What is the timeline for proposals and site announcements?
In the past, official calls for proposals have gone out in the spring of odd-numbered years (e.g., 2011, 2013, 2015) and the site location has been announced at the FemRhet conference of the same year. For example, at the 2011 conference we announced the 2013 location, and at the 2013 conference we announced the 2015 call for proposals. However, at the 2015 conference we announced the next two locations: 2017 and 2019. As such, the next call for site proposals may go out earlier than 2019, but it will be soliciting sites for 2021 and later.
What makes a strong site-hosting proposal?
The site selection team generally looks for proposals that depict a clear conference theme and an ability to connect that theme to the proposed location. In addition, exemplary proposals outline clear and sufficient administrative support (including carving out roles for various ranks of faculty and students to become involved), described sources of anticipated and actual funding, offer good insight into what spaces the conference will inhabit and how those spaces and activities follow the conference theme, and describe how they might compensate for amenities not available–for example, if the proposed site is a smaller campus or not within immediate vicinity of a larger airport. Above all, exemplary proposals are realistic about the logistics built into their planning.
The most successful site-hosting proposals have articulated clear collaboration with community partners, including local artists, local organizations doing work relevant to the conference theme, or nearby colleges in the area. Your conference theme will help determine whether the ideal partnerships are local or cross-institutional, but we encourage you to think as inclusively as possible. Site-hosting proposals from the three most recent conferences are now viewable in the Coalition’s archive (with permission):
- 2017 FemRhet U Dayton site hosting proposal
- 2015 FemRhet ASU site hosting proposal
- 2013 FemRhet Stanford U site hosting proposal
What are the ideal sites?
Ideal sites are those that offer ease of access to the conference, allow Conference participants to move around easily, are relatively affordable, are located in an area with reasonable proximity to inexpensive airports and hotels, and offer opportunities to engage and interact with both the campus and the local community. (Warm weather is also nice.) Perusing past programs will give you a sense of the conference’s regional spread .
When are the best dates for the conference?
Traditionally, the conference has been held in early to middle October. The first FemRhet conference was held at the end of August, but that date caused problems because it conflicted with the beginning of most academic calendars. An early October date may cause problems for people who are on a quarter or trimester schedule.
Ultimately, however, the dates are up to you and they have fluctuated in past years. The conference typically begins on Wednesday morning and runs through Saturday afternoon, although some of the earliest conferences operated on a more condensed schedule — Thursday morning through Saturday noon. We only ask that you try to be sensitive to other conference dates and academic schedules as much as possible. We also ask that you select a date when there will be significant availability of hotel rooms and transportation in and out of your area (i.e., at many large schools, football weekends probably aren’t ideal).
How should we schedule the registration deadline?
The registration deadline should occur in the same fiscal year as the conference, although registration can open in the prior year (fiscal year runs July 1 – June 30). Almost all of our participants rely on funding from their universities to attend the conference. As a general rule, universities will not pre-register people for a conference many months in advance using money from one fiscal year to pay for another fiscal year.
How many people traditionally attend the conference?
Conference registration has consistently been around 300-400 people. Conference attendance per day fluctuates, of course, and you should take that into consideration when you negotiate your room block with the hotels.
How many rooms–and what type of rooms–do we need?
This is entirely up to you based on the number of people that you accept for presentations, and we encourage you to offer space options that not only are reasonable and feasible for your campus, but also work well with the location or the theme. We do require at least one meeting room/conference hall that can hold all of the conference participants during the keynote(s), but perusing past programs may give you the best sense of how various conference organizers have split their time and organized their space. As one recent example, the 2013 conference organizers offered approximately 5 concurrent sessions each day for 4 days, with each session featuring up to 10 panels concurrently. They also scheduled five keynote or plenary events in a large meeting room during which nothing else was planned. Additional space might be desirable for offering continental breakfast, for artists’ or authors’ exhibits, for holding workshops or mentoring sessions, for displaying digital projects or posters, or for breast-feeding and childcare.
What kind of setup / equipment do we need in each room?
While the overall room setup is up to you, past conferences have made use of a combination of lecture-style (rows of chairs) rooms, theaters, and roundtables, depending on the nature of the sessions. At minimum, lecture-style rooms should include a lectern or head table for presenters, and all rooms should have an LCD projector with screen. Internet access is desirable, although we recognize the prohibitive cost of this service on some campuses.
How many meals should the conference provide?
Shared meals are a significant part of community building and we ask that the conference provide at least one event with food–a luncheon or a dinner–where the conference can come together as a whole. However, we encourage you to schedule more than just that one meal. Please keep in mind the following:
- The number of meals provided typically reflects the ease with which people can get access to inexpensive food near the conference site. For example, if participants must purchase a majority of their own meals, then they will need to have more varied and less expensive options than only the food offered at their hotels. As well, if participants need to go off-site for food, sufficient time should be built into the schedule so that they are able to eat their meal in a fairly relaxed manner without missing too many sessions.
- About 50% of conference participants are graduate students, and an all-inclusive (or mostly inclusive) registration helps decrease their financial expenditures. There may be ways to negotiate food costs with your conference site. For example, you might offer a buffet or a certificate program (where you only pay for the meals actually eaten).
- Many of our conference participants have dietary restrictions: vegan, vegetarian (fish, no fish, dairy, no dairy, etc.), diabetic, gluten-free, etc. It is helpful if people have options. We encourage you to ask participants if they will require a certain meal type during the registration process so you can evaluate the demand.
How many people should be on the planning committee?
The more the better! Putting together a conference is labor-intensive and many hands will make it a pleasurable experience. We do not recommend that you do this without explicit departmental support, in the form of course release(s), resources, and/or student assistants.
What are the Coalition’s requirements?
- List the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in Rhetoric and Composition as a co-host.
- Allow the Coalition time at the first Plenary Session and later in the conference to make announcements and confer awards.
- Provide a dedicated time and space for the Coalition’s Advisory Board meeting, typically in the middle of the conference.
- When requested, reserve 1-2 dedicated sessions for Coalition-sponsored activities (i.e., manuscript mentoring, roundtables, garden talks, etc.). At your and the President’s discretion, these dedicated sessions may occur prior to the conference, or as concurrent panels during the conference. Some years, they may not be requested at all.
- Represent both the Coalition and the Conference in a positive manner.
- Use the official Feminisms and Rhetorics website [http://femrhet.cwshrc.org] as the conference website. How this will occur can be discussed with the Coalition’s Web Coordinator, but it will enable us to archive your CFP and program pages.
- Devise a registration process that accounts for two sets of rates: one for current members, and one that includes the cost of a one-year (or longer) membership for non-members [http://cwshrc.org/membership/join/].
- Split the profits with the Coalition 50/50, and report to the Advisory Board estimated profits within six months after the conference.
What kinds of budgetary items should we consider?
As an example, the budget from the 2007 conference included the following items:
- AV and/or Internet services
- Conference badges and registration packets
- Conference insurance
- Conference reimbursements for canceled registrations
- Credit Card Fees (2.5% or 3% of all credit card transactions)
- Food (including 20% tax, 18% tip)
- Honoraria for speakers
- Interpreter services (if not provided by your campus)
- Miscellaneous office supplies–paper, pens, electrical cords, thank you cards, etc.
- Printing costs (programs, signs, buttons, maps)
- Registration costs (if handled by an outside provider or conference planner)
- Thank you items/tips
- Transportation to/from off-site events
- Use of a conference planner for food, registration, and/or pre- or post-conference events
What else should we consider?
Membership Requirements: Beginning with the 2017 FemRhet Conference, conference organizers will need to ensure that all registrants are Coalition members, and to devise a conference registration fee that includes a one-year membership (or longer) for registrants who are non-members. This will mean establishing two sets of rates. The Coalition handles membership purchases and renewals through PayPal [see our “Membership” page for current rates].
Community Partners: The involvement of community partners–locally or cross-institutionally–takes time. It is wise to begin making queries at the proposal stage to build community elements into the program at the outset, rather than including them later.
Insurance: You should obtain or purchase insurance for the conference.
Accessibility/Interpreter Services: Our attendees range in age from 18 to 81, we ask you to think about issues related to age and accessibility when scheduling sessions and planning special events. You may want to query with the ADA office on your campus (if you have one) about their services and provisions for participants who are seeing- or hearing-impaired. We encourage you to ask participants if they will require an interpreter, special assistance, or accessibility aids during the registration process so that you can evaluate the demand and adjust accordingly.
Restrooms: We ask that you provide a gender-neutral or unisex bathroom. This allows everyone access to a safe restroom space. One way to do this is to provide information on the locations of single-stall restrooms or unisex restrooms. Another way is to convert a bathroom (preferably the men’s restroom, as our conference tends to attract more female members) into a unisex bathroom.
If you are holding the conference on your campus: You should find out whether your institution has a conference planning office that can help you organize the conference and handle registration and the scheduling of rooms. Most planning offices will negotiate a per-attendee fee depending upon the services they provide.
If you are holding the conference at an off-campus location: You might consider consulting with a conference planner, especially when negotiating the room block and the meal plans. It is good to have someone on your side who knows how to negotiate services and talk to hotel managers, as it may not always be in the best interests of the hotel to help you get the best deal. A conference planner is also useful if you want to arrange a Wednesday night or Saturday afternoon/evening event.
Your city or town may have a local convention-planning center that can be very useful to you. For example, the 2007 FemRhet conference registration was handled entirely by the Little Rock Tourism board for three dollars per registration. They established a conference account; accepted credit cards, checks, and purchase orders; returned registration fees; deposited monies into the conference account; settled with credit card companies; created name tags; created welcome banners for the airport; and managed the registration desk. This was invaluable help and significantly decreased the organizers’ workload.
What kind of support does the Coalition provide?
The Coalition provides a number of different types of support:
- Seed money: The Coalition will provide you with $1000 seed money, to be returned after the completion of the conference.
- Advice and assistance with insurance information: The executive committee and advisory board will also provide support and/or advice with insurance information, where needed. Many of us have hosted the conference before and we are happy to answer any and all questions.
- Help with establishing a bank account: The Coalition can help you in working with your institution to manage conference expenses through an account you establish. Alternatively, you may use the Coalition’s bank account for drawing on and/or receiving conference funds; however, all requests for account activity would need to be managed as “contributions” through the CFSHRC Treasurer. For the greatest flexibility, conference hosts are strongly encouraged to deposit checks and pay expenses through an account established at their university, and strongly discouraged from using personal bank accounts to manage funds.
- Off-site work: The Coalition can form a small team of member volunteers to perform off-site work on several initiatives, should you desire them. In the past, this has included soliciting and organizing publisher displays, generating a list of plenary/keynote speakers, reading proposals, and soliciting materials for “swag” bags, among other things.
We are also happy to add to this list as your needs evolve.
(revised Aug. 2016)