Academic Meetings and Boycotts

February 22, 2010

The locations of academic meetings continue to provide calls for boycotts and much debate. Some new developments:

  • Some political scientists have organized a boycott of the American Political Science Association's 2012 meeting because it is in New Orleans and Louisiana voters have approved measures banning not only gay marriage, but many potential benefits for domestic partners. Now another group of political scientists has organized a petition calling on colleagues to go to New Orleans, but to engage in protest while there to draw attention to legal bias against gay people. The petition states: "We ask: why would those of us who wish to protest the discriminatory laws of New Orleans and Louisiana do so by simply staying away? Wouldn't it be better to have the 500+ signatories to this boycott join hundreds if not thousands of others in some type of civil protest action in New Orleans during those 5 days in the summer of 2012? What about joining forces with anti-discrimination groups in New Orleans?.... Or, how about we agree to only visit New Orleans establishments -- restaurants, music venues, hotels, shops, etc. -- that have signed on to some anti-discrimination statement put out by the members of APSA? Economic patronage can have the same consequences as an economic boycott. Imagine the potential for local and national press if there was a list of New Orleans establishments that were considered acceptable to hundreds if not thousands of APSA goers. Such a move would essentially link this effort to the people of New Orleans in a way a boycott never could. We believe that changing the policies of Louisiana could just as legitimately be achieved by OUR PRESENCE as by our ABSENCE."
  • The Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association has rejected calls to move its forthcoming meeting out of San Francisco, where unions are calling for boycotts of some hotels that will be used because of ongoing labor disputes. As a result, the University of San Francisco has offered space to presenters seeking to move their sessions out of hotels that are subject to the boycott.
  • The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, which are scheduled to hold a joint higher education meeting next month in San Francisco, have announced that they are moving the meeting to San Jose. The hotels that will be used there have good labor relations, and by keeping the meeting close to San Francisco, organizers hope those who have already purchased plane tickets can still use them.

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