It is with deep regret that we inform you of the cancellation of the SCMS 2020 Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. Over the last few weeks, the SCMS Board of Directors and staff have been monitoring worldwide developments related to COVID-19, consulting the reports released by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and conferring with our peers at the American Council on Learned Societies. With many countries and regions recommending self-quarantine and many institutions strongly advising staff, faculty, and students to restrict travel, we determined it is no longer practical nor ethical to continue with our annual conference.
The Executive Board was unanimous in its decision. Given the number of cancellations already received by the Home Office, the number of international scholars who are unable to attend, the threat of travel restrictions and quarantine, and the general level of anxiety that would cloud our time in Denver, we determined that we would not be able to hold a conference that would serve the needs of SCMS members in a healthy, positive way.
The risk of infection among the Society’s members and those with whom we would interact in Denver is too great to merely set aside. It may be the case that the wave of infections around the country and world will recede in the time between now and the beginning of the April. Nevertheless, if even one member of our Society were to become seriously ill, or worse, it would outweigh any benefit of conducting business as usual.
We are a small society run almost exclusively on volunteer labor. While a virtual conference would be a welcome alternative, SCMS’s small size means that our infrastructure—both technological and logistical—cannot accommodate it. Even so, the Officers and Members of the Board urge panels and workshops to meet via online platforms like Google Hangouts or Zoom. Cancellation of the conference does not preclude scholarly conversation via other means. We regret that the organization lacks the capacity to host these conversations outside of face-to-face meetings.
And, finally, it should not go without saying that we regret that SCMS members will not be able to enjoy the hard work of our program committee. We especially want to acknowledge the efforts of Program Chair Miranda Banks, Director of Conferences and Events Leslie LeMond, the volunteer program committee, the awards committees, the Denver host committee, and the home office staff who have all been working diligently for months to organize the conference.
In the days ahead, we will be working to determine the impact of cancellation on the Society’s financial wellbeing. As you may be aware, cancelling the conference incurs a major financial loss to SCMS, in the form of contractual obligations to the hotel and various conference vendors, along with the loss of conference registration revenue. SCMS is prepared to refund the registration fees of all participants, although this may take a few weeks to process. Alternatively, we request that registered attendees, particularly those who are able, consider donating their registration fees to SCMS as a tax-deductible gift. Another alternative would be to apply this year’s fees to next year’s conference to help defray costs to the Society for this year. Regardless of the option you choose, we greatly appreciate your generous support and patience during this time. The form for donating, deferring until 2021 or a refund can be found here and is also linked on our FAQs page.
The survey was extremely helpful to us in gauging the sentiment of our membership right now and confirming concerns about holding or not holding the conference. We will be using this data to help build our FAQs over the coming days and weeks--and in planning how to support our membership over the course of the next few months.
If you have queries and comments, please send them via this response form. Please remember, though, the Home Office is staffed by a small number of employees so responses may take time. Meanwhile, please refer to the following FAQs for answers to the most common questions you may have about refunds, cancelling plane tickets and hotel reservations, resubmitting papers for next year, the status of seminars, etc.
On behalf of the Officers and Members of the Board, we hope that you and yours remain safe and healthy in this trying time.
Paula J. Massood, President
Professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Priscilla Peña Ovalle, President-Elect
Associate Professor, University of Oregon
Pamela Wojcik, Past President
Professor, University of Notre Dame
Bambi Haggins, Treasurer
Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine
Hollis Griffin, Secretary
Associate Professor, Denison University
Miranda Banks, Board Member
Associate Dean, School of Film and TV, Loyola Marymount University
Gilberto Blasini, Board Member
Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Cara Dickason, Graduate Student Representative
Rebecca Gordon, Board Member
Precarious Labor Organization Representative
Michael Curtin, Board Member
Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Elizabeth Evans, Board Member
Associate Professor, University of Nottingham
Racquel Gates, Board Member
Associate Professor, College of Staten Island, CUNY