[eDebate] [CEDA-L] boycotting NCA

OMAR GUEVARA Oguevara
Tue Feb 19 13:49:42 CST 2008


Right on!

I just did the annual budget review for the Weber Team -- airfare up 18% YTD, hotels up 13% YTD, food also way up...and that is after all the DING! discounts, priceline one-stars, and retaurants.com discounts...travel is just getting so damn expensive...the fuel to refill the rental costs more than the damn rental car...

What is not going up is department and college monies for conference travel -- still stuck at G after five years?  Why? Recession and flat enrollment numbers hurting our income streams...and if times are "hard" in Utah, I can only imagine they are like in some public institutions back East.

These days you are lucky if you can afford a regional conference for a G.  Most of that financial burden is because of mandatory conference hotels, and ever increasing fees.  It bums me out to know that some folks are going golfing, insted of renegotiating those 'comps' into a lower rack rate.  Anyone who has evered negotiated a BIG hotel contract knows there is always a volume discount to be secured, and it would be best for everyone if it were 'priced in' for everyone, instead of 'comped out' for a few.

Additional places that would be great for NCA that could be added to Joe's list: SLC (as an alt to denver), Reno (as an alt to Vegas), Boise (yeah, I said it), and Sacramento (as the cheaper end of the Bay Area choices).

NCA is obviously costs more to attend that a WSCA, or ECA...

In fact, I'd seen more maturity from the debate community on this issue than from the NCA.  Debate folks are increasingly recognizing that we need to get over our expensive hotel addiction, and work together to find ways to keep entry fees in check, and finding ways to maximize participation in the face of limited resources. 

Good Luck Joe - I hope folks give you args the fair shake they deserve.

Happy Districts Everyone,

OG

>>> <Zompetti at aol.com> 02/16/08 3:40 PM >>>
I promise this will be my last post on this subject.  Most people,  by  now, 
have decided where they stand on this issue.

Many folks  have emailed me in support of a boycott.  A few have  questioned  
my purpose and strategy.  Virtually the only ones vehemently   responding to 
my 
call are from NCA.  Go figure.

Dr. Smitter  retorts with a few arguments.  First, he claims that the  new  
registration policy is not "new."  I think Dr. Paulson has  already  amply 
rebutted this preposterous claim.  While NCA has  always expected its  
members to 
register, the new policy is, in fact,  "new" in that it will purge  anyone 
after 
the deadline from the program  - including our very impoverished  graduate 
students who single-author  papers and cannot pay the registration fee  
on-time.

Smitter also  claims that my accusations of comp'd rooms and golf outings  
are  
spurious.  He further argues that the only benefits NCA gains are  with  
conference rooms when NCA books with certain hotels.  What  he fails to  
mention is 
that there is a difference between what NCA  benefits during the  actual 
conference and what they benefit during  so-called "scouting"  missions.  
When NCA 
investigates future  hotel spaces, they are, quite  literally, 
wined-and-dined, 
including  golf outings.  There are multiple  people who can vouch for this, 
so  
don't just take my word for it.  It's no  surprise that NCA denies  it, but 
they do so conveniently when they only refer to  NCA's  involvement during 
the 
conference time itself.

One person responded  to me saying that they have an ethical obligation to  
attend their  meetings and panels that they have committed to.  I say,  
everyone  
has an ethical obligation to confront economic injustice.  NCA is   only 
concerned about the bottom-line.  They will argue that they  provide a  
variety of 
benefits for their members (most of which is  true, although they can  be 
produced in a less expensive way for  members), but those same benefits can 
be  gained 
elsewhere.  The  only reason NCA is manipulating these registration  policies 
and  conducting business in the most expensive cities in the most  expensive  
hotels is because they can profit from it.

Others have suggested that  it is reasonable that a large conference such as  
NCA takes place at  expensive cities and expensive hotels.  HOGWASH!   There 
are  much larger conferences that take place in much cheaper cities and   
hotels.  
NCA calls other cities "second and third tier" cities and  argues  they can't 
house our conference in one or two hotels which is  demanded by our  members. 
 
The truth of the matter is, NCA HASN'T  INVESTIGATED THIS IN OVER  TEN YEARS. 
 
There are many cities now  that can house our size of a  conference at a much 
cheaper rate.   I've personally called hotels in the  past week.  Here are 
some  
examples:  Indianapolis, Oklahoma City,  Spokane, Hartford  Connecticut, 
Portland Oregon, Raleigh, and even Nashville  (although  Nashville is pricey, 
it is 
still cheaper than the standard NCA   city).  By the way, during the past NCA 
in 
Chicago, you could've  negotiated  a cheaper price from the hotel personally 
than you could've  by going through the  NCA rate.  Why do you think that is 
so? 
Does  NCA can certain perks  with the rate they negotiate???  I'll let you  
figure it out.

One other person has argued we should be proud our  organization is so  big.  
I agree.  Yet another has argued  that we should be excited that  NCA even 
exists given the benefits that  we can accrue.  Perhaps.  But  I don't think 
some 
people have  heard me very clearly.  I'm not saying  disband NCA.  I haven't  
said boycott NCA in perpetuity.  I've only  said, BOYCOTT THEM FOR  A YEAR so 
they 
can see that we do value them, but that  they should  listen to us.

One person said we shouldn't boycott, but instead we should  get involved in  
the legislative process of NCA.  Do you know how  hard that is for a person  
who is pre-tenured?  How about a  graduate student?  Do any of you have  a 
clue 
about a) how  expensive it is to attend each NCA, or b) how much of a  clique 
it 
is  to get involved in the core of NCA politics?  Let's get  real!   The only 
way most of us can get our voices heard is to use our   wallets.

LET ME BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR:  I firmly believe that NCA does  offer a  
valuable 
service.  We can network, get valuable feedback  on research,  introduce our 
students to key graduate programs, and hang  out with  friends.  HOWEVER, all 
of 
this is occurring at an  increasing expense.   The new registration policy 
adds salt to an  already festering wound.  The  costs are way too expensive.  
The  
NCA policies are oblivious to our needs  and conditions.  With a  worsening 
economy, NCA seems blind to our  condition, when, if it is  true that they 
are 
concerned about our welfare, they  should be more  sensitive to our 
situations.

NCA may be a great organization to many of  you.  But, IT CAN BE SO  MUCH 
MORE.  In fact, it can also be  ETHICAL in its practices.  If its  members 
don't 
hold it  accountable, who will?  We know that the Bush  administration  
certainly 
won't.  Only we have the power to make our   organizations be the type of 
organizations we want them to be.

I urge  all of you to give this a second thought.  If you've already   
submitted a paper or a panel, you can still not register.  NCA will  purge  
you from 
their program, but so what?  That only proves our  point.  If  you insist on 
going, do so under duress.  If your  institution fully or  mostly pays for 
your 
attendance at NCA, you can  still sympathize with the rest  of us.  Realize 
that 
"your"  organization really isn't taking your best  interests at heart.  Of  
course, other organizations (like MLA) may do  similar things, but that  
doesn't 
make it right.  We deserve better.   We should demand  better.

That is all.  Thanks for reading.

Joseph  Zompetti
Illinois State University




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