A Recap Of Events Involving CubeCon

My intention here is to give a factual summary of today’s events in an effort to provide clarity to the community about what has become a clouded, if not complex, issue. I’m going to do my best to provide a factual account of what was said and by whom with as little bias as I can manage. I’m only going to be covering the official statements here, as I don’t intend for this to be a comprehensive history of the events. I’m not going to post the full statements here, as there are too many to give the space they deserve, but I will link to all of them as I’m talking about them. I will also try to chronicle the events in as close to the order that they happened as possible. I will not be going into details about the specific incident that set this chain of events off, as everyone involved seems to agree that something happened that warranted action, and rather it is the extent of that action, and how it was carried out, that is in question here. This article is intended to provide a broad overview of what is a very nuanced subject, and as such only the official statements of the parties involved are included here.

  • Pronouns will be provided for individuals who have them listed in their Twitter bio.
  • On January 2nd, around 6 PM ET, a Twitter account called @CubeConOfficial, run by Jonathan Brostoff and Brian Kowal, posted a statement about an incident involving one of the judges from CubeCon 2023 being sexually harassed by a member of the organizing committee. The details of the incident were not expanded on at this time, however Brostoff and Kowal said they believe the allegations to be true and credible. CubeConOfficial were not satisfied by the decision of the other members of the organizing committee to keep the member in question in a leadership role, and so Brostoff and Kowal elected to divorce themselves from the rest of the organizing committee so they can continue on with CubeCon 2024 without them. They believe doing so was the only way to maintain a welcoming and safe environment for CubeCon. They also mentioned that some of the former members of the organizing committee retained the original MTGCubeCon Twitter account, as well as some additional access. Other than Brostoff and Kowal, nobody involved was named in this statement.
  • On January 3rd, around 11AM ET, the MTGCubeCon account posted their own statement. This account has since rebranded to MTGCubeFest, and appears to be run by John Terrill (He/Him). I do not know at this time if any other member of the CubeCon organizing committee is a part of what is now CubeFest, or is even in contact with Terrill. In this lengthy statement, Terrill states that he wishes to clarify the situation, and says that Brostoff and Kowal do not represent the majority of the committee. Terrill agrees that an incident happened at CubeCon 2023, and says that the committee chose two members to head up an investigation of the incident who reached a resolution after taking statements and doing interviews with multiple parties over ten days. He goes on to say that the course of action reached was deemed to be “…appropriate and just by one of [their] head judges, [their] tournament organizer, and by an HR professional.” This resolution was to remove leadership responsibilities, required that they be isolated from staff members before, during, and after CubeCon 2024, and that they issue an apology letter to the aggrieved party. Neither the accused nor the accuser were named at this time. Terrill claims that Brostoff and Kowal initially agreed to these terms before “unexpectedly” claiming CubeCon as their own, which led to “…weeks of negotiation in an attempt to find a resolution…” Terrill accuses Brostoff and Kowal of “…secrecy and unethical behavior, including clandestine interference with the investigation process, private and public defamation of colleagues, and the withholding of group assets.” Terrill defended his right to continue using the Twitter account, as he was the one that had created it, and that CubeCon prior to this was not a legal organization. He said that the other members of the committee were “…generous in offering [Brostoff and Kowal] the opportunity to continue using design assets we developed and language that we authored, to license the tournament software that we developed, and so on.” He went on to add, “We are concerned…that these two have chosen a path that is inimical and injurious to the rest of the group; and, most gallingly, that they have elected to use the privately-shared pain of a staff member as a public cudgel.”
  • On January 3rd, around 4:20PM ET, Jenn the Judge (They/Them) came forward as the accuser and issued their own statement. Jenn says that they didn’t want to post about this publicly, but that CubeFest’s statement “…uses my ‘courageous complaint’ as a ‘public cudgel’ to defend themselves…” They go on to name Zach Halpern as the accused in question. Jenn says that no apology from the CubeCon committee was ever given to them, that they were not reached out to during the investigation, and that no action was taken to help them after they felt Zach continued to engage with everything Jenn posted publicly in a way that made them feel targeted and uncomfortable. Once Brostoff and Kowal learned that Jenn was never contacted during the investigation the two reached out to Jenn independently of the committee. Jenn goes on to say that they would have been happy with the resolution Terrill implies actually happened, but reiterates that they were “…not contacted by the committee during their investigation, had no chance to even share an opinion on the resolution, received no apology from the committee, and was left with no redress when I felt Zach was continuing to harass me.”
  • On January 3rd, around 4:30PM ET, Zach Halpern released a statement. As this statement mostly covers details of the event itself, from the perspective of the accused, I will only be summarizing the portion that is relevant to the rest of this story. Halpern says the CubeCon organizing committee took the complaint seriously, “as they should have”, and appointed two members to conduct an investigation. “…the proposed resolution would be for me to step back from attendee-facing roles for CubeCon 2024 and focus on internal operations instead. I accepted the proposed resolution as presented, after ensuring I could still work and attend other Magic events in 2024.” Halpern goes on to say that a month after the conclusion of the investigation they found out that Brostoff and Kowal refused to accept the decision of the investigation, and that Halpern’s apology letter was never delivered. “…I took it upon myself to apologize to the staff member in question via Discord DMs. I sent them the apology letter I had originally provided to the CubeCon Organizing Committee.”
  • On January 3rd, around 5:40PM ET, Gwen Dekker, one of the former members of the CubeCon organizing committee, released a statement. This is the longest statement so far and I encourage you to read it in full, however it mostly covers the handling of the incident in further detail from Dekker’s personal perspective. Of particular note was the following paragraph from Dekker’s statement: “The completed investigation included written statements from everyone involved, sealed to protect the privacy of the individual who submitted the complaint, and a recommendation on resolution. It is my understanding that this resolution was reached through consulting an HR professional, to help ensure a just conclusion for the individual who submitted the complaint.” I contacted Dekker via Twitter to ask, “Can you clarify if you know there was a written statement by Jenn, or instead if it was your understanding that a written statement by Jenn was included?” Dekker responded, “I can confirm that the investigation recieved a written statement from Jenn.” Ryan Freeburger then asked, “Was the statement received prior to the investigation kicking off as the complaint or was it received during the process itself after prompting by the investigators?” and Dekker replied, “When I wrote my statement I thought it was from the investigation, but after reading Jenn’s statement that couldn’t have been true. I now do think the written statement that was collected was only from the initial claim, and the investigation committee felt that was sufficient.”
  • As of the time of this writing, there have been no further official statements. I would like to reiterate that there is no questioning the event happened, nor is there any questioning that it warranted action. Everybody involved, including the accused, agrees on these points. This story exists to keep the Magic Community informed.