As a leading society in our field, ASPB has an obligation to advocate not only for plant science, but also for plant scientists. We are not fulfilling our obligations to the latter if we stand by as members from groups that have been historically marginalized continue to face exclusionary practices, taunting, and harassment from others in the community. Change is not easy, but it’s necessary; and, to achieve the systemic change needed to address issues of inequity and exclusion, bold action is required.
After the events of last week surrounding the 2022 IPMB Congress, and more specifically the treatment of those who spoke up, ASPB offered specific ideas and proposals to IPMB leadership that might have allowed us to continue to provide logistics support for the conference. But these proposals were not accepted by the IPMB representatives with whom we were communicating.
ASPB’s Board of Directors has therefore decided to withdraw support for the 2022 IPMB Congress.
We recognize that this decision will have impacts for our community. However, as part of our commitment to support and cultivate an inclusive scientific enterprise, we must demonstrate our support for the plant scientists who have struggled to be recognized for their expertise and who have experienced harassment throughout this ordeal and beyond.
Going forward, we will communicate our EDI action plans and efforts more transparently to the community. For example, recent EDI efforts related to the Plant Biology 2022 meeting include:
- Removing US citizenship/permanent residency requirement for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDIC)-administered Recognition Travel Awards to the conference
- Appointing EDIC members to the Plant Biology 2022 program committee
- Adding a field to the Plant Biology 2022 registration form for individuals with disabilities to request accommodations at the event
- Adopting a rubric developed by the EDIC to guide and inform abstract review for Plant Biology 2022
- Inviting all speakers at Plant Biology 2022 to prepare diversity statements as optional openings for their talks
- Changing the format for program selection to a bottom-up model, whereby members of the community propose workshop and concurrent topics
- Ensuring post-event access to Plant Biology 2022 sessions for those unable to travel to the in-person event
This ordeal has caused ASPB to reflect on what a global plant meeting looks like, and we look forward to sharing a reimagined vision for a truly global convention in the future.