October 23, 2017 (Philadelphia, PA) – During their October 14 meeting, the AASHE Board of Directors agreed to cancel their contract in St. Louis, the planned location for the 2018 AASHE Conference & Expo.
In spring 2016, AASHE signed a hotel contract committing the 2018 AASHE Conference & Expo location to St. Louis, Missouri. “The City of St. Louis has been working to incorporate racial justice and equity within many aspects of their community. We saw this as a great opportunity for raising more awareness for diversity, inclusion and equity within the broader sustainability in higher education conversation”, said Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser during her address to conference attendees during the closing ceremony of the 2017 Conference & Expo last Tuesday.
However, in June of this year, the Governor of Missouri signed a piece of legislation that makes it harder to prove employment and housing discrimination. In response to this legislation and a series of racist incidents occurring statewide, in August 2017 the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Missouri that calls for African Americans to pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state. Aside from the NAACP calling out this reprehensible legislation and behavior, the ACLU has also affirmed the NAACP position, and so does AASHE.
“Though cancelling our contract in St. Louis has a financial impact to AASHE, roughly in the amount of $45,000, we simply cannot go to a location where members of our community may feel threatened or unsafe,” Meghan continued. “The board vote was unanimous but it was a difficult decision given our interest in supporting our members in St. Louis. Ultimately, the board made a decision they felt was most consistent with our organizational values.”
Fay Zahniser acknowledged the members in the state who have also faced budget cuts and the loss of sustainability offices and positions. She vowed that AASHE would continue to support members in St. Louis and the entire state of Missouri that are working to advance sustainability.
AASHE will identify a new conference location as soon as possible and will engage members in a dialogue on the process of site selection for future conferences.
For more information, please contact Meghan Fay Zahniser at [email protected] or (859) 898-0288.
For site selection inquiries please contact Kimberly Smith, Director of Conference and Events via email: [email protected].