THE REALLOCATION OF SLOTS FOR THE 2004 NCA CONVENTION
Communication Research and Theory Network
a service of the National Communication Association
From: Martha Watson firstname.lastname@example.org
Several people have written into CRTNET asking about the reallocation of slots for the 2004 convention. Since my responsibility as First Vice President (beginning 1/1/04) is to plan the convention, I am the person responsible for the decision to reallocate the slots. As requested by one recent writer, I am attaching a comparison of the allocations for last year and this year. As you will see, some units gained slots, some lost, some remained the same.
Let me try to explain: (1) why I decided to reallocate slots; (2) how I did the reallocation; and (3) the "protections" that are in place to be certain this reallocation doesn't unduly impact some units.
Before doing that, however, let me note that this year I decided to limit the number of programs to the number of meeting rooms and times at our convention hotel. In the past, NCA has sometimes "rented" additional meeting rooms at nearby hotels at significant costs. It seemed prudent and fiscally responsible to NCA members whose dues support those rentals to try to avoid this for the 2004 convention. This arrangement also puts all the programs in one hotel, making the convention easier to navigate and sparing the members the difficulties of dashing from building to building for programs.
A final preliminary explanation. There are three kinds of units that are entitled to slots at the NCA Convention, each with distinctive roles and memberships: divisions, caucuses, and affiliate organizations.
Now to the explanations.
The problem: The allocation of slots at the NCA conventions has had no rational base. Rather, it has been entirely based on precedent. The result, over time, has been dramatic inequities in the allocation of program slots. Some small units have had proportionally far more slots than quite large units. As a result, getting onto a panel in our bigger divisions has been much, much more difficult than getting onto a program in some of the smaller divisions. This inequity is, of course, felt by NCA members who belong to larger divisions and don't get accepted because there are not enough slots to panel excellent papers and programs. During my time running for NCA office, I heard frequent complaints from members about this problem. Past presidents have made minor adjustments in the allocations to try to deal with this problem but the inequities persisted.
Because members may affiliate with any number of caucuses without cost, the membership numbers there are difficult to interpret. Thus, there is no basis—other than the size of the caucus—for allotting slots to caucuses.
While the allotments to divisions lacked any rationale, the allocations to affiliate organizations were even more baffling. With one exception, there was no agreement for a particular number of program slots in the affiliation agreements. The result was an array of allotments not tied to anything except history. The result was that some affiliate organizations had more slots than our biggest divisions.
The solution: When I began program planning, there were two alternatives: (1) leave the inequities or (2) make some effort to make the allotments more rational. I decide to try to create greater equity in the distribution of slots. While I fully support discussion of these issues, I decided to address the inequities for 2004 convention planning just as previous 1st vice presidents have done on a smaller scale.
Discussions with officers and staff at NCA led to the exploration of alternatives for “rationalizing” the distribution. Numbers of submissions was problematic for at least two reasons. Some units accept individual papers while others prefer panels. The submission numbers are, thus, difficult to interpret. Second, submissions may reflect the impact of the current allotment of programs. In other words, a given large unit may have fewer submissions since members realize that getting accepted is difficult. Folks may simply give up.
After searching for a way to make the allocations more equitable for NCA members, I decided to look at the patterns of affiliation and of convention attendance. Not all members of NCA are affiliates of any division or caucus; there is no way to know how to serve the interests of those individuals. However, since divisions, caucuses, and affiliate organizations plan the program, it seemed reasonable to base program allocations on the expressed interests of NCA members. I calculated the percentage of the total number of affiliates that each division had of the total number of persons who affiliated. Thus, if a total of 1000 people are affiliates of one or more divisions in NCA and one division had 100 affiliates, then that division was awarded 10% of the programs.
Further, we looked at attendance at the 2002 NCA convention and the number of members who attended who were affiliated with some division. If the Convention had 1000 persons who attended who were affiliated with some division and 100 of those persons were affiliates of a particular division, that division would get 10% of the program slots. The results indicated a virtually indentical redistribution of slots.
Simply put, members’ expressed interest became the basis for program allotments. I fully realize these ways of assessing member interests (affiliations and convention attendance) are imperfect, but they seem a better representation of the “will” of members then the entirely happenstance allotment of program slots we have lived with in the past.
Caucuses and affiliate organizations provided more difficulty issues. Since any NCA member can affiliate with any number of caucuses, the membership numbers there were more difficult to understand. Thus, we did not change the allocations to the caucuses. I will ask the Executive Committee to discuss how we might allot program slots to caucuses more systematically.
Similarly, since we have no information about the number of members of affiliates, there was little way to adjust those numbers. However, among the affiliates, there was one glaring situation. One affiliate organization had 28 slots; the next largest number of slots allotted to any affiliate organization was 14. I simply reduced the organization with 28 slots to 14. Again, I will be asking the Executive Committee to consider developing a policy for allotting slots to affiliate organizations. This proposal will also be sent to the Legislative Assembly.
Further, I will engage the Executive Committee in further deliberations about how to make the allotments of slots more equitable for all NCA members. We will work to assure that all NCA members have an opportunity to participate in our conventions. We will also be vigilant to assure that the spirit as well as the letter of our Affirmative Action Policy impacts the distribution of convention slots.
Because I realized that some units are hard hit by this new plan, I have reserved some slots to allocate to high quality programs that exceed a unit’s allotments. Some large units have told me that they may not use all of their allotments. If that occurs, those, too, will be available for others to use. Also, I have created discussion panels where copies of the papers or extended abstracts of them are available before the convention. While my primary goal in creating discussion panels was to stimulate interaction between audience members and presenters, these panels can accommodate more participants than the typical format where each person reads his or her paper. My goal will be to see that a maximum number of NCA members have an opportunity to participate in the convention. I will work closely with groups most impacted by this reallocation to be certain their members have opportunities to participate in NCA.
I hope this explanation has clarified why I decided to try to deal with the long-standing inequities in progam allotments at NCA. My goal was and is to be fair to all NCA members who want to participate in the convention. Please note that my decision about program slot allotments in no way constrains the next program planner, Dan O’Hair, from using some other system. The discussion occurring here may be very useful to him as he considers how to improve the allotment of programs still further.
Unit 2003 slots 2004 slots
Communication & Culture Division 15 12
American Studies Division 15 8
Applied Communication Division 18 25
Argumentation and Forensics Division 18 20
Asian Pacific American Comm.
Studies Division 8 5
Basic Course Division 18 17
Communication & the Future Division 8 3
Communication and Aging Division 6 5
Communication and Law Division 18 10
Communication and Social
Cognition Division 10 10
Apprehension & Avoidance Division 8 5
Communication Assessment Division 8 5
Communication Centers Section 5 5
Communication Ethics Division 10 10
Communication Needs of Students
at Risk Division 8 3
Community College Section 18 14
Critical & Cultural Studies Division 27 40
Elementary & Secondary Education Section 8 5
Emeritus/Retired Members Section 5 5
Environmental Communication Division 15 7
Ethnography Division 20 18
in Communication Division 15 6
Family Communication Division 18 16
Feminist & Women Studies Division 22 32
Freedom of Expression Division 15 6
Gay/Lesbian Transgender Comm.
Studies Division 18 12
Group Communication Division 15 15
Health Communication Division 18 24
Human Communication & Technology Division 18 17
Instructional Development Division 18 22
International and Intercultural
Communication Division 22 38
Interpersonal Communication Division 21 52
Language & Social Interaction Division 18 20
Studies Division 6 5
Mass Communication Division 21 45
Organizational Communication Division 21 44
Peace & Conflict Communication Division 15 11
Performance Studies Division 25 17
Political Communication Division 21 26
Public Address Division 22 28
Public Relations Division 18 16
Rhetorical & Communication
Theory Division 24 55
Semiotics & Communication Division 8 5
Spiritual Communication Division 10 10
Student Section 10 7
Theatre Division 21 9
Training & Development Division 18 15
Undergraduate College &
University Section 15 9
Vietnamese Communication Division 2 0
Visual Communication Division 15 12
Asian Pacific American Caucus 12 8
Black Caucus 18 10
Caucus on Disabilities Issues 10 6
Caucus on Gay & Lesbian Concerns 3 11
La Raza Caucus 5 6
Women's Caucus 18 34
American Association for Rhetoric
of Science and Technology 14 14
American Forensic Association 10 10
American Society for the History
of Rhetoric 14 14
Association for Chinese
Communication Studies 6 6
Communication Administration 5 5
Association for Psychoanalysis
in Communication 3 3
Association for Rhetoric and Communication
in Southern Africa 2 2
Chinese Communication Association 3 3
Commission on American
Parliamentary Practice 3 3
Cross Examination Debate Association 14 14
International Forensics Association 2 2
Japan-US Communication Association 3 3
Kenneth Burke Society 8 8
Korean American Communication Association 3 3
Lambda Pi Eta 4 4
Media Ecology Association 7 7
National Federation of Interscholastic
Speech and Debate Association 4 4
National Forensics Association 8 8
Phi Rho Pi 3 3
Pi Kappa Delta 6 6
Religious Communication Association 27 14
Russian Communication Association 3 3
Sigma Chi Eta 3 3
South African Communication Association 3 3
States Advisory Council 7 7
World Communication Association 1 1