Posts Tagged ‘ASA 2013’

In addition to learning that I should fund sociology at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, I also spent some time with senior colleagues, one of gave me some advice that is relevant to my continuing series on Academic False Consciousness. As faculty members, he said, we should always be loyal to individuals but never to institutions. The reason for this is that individuals are much more likely to be loyal to us than institutions and to think otherwise is to ignore everything that Marx tried to teach us.

I was reminded of this conversation when talking to a staff member who had recently decided to leave my school for a better job. Because the timing of his departure coincided with the beginning of the new academic year, some in the administration had grumbled about the difficult position that he put the institution in. Of course, if the same administrators had decided that he should be fired it seems unlikely that they would care what time of year it was.

The difficulty of discerning between loyalty to people and loyalty to institutions at a liberal arts school is that it can be hard to tell where people end and institutions begin. The staff member who quit his job certainly made things more difficult at the institutional level because it will be difficult to replace him in a timely manner. It will also, however, create an additional burden on his former coworkers, who will be asked to do more in his absence. Although thinking about his coworkers may have caused him to question his decision, it is actually the institution that will decide on the timetable for his replacement and whether or not his position will be filled with a temporary employee in the interim. If the institution decides that it will not, the burden on his former coworkers is not the fault of the employee who is leaving for greener pastures.

In the end, most of his coworkers supported his decision because they understood his reasons for leaving. The fact that he had found a better opportunity did not bring about the end of their loyalty to him. Although I think that we should dig in and make the most of the opportunities that are available to us in the positions we hold, the fact that we are given these opportunities should not prevent us from seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

Read Full Post »

Although I missed them in Denver last year, I’ve been chronicling the ASA’s attempts to provide unisex restrooms since 2010 when I noticed the women’s unisex restrooms in Atlanta. With two conference hotels this year, the ASA saw two implementations of unisex restrooms.

At the Hilton, the unisex restrooms were similar to those at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, with a unisex sign in front of men’s and women’s restrooms that were right next to each other. While better than nothing, this implementation makes me wonder whether conference attendees actually treat the restrooms as unisex, stick to the gendered bathroom that they would usually use, or avoid them altogether.

Over at the Sheraton, the situation was different. In addition to men’s and women’s restrooms, the Sheraton also had restrooms that were designated as unisex and restrooms that were designated as accessible/family. These rooms were part of the hotel design and not an attempt by the ASA to impose its progressive attitudes toward gender on a gender-binary space.

If I were rating them, as I did for this year’s scavenger hunt, I would give the Hilton a 3 out of 10 and the Sheraton a 7 out of 10. While the Sheraton gains points for having preexisting unisex restrooms, these restrooms were designed for a single person (or a family). This is certainly better than providing no space for a person who does not feel comfortable in a gender-binary restroom but seems less progressive than offering a multiple-person restroom that can be used by everybody.

It turns out that I am not the only person interested in restrooms, since Bill O’Reilly is very concerned about a law in California that allows transgender teens to use the restrooms for the gender they identify with. If all restrooms were unisex, neither Bill nor I would have anything to complain about!

Read Full Post »

Last year, I completed 16 of 30 items on the inaugural ASA Scavenger Hunt. Over the past four days I was able to set a new personal best with 20 of the 30 items on this year’s form. I completed items 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 30. Unfortunately, I was in Central Park but failed to recreate any of the scenes from Elf. Send me your submissions soon (socslac [at] gmail [dot] com) for a chance to win… something!

In addition to the scene around the Hilton statue, where I waited for people multiple times, here are some other reflections on ASA 2013:

  • If you are going to write about an earlier conference experience on your pseudonymous blog just before ASA, you probably should not tell the same anecdote when you are actually at ASA, unless you want your secret blogging identity to be revealed!
  • There are some aspects of the city that I really like (drinks at the Bryant Park Cafe) and others that I really dislike (crowds, traffic, section receptions in tiny rooms, Times Square).  I think that the negatives outweigh the positives.
  • Interesting sessions do not belong at 8:30 am!
  • Meeting with friends at night + going to 8:30 am sessions = conference exhaustion, which is only worsened by rain.
  • Corkscrews at Duane Reade cost more than wine at Duane Reade, which probably says more about the quality of the wine than the corskcrews.
  • This year’s ASA bags are good for carrying bottles of wine. If you put the wine in the bag diagonally you can discreetly walk through multiple hotel lobbies without drawing attention to the fact that you are carrying extremely cheap wine.
  • I wonder where ASA Bear is now.
  • Early ideas for next year’s scavenger hunt: witness somebody playing Candy Crush Saga during a session’s Q&A, attend an Author Meets Critics session in which the critics forget to criticize the author, arrive to a meeting 15 minutes late so that you do not have to stand by a statue by yourself, look at your phone while waiting for somebody else so that you don’t feel quite as stupid standing by a statue.

Read Full Post »

If you are traveling to New York for ASA, here are some songs to prepare you for arrival:

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind

Billy Joel, “New York State of Mind

If you can’t make it to ASA in New York, here are some songs that may make you feel better about that:

Soul Coughing, “The Incumbent

The Strokes, “New York City Cops

I’m sorry that some of these selections are hackneyed, but I don’t have much time before leaving for New York myself! Add your own suggestions in the comments.

Read Full Post »