The Popular Culture Association conference is my favorite conference, and I have already posted why I love it. But it's hardly perfect, of course.
1. The undergraduate session. I went to a session this morning that included a paper by a college senior. Her presentation was the best organized, more professional one of the panel. Sadly, that is a rare experience these days. There was a time when undergraduate papers were usually scheduled like this, the appropriate area along with professors, graduate students and independent scholars. Then, several years ago, The Powers That Be decided that they should be organized in special undergraduate sessions. There are two problems with this. First, because they are nearly always a mix of subjects and labeled as undergraduate sessions, attendance is poor. Second, they miss out on the interaction and feedback from potential contacts and colleagues. I would like the undergraduate ghetto to disappear.
2. The scheduling. PCAACA is always Easter week. This means that it varies from year to year from late March to the end of April. Maybe this a good thing, because it means that it occasionally coincides with some attendees spring break. Maybe it results in better hotel rates, though it is offset by higher holiday weekend air fares. But it is family unfriendly and hostile to observant Christians and Jews, since the schedule interferes with both Easter week and Passover. As a Unitarian Universalist who has had to miss both our congregations Seder and singing in the choir for Easter, I am doubly offended.
3. Give me a break. Really. There are no breaks at the conference, just fifteen minutes between sessions. I understand that scheduling is complicated when there are so many sessions, but we need sustenance.
In all honesty, #2 and 3 don't bother me all that much. Having planned national conferences myself, I know how hard it is to make people happy. There are no perfect dates for a conference and everyone can't break for lunch at the same time without exploding the hotel restaurants. But getting rid of the undergraduate ghetto? That needs to happen.
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