Monday, February 14, 2011

Poll About Whether to Move the E-APA to Early January

With commentary, here.

Last I checked, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of moving it. I am not wild about this idea. It's not that I am wild about the current timing of the Eastern APA meeting. It is because of the large number of schools (something like 30% of American colleges & universities, as I understand it) who utilize the quarter system and for whom winter quarter begins immediately after new years.

Now, at my current institution, this would not conflict with classes. But I would really hate it if the E-APA conflicted with my first week of classes. I don't like canceling class, especially not the first week. And I would especially especially hate to cancel class the first week if I was also canceling class in order to do on-campus interviews a few weeks later.

It also seems to me that the fact that many universities begin their spring semester during the second and third weeks of January is a decisive reason not to hold the big meeting during those times. So I'm not sure why the fact that quarter schools begin during the first week wouldn't be decisive against that week, too.

--Mr. Zero

31 comments:

A-158 said...

I prefer January to the current schedule. I prefer fall to January.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this matters, but Canadian schools typically start shortly after the new year (sometimes as early as the 2nd or 3rd) - so that would be problematic for people at those schools.

zombie said...

If you're teaching, there are few times when APA would not interfere with that, except over holiday breaks or in the summer. (Although some of us teach over the summer too, but I'm not going to open that particular can o' worms.)

I would prefer almost anything to the current schedule, however.

How many schools are actually on a quarter system? (I've never attended one or taught at one.) How many of those typically interview at APA? Are we talking a lot, or just a handful?

Anonymous said...

Keeping the current schedule allows the most number to attend. Perhaps a week earlier would be better, but some would have to adjust the end of their semester or quarter (easier than missing the first week of classes, though). It is inconvenient and unpleasant to travel during the holidays, but if it is done once or twice to get a job, it's worth it. The problem is really the job market that requires candidates to attend year after year. Of course, this whole issue would be quieted significantly with the adoption of Skype interviews, but that is a different (though related) discussion. As far as being a conference for giving and listening to papers or meeting old friends, the current schedule works well. Additionally, it's almost a holiday tradition with me now!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a historian, not a philosopher, but here goes: we hold the annual meeting right after New Year's. (Yes, I know that officially you call it the "Eastern APA" but many comments on this blog reveal that that nomenclature is basically laughable.) Anything around this time will be inconvenient for someone, but the schedule that you philosophers have now strikes me as particularly perverse. As for our Canadian colleagues, I have heard several times that you do not even interview people at the annual meeting, so changing the date should not be such a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Which is worse: 1) to make EVERYBODY who attends attend in between two of the biggest holidays of the year? or 2) to make SOME ( < 30%, by someone's estimate) who attend attend during their first/second week of classes?

I would've thought 1) would be preferable to 2).

Anonymous said...

I prefer the usual time for the Eastern for professional and personal reasons. I teach on the West Coast in the quarter system and the first day of classes is January 3rd. I also love the excuse to get away my family for a fucking break and attending the APA is like spending time with another family.

humbug said...

Zombie, I googled up this list, which isn't official and doesn't claim to be complete but looks like it should give you at least a rough idea of how many US colleges and universities are on the quarter system.

Anon. 5:36, I personally would prefer early January. However, I think for many people the current dates are inconvenient but not horrible. So the point is that if the January dates are horrible for a significant number of people, that would be worse.

And historian, telling our Canadian colleagues that we'll just hold the meeting when they can't come because they won't be interviewing anyway is not really acceptable. The Eastern Division already tells Canadians that they don't count for much by declining to schedule the meeting in Canada, ever. The Pacific Division manages to do it occasionally, at least.

WV: munki.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:36 here. Oops; that was supposed to be "I would've thought 2) was preferable to 1)." duh.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 5:36/3:38, I thought you meant 2) was preferable to 1). But I disagree. Making it so that some can't go is worse than making it so everyone is mildly inconvenienced. (After all, there is just as likely to be a winter storm after New Years -- you're just avoiding family events then.)

Anonymous said...

Why would the American Philosophical Association meet in Canada? Don't give me that it means "North America" bullshit either....

And December 27th is not a fucking holiday! Most people who work for a living are working during that time. Why do you think you can fly and stay in hotels and eat out during this period...

Anonymous said...

Hi 6:58: 5:36/3:38 here. I see what you mean. But I disagree with it being "mildly inconvenient" - it's only mildly so for those who happen to live close to wherever the Eastern is taking place (or are nearby during the holiday break). Most people will have to travel very far, leaving loved ones and family (unless you don't have family, etc.). I wasn't thinking in terms of the risk of a snow storm at all.

And I guess I don't see what's so bad about missing one's first class(es): I've done it myself, and I've had lots of faculty who have skipped class for a conference. If historians and English lit faculty (and others) are doing it, why can't philosophers? (On the other hand, if a large percentage of humanities faculty start missing their first January classes, I could see how, from a quarter-system Dean's/Provost's standpoint, that would get annoying.)

Anonymous said...

The other APA (the American Psychological Association) meets during the first few weeks of classes at my university. It isn't a big deal, and nobody seems to mind. Least of all the professors.

Anonymous said...

It seems like there are two distinct kinds of inconveniences being discussed:

(1) If we were to move the APA to early January, those on the quarter system or who are at Canadian schools would have to skip some classes at the beginning of the semester to go to the conference. This is quite professionally inconvenient.

(2) If we keep the APA when it is, people will have to travel during a time when they are typically spending it with their families. This likely varies in inconvenience, but it, too, can be quite inconvenient. (If, for example, you have family traveling to visit you. Or you travel to visit family. Or you have children out of school at the time.)

So is it legitimate to privilege one sort of inconvenience over another?

I'm inclined to think that we unfairly discount the personal inconveniences, weighting professional inconveniences as more decisive than personal ones. And I see no good reason for doing so. Perhaps this is because, as a whole, we're a younger group with fewer family commitments? Or because, as academics, we often think that our professional lives come before (and are more important than) our personal ones?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:43. It's totally unclear why professional inconveniences for a few should trump the personal/familial inconveniences of (what I presume to be) the many. (I presume this because of the overwhelming preferences registered by the poll.)

Anonymous said...

It would be very bad for me to miss my first class -- my enrollment would get killed. (I am not on the quarter system, so changing the meeting to early Jan. would be fine with me -- just noting that for some, missing a first class is not a mild inconvenience.)

I don't get the point about the A.Psych.A. We know they changed the time. Do we know how the quarter system psychologists feel about it? If not, then how is their meeting supposed to be evidence?
I do know a couple of political scientists at my university who are very unhappy with the Labor Day APSA meetings, precisely because it means they miss their first class in the Fall. (But they do go anyway.)

It's not clear to me why having to leave one's family between Dec. 27th and Dec. 30th is so much worse than having to leave them between Jan. 3rd and Jan. 6th. It's true I'd somewhat prefer moving to January, but it doesn't seem like that big a deal.

On the whole, this seems like a close call. If only we could sever the job market from the meeting the various conflicts would be much less troublesome. (I think that's what we should be focusing on: skype interviews, no interviews, whatever.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:50 said: It's not clear to me why having to leave one's family between Dec. 27th and Dec. 30th is so much worse than having to leave them between Jan. 3rd and Jan. 6th.

Suppose you only get to visit family during those holidays (or they only get to visit you then)... And suppose you have multiple places (perhaps even in another state) to go to do that... e.g. you might celebrate Christmas with one family first, then have to go elsewhere to celebrate with another a few days later; or one might visit the second family to celebrate New Years, etc.

The point is that for a lot of people, those dates comprise available, and cherished, times for visiting loved ones, especially those in faraway places (and when they are often off work/out of school as well); the dates in early January typically don't have those properties.

Anonymous said...

10:49, okay, but why can't all those people visit one of the two families in early January?
I could. (I do visit with two families that time of year.) I guess I'd rather do it right after Christmas, but it's on the order of an inconvenience, not an impossibility.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the fact that all of us have (relatively) similar professional inconvenience profiles and this is readily knowable a good reason to prefer not to professionally inconvenience people over the varying amount of personal inconvenience at issue?

I don't understand why the (claimed) fact that it is common to visit family from Dec 27-30th (is it that common?? news to me) is relevant. If anything, I think the fact that they hold these things in prohibitively expensive locations where it is difficult to travel to (not central for most people) is the problem, not the timing between Christmas and NYE.

Anonymous said...

It's not only schools with quarter systems which start early. Pitt begins on January 5th this year, and the 4th next year. We're not on the quarter system, we're just weird (I guess).

Anonymous said...

"attending the APA is like spending time with another family."

Oh my god, your family must be _awful_.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the fact that all of us have (relatively) similar professional inconvenience profiles and this is readily knowable a good reason to prefer not to professionally inconvenience people over the varying amount of personal inconvenience at issue?

But we don't "all" have such a professional inconvenience profile; pretty clearly, there's a varying amount of professional inconvenience to holding it in January (quarter-system people, some Canadians, and people from Pitt seem to have issue with it). And to return to 7:43's point, why should professional trump personal inconvenience?

Anonymous said...

The point about leaving your family is also about families that include children. Here are two reasons that can loom large. (1) For families with school-aged children, the period between the 25th and the 30th is an important time to spend together and reaffirm family ties, etc., since the kids have been going to school all semester and the parents have been working. (2) Childcare during the period between the 25th and the 30th is very hard to find. Everyone is on their holidays. Undergraduates are home with their families. Sitters are spending time with their families. As a result, it puts a lot of stress on the family if one parent leaves during this time. And this is gendered: for whatever reason, women are less able to put their families under this sort of stress than men. (And bringing the whole family to the APA is prohibitively expensive and stressful in a different way.)

Anonymous said...

A couple of people upthread have suggested (or stated outright) that keeping the current late December dates "allows the most number to attend."

But that seems questionable given that 80%+ of the 500+ who've responded to the poll prefer moving it to early January. If many of those responding don't go because of the timing and could more easily go in early January, and if many who currently go would still go in January even though they prefer the current dates, then we could well have more attendance at an early January APA. So I don't think anyone should be claiming anything either way on that matter.

Anonymous said...

6:39, I don't follow your reasoning.
You seem to be saying that people who prefer that the meeting be in January are thereby shown to be unable to go in December. But that's obviously not right. So I can't figure out what you mean to be saying.

This seems plausible to me (though plainly not definitively established): that a significant number of people would be unable to come in January (because of their teaching commitments), but a larger number prefer December. That makes the alternatives hard to weigh. (I'm in the 'preference for December' category but I am inclined to defer to the Canadian-Quarter-Pittsburgh faction.)

Anonymous said...

6:39 seems to assume that many of those responding to the poll don't go to the APA because of the timing and could more easily go in early January. But this is an insane inference to make from the fact that someone prefers it to be in January. I imagine almost no people are unable to attend during the current time but could during Jan. The question is what people give up to attend, and how much the APA should expect people to be willing to give up. I've never heard of anyone who didn't go to the APA because of timing (when they had reasons job-related to do so).

Am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know the locations of those who are arguing that the current timing isn't a big inconvenience (as well as the locations of their families!). If you live in Boston, and all your family lives in Boston, then the 2010 Eastern APA really isn't an inconvenience at all!

I'm in the Southeast. All my family is in California, but they're spread out so my parents are in the north and my only sibling is in San Diego. First, I don't have enough money to pay for an expensive trip to Boston and, on top of that, a trip to California. Second, all my family works, and they get time off from work in the week around Christmas. If I just moved my trip to see them to California, I'd get to spend some lovely days, sitting at their homes, while they're off at work. Third, the only way I could see my brother AND my parents at the same time is if my trip coincides with his vacation so that he can also travel up to Northern California. For me, having to go to Boston for job interviews wasn't a matter of mere inconvenience; having to go to Boston made it so I couldn't see my family for the holiday at all.

I miss them. I'm being very earnest. I really wished I could have seen them.

Anonymous said...

6:39 here. 7:53 and 7:54, you need to go back and read what I actually wrote (and/or go back and reread Geach): it's embedded under "if" (actually, two "if"s!). I'm not claiming to have "shown" anything, nor do I assume anything like 7:54 attributes to me.

The points I was trying to draw attention to were simply that (i) without more concrete data, we cannot make wild claims about which schedule "would allow the most to attend," and (ii) we should consider how the poll's results might bear on any attempt at making such wild claims. But doing so, obviously, requires knowing more about what kinds of people are responding (how many are regular Eastern attenders, or regular non-attenders, etc.).

Anonymous said...

"e.g. you might celebrate Christmas with one family first, then have to go elsewhere to celebrate with another a few days later"

So we should give preference to one religious holiday? I'm not comfortable with the suggestion that because some people (even most people?) celebrate a religious holiday, that holiday should be used to determine when non-religious events are held. Just another sign to those who don't celebrate Christian holidays that those holidays are somehow more important than non-Christian ones.

Anonymous said...

To the undergrad at 9:05: first, I'm not sure why you'd assume that because someone celebrates a holiday called "Christmas" that they're religious, let alone Christian - in the US that day is widely celebrated by all types, and it's about as secular a holiday as you can get (to my dismay, as I am one of the religous ones).

Second, who said that it our discussion had anything to do with religion? The point being made by some on this thread has to do with time visiting loved ones and/or personal vacation time. Around Dec 25, some people have a tradition of using that time a certain way, and they don't like it being encroached upon. But no one here has asked for special treatment because it's a "religious" holiday!

Anonymous said...

8:41;
First, I don't have enough money to pay for an expensive trip to Boston and, on top of that, a trip to California.

Oh. So, the timing is irrelevant for you, then.