A recent post on the Campus Reform website has raised significant concerns among our members, our conference and discussion list participants, and the SAA Council. The piece references two presentations given at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland. Notwithstanding the author’s claim that she had “reached out to SAA, as well as the professors involved in the panels,” no member of the SAA Council or staff was contacted for comment.
SAA does not condone any acts of suppression, intimidation, or violence against its members and participants and stands with those who speak up about and work on inclusivity and diversity in archives, a core value that is valid and relevant to the archives profession. The SAA Council denounces those who have made or would make threats against our conference participants. SAA’s 2017 Annual Meeting program was created, developed, and presented by SAA members and local community leaders, and it is a program of which we are very proud.
The SAA Council also is concerned about a recent discussion on the Archives & Archivists Listserv in reaction to the Campus Reform post. SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont shut down the discussion thread on August 9 because several of the posters used unprofessional or intimidating language and the discussion was becoming redundant and circular. The purpose of the list is to foster discussion of archives and archives issues, including all aspects of the theory and practice of the archives profession. The Terms of Participation clearly prohibit personal attacks and inflammatory remarks of a personal nature. The SAA Council will be reviewing the role and future of the A&A List at its November 2017 meeting. In the meantime, posts will be moderated actively. If you have ideas about 1) how the List might be improved or 2) any new communication tools that we might consider as an enhancement to or substitute for the A&A List, please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are seeking productive ways to continue the learning and important conversations that took place in Portland, and we welcome your ideas about how to do that.
PLEASE don’t be as blind as Council in 2007 when they proposed to do away with A&A altogether (I kept the whole saga in case that had happened, and it’s very interesting to read today). I agree that comments offering open attacks need to be dealt with, but there ought to be a way to fork off a discussion that is a serious one, assign a discussant, make it possible for people to opt in, and let the discussion play out. And of course keep the discussion. In 2007 people were in an uproar because Council (not then very computer-savvy) ignored the fact that A&A had become a major part of our history, and now it may even be more so. We need to make it better, not shut it down every time someone behaves badly. Otherwise we make a mockery of what we say about community archives.
University of Texas at Austin
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