Orange County Convention Center (photo credit: Wikipedia)
Noting the “escalating waves of hostile actions and legislation coming out of Florida,” the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) is ditching its scheduled annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Miami later this year and instead will hold it in Chicago.
In a letter sent to ACSP educators, researchers, and students posted on the organization’s website Friday, Laxmi Ramasubramanian, the ACSP president, said the group had made “this difficult decision” to move their convention to stay in alignment with the ACSP’s values statement.
The organization is a consortium of more than 100 university departments and programs offering planning degrees.
“Despite myriad assurances from the Florida hospitality industry, members of all ACSP interest groups expressed significant concerns regarding travel to Florida,” Ramasubramanian wrote.
“While no place can be 100% safe, Florida this fall did not feel like the best place to gather for our annual conference. As with the state of Florida, other states curtail what can and cannot be taught in high school and college classrooms. Planning educators have a lot of issues we should be concerned about, including how we prepare future planners to work in environments hostile to the ideals and principles of planning.”
Organizations representing Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities in Florida have issued travel advisories in recent months, citing “open hostility” to those groups manifested in laws passed during the recent legislative session, as noted by Ramasubramanian in a message sent out to members last month.
In another letter dated May 26, Ramasubramanian wrote that, “Like you, I have been following the escalating waves of hostile actions and legislation coming out of Florida but also other states that are following a political playbook. It is disheartening, painful and it makes me angry. As president of ACSP, I write today to acknowledge the anxieties, hurt, and anger that you may be feeling and experiencing.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that a number of conferences slated to be held later this year or in future years in Orange County have been moved or cancelled due to the political environment in Florida, including a convention for Game of Thrones fans, with “Con of Thrones” organizers citing the “increasingly anti-humanitarian legislation in the state.”
No such cancellations have happened yet in the Tampa Bay area, according to officials.
“The Tampa Convention Center is fortunate to have not experienced any contracted client cancellations due to political climate,” says Kirstin Albert, communications coordinator for the facility. “Tampa is a welcoming and diverse city, and we are proud to be a part of that atmosphere.”
A spokesperson for Visit Tampa Bay, the tourism marketing organization for Tampa and Hillsborough County, told the Phoenix that it has not experienced any conventions pulling out of the area, either.
A spokesperson for ACSP anticipated about 1,200 conference attendees who will now make the trip to the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in October.
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