For at least the last 7 years, the Pacific APA meeting has fallen over the Easter holiday (and other associated holy days for Christians). For at least the last couple of years, the Pacific APA has also fallen over part of Passover. I realize this has been brought up for discussion before, but I want to raise the issue again because it does strike me that this is a very serious issue of inclusion. Several wonderful philosophers I know had to skip this last APA meeting because of religious obligations. This is not purely a matter of religious inclusion either; those whom have primary care responsibilities for children will, I suspect, find attending both the Pacific and the Eastern division meetings rather difficult given school holidays.
I am sure no one is intentionally scheduling meetings so as to keep the religious philosophers and the primary-caregivers out—but the effects are problematic regardless of intentions. So, here is my question: Why is the APA schedule as it is, and what can we do about it?
Regarding the “why” issue, we already know the motivation is to keep costs down, and for whatever reason, hotel rates for conferences tend to be less expensive at these times, and rearranging the schedule will increase the cost. I’d be curious to know just how much of a difference in cost is at issue here, but however much it is, it seems there’s an easy solution: Move the APA meetings to less expensive locations to compensate for the difference.
Yes, I know; if we don’t have the APA meetings in lovely places like San Francisco, it might turn out that conference “attendance” will drop. Now, I’ve put “attendance” in quotes, because while this is the most common reply I’ve received when discussing the possibility of moving the meetings, it is entirely unclear to me how many philosophers who are primarily motivated by the location, actually attend the conference itself outside their own sessions.