|SAA president Joe Watkins|
The failure of SAA officials to protect three of Yesner's victims/survivors present at the meeting (all three of whom have since gone public about the distress they were put through) caused a major upheaval in the organization and way beyond, especially as those officials stumbled their way through one excuse after another. The good news is that SAA members and other activists around the world have put huge pressure on the organization to get things right in the future.
The bad news, however, is that SAA officers, including some members of its board, have yet to fully understand what they did wrong. Indeed, SAA's executive director, Oona Schmid, and its president, Joe Watkins, have lurched back and forth between apologizing for not acting sooner and continuing to defend their actions and insisting they could have done nothing differently.
The following email, which was shared with me by a source who will have to remain anonymous, was sent by Joe Watkins to a colleague and takes the form of responses to questions that were posed to him. This email was then shared with what I believe to be a number of other people, and so it has already been seen by at least some SAA board members. Given that it did not remain private between Joe Watkins and his interlocutor, and that it is being used by some to counter criticisms of SAA, I am taking the liberty of pasting it below. I have removed some potentially identifying material, but as far as I know the email's text is complete.
I will make no comment on it myself--I believe the archaeological community will have plenty to say about it--other than to briefly correct several statements that are incorrect. The email (actually a series of responses that Joe made to questions posed to him) follows, stripped of identifying information:
One final thing -- one of the 9 complainants in the Title IX action said she formally complained about Yesner in 2014, and her report went nowhere. UAA took 5 years to act -- the SAA acted in 5 hours.
1. This refers to me, Michael Balter.
2. This accusation by Yesner is false. I did not assault him or use physical force to get him to leave. I used the power of embarrassment. It is correct that I raised my voice when he hesitated to leave and called him a "sexual predator." Moreover, I was never told, not then and not since, why I was ejected from the meeting, nor given a chance to tell my side of the story and avoid such action.
3. This is very misleading. I gave communications director Amy Rutledge a detailed, in person account about Yesner, the charges against him, the Title IX findings, his ban from UA, and the presence of the three survivors, about 10 am on Thursday April 11. I offered to go on the internet then and there to show her the media coverage and other materials that would confirm what I was saying. I also told her that I had been invited to the meeting to participate in the #MeToo in Archaeology panel, which should have suggested to her that I had at least some expertise in the topic.
4. I was never offered the opportunity to file a complaint, nor did Amy tell me I did not have standing to do so. I went into the staff office that morning and asked the young colleagues working there (two women and a man) how I went about reporting a "sexual harassment related matter." They went and got Amy who listened to my account without taking any notes. She told me that she would take it from there, but agreed that I could call or email her later that day for an update. She never responded to any of those messages.
5. This is incorrect. Two of the three students have stated publicly that they asked me to help them and I was acting on their behalf. I will give Joe the benefit of the doubt: Perhaps he did not know about the second student who did that.