Monkey Cage Poll: Are You Going to APSA?

by John Sides on August 27, 2012 · 63 comments

in Academia

There is a lot of discussion about the upcoming political science meeting in New Orleans, which is due to begin on Thursday.  See, for example, the #APSA2012 hashtag.  With the goal of moving from a possibly unrepresentative sample of political scientists who are tweeting to a possibly less unrepresentative sample of political scientists who read this blog, here’s a quick poll. If you’re not a political scientist or someone who would ever conceive of attending APSA in the first place, you don’t need to respond.

Here is my response: I was planning on going to APSA, and I still plan to go.  I moved my flight from Wednesday to Thursday evening, and am hoping for the best.

{ 63 comments }

APSA Member August 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Honestly, it sounds unsafe. The winds might not be category 3+ but it’s a big storm bringing a lot of rain to a city that’s shaped like a bowl. We’re looking at a serious chance of power outages spanning multiple days and a high likelihood of flooding. Do the right thing and cancel the meeting, instead of going on twitter and trying to encourage people to recklessly attend.

Tom Birkland August 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm

This is true. A lot of things are better than they were in 2005. The levees are much better. Flood gates on the canals are in place.

On the other hand, Entergy is still the electrical utility for much of NOLA. Power is not entirely reliable in NOLA on a typical rainy day. Being stuck in a tall hotel with no power for elevators, A/C, etc. is not fun.

PM August 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I’m going, but unhappily. If this poll had been run before APSA’s decision, I would have voted to cancel. I’m not sure what the intellectual quality of an empty panel will be.

Jacob Lupfer August 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I cancelled my trip, more or less under the assumption that my Wednesday midday flight would be cancelled anyway. But if I had a paper instead of a poster, I probably would have changed my flight and attended. As a native Floridian, I know all too well that the days after tropical storms are often so calm and lovely, you wonder what all the fuss was about. I see why the organizers made the decision they did. I hope a lot of people still go. The Wednesday travel day is what makes it difficult/dangerous.

Jacob Lupfer
Ph.D. Student
Georgetown University

Tom Birkland August 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I was set to be a co-chair on a panel and a chair-discussant on another, both on Thursday. Like Jacob, I am assuming my mid-day flight would be cancelled, and also assuming that USAirways wouldn’t be shy about letting me just be stranded in Charlotte. I know better.

Funny thing is that both the panels were on disaster research! Perhaps this will make the topic just that much more popular next year.

boycott August 27, 2012 at 9:14 pm

that, plus the possibility that the city will be underwater. again.

nice choice, apsa.

Brian Silver August 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I didn’t plan to attend. First time my son will be presenting and I won’t even be attending. What were the odds of that?

A few years ago at APSA I presented a paper on the credibility of disaster warnings, based on the experience of Katrina and Rita. I’m happy to see that people are apparently taking these warnings more seriously now.

I’d like to see someone’s calculation of the odds that both the RNC and APSA would be disrupted by the same weather system in the same year. Infinitesimal.

Thad Williamson August 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I think the responsible thing to do would have been to cancel Thursday now and wait to evaluate the situation Wednesday before deciding on the rest of the weekend. There’s a significant possibility that the city’s resources are going to be strained in responding to the storm. If so, does APSA really want to add to that burden 10,000 social scientists trying to get in and out of the city?

SavageHenry August 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Good idea. What I’d like to see more is the distribution of “career levels” that are attending. My guess is that most people still going are grad students who don’t feel like they have an option. They want and need the exposure and networking, but now it’ll largely be them sitting and looking at each other. Not only is the decision irresponsible, but it places the biggest burden directly on the people who can least afford (in all senses of the word) it. APSA leaders either didn’t think of this or didn’t care. Not sure which would be worse.

Robert Oprisko August 28, 2012 at 9:44 am

I agree. I was and am torn about attending. The professional development for someone who has a position, but it not yet TT is fantastic. No matter what happens at the conference, this year has been a loss because of the problems with multiple people making it.

Julia Strauss August 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Had been planning on going and have agonized all day about whether or not to proceed with a planned panel. In the end, the voices from Florida and Rhode Island carried, and we’re cancelling. Agonizing, but having just been through a mere Category 1-2 in Rhode Island last year and seen how the impact in this case was no power from anything from 3-9 days (and not in a natural basin below sea level!), the chances of being stranded, without power, or worse are simply not worth the risk. Agree with SavageHenry that many of those who do go will be those who are grad students and junior scholars on the job market who feel that there is no choice. To be fair, no matter what decision was made, APSA was going to catch flak. But the combination of lack of information from APSA, the delayed response, the utter disregard for voice in its constituency — are all deeply shameful.

APSA Member August 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Just want to echo what SavageHenry and Julia said about how this is especially unfair to grad students, post docs, and young faculty who don’t want to head towards a hurricane but feel they have to for interviews, networking, and professional development. I also want to shout out Jim Fowler and Dan Drezner for similarly supportive comments on twitter. There is absolutely no reason why someone affiliated with APSA 2012 should be encouraging anyone to rush down to New Orleans to attend panels on Thursday when we have no idea what condition the airport, the city, and the roads will be in after a 36-hour visit from a category 2 hurricane. At the very least, cancel Thursday, if not the entire conference.

SavageHenry August 27, 2012 at 10:48 pm

How not to catch flak: get membership input on how to decide for carrying on in the face of a hurricane (even if the current leadership didn’t choose NOLA, they sure did choose how to proceed); post decision rules (landfall at a certain strength w/in X days of conference means no-go, city requires evacuation, etc); everyone follows weather to see the outcome (some gripe, some cheer, no one wonders WTF was going on).

Now we get sniping between Vavrek and Fowler via twitter, and a continued sense that people who study how people organize, plan, make decisions, and interact are hopelessly unable to connect that to the real world.

Steve Yoder August 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Including the “I was never going to come” response deflates the percentages. Why do I care that you weren’t going to go to the conference anyways, and now with the hurricane, you still aren’t going to make it? Can you eliminate that response to get a more accurate assessment of the effect of the hurricane on the status of those who were initially intending to go to the meeting?

TR August 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Watch this!

% of initial attendees still planning to go = line 1 / (line 1 + line 2)

% of initial attendees who have canceled = line 2 / (line 1 + line 2)

Steve Yoder August 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

TR: Yes, I can do this math. But those posting that 50% of those who were going to attend APSA are now not going to attend on the #APSA2012 twitter site apparently cannot.

APSA Member August 27, 2012 at 11:01 pm

From the most recent (11pm) NHC update on Isaac:

“Isaac is a large tropical cyclone. A dangerous storm surge…heavy rainfall…and strong winds extend well away from the center and are expected to affect a large portion of the northern Gulf Coast. The threat of heavy rainfall and flooding is also expected to spread inland over the lower Mississippi Valley region during the next few days.”

Do the right thing and cancel APSA 2012.

Chill August 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Here is how one (anonymous) grad student put it on PSJR:

“If someone tells me there is a conference in the middle of a hurricane disaster area where I have three scheduled interviews (right now, only one has been officially “canceled,” and the other two are a “maybe”), then you can bet the farm that I am going to be down there, come hell or high water.

Being unemployed (and having struck out on the job market last year) doesn’t afford me the opportunity to make reasonable, sensible decisions about these sorts of things. I realize that because I need a job, I need to get every competitive advantage against other job applicants I can get. I would prefer it too if APSA simply canceled all interviews (so that no one has a competitive advantage), but given that interviews might still go on as scheduled, I have NO CHOICE but to go.”

Brian in NOLA August 28, 2012 at 12:11 am

Let me offer a bit of perspective from a local.

Everyone in my department is staying in New Orleans through the hurricane, as is nearly everybody from my wife’s office (an accounting firm). We have a good idea of how to handle these things, and this storm appears to be far weaker (and following a different track) than Katrina.

That said, I think the perspectives should be vastly different from someone who is already here (particularly those of us who have a household to secure) versus someone who is coming to visit. And unfortunately, APSA is listening to the voices of those speaking to the residents rather than the voices of those who have to travel here.

The big problem is n0t going to be flooding or other forms of physical damage. The airport, the road from the airport to the CBD, and the conference hotels did not get water during Katrina and almost certainly won’t get water this time. The areas that are going to flood are far away from the places any of you would ever see.

The problem with continuing the conference is the fact that the airport is going to shut down for two days (at least) and that there is a possibility of longer-term power outages. Believe me when I say you don’t want to be here in the aftermath of a storm when you don’t have air conditioning – think something between the hottest, wettest sauna you’ve ever seen and Dante’s 7th circle.

So while it’s true that the physical facilities will probably be ready for Thursday (and beyond), it doesn’t make sense to have a conference when so many people (panelists, job interviewers, exhibitors, etc) just can’t make it here due to travel restrictions. I think much of the conference is going to end up unofficially cancelled anyway as a result of no-shows.

I’m sorry all of you have to face these difficult decisions, especially those of you who take on significant financial obligations to attend. But if you do make it sometime late Thursday or beyond, I’m reasonably confident that the city will be safe. I just hope enough people show up to make it worth the effort.

As for me, we’ve secured the house and are eating everything out of the freezer. Tomorrow we’ll head to http://www.creolecreamery.com – they give away the ice cream for free before hurricanes in case of power outages.

Elliott Green August 28, 2012 at 3:52 am

I’ve had to cancel as my connecting flight from Houston to New Orleans was canceled on Wednesday and there were no seats left for Thursday or Friday (my panel is on Saturday morning).

Another point where I feel the APSA leadership has let us down: not only did they schedule a meeting in a hurricane-prone city in the middle of hurricane season, they also scheduled it in a city with poor flight connections compared to other conference locations like Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Toronto and Boston. I live in London and there are no direct flights to New Orleans (unlike the other cities mentioned), which actually only has one international direct flight connection (to Toronto). Thus I would have had to sit around Houston waiting for a standby flight, assuming the airport does reopen, with the strong possibility of sleeping in the airport.

Harold Clarke August 28, 2012 at 4:50 am

I am cancelling the Electoral Studies reception scheduled for Friday evening. Just too much uncertainty. Thanks to all ES authors, ed board members and ad hoc reviewers. Hope to see you at the Midwest!
Harold

Richard Matland August 28, 2012 at 8:24 am

Perhaps we need to add another line to the survey. I was going to go, but the airlines can’t get me in until after the conference.

ZC August 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

As of Tuesday morning, this storm does not look that intimidating (by New Orleans standards). Nor do any of my many New Orleans friends seem overly concerned by it. I think the danger of power outages downtown / no AC in the CBD is diminishing fast.

Nathan Burroughs August 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

My panel isn’t until Sunday morning and my flight not until Saturday afternoon, so as it stands now I plan on attending. Unfortunately I’ve paid for this trip out of pocket, so I think if I skip the conference entirely I’ll wind up just having to eat the cost of the flight. It really depends on how bad things are on Saturday.

Pippa Norris August 28, 2012 at 11:03 am

And one lesson is the failure of APSA to learn from crisis communications. The problem is not simply the original decision to locate in a hurricane-prone city (a decision taken many years ago now and under a different leadership), but to compound this by inadequate information and interaction with the membership during the last few days leading up to the storm. A four-line announcement from APSA updated every 24 hours is not what is required in the age of social media. There is no opportunity for the membership to share and pool information using interactive formats via the apsanet website; instead everyone uses a run around via twitter., emails, and so forth. Will there be sufficient attendance at the Friday and Saturday panels? No one has a clue. A quick response membership facility posted via the official website would have allowed the necessary coordination of information and decision-making. Short of that, even a longer announcement would have helped. In general, APSA communications needs a radical overhaul well in advance of any meeting, emergency or not.

Henry Farrell August 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

As a member of the search committee for a new executive director of APSA, I’d suggest that people who wish to point to this or other questions as important priorities for APSA going forward should contact us at apsa.search.committee@gmail.com .

Penny Wheelis August 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

I am really disappointed that my daughter, whom was scheduled to present, is having difficulty in getting to MSY! Her flights have been scheduled and she was scheduled to present Thursday. She was so looking forward to the conference and excited to be asked to speak. Her disappointment is tremendous, as even if the airport opens on Thursday, she will not be able to be there in time for her scheduled time. Devasting to her and for myself for her. I really wish that it could have been rescheduled so as to afford everyone the opportunity to attend. Please reconsider and keep our loved ones safe.

Penny Wheelis August 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

cancelled not scheduled on line 2 first scheduled

Staffan I Lindberg August 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

I agree with Elliott’s comment above: APSA is not only an American organization these days but the major political science conference (along with Midwest) for the world of polisci scholars. Conference ought to be scheduled in cities with good international connections. My second leg of the trip from ATL to NOLA Wednesday was cancelled along with everyone else’s, and there are no options before 1 Sept…. Have fun who ever gets there and down some oysters for me too!

boycott August 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

gulf oyster rule of thumb: never eat raw oysters in a month with no “r” in the name. that was even before people noticed the gulf getting warmer.

LFC August 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Staffan and others in a similar situation:
US airline dereg. of the late 70s may well have something to do w lack of good int’l or other connections now to NOLA. (Off-topic but couldn’t resist mentioning.)

Phillip A August 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

Assuming the levees hold, the city of New Orleans 2 days after a hurricane will be paradise. As someone who has lived through numerous hurricanes, the 3-4 days after a hurricane or wonderfully cool and sunny. Everyone who has ever weathered a hurricane knows the post-hurricane weather is a treat. If you can go to New Orleans Thur-Sun I would strongly encourage you to do so. It will likely be sunny and in the mid to low 80s.

Alan August 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I hope you’re right, but the NOAA weather forecast suggests that it’s rain and thunderstorms until Sunday.

boycott August 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

this line of advice is so irresponsible i have to think you are joking.

it’s one thing to enjoy yourself, having weathered a storm in your city.

it is another to fly somewhere with the express intent of just missing a hurricane. all these people claiming to be locals and know what sort of storm this will be cannot truly be lifelong locals. if they were, they would know the real lesson is not to **** with mother nature.

Crystal August 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

Sadly, I cancelled my trip. I too have survived several hurricanes (category 1) and tropical storms – but I don’t have the same optimism. For me, the days after the hurricanes/tropical storms were days with widespread power outages, uprooted trees, and high standing water due to both flooding and rain. While it will be sunny, it was hot, sticky and miserable. Not willing to drive into such conditions, but wish the best for those who are/have chosen to do so. Good luck!

Grad Student August 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

It seems the best solution would be to simply postpone a day, moving all events forward, and continuing the conference through Monday. That way, many people would still be able to attend.

Laura Jensen August 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I agree with Pippa that APSA has failed in the communications department. What’s more, it has been completely indifferent to problems of airport and airline capacity, even though many of us pointed these out days ago. I’m for moving APSA’s headquarters to a more remote location where air travel necessarily involves a small, regional airport and connections in Atlanta.

Another Member August 29, 2012 at 12:52 am

Was not going, still not going. Glad the powers cancelled. Agree with Pippa and Laura, yet it is probably easier to find capable leadership and tech “current” staff, than to move to a remote place. However, I am intregued by the idea of moving APSA from D.C.. Why be in that city? Why not be in the intellectual capitol: Cambridge. Many smart, tech savvy, creative, over educated, underemployed people, who are never leaving. Good libraries, top health care, hometown of Click and Clack of Car Talk, many positive attributes you already know.

And, why not keep the meeting in Boston? There are some advantages to holding it in one place, and many to Boston. It still has union hotels, civil rights protections for many members that are not available, and some that are even prohibited, in other states, lots of things for partners/spouses to do, is accessible by flights, trains, car, subway, bicycle, walking, rolling…, and, rarely has natural disasters near Labor Day, except for Cape Cod traffic. Plus, if there were a strike, APSA could rent dormitory rooms, and a college classroom building. But, as the academic year is starting earlier at many schools, perhaps a reconsideration of the Labor Day weekend would be useful, as well.

Brandon Bartels August 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

As Law and Courts division (26) head for APSA 2012, I directed all of my Law and Courts panel chairs to take inventory of who’s not coming due to Isaac. I’ve heard back from several people, and no surprise, VERY FEW panel participants are still planning on coming to New Orleans for the meeting. I have 18 panels (including co-sponsored panels), and I’m projecting that all panels will have significant holes and that many will have to cancel altogether due to lack of participants (especially Thursday and Friday).

I can provide more details once I get more information. But my read is this (and I’ll only speak for my division): Though APSA has decided to hold the meeting despite Isaac, my law and courts panels will, for all intents and purposes, be cancelled due to massive weather-related withdrawals (with, perhaps, very few exceptions).

Brandon Bartels August 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Quick addendum: I should say that MANY, but not necessarily all, will probably be cancelled due to lack of attendance. Ultimately, the panel chairs will be in the best position to decide whether to cancel the panel altogether based on who’s definitely not coming and who’s still planning on coming.

Cherie Maestas August 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I’m chairing the State Politics and Policy section. Our panel situation is similar to the Law and Courts section (we have 12 panels). Nearly all panels on Thursday have canceled and several on Friday and Saturday. The remaining panels have significant attrition. I’ll send a listing of panels to the State Politics listserv later today with updates but it would help to have central place to post panel cancellations for all attendees.

Stephen Chaudoin August 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Brandon and Cherie- just wanted to say thanks. This is some of the most useful information I’ve seen in trying to make my “go, not-go” decision.

It would be really helpful if the other section chairs posted similar information. And it would be incredibly useful if there was somewhere that listed the cancelled and non-cancelled panels. Not to snark, but if someone started a Wiki called “The *Actual* APSA 2012 Online Program” I’d imagine that would be a really, really useful resource for the undecided’s.

Gina from Baton Rouge August 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I live outside of Hurricane Land now, but I grew up in it, and I have to agree with Brian in NOLA. Knowing how to weather a hurricane and live in a city for a week while picking up the pieces is quite different from planning to arrive in a city on the heels of the storm. I have colleagues who now, with their flights cancelled, are planning on driving to APSA. Others are planning on arriving on later flights, to arrive at the conference a little later. Are these good ideas?

Never having lived through hurricanes, some do not realize they will have to drive through up to 200 miles of severe downpours and driving rain. As many of the parishes surrounding New Orleans are low-lying and have issued mandatory evacuations, drivers will have few places to stop for fuel or water. Those flying in are banking on the fact that the folks staffing the airport, hotels and Convention Center do not live in the parishes that have evacuated, and that those folks will not have wind damage, flooding, or other factors keeping them home. Because those are the people that have to drive the cabs, check in the conventioners, tell them where to go, and try to fix the plumbing and a/c that might not be working after the storm.

Attendees are also hoping that there will be clean running water and electricity at the hotels, restaurants, and other points of interest, and that there will be people able to get to those places to cook, clean, and operate them. Change sheets, empty trash cans, serve food — all in a town where government buildings and public transportation have been shutting down since Monday.

The conference hotels won’t close. Some of the restaurants will stay open, too. For people hanging out and kicking back for the long haul, a hurricane can be a great time to come together as a community. But for people convening in the name of studying complex systems of power and society, it’s time to move meetings to telephones and skype, and realize that panels will have to happen another time.

I’ve driven across hurricanes before. When the emergency personnel risked their lives to stop me at check-points and ask why I was driving in the middle of a hurricane, I knew my reasons were good, and they let me pass. I can’t imagine looking at the Coast Guard official through the pouring-down rain, as she tips her hat and says, “Ma’am, please tell me why you’re out in this hurricane, and where you need to be right now,” and saying, “I’m going to a conference.”

Well said Gina! August 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I couldn’t have said this better myself. My family lives in NOLA. Their initial reaction to APSA holding a conference in NOLA on one of the most active weekends for hurricanes in the entire season was one of surprise. Their reaction when I told them APSA wasn’t canceling the conference was disbelief, for all of the reasons Gina and Brian mentioned. It really doesn’t make sense to continue with this conference, and I cannot get a flight out for the next two days even if I wanted to go.

Comment August 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

For those driving: don’t be surprised if you can’t find gas. Locals know to fuel up all vehicles and generators before it hits, resulting in long lines & shortages. If you are filling up an area that has lost electricity, you’ll be using a potentially life saving resource (if you can find it) to attend a political science conference.

Billiam Banes August 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm

There sure is a lot of whining here about a little ol’ storm. No wonder no one respects political scientists.

Anne Pitcher August 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

How exactly can the conference begin on Thursday if presenters and attendees cannot travel to NOLA tomorrow? I have an idea! Let’s fly in today and hunker down in the hotel room tonight and tomorrow so we’ll be there to present on Thursday morning.

I’m guessing that the APSA is under a contractual obligation not to cancel with the hotel and to fulfill that obligation the conference must continue in spite of the gravity of the situation. However, little warnings to members to “take appropriate caution” when traveling demonstrate a disregard for the safety of the members.

Kevin Hill August 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I live in Miami. I have lived through hurricanes. Let me tell you something: APSA is being dangerously irresponsible not only with the safety of the political scientists who are attending the conference (whom, I suspect, are mostly by now just desperate grad students looking for jobs who are facing a massive collective action problem of not wanting to be “the one who didn’t show up for the interview), but more importantly the people who have to work these conferences because they have no economic choice.

Isaac passed AS A TROPICAL STORM over 200 miles from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday. There are still 10,000 people without power down here from a glancing blow, and many streets are still flooded.

This decision was idiotic, irresponsible, and dangerous. It was obviously taken by people who either have no experience with hurricanes or, I suspect, are getting signals from their conference cancellation insurance carrier that they won’t pay up.

Shame on APSA.

Derek Beach August 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

What decision-making theories can explain what we are witnessing in the decision to keep going on with a conference in the face of a hurricane (try to tell any ‘normal’ people that your prof organization is going ahead with a conference despite Issac and see their reaction)? In the comments I have already seen a rationalist explanation (contractual obligation). I think APSA is in a ‘state of denial’, perhaps induced by Groupthink? Or maybe some form of poliheuristic DM process, where cancellation is one of the ‘unthinkable’ options canned before rationality kicks in?

IRprof August 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

So APSA thinks registration will open at 7am on Thursday?!?

At 7am on Thursday, it’s supposed to still be weak tropical storm conditions: 35mph winds gusting higher, with a 100% chance of heavy thunderstorms.

Let me ask APSA this: do they expect hotel employees and APSA temporary hires to drive through those conditions to reach the hotels to work? When they do at 5-6am, conditions will be even worse — and debris including downed power lines from the hurricane force winds the day before will still be in the streets? That is absolutely irresponsible and evil.

I”ll back off of that statement if and only if APSA is paying for each and every person who needs to be at work on Thursday morning to stay in a conference hotel from today until Thursday morning.

I’ve seen people on other boards saying that no one will be risking their lives since the airlines won’t fly in if conditions are bad. That may be true for the politicial scientists, but APSA — which is acting in our name — is abolutely asking local employes to risk their lives to man a registration desk that NO ONE WILL EVEN SHOW UP TO!

I really hope there’s some accountability for this.

LFC August 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Best comment I’ve read in this thread.

Adano August 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

“Do not let this storm lull you into complacency. That would be a terrible mistake. Storms like this can kill you or hurt you very badly” — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, 8/28/2012

“From our own independent inquires, we will continue with the official start of the meeting on Thursday as announced.” — APSA website, 8/28/2012

todd johansen August 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Fate of APSA in New Orleans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emdzsz_XvfA

Anonymous Coward August 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I was thinking more like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI7YDIaU-4I

Kevin Hill August 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm

APSANET has posted two somewhat contradictory and ambivalent statements within the past two hours.

The first said because of Mayor Landrieu’s statements about NO being prepared, the meeting would go on (of course, this is a grossly-bad misreading of the preparation of NOLA for its residents versus what it might thing is best practice for visitors).

Now they say that “at this time” the meeting is on for Thursday, but new updates were coming.

Sounds like they are somewhere at about step 4.5 in the Seven Stages of Grief…..

Kevin Hill August 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Stage 7 of the Phases of Grief reached: acceptance. They ultimately did the right thing. Hey! Those of you who now have unexpected time on your hands should write papers about the decisionmaking process here!!

Michele Angrist August 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I would just note that the APSA website now says an update will be posted later this evening (Tuesday). Perhaps the organization is reconsidering.

Desperatate Candidate August 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Please do the right thing APSA and cancel the meeting. I don’t want to brave power outages and standing water, but would so as not to lose any competitive advantage on the market.

Paul August 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Here’s another dilemma APSA may have overlooked–institutional travel reimbursement policies. My university is giving me money for travel with the understanding that I’m presenting my paper, but right now, even if I make it there, I don’t have a panel. Now, I suppose there’s no real way they could find out that my presentation consisted of me by myself with a pitcher of water and some chairs in a hotel conference room, but in these days of tight budgets it doesn’t quite seem right to use university funds for what is turning out to be a less than professional trip to New Orleans.

Elizabeth Rigby August 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

This is what I am worried about: “More than 10,000 power outages reported across region as Hurricane Isaac nears” – http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2012/08/more_than_10000_power_outages.html#incart_river_default

Poli Sci Spouse August 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Not an APSA member, but was going to follow my wife to NOLA. Now canceling; she can’t physically make her Thu. session and her Fri. session have all canceled already. I agree with the comments here about how bad an idea it is to fly into a city recovering from a Hurricane. It might turn out to be ok, but there are also great risks. And the absence of official communication and coordination is terrible. APSA leadership definitely dropped the ball here.

But actually, the ball has been dropped far earlier. After all, it’s not exactly a great surprise that a hurricane hits NOLA in the middle of Hurricane season (exactly the same time of year as Katrina). So, really the first and most consequential failure is to have a contingency plan, if not the decision to hold the meeting in NOLA in the first place. If for some reason APSA absolutely wanted to have the meeting in NOLA, there should have been plans for how to deal with this kind of eventuality (e.g., an alternate location & date, and a rapid communication strategy) that can be executed quickly. I appreciate that meetings of this magnitude are a pain to plan to begin with, but maybe that’s an argument for not picking NOLA at this particular time of the year.

relieved August 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm

President G. Bingham Powell announces the cancellation of the 2012 APSA Annual Meeting.

A primary function of the association is to provide the highest quality meeting experience possible. In light of revised information we have from local officials about the trajectory of Isaac, we now anticipate the potential for sustained rain, flooding, power outages and severely restricted transportation into the city on Thursday. Under these circumstances, it is not prudent to convene the meeting.

For attendees who are currently in New Orleans, please monitor weather bulletins and stay in touch with your hotel staff, who will provide the most accurate and timely information.

For all attendees, we will provide additional refund information as soon as we are able. Please bear with us while we work with our vendors and local partners to provide you with detailed information.

If you have further questions please call the APSA office (202.483.2512). We will answer questions as best and expediently as we can.

The decision to cancel the meeting was made in consultation with members from the APSA Administrative Committee, Executive Director Michael Brintnall, and planning staff in New Orleans.

Lynda Powell August 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm

The APSA annual mtg is now officially cancelled. Your concerns were heard.

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