There are three main reasons why the Alliance decided to host the conference as an in-person event:
First and foremost, many members of the higher education in prison community expressed (and continue to express) the desire to gather in person in order to gain a more significant experience and to enjoy the opportunity to meet the scholars and activists who animate the field. The NCHEP Planning Team shares this sentiment, and we believe that a community of meaning and shared values is oftentimes formed through live interactions.
Secondly, we are bound to respect the contractual and financial obligations with the Denver Marriott Tech Center, which will not allow the cancellation of a scheduled event unless city regulations require it to do so, as was the case in 2020. As of September 2021, the city of Denver is keeping recently issued (September 3, 2021) regulations in place, stating that ‘All indoor and outdoor events can now operate at full capacity with no restrictions’ (see this page for further information). We are aware that city health guidelines are subject to sudden changes, and we will promptly update the community if new public health orders become available. As it stands, canceling the 11th NCHEP would entail a consistent financial loss for the Alliance (more than $300,000), one that the organization would not be able to sustain.
Finally, orchestrating a fully hybrid conference (one that would allow simultaneous in-person and virtual participation) entails consistent costs associated with complex technology and technicians that would not be covered by the current registration fees; additionally, it would burden the small NCHEP Planning Team with an amount of labor that exceeds its capacity.
Our priority is to center the wellbeing of those who decide to attend the conference. While working in tandem with the hotel in order to support safe and physical distancing during sessions (see the hotel’s standards during the pandemic here), the Alliance will provide masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes at the registration table and in all rooms, throughout the duration of the 11th NCHEP (free of charge to all attendees).
We will not ask for vaccination proof (although we strongly recommend attendees to travel and attend only if vaccinated, which is also consistent with CDC guidelines), nor a recent negative test to attend the conference. We will instead rely on each other’s sense of community and responsibility, and ask all attendees to always wear a mask during NCHEP so as to protect the most vulnerable people around us (except when eating or drinking). In this light, those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms during the conference should quarantine in their rooms, notify the NCHEP Planning Team, and seek testing as soon as possible (which the Planning Team can help arrange).
There are a few ways that we will be able to accommodate presenters and community members who cannot travel during the pandemic. First, some special events during the in-person NCHEP (keynote and plenary sessions) will be live-streamed. Second, the NCHEP Planning Team is organizing a virtual addendum to the 11th NCHEP on November 16-19, which will offer some accepted submitters the opportunity to present their scholarship in a virtual setting. We will be sharing the details of this event soon.
For any additional questions or clarifications, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much for your patience while we navigate through these uncertain, unprecedented times.
Last Updated: September 10, 2021