Way back in the 2000s, at the Eastern APA’s conference hotel in DC, the fire alarms went off in the middle of the night. The hotel was briefly evacuated, but, because it was winter, rather than keep everyone outside, the hotel let people take shelter in the ballroom—the very ballroom at which the Smoker had taken place earlier that night. The tables were still in place. Some people, it seems, had actually taken the time to put on a suit. I imagine there were job candidates going around to philosophers in their pajamas saying, “I neglected to mention this during my interview but…” And of course there was speculation about the cause: perhaps someone looking to create a few new openings in next year’s job market? It was all over in an hour or two.
All of this is prelude to the news that our neighbors in political science have just experienced a worse version of the same thing. The annual American Political Science Association (APSA) meeting, which is orders of magnitude larger than the APA Eastern, is taking place at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, which was on fire last night, apparently owing to multiple instances of arson. People were evacuated from their rooms for most of the night. Many slept outside on the lawn. It doesn’t appear that anyone was injured, and attendees seem to be making the best of it with various quips on Twitter. Some gems from #APSAOnFire:
“Whoever set fire to the conference hotel, I wish I had your IRB.”
“If you thought the NSF funding crisis was a fire drill for political science, check out their annual meeting.”
“If you are wearing your name tag in Salon 1, you are a douche.”
“And if political scientists didn’t think DC liked them before, trying to burn the place down isn’t going to help.”
“I, for one, am certain it was the sociologists.”
UPDATE: IHE article on the fire here.
UPDATE 2: Several readers remind me that it was the same hotel both times.
UPDATE 3: “People start to yell at the various authorities on the stage. I silently debate whether the faction that I am going to lead will focus on hoarding the water or controlling access to the restrooms as our strategy when order breaks down.” A first person account of the night, here.