Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Hospitality: #BlanketGate and #BlanketsForKzoo2017


Screenshot of the #BlanketsForKzoo2017 crowdfunding website; click for transcription of text with visual description.

The International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo (#Kzoo2017) is approaching!

There are been a number of conversations on social media about hospitality and inclusivity at Kzoo: from questions of in/accessibility, disability, and mental health to online responses to the recently-announced effort to encourage writing pronouns on one's own conference badge as a gesture of inclusivity for all people of any gender identity or gender presentation.

Most recently, #BlanketGate erupted (it was announced on Monday, May 8, that that WMU will no longer provide blankets for those staying in the dorms and blankets are instead available for purchase for $17). Since this development most adversely affects scholars with limited funding, SMFS began a crowdfunding drive to purchase blankets for Congress attendees (with plans to also donate blankets to a homeless shelter afterwards).

For full context and to contribute to the blanket drive at Kzoo2017, visit this crowdfunding page created by Kathleen Kennedy (the target is $5,000).

(For more info on the logistics of this effort, see Karen Overbey’s public Facebook posting.) *

Efforts such as these are extremely important to create a Congress that truly enacts hospitality and welcome (in all senses of these words). On this note, check out the community-minded events on the BABEL schedule for Kzoo2017 (among many other things Medieval Donut 3.0, a Queerdievalists social, a workshop led on by members of a fellowship of Medievalists of Color, and BABEL roundtables on Feminism With/Out Gender and Access in the Academy). For more postings along these lines, check out the website for the SMFS Trans* Travel Fund, JEFFREY’s posting at ITM, Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski’s eloquent open letter, a post on horizontal mentorship by Micah Goodrich, and an honest and informative perspective from Karra Shimabukuro on anxiety and its implications for the conference experience.

* UPDATE 4:31pm EST: The blanket drive organizers have been coordinating with ICMS staff. Blankets left in dorm rooms will be bundled up, laundered, and donated. If you wish your blanket to be donated you can leave a note in your room upon departure.

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