Minutes of SRN EC Meeting
Monday 22.3.2021 at 9 pm BST/GMT/UTC+1 (via Zoom)
Circulation list: Carmen Sofia Brenes (CSB), Rose Ferrell (RF), Ann Igelström (AI), Rafael Leal (RL), Margaret McVeigh (MM), Paolo Russo (PR), Rosanne Welch (RW)
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of previous EC Meeting for approval
All pending Action Points have been itemized below in the agenda.
The minutes are approved by the EC as accurate.
3. Update on Newsletter (MM)
MM will post call for April issue after Easter – considering new theme – e.g. sharing online teaching ideas/experiences, having to work around unexpected issues such giving instructions to students online and leaving questions of how to create group identity. Plus updates re: EC activities, conference etc.
The introduction of non-English languages worked well, was easy to implement and coordinate and therefore should be continued, whereas the theme could change.
The Newsletter can also include an update re: the SRN Awards
ACTION: PR to meet jurors next week for an update.
ACTION: MM to prep call for Easter issue.
4. Social Media
4.1Update on Facebook posts
AI confirms regular posting and scheduling new posts.
4.2 Launch SRN Conversations
CSB reports back: 4 guests (i.e. the first 4 SRN Conference organizers). Mood was friendly and the level of the conversation was quite high. Each gave thoughts about organizing conferences and the interchange was so lively that the hour went by quickly. The EC will continue to plan more Conversations, and the format may vary (e.g. Q&A, virtual round table), also based on reactions from Members.
RL has already edited and posted the video on the YouTube channel.
ACTION: PR to email announcement to Membership and AI to follow up with FB post by end of the week.
RL reminds the EC that the guests also sent in photos of the conferences. RL has created a photo album via Google photo, where we can keep collecting more with a view to creating a photo archive in the near future to share with Members. PR observes a photo archive will add to the historiography of the SRN and it’s best to start archiving materials now before they disappear in future years.
PR reminds that we will need to allow Members to take down photos of themselves should they not wish them to be publicly available online.
5. Update on SRN2021 conference
PR reports back re: Zoom meeting he had recently Events team at the Conference venue to discuss current and future status in terms of feasibility. Some good news/some bad. The spaces remain available and there is no need to put down a deposit until we can confirm an IRL conference will take place, which buys time and reduces risk of losing funding.
The Venue has hosted no events since the pandemic broke out and all other events that were scheduled in 2021 have cancelled and moved online.
In terms of Covid restrictions, in UK these are expected to be lifted by the end of June but there is talks that face coverings and social distancing could be enforced for up to 2 years and this needs to be accounted for: it means the main lecture theatres’ capacity will be reduced to 35-55 each (instead of 250). At present, we have no guarantee that catering can be supplied. The hospitality industry was hit the worst and contractors’ staff have been furloughed: they don’t know if and when they will be back in business. If catering is supplied, the most likely option will be pre-packaged lunches consumed with social distance in place, and it will cost more.
As concerns delegates who must travel from outside the UK one needs to consider possible rules re: enforcing vaccine passports, the fact that in many countries the roll-out of vaccines is still very slow, and that in many countries universities are not awarding any travel funds to attend conference – which also implies possible insurance issues.
PR has discussed the option of running a hybrid conference with the Events Team: unfortunately, the venue does not have in-house capacity for that and therefore this would mean having hire an outside company: quotes for this begin at around £1300/day +VAT. These costs would add to the registration fees.
If, eventually, we will have to switch to a fully online event, the sheer number of delegates from as many as 19 different time zones means that, very likely, sessions will have to be organized by geographic regions. One solution to this is to use an online format featuring regular weekly events rather than concentrate all in a few days which would imply several logistical problems.
Some Members/delegates have come forward to offer to help arrange from around the world.
CSB observes that Covid has forced us to be creative and therefore running SRN2021 as series of seminars (or study days) could be a useful experiment for any future situations that would allow SRN Members to keep gathering at least online. I’ve been in a few such seminars over the last year and it worked. Both CSB and RW note that their experience of attending similar online events in the past year has been generally positive.
PR points out that if we decide to proceed with the switchover to the different type of event – regular seminar series instead of one-off conference – the format will need some thinking too as some sessions could go live but many will need pre-recording with live discussion.
ACTION – PR to draft memo of potential new format for discussion at April’s EC meeting.
Should SRN2021 become an online event, the EC will have to discuss a viable way of holding this year’s AGM and Elections and whether this require any change the SRN Constitution and, if so, how these can be executed. RL suggests proposing the AGM online option to the Membership and an online vote for any changes to the Constitution which would allow us to run this year’s activities; all changes would then have to be confirmed for good by the in-person AGM at the 2022 conference in Vienna. Likewise, the EC elections could be hold as a combination of postal voting (via email) and in-person voting during the online AGM: also, voting by proxy could be considered.
PR adds that the online AGM could be split into two sessions based on time zones so it could be run live for all Members: the later session would repeat the main reporting in the exact same way. The EC will also have to figure out the appropriate protocol and an impartial Election officer to run these.
ACTION – EC to discuss alternative AGM, EC Elections and changes to Constitution by May, once SRN2021 format is confirmed.
RW notes that, should SRN2021 be turned into an online event, this would still require a lot of effort in terms of organization and running, but it would not be fair to consider SRN2021 as based in Oxford anymore. As a result of this, RW suggests that Oxford as a conference location be rescued and pushed to the end of the current queue (i.e. Vienna, Missouri, Brazil) in 2025. PR appreciates the suggestions and replies that it could be decided by the EC (minus PR) but TBC after the Vienna conference, by 2023 based on situation and funding at that later time.
ACTION – EC to discuss and approve Oxford 2025 if/once SRN2021 moved to online event.
6. Website: update on renewal from Leeds
RL reports good news that the School of Communication at the University of Leeds has finally agreed to renew the hosting of the SRN website for 5 more years, starting in August 2021 up and until July 2026. The School will also cover the related cost.
RL will liaise with Leeds’ IT team to assess feasibility of revamping the website design.
ACTION – RL and PR to run website audit to identify all needed changes/upgrades.
7.1 New form to collect missing members’ info
Item adjourned to April’s meeting but RL suggests use of Google Form templates to capture all the info instead of current form as it allows quick analysis of data.
8. Any other business
There were no other business.
Date of next meeting: Monday 19 April 2021, 10 pm BST/UTC/GMT (consider DST; refer to shared DOC for each country’s time zone)