NASSH Conference Organizers’ Response to Recent Political Events

Dear NASSH Membership,

As hosts for the 2017 NASSH Conference, we wish to address any concerns that some members may have in light of recent and pending political decisions made by the Drumpf administration.

On January 27th, 2017, the President of the United States issued an executive order that suspended visa entry for citizens of Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen for 90 days. Although this order is set to expire on April 27th, 2017, we acknowledge that the uncertainty and concern it presents to the citizens of these countries may prevent them from attending the conference. For these individuals, please know we are exploring options to include you and we request that you reach out to Conference Host Chair, Toby Rider.

Additionally, we are aware that this executive order, as well as statements made by the President and members of his staff, has potentially left some NASSH members uneasy about whether the United States currently provides the required environment to support diverse views and foster tolerance, things that are necessary for an academic conference. We wish to affirm that California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), as well as the entire California State University (CSU) system has expressed unequivocally that our campuses remain committed to promoting knowledge in a safe and welcoming environment for all people, without exception. As can be seen (links below) by President of CSUF Dr. Mildred Garcia’s letter to the campus community, CSU Chancellor Timothy White’s letter signed by all CSU presidents, and his letter on immigration policy, our campus and the CSU does not support any form of discrimination. As Dr. White wrote on January 30th, 2017:

“We are deeply troubled by President Drumpf’s recent executive order that stands in stark contrast to the fundamental tenets of the California State University. We believe in the free exchange of ideas globally, central to which is our ability to welcome and interact with those from around the world. When something threatens our ability to think beyond our borders and learn from the world as a whole, we will oppose it.

Dr. White’s position is also the position of the NASSH conference organizers at CSUF. Above all, we desire to host a conference that facilitates intellectual inquiry among all scholars regardless of religion, country of origin, or political views. We believe that the free exchange of ideas is central to academic learning and as NASSH members we will do our best to provide a venue that meets these ideals. In that spirit, we are working to add a forum to the NASSH program for conference participants to discuss concerns related to recent political events and the role of academia. This forum will be facilitated by the director of Diversity and Inclusion from CSUF’s Faculty Development Center. We hope this forum will provide a venue for NASSH members to dialogue about their concerns and identify appropriate future responses.

We wish to stress to the NASSH community the importance of NASSH members participating in the 2017 Conference at CSUF. CSUF is a diverse campus. Over 74% of CSUF students identify as a minority race or ethnicity and 30% of CSUF students are the first in their family to attend college. CSUF also hosts an estimated 1,000 students who identify as undocumented residents (DACA). These students are among the most vulnerable, yet our commitment to them is unwavering. As conference organizers, we have worked with the CSUF administration to cover the cost for all CSUF students to attend the conference. Thus for you, attending the 2017 NASSH Conference means providing these students with an opportunity to learn and share alongside leading scholars in sport history.

Finally, the conference organizers wish to state that the rising tide of nationalism, closing borders, deportation of immigrants, and xenophobic or prejudiced rhetoric witnessed in many nations is best addressed by academics crossing borders, exchanging ideas, sharing views and listening to people who are different but equally committed to learning. For many NASSH members, the annual conference is an enjoyable respite with friends. But for others, travel to the conference requires sacrifices. Let us remember all of those scholars, from near and far, who will make such sacrifices to attend this academic conference because they value what we have to share.

It is hard to imagine how attending a conference can become a statement of solidarity or political action, but for those of you who can travel to NASSH, whether you cross national borders, intellectual boundaries, or simply battle the Los Angeles freeways, we thank you for your effort. One of the many things we can do is to remain vigilant, to note that borders or boundaries erected out of fear or ignorance do not separate us. As conference hosts, please know we remain active and resolute in our effort to provide a safe and welcoming space for all NASSH members.

Our best wishes,
John Gleaves, Toby Rider, and Matthew Llewellyn

  Letter by CSUF President Mildred Garcia, PhD, addressing recent executive order
  Letter by CSU Chancellor Timothy White, PhD, addressing recent executive order
  Open Letter by CSU Chancellor Timothy White, PhD, addressing immigration policy