would you trust Shannon, the artistic director of the theater? If you don't feel close enough to Shannon to do that -- how about Lydia or Chelsea, the advocates? You could talk to them, and while you can't remain anonymous to them, you could ask them to keep YOU anonymous. That may ultimately limit what they can do, but you can at least talk to them and find out what if anything is possible. If you don't know Lydia or Chelsea, maybe you had Morgan Jarrett as a teacher, maybe you had Abra.

Maybe the gender of who you talk to doesn't matter to you; you just want someone you know you can trust. Do have a relationship with any of your teachers or the performers where you could contact them and get their advice?

Does this person comfortable talking to me? My email and phone works. Call me and tell me about it; and I'll tell you what I'm willing to do, and we can talk about it.

I'm sure there's been times when people have complained and they feel that nothing has happened. But there are also times when a complaint --- even an anonymous one -- has started some action. And I honestly cannot think of ANY time that a complain has hurt the complainer. If there's one I'd like to know about it!

The people in charge depend on people throughout the community to tell us what's going on. But by the time you decide "I can only send an open letter to a message board" --- you've given up hope that anyone in power will do anything for you and you're hoping someone ELSE will do something. But if they don't know what you're witness to, then what can they do? A bunch of reblogs and reposts won't do anything.

I know that America seems to be a police state, but we are not the government! We are not covering up for anyone. Someone come talk to someone.

But an anonymous open letter on the internet is not enough! There's too much distortion, too little accountability to put a lot of stock into them.

Talk to someone privately and directly. As high up the UCB ladder as you feel comfortable. You could call Alex, Shannon, Kevin --- they will take your call. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to know what's going on and understand what's happening. Phone calls are next best. You will not be reprimanded or held in bad esteem. You won't be in trouble. You can stay anonymous if you want (and yes that will limit what we can do BUT what I'm saying is you can go talk to someone and not be revealed).

Posts: 101
Users Information
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby kevhines » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:15 am

Isco - and anyone concerned - I think it's important to note we didn't delete this post and do nothing else. We replaced it with a post detailing our feelings about the topic.

We don't feel like it helps to drag someone's name out, particularly in an anonymous (but public) post.

We do want people to feel like they can talk to us.

You write this:

"It also stated that women do not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints because they feel it would endanger their careers.

These are serious problems."

And with this I agree. That is a concern. That is why we didn't just delete the post. If people have issues, or if there have been incidents we want to try and help.

But demanding names from anonymous posters doesn't help. It can't. That leads to nothing but anger and hurt and a staff that still (as Will mentioned) can't legally do anything.

Let us know what we can do to help people feel comfortable coming forward. That is a conversation worth having. And it's one we have had on numerous occasions and constantly working towards finding better ways to handle these situations.

Posts: 142
Users Information
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:00 am

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby the-tudge » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:58 am

I understand that a single post cannot achieve what the poster wanted, but it is a very real feeling to not want to be "that girl" even if you're guaranteed anonymous protection. Society instills women with a lot of guilt and fear when speaking up about issues like these, which is why so many will stay silent. We don't want to destroy a man's career. Or maybe we convince ourselves that any perceived sexual harassment was our own fault.

I understand why you took down the original post (and I also didn't see it), but I also applaud whoever posted it for taking a stand and coming forward. I can only hope that this move and conversation can embolden women who have felt silenced (not that UCB is actively silencing people; these roots go way deeper) to step forward and say something so that it doesn't keep happening. I'm discussing this with my close female friends in the UCB community right now and none of us are surprised. I hope anyone victimized takes the proper action now.

Posts: 5
Users Information
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:36 am

Re: Direct Comments/Concerns to the following UCB Staff

Postby anonfornow » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:13 am

I agree with the previous poster about the fear of being "that girl", I've had this conversation many times with my friends and I think it's noteworthy that women are just now posting in this particular conversation (myself included).

I have reached out to the student advocates in the past (for an unrelated issue) and I felt like they did a great job and I trust them. Personally, I would feel much more comfortable talking to either of them before I reached out to someone who holds my fate in this theatre in their hands and accused someone who they might be very close to.

A company where I used to work had a senior staff member who was specifically designated (in addition to her pre-existing position) to be an advocate for women within the firm and also to field complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination. She was fierce and effective and women really trusted her. I would use that exact same sentence to describe Shannon O'Neill, but now that she is the AD, I would be a too intimidated to reach out about something like this. I know UCB has a few positions similar to what I just described (i.e. diversity), but unless I've forgotten someone, we don't have someone focused on this, do we? Can we fix that? Given the issues that have been raised for women in the UCB community, not just in this conversation but in the past year, I think it's time that we did.

I don't expect UCB to solve society's gender and sexual assault issues, but this is supposed to be a safe space and more could be done to make it one.

Posts: 1
Users Information
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:32 am


Return to New York

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests