Statement on Joseph Boyden’s Role as Contest Judge

In light of the open letter to the University of British Columbia initiated and signed by Joseph Boyden, the staff and board of Briarpatch Magazine have collectively decided that our partnership with Mr. Boyden as one of the Writing in the Margins contest judges cannot continue.

Writing in the margins – from the margins, and about the margins – takes courage. Our writing contest has been, and must continue to be, a safe place for emerging writers to submit courageous stories.

Clearly there is a need for transparent and accountable processes that protect the rights of alleged victims and perpetrators alike. Unfortunately, the letter focuses almost exclusively on Steven Galloway and his reputation and fails to show concern for the dignity and reputations of complainants. The letter, signed by leading lights of the literary world, risks silencing and intimidating young, unpublished students and writers who may have been or will be victims of harassment and assault by those wielding institutional power greater than their own.

By ending our relationship with Joseph Boyden as the Writing in the Margins contest judge, we are acknowledging the widespread problems of sexual harassment and gendered abuse and the importance of respecting the dignity of complainants and survivors, even when highlighting the procedural rights of the accused. We stand with, and encourage all the signatories of the letter to stand with, the complainants and survivors, and we champion those who witness, challenge, and push back at power in creative writing departments and everywhere.