This year the Senate’s Fall Plenary Session featured a new attraction: vendor exhibits. As you moved between the various breakouts and general sessions, you were able to browse several tables offering a variety of different information and services.
If you attend other professional conferences, you have probably seen exhibitors or vendors in the hallways or exhibitor hall. Historically, the Academic Senate has not allowed exhibitors or vendors to participate in our events. However, over the past few years, the Senate’s resources have been reduced by cuts to the Senate’s funding via the governor’s budget, reduction in dues because of cuts to faculty positions on local campuses, and higher costs associated with holding events while maintaining low registration fees. During this time, the Executive Committee discussed ways to augment our funding through other sources such as sponsorships or vendor fees.
In February 2012, the Executive Committee discussed allowing vendors to participate in Senate events and advertise in the Rostrum and on the Senate websites. In an effort to honor the wishes of the statewide faculty in this area, the Senate conducted a turnaround survey at the 2012 Spring Plenary Session to understand what session participants would think about allowing vendors at Senate events. Over 140 session attendees responded to a series of questions related to vendors or exhibitors. About 60% who responded said that inviting a vendor to attend events depended on the vendor and the information provided. When asked the type of vendors the Senate should invite, the following received the highest percentages: Universities of higher education/leadership institutions (76%); electronic technology (78%); Curriculum management systems (77%); and course management systems (74%). Sixty-one percent of the respondents also felt the Senate should allow vendors to advertise in the Rostrum, compared to 38% who did not. Conversely, only 25% felt that vendors should advertise on the Senate’s website, while 75% disagreed.
Since 2012, the Academic Senate has been consulting with other community college groups about vendors that might be of interest to faculty leaders at the plenary sessions. Some possibilities were rejected as inappropriate for the Senate’s mission and purposes. However, this year four vendors displayed resources at the 2013 Fall Plenary. These vendors included the California Career Café, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, CollegeBuys, and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.
The Academic Senate is committed to ensuring that any invited vendors who participate at Senate events serve the purposes and interests of attendees without causing distractions or giving offense. We hope you were able to take a few minutes to stop by the vendor tables during the fall plenary session. The ASCCC hopes that you found their information useful and that this new feature can become a useful and positive aspect of Senate events. In order to accomplish this goal and to provide you with the most appropriate vendors/exhibitors possible, the Executive Committee needs your input. If you have suggestions or ideas for potential vendors at future events, please send them to info [at] asccc.org. Let us know what services or information you would like to see offered.