Chapter Checkpoint: Regional Meetings

By Griselda Velazquez

Since 2009, four SACNAS regional meetings (Rocky Mountain, Greater Boston, Southwest, and Midwest) have helped spread information and awareness of SACNAS programs, provided opportunities for chapters within the region to network and share ideas, and allowed students to present their research. The successes of the first regional meetings present an opportunity for learning more about the organizational requirements and impacts that regional meetings have on the host chapters and institutions. Three questions were posed to the prior organizers in an attempt to provide insight for chapters considering hosting future regional meetings. The following reflects their feedback.

How has organizing a regional meeting benefited the chapter/institution and/or established a foundation for future activities?

The principal benefit was increased awareness and recognition of SACNAS in the regions where the meetings were held. As the Midwest liaison says, “It looks [like] we made a footprint at the university and now you can feel that the Purdue SACNAS Chapter is well respected and recognized on campus.” Other benefits were increased membership at Texas Tech University, high recognition of the Brandeis chapter by their department (which is now providing support to organize and host a diversity summit), and increased collaboration with other Latino-based organizations at Purdue University.

What worked really well?

  • Early advertisement, outreach, and collaboration with nearby SACNAS chapters for meeting organization and success
  • Preparation and task delegating at least three months before the event and continued weekly meetings
  • A good planning schedule and participation of the local community
  • Providing a few weeks between the registration deadlines and the meeting day to organize abstracts and food/catering

If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?

  • Better understand and communicate the time commitment. Even with well-balanced agendas, groups experienced being overwhelmed by the intensity of hosting the meeting. One group suggested beginning the meeting on a Friday afternoon and ending it Saturday evening.
  • Make the meeting shorter and more efficient by preparing guiding questions for the “conversations with scientists” lunch, having only one guest speaker, and cutting out the panel series of speakers (including a motivational speaker).
  • Have more volunteers, who would alleviate the program committee’s feeling of being overcommitted and overstressed by managing logistics such as shuttling participants and being time-keepers for workshops.

SACNAS thanks all the organizing chapters/institutions and their communities for their hard work and dedication to supporting the SACNAS mission through regional meetings.  Chapters interested in hosting a SACNAS regional meeting in 2012 are invited to submit applications before the 2011 SACNAS National Conference.

About the Author

Griselda Velazquez is a member of the SACNAS Chapter Committee.