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Marc J. Neveu
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As Executive Editor, it has been tradition to write a one-page (hopefully) pithy introduction to each issue that sets the context of the theme in broad terms, prior to the more specific introduction by the theme editors. My introduction for this issue originally included thoughts on studio culture and how we might rethink the way in which we work with students in studio. I proposed that the role of pedagogy is an essential but sometimes overlooked aspect of “work” in architecture that sets the tone for the profession. Given events around the production of this issue, I have chosen to replace that text with what follows.

In February 2019 two unsolicited opinion essays were submitted to the JAE. The first, by Judi Shade Monk reflected on her experiences at Richard Meier’s office, which resulted in a sexual harassment allegation, as reported by the New York Times in 2018. The second essay was by Diane Ghirardo, former Executive Editor of this publication and former president of the ACSA. That piece, a rewrite of an essay that had been solicited and then rejected by another journal, was a reflection on her own experiences as a female tenure-track faculty and the difficulties faced by women in academia. After much discussion (and many emails) with the theme editors of this issue, Peggy Deamer and Tsz Yan Ng, we decided to include the essays and began the work of editing. Both essays are powerful and reflect upon very important issues. They would, we thought, complement the issue’s theme, “work,” very well.

While in no way trying to minimize the actions of certain individuals, the reflection upon and not only the recounting of the events is, in my view, the real impact of the essays. We are all aware of bad behavior. It clearly still exists in offices and in schools. Both essays, however, attempted to reflect on difficult questions. Why would you not leave an office after the (much older, male) partner publicly groped you at a party? How does that incident affect how you work in the office? How does it change the way in which you interact with your coworkers? Why would you not simply get a new teaching position after you are almost denied tenure (by an older, male administrator) over a grudge? Why stay in academia when you see, over and over, women being treated less fairly than men? Why resubmit an essay when it has been rejected because it raised issues that editors did not want discussed? The responses might seem obvious or singular. They are not.

Given the nature of the essays, both were reviewed first by the Executive Committee of the ACSA and then the full board of the ACSA. An attorney for the ACSA was also asked to review the work. After many meetings and several rewrites of both essays to adhere to the advice of legal counsel, the ACSA decided in June to halt publication of both essays. On this matter, the ACSA Rules of the Board of Directors are clear. The ACSA reserves the right to review, manage, or halt publication of content in cases where ACSA believes breaches of law or ethics may be implicated or as otherwise deemed necessary by the ACSA Board of Directors in its discretion. Id. XXI.A.4. Given the authority of the ACSA, the essays will not appear in this issue.

The rationale for the decision was based on the opinion that the essays are “journalistic” and therefore require a different standard of review – beyond the peer-review process that is typical for the JAE. Specifically, the JAE does not currently have processes in place to corroborate claims or solicit responses from individuals and/or organizations named in essays that contain accusations. That said, we do publish interviews and opinion essays that do contain unchecked anecdotal information. The information in the interviews and opinion essays, however, are typically more about works of architecture than assault at work.

The decision by the ACSA raises some important questions for a journal such as the JAE. How should issues of gender equity and inclusion be framed? Should the only type of essay published be scholarly? Is it possible to connect personal stories with a collective narrative – the basis for empathy and sympathy – in a scholarly journal? If so, how do we manage legal exposure? Over the course of the previous six months, the editorial process of the journal has been tested and it is clear that if we want to allow for a broader range of essays to be included in the JAE, we must expand our editorial process. All that to say, we are committed to improve the editorial process and to include both essays in a future issue.

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