Those of us who have been around awhile have been through the mill with ACSP more than once on controversies about conference location and the political/cultural environment of the conference. ACSP has relocated the conference before in response to constituents’ legitimate demands that we respect NAACP travel boycotts, and now we’ve had a similar problem with an upcoming conference hosted by Clemson. I haven’t been privy to decision-making that went into either awarding the conference to that location or in the demands the decision be reviewed. SC has been active in anti-trans legislation, and we have to ask questions about what it means to bring dollars to places that do that.
I did take the survey that ACSP sent out asking for reactions and reflections, and the survey was hard for me. I really don’t know what I think. All I have is: I want to have conferences in places where my trans friends and friends of color are treated with the respect and decency they deserve. Unfortunately, I can’t think of many places, included my beloved California, where that’s really, genuinely true.
I am sympathetic to the argument that travel boycotts just hurt working people in the state who have very little influence on the policy process. But I have to rejoin, how much *benefit* do working people get from business anymore? I mean, it feels a little like corporations just take all the profits from everything and the only thing you do by boycotting a place with lousy policy is save those working at the Motel 6s for shitty wages already some work having to deal with you. That doesn’t strike me as all bad, necessarily, especially if the preprondance of benefits from labor get captured by elite interests while the preponderance of the work falls to the laborer.
For the most part, I basically think we should just do whatever Planners of Color Interest Group and the Queer Planning IG)* tell us to do and go with that.*
We recently got an email from ACSP outlining the responses to the survey and the costs of changing course on the conference location at this point, over $300,000. And that’s the part of this discussion that rubbed me the wrong way. By disclosing that number, it creates transparency, but it is also very likely to put a great big ol’ thumb on the decision scale among ACSP member cis- faculty who aren’t 1) aren’t likely to experience potentially life-threatening violence at the hands of the police themselves and 2) not particularly tuned into why trans faculty would like us to stay in safe(r) locations. Certainly, plenty of cisfaculty understand these things and support their trans colleagues brilliantly, but are they the norm at ACSP?
To wit, ACSP has a major financial interest in staying the course, as it did last time this came up, and that cost itself becomes a reason to stay the course. But we’ve been through this before, and the costs are high, so the question for me arises: why do we keep granting conference bids to places that are going to be a problem? Ok, maybe we can’t predict it, but…we should., right? We’re planners. All this comes down to how we need to get more diversity on that ACSP board. It’s one thing to get blindsided by a legal changes and another to ignore the last four years of bathroom wars, and this latter here is more likely to happen when the board doesn’t have somebody who is likely to raise these issues, and concomittantly, other board members who will support and back up anybody who raises the issue (instead of, as in my life, just ignoring them.) otherwise we are in a forever cycle of award bid, make plans, “discover” the problems, welp, can’t change the locale because it’s so costly.
Another, confounding problem is simply that some of our very finest planning programs are in states that seem hell bent on writing the rottenest abortion legislation possible so that whatever “compromise” makes its way out of the rubble they hope to make out of Roe and Casey boils down to all women must wear mannacles and attend Liberty University and any trans men will be stoned in the public square. Georgia Tech, Clemson…boatloads of excellent programs in Texas…
The bottom line for me is that I just don’t want to go to places with state legislatures doing these things. I don’t want to go Florida OR Texas (great planning programs) because of their gun craziness, and I don’t want to go to these places where women just don’t seem to matter.
*I do not think it’s a interest group yet. My perspective is the women’s interest group should do a good job of standing with and advocating for our queer colleagues and our colleagues of color, but the organization has been uneven on that, and groups deserve their own places and their own voices, so I have made it into an interest group in my own mind. Making it formal does create a potential service and leadership tasks for our queer colleagues, which sucks, too, so I can also see why keeping it less formal makes sense too. )