From the Annual Meeting 2006 column of the September 2005 Perspectives
Annual Meeting: Guidelines for Implementation
AHA Staff, September 2005
The AHA Council approved on January 6, 1994 (and amended January 7, 2001) the following policy regarding the location of the Association’s annual meeting:
It is the policy of the American Historical Association not to hold its annual meetings in locations where its members reasonably believe they would be subject to discrimination on the basis of age, gender, marital status, national origin, physical disability, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Reasonable belief of such discrimination may be based on discriminatory legislation, the absence of appropriate state or city laws, actions by public officials, or private actions, whether individual or corporate, for which there is inadequate public response. The Association will implement this policy in its negotiations for annual meeting sites.
The Council recognizes that the diverse legal and historical circumstances of existing or future prospective meeting sites will require some flexibility in the implementation of this policy. Ultimately each decision must be made on a case-by-case basis according to the judgment of the prevailing Council. The following items represent general guidelines and procedures for determining those decisions.
1. The Council directs that its staff should seek prospective annual meeting sites among cities and states that have laws, ordinances, regulations, rules, policies, and other conditions that protect and encourage the Association’s members in that meeting. This policy shall not require the exclusion of a meeting site solely on the grounds of an absence of city or state laws guaranteeing equal rights.
2. The Council will approve a meeting site only after a thorough investigation of legal or policy situations, existing or potential, relevant to its equal rights policy, or to the labor practices of the prospective hotels. A meeting site evaluation form for each recommended location and hotel will be submitted routinely to the Council along with other materials relevant to its decision.
3. In considering the selection of a meeting site, the Council may take into account recent history of substantial and effective opposition to equal rights protection, including legislation or referenda. The existence of “dead-letter” laws, i.e., laws on the books that are generally agreed to be defunct or unenforced, will not necessarily be taken as grounds for exclusion.
4. Hotels or other contracting parties must have explicit and effective policies assuring equal employment and fair labor practices.
5. The Council directs AHA staff to exert every reasonable effort to insure that all future contracts for annual meeting sites include provisions for their abrogation without prejudice to the Association in the event that conditions develop that significantly violate its equal rights policy. The staff should explore the possibility of obtaining insurance to protect the Association against financial loss should relocation or cancellation of a meeting become necessary.
6. Should conditions develop subsequent to contract signing that are judged by Council to be substantially in violation of the Association’s equal rights policy, the Council may undertake one of the following steps:
(a) use regular and/or plenary sessions at the scheduled annual meeting to educate the general public of the affected jurisdiction about the issues involved; or
(b) after appropriate notice, cancel the contracts for that meeting site or hotel.
In deciding how to respond, the Council should be governed by the gravity and immediacy of the offending conditions, the timing of their occurrence in relation to the proposed meeting dates, and the availability and costs of alternative sites.
—Approved by Council, May 9, 1994, amended Jan. 7, 2001.