Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Post #Kzoo2017 Thoughts

I originally posted these as I waited for my flights home on Saturday. I've expanded the initial thoughts now that I'm not trying to navigate chubby fingers on a tiny phone...

So since I have time to kill in airport, some kzoo reflections.

1. The hotel shuttle and the campus shuttles still don't seem accessible. The stairs wind, and there doesn't seem to be walker or wheelchair access.

2. I saw several senior scholars with mobility issues. There should be golf carts & students assigned to them. I saw them on campus, I just didn't see them put to this use, so this is a definite improvement that could be made for next year.
And people shouldn't push. I saw a lot of younger folks completely oblivious to older folks, or folks with mobility issues. This is just rude. Don't do it. I can't believe I have to say that.

3. Next year, there should be OPTIONAL pronoun stickers at registration. Like every other conference who has successfully done this.
When I picked up my badge, I asked for the pronoun stickers, assuming that's how Kzoo was going to do it because that's how EVERY OTHER CONFERENCE is successfully doing it (from museum work, to SCMS)
 But I was told there were no stickers, but people/organizers were modeling for REQUIRED use next year. As others have mentioned, requiring is wrong, as people may not want to do this for a variety of reasons. The best way to go is provide stickers at registration where people can choose or not. This is not hard.
And that was a conversation that came up AGAIN and AGAIN amongst the younger generation of scholars. People seemed to be making all of this much harder than it had to be.

4. Also next year, the ally pins should be available at registration.
  also had other pins available, and I'd love to see a site where we could buy them from her in advance, and support. I never carry cash, so I came up short at the reception, sadly.

5. Plans should be made now to avoid another blanketgate.
There's a starting post floating some ideas here,  and I think given what a good job that SMFS and Material Collective do already with advocacy, they'd be great caretakers. And I'm happy that we all came together and got this done. But that doesn't negate the fact that it never should have happened in the first place. There are problems in our field, as one panelist mentioned, and we continue to make the same mistakes. I think we need to do better and always considering how the most vulnerable in our field are affected.

6. The new dining hall was pretty and food excellent. The lines were a little cuckoo.

7. Another accessibility- I only saw one panel other than mine where accessibility copies were made available. 8. I saw only one panel other than mine where presenter read/described what was on slides for accessibility.
I looked back through the program to make sure I hadn't missed something (if I did, someone point me to it and I'll update this), and one thing I think they could provide guidelines for accessibility. EVERYONE should be providing hard copies. EVERYONE should (re)learn how to present (like reading slides, describing images) so that their panels are accessible. Do we provide ASL translators? Do we have an organized way for conference goers to request accessibility? These are all fairly easy things to do, and we have no reason not to do them.
As Anessa Kemna pointed out during her presentation in "Access and the Academy," the DCRM guidelines for manuscript/image accessibility is a great place to start and we should all be using them. Kemna also pointed out how often on Twitter we post images, and cool research that is visually related, but don't describe it, thus making it inaccessible to many. Sjoerd Levelt @SLevelt  has advocated for this in regards to naming and properly citing manuscript images, and I think we can build on this as an accessibility issue.

9. Last year people made big deal Twitter handles not being on badges. This year asked for them. Then STILL did not put them on badges.
Some of us hacked out badges, some not. But in 2017, it seems weird not to have handles on badges.

10. I was happy and proud to be small participant/donator to and they're doing great work. The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship  also does a great job of advocating. I couldn't help but notice though that it's the same small group of people doing all this work. I think collectively we can do better. I'd love to see move members use these groups as models for advocacy and mentorship.

11. Was privileged to meet & rereading her piece for the Congress, hope there's a follow up on how it was, what to improve, and how allies can do better. Although I also recognize the problematic nature of asking others to do this work for us.

12. I was also happy to be a part of mentor lunch. And tried to mentor some myself. But we need more, better role models.
I think no matter where we are in our careers we can reach out and mentor. I made sure to try and do this over meals, organizing through Twitter a lunch, a chance for Twitter friends to get together and put faces to name, talk, but also, not having to worry about paying. It's very easy to make small moves, small outreaches, that can affect how people see our fields.
The Medieval Donut event is a great start, that provides a great way to socialize that is not alcohol based and both @jeffreyjcohen 's post before the Congress that commented on the Facebook dustup, and @JonathanHsy 's post about hospitality were models for senior scholars about how to both advocate for younger/early career scholars and mentors.

13. I know many of us up and coming scholars were all aware of, and affected by, the FB nastiness the weekend before.
I'm not sure how much this affected people's Congress experience, but I know everyone I met was talking about it, so I have to think it did. If nothing else, it showed us that some people think those of us who want diversity, inclusivity, and scholarship that includes all, are rubbish, and silly. Which leads me to this point...

14. And here's a secret for senior scholars: we use social media to talk & as a backchannel. We warn each other. About horrible things.
I was warned against a senior scholar before I left for kzoo.
15. So even if maybe you think your poor choices, reputation, stay local, they do not. We all know about them. Do better.
Senior scholars should be role models. They should models not only for the kind of scholarship we want to do but the type of scholars we want to be. More and more of us make decisions as we move through our graduate programs and early careers that will not include people who aren't both. The number of conversations I had with others about who made good mentors, who to stay away from, and who we just shook our heads at, were many.

Other Thoughts
There was a conversation on social media before the conference about people not being able to attend because of lack of childcare. I went back in the program and saw this, but that was it. For improving next year, surely we can do better. Just as with disability accessibility, and as Mary Rambaran-Olm stated in her "Access and the Academy" presentation, women who are pregnant, or have children, should not be penalized for this, or find the conference inaccessible.
Diversity and Inclusion were definite buzzwords this year, with panels such as CARA's "Teaching a Diverse and Inclusive Middle Ages" with @sdavissecord as organizer and BABEL Working Group's sponsored "Access and the Academy." I'd love to see more of these, but as I wrote above, I also want to see all panels be more inclusive and accessible.
It'd be nice next year to see more "How-To" panels to help train people how to make their panels, classes, scholarship more accessible.

Communication seemed different this year. The Congress asked panels to say whether or not they gave consent for their panels to be tweeted, but in many panels I attended, the organizer forgot, or it was awkwardly handled.
I know because of the Facebook nastiness from the weekend before, I often didn't use the hashtag, not wanting to deal with further backlash or nastiness. Yet there was still a lot of tweeting, but it did seem less specific.

So, what are the takeaways?
I was cheered to see big and small moves of mentorship while also thinking we can do better.
I was cheered to see advocacy and acceptance, but those are the groups I run with, so I don't know how widespread that was.
I hope that the Congress reads people's takeaways and uses them to improve- as I said above, and as I heard all during the Congress, many of these fixes are easy, easier than people make them I think. Accessibility and acceptance are easy if we just do it from the start. If it becomes the norm and not the exception.

I have to say though- I know us, the up and coming generation. And I have faith we will do it.

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