This past week I attended the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, held is the lovely city of San Diego, California. It was incredible and I gleaned tons of new information from the sessions I attended, as earlier posts on my blog demonstrate. However there are a few things that I feel could be improved for future NCOREs.
Disclaimer: This is not a gripe by any means. I loved the conference!
1. NO Wifi!!
OK, they really did have wifi in the hotel, but it was $6.95 an hour, $13.95 per day and as a student with limited discretionary funds, free wifi is a must. Having free wifi potentially grows the audience for NCORE exponentially, due to the many social networking and social media sites that are accessible online. Free wifi would provide NCORE participants with multiple outlets to share what they are learning in sessions, keynote addresses, and whom they are meeting, with the world. For example, NCORE did have a twitter handle (@NCOREonsite) but there was little to no engagement. 43 followers and not one that they followed, plus they only tweeted like 10 posts for an entire week??? I tweet more than that during a #cavs game (smh). Also, most people were texting and using their cell phones (I was still without) but I didn’t notice much social media engagement via cell, especially not tweeting. I also did not notice a Facebook I also saw people carrying around laptops (including me), but we were rarely able to use them, since no one was willing to pay for Internet access. Were there free wifi, I’m sure people would have been able to create a larger presence online for the conference.
2. Rooms and sessions
I noticed many sessions that were overcrowded and a couple that were sparsely attended. My suggestion to remedy this situation is to preview the sessions with a small, objective audience/committee before the actual conference. Then they could maybe predict which sessions will be the most popular, so that they can fit them in appropriately sized rooms. Obviously films are going to be well attended, and anything on hip-hop, the N-word, and Obama. Make room for these sessions, and save conference-goers a bit of disappointment.
All in all, this was an incredible experience. There were just some things that could have made it even more impactful. The subject matter of race, ethnicity and equity in higher education is one that I think all schools should be working to address, and I am really glad my school is willing to address these issues. I am truly blessed.