First, let me direct your attention to the disclaimer on the sidebar at right. If you can’t see that sidebar, it says, in part: “Please note that in all posts on this blog, replies to comments, tweets, FB status updates, and in any other communication, all the views represented are strictly my own and nothing I say should be interpreted in any way as representing the views of SAA or the SAA Council unless I explicitly state that it is.” As usual, this post is a personal statement and does not represent SAA in any way.
Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, as the minutes will reflect when they are made available, at the SAA Council meeting in May during the “Other Discussion Items” part of the agenda, I shared with Council my intention to draft and submit as an Action Item at the August meeting a proposal to form a new task force charged with looking into several aspects of the way SAA conducts its annual meetings. As I discussed at the Council meeting, I think the task force should consider the following issues:
- “Social responsibility”-such as possible approaches to considering hotel relationships with unions before signing contracts, inclusion of “out clauses” if union issues or other issues of concern arise after a contract is signed
- Existing meeting model, which limits our choice of conference venues, as well as the meeting activities, structure, and schedule
- Possibilities for meeting in smaller cities, achieving more diversity in conference sites
- Rising cost of the meeting, both for members and to SAA
- Need to make meeting content more accessible to those who can’t attend
- The extent of SAA’s dependence on the annual meeting for budget revenue
The purpose of such a group would be to come up with recommendations, based on research and consultation with the membership (as well as with non-members), that would be provided to the membership and Council for deliberation and action.
A concern that was voiced, and which you may share, is that this is too broad a charge for one group to carry out. I understand that concern. I’ll say here what I said in the meeting–I think all of these things need to be considered, they need to be considered in the near term, and they are inter-related, so considering them separately doesn’t make sense. It might be possible, and this was suggested, to break out the “social responsibility” piece and deliver separate recommendations on that. But I think it’s very likely there would be a financial impact for some of those choices and think those financial impacts need to be considered along with other possible financial impacts. How should those considerations factor in the decision about which city or hotel to choose for a meeting?I could go on about this, believe me, but I’m trying to keep this post relatively short.
(Aside: One strategy I’m thinking about is having a task force with several subgroups, each of which focuses on one specific area. That might make it a lot easier for most people, since they would be focusing in on only one topic. And then the leads of the subgroups would form the task force itself, which would integrate all the separate reports. I think that might work.)
I’m publishing this here for three reasons. First, to let you know that something is happening. I know a lot of people have concerns about many of the items on that list, so I want to let you know that I’m trying to promote SAA action on them. Second, I want to get your feedback on the list of topics. Is there anything else that should be there? Third, I want you to start thinking about volunteering. As I said, this isn’t an official SAA channel, and I’m not the person who is in charge of appointments, so this isn’t a call for volunteers. But clearly this group will need people who care about these issues and who have the time and energy to commit to doing a lot of work. So please, consider whether you think you could be one of those people. And also let me know if you think this is the right list of issues for the new group to tackle and if you have any other concerns that would be helpful to know about as the lovely and dynamic Terry Baxter and I are working on a formal proposal.