Conference Fees and Non-TT Faculty (updated)


Many philosophy conferences charge fees, with one rate for faculty and a lower rate for students. A philosopher who is an adjunct at a state university, and who at this time would prefer to remain anonymous, is trying to get conferences to recognize a third category for adjuncts, visiting lecturers, postdocs, and the like, i.e., those who would like to participate in conferences but whose income and job conditions are far away from tenured or tenure-track positions.

In an email, my correspondent writes, “The oftentimes high registration fees prevents many of these scholars from participating in the research community, reinforcing the stereotype that part-time faculty and adjuncts and not skilled enough to do research, or simply not interested; and also minimizing the chances that these scholars will one day step out of the invisible niche between PhD and tenure that they inhabit.”

website further describes the campaign and its rationale. From that site:

My proposal is to use an additional criterion for reduced fees, besides the one based on student/non-student status. I propose to use a criterion based on income and funding opportunities from institutions. If the attendee has a low-income salary, and/or unstable job (which usually equals low income), and/or is not eligible for any institutional financial support, they should qualify for an additional registration category. Without such a category, a big part of the academic world is excluded from the research community.

At the start, the campaign will involve sending emails to conference organizers when conferences are announced, inviting them to include this category among their registration and fee options.

Other ideas for the campaign, and thoughts about it, are welcome here, at the campaign’s site, or by email to the philosopher organizing it: [email protected].

UPDATE (5/1/15): A petition to support the campaign has been posted here.

 

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JD
JD
5 years ago

Honestly, has anyone ever been asked to leave a conference because someone noticed them not wearing their name tag/badge?

If no one is paying attention, is there really an issue with registration fees?

Personally, I see nothing morally wrong with simply attending a conference without paying registration fees. But maybe that’s just me.Report

JD
JD
5 years ago

Qualification: I’m referring particularly to not being financially able to pay the fee.

If you attend a conference and can pay the registration fee, then I think you should pay.Report

M
M
5 years ago

> If no one is paying attention, is there really an issue with registration fees?
Yes, you cannot give a talk unless you pay.Report

AnonGrad
AnonGrad
5 years ago

Yeah, I’m a grad student paying $275 US in registration fees to give two talks in a few months. I understand that conferences have to cover costs, and the expense is more than worth it for me, but it nonetheless seems an extraordinary amount to be forking over when one is an untenured speaker.Report

JD
JD
5 years ago

Great replies! Let me try to walk a tighter line….

I was initially under the impression that we were talking about registration fees in general affecting a basic ability to attend. The thought being: “if you’re just wanting to attend, but can’t pay the fee, screw it. Attend anyway.”

But you’re right, Justin. This doesn’t solve the structural problem, especially for confirmed speakers.Report

Nellie
Nellie
5 years ago

Branches of SWIP have been doing this for years. We either charge no registration fees (and have a modest conference) and/or we charge membership fees and offer our small travel stipends on the basis of being a student or un/under-employed. Everybody should do this. At the very least, it acknowledges that some students can get funding from their flush institutions, but nearly no adjuncts can.Report

ejrd
ejrd
5 years ago

Given the huge disparities in pay within and between academic categories like graduate student, adjunct, visiting assistant, teaching fellow, assistant and so on, it strikes me that the best solution would be to follow the APA’s model here and use one’s stated income to produce a scale for fees. This would help to offset some of the potential injustice that might follow simply by using someone’s title. Titles and rank vary across institution (at my institution, there are at least 7 possible ranks one can have, 4 non-tenure ranks and 3 tenure ranks). Also important is that salary/pay only roughly correlates with one’s rank. While I’m certain that an assistant professor will make more than a graduate student and probably will out-earn an adjunct teaching a regular course load, I’m less certain of just about everything else. I’ve known visiting assistant professors who make much more than tenure-track assistant professors, for example. If the purpose of this initiative is to aim for economic justice, then titles are just a bad way to do it.Report

Former Applicant
Former Applicant
5 years ago

I agree that this is a problem, as there is quite the difference between an adjunct and a TT professor. But I also think it’s telling that this apparently is enough of a hardship to make the rounds on the professional blogs, but graduate students paying over $1,000 dollars to even be considered by PhD programs doesn’t seem to turn any heads.Report

Avi
Avi
5 years ago

I saw a colleague unable to get into the room where she was supposed to give a talk at the 2010 Eastern APA because she hadn’t registered and lacked a name badge. So, there is some enforcement. Scaling registration rates based on income and professional development support from the attendee’s institution seems a very good idea. Usually, the only ones who get support from their institutions are TT faculty who, ironically, often need it less than the unsupported contingent faculty.Report

Nathan Kellen
Nathan Kellen
5 years ago

@ Former Applicant: I suspect that it’s not the case that the absurd application fees don’t turn heads, but rather that people feel they are much more able to solve a problem like this, which is wholly under control of the philosophers running the conferences, as opposed to the application case, where the university or graduate school is likely the one deciding the fees.Report

ck
ck
5 years ago

Hear hear! This is a great suggestion. We recently implemented this at an annual conference I help to co-organize. It makes sense and a number of people appreciated the small financial break. How did we pay for it? By slightly nudging up the registration rate for TT folks. None of the TT folks complained about it (who would?).

Note also that the “I won’t pay and not wear a name badge” approach doesn’t work for: smallish-to-medium conferences, conferences where you personally know the organizer(s), conferences that you do (or would like to) attend on an annual basis, or conferences where a good majority of the other people presenting are in your field and they have paid the fee. So not paying is often just not a good option (if it is ever a good option, which is not something I prefer to comment on).

More conferences should recognize this third category. It’s not a perfect solution of course (some TT folks make alot less than other TT folks), but it’s a step in the right direction given current registration fee practices.Report