Letter from CMA president about California travel restrictions, Texas and Kentucky conventions

Dear California friends and members,
College Media Association leadership is deeply disappointed in the laws recently passed in Texas and Kentucky, and we are aware of the state of California’s restrictions on travel to those states and the six others with similar laws.
We regret that California’s restrictions may prevent or inhibit your ability to travel to the fall national college media convention this October in Dallas.
While we do not condone the discriminatory laws in Texas and Kentucky that deny people of their rights and dignity and interfere with our members’ and their students’ access to journalism education and networking, our organization is in a difficult situation.
The previous leadership signed the contract for Dallas in 2013, long before Texas began talking about Senate Bill 6. As Texas began discussing the legislation, CMA attempted preemptive measures, partnering with Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Business and Advertising Managers, Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association to issue a letter to Governor Greg Abbott and other leadership asking them to consider the ramifications this law would have on Texas, its citizens and our organizations. We never received a response. When the bill was brought back up in special session in June, we directly appealed to Speaker Strauss to deny this bill from becoming law. Again, we did not hear back.
But we are continuing to appeal to Texas legislators. CMA/Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Business and Advertising Managers, Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association are all planning to hold events this year in Texas. JEA/NSPA will hold a convention in November for 5,000 high school students and teachers in Dallas, and College Broadcasters, Inc. will host its fall meeting in San Antonio. That’s why we believe it is important to again draft a letter to the Texas government explaining how this law and the California restrictions will affect all of our events and the Texas economy.
CMA and ACP will also begin appealing to Kentucky to reconsider their discriminatory laws, since our joint fall convention will be held there next fall. This contract was signed in June 2016. As you may know, many things come into play when selecting a convention city; usually we consider ease of travel for attendees, cost of lodging and access to professional media. Sadly needing to consider discriminatory laws has become a new priority for us. For example, when Georgia passed a similar Bathroom Bill, CMA appealed to Governor Nathan Deal to veto that decision, and he did. We admit that the movie industry lobbying for the same outcome probably contributed more than we did, but we are still happy with that outcome.
We understand that these attempts do not help your situation and or give you access to CMA training and networking, and we don’t take that lightly. We are working on alternatives to provide education and training you’ve requested. This year we hosted our first webinar with Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center, and that led us to invest in webinar-hosting software and to develop more distance-learning opportunities for our members and their students. We will certainly be looking to expand that program this year, especially in light of this latest development. CMA will also be exploring the possibility of hosting a workshop in California or nearby. These workshops work best when partnered with a host institution and focused on a central topic, as the 2015 Advisers Workshop in Houston or the 2016 Diversity Workshop in Corvallis, Ore. demonstrate.
Please know that CMA stands behind you and will be looking for ways to make the situation more palatable. If you have any ideas how to affect change in the states that have passed these laws, please feel free to share them. If you have ideas for webinars or workshops, please to share those with us. We would like to do whatever we can to best deal with this situation and avoid similar ones in the future.
Kelley Lash
CMA President

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