Monday, November 17, 2008

I really need to start paying closer attention

to the seemingly-endless stream of e-mails that flood my inbox from my "why interact with another human when you could send them 68 electronic messages" director. One of said communications, which I barely half-digested, landed me at the conference I am currently attending (or will be, as soon as I finish my latte) in Minnesota. This is the first time I have been to a conference in my "new life"--that is to say, the first time I have attended a conference that is not (a) in/related to my academic discipline or (b) pertaining to grad employee unions (insert long, mournful sigh here...). It probably speaks to my current mental state vis-a-vis my job that I really didn't even look that closely at the conference announcement. Me: "Wha? Go to conference? I'm on it, boss..." Logistics? Check. Family arrangements made? Check. Close examination of content? Uh-oh...

And so it happens that I am sitting in a coffee shop in Saint Paul, about to attend the U.S. Department of Education's 22nd Annual Meeting on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education conference, "Ensuring the Safety and Well-Being of Our Students: Widening the Lens of Prevention." I am so checked out from this that until I arrived late last night I had not even processed that the DOE was the sponsor!

I am (obviously) here for the violence prevention part. The fact that alcohol and drug "abuse" are in the mix is a delicious personal irony. (But the fact that every day starts and ends with a twelve-step meeting--seriously, I kid you not--suggest that I am not the only one in the warning: hypocrisy alert boat.) As I always do at the beginning of a conference, I am poring over the program and marking the sessions I plan to attend. I am going to be a good girl and actually attend the sessions devoted to violence against women (a program on reporting options; a two-part case-study about a comprehensive violence-prevention framework; a session on program assessment; maybe something on social marketing).

But, oh! Look what I will have to miss in the process: There is a session on FERPA led by--guess who???--LeRoy Rooker! There's a name I remember fondly! And an intriguing-sounding session called "U.S. Dept. of Education-U.S. Secret Service Threat Assessment Training." That will, no doubt, be a blast. It's led--as it turns out, many workshops are--by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. 

Um, how did I get here again?


dave3544 said...

What I wouldn't give to be there. I would attend Rooker's session just praying that at some point some "third party" -- perhaps the local police department -- would need a listing of all faculty.

I would then rise and ask if revealing the "work status" of graduate students working as instructors would not violate their FERPA rights.

Of course, no one in the room would have any idea what I was talking about, including Rooker most likely, and he'd answer with simple "no" and move on, but in my soul I'd know I "got him"!

lex dexter said...

wow, Ash. make some friends!

Anonymous said...

12 step meeting??? I'm still processing that.

wobblie said...

The post-conference drinking should be particularly amusing. I suppose you'll stick to cranberry juice?

ash said...

thankfully, the 12-step meetings are apparently optional.

and i am pretty sure i will be skipping the post-conference socializing...and not just because i am a little anti-social. something tells me this ain't gonna be my scene.