The Likhaan: UP Institute of Creative Writing (UP ICW) expresses grave concern over the recent allegations of rape, sexual harassment, and other forms of sexual violence occurring within the context of writing workshops.
We uphold that it is the duty of organizing institutions to ensure the safety of all workshop participants from the day of their arrival to the day of their departure. This duty is compounded by the nature of these institutions, which often comprise, or have vital links to, esteemed members of various universities and literary organizations. Thus, while writing workshops must exist as liberal spaces of creativity and discourse, creative freedom cannot supersede ethical parameters of conduct. The reports of rape, sexual harassment, and other forms of sexual misconduct affirm the need to review workshop practices in order to set safety measures and protocols of action should offenses be reported.
In this light, the UP ICW commits to reviewing its own workshop practices and calls upon other writing organizations and institutions to do the same. It also commits to upholding standards of ethical conduct and non-discrimination in all of its workshops, and to ensuring that all its participants know (1) that reports within the workshop period will be taken seriously and given due attention; (2) that unethical and discriminatory acts will not be condoned; and (3) that any workshop participant—fellow, panelist, or staff—who impinges on the safety of another will be identified and penalized.
The UP ICW stands firmly on the side of justice and supports all efforts toward its pursuit. We stand in solidarity with the writers and artists who call for an end to environments that enable various forms of harassment, abuse, and institutional neglect. In order to continue cultivating young, emerging artists and other marginalized voices, writers’ workshops must be established as safe spaces that guard against any form of sexual misconduct and against any form of discrimination.