Dear EATAW2019 participants,
In connection to the evaluation process and post-conference activities in July, a formal complaint was filed against one of the session chairs at the conference. It reached us in the middle of vacations among legal and central admin staff at the university; the process has been slow. However, I can now attempt to acknowledge the complaint and report back to EATAW2019 participants.
The complaint is concerned with a session chair who is perceived to have taken over a session from the speakers in it, and who made heavily generalising statements about ESL or ELF students without support for claims or without framing the statements as reported findings among informants. The speakers in the session have been contacted in order to get a second perspective on the events in the session. While they too noticed the chair’s behaviour, they felt that the topic was acknowledged as a difficult one and believed participants in the session had also met with a sufficient number of positions on the topic to be able to assess the relative value and support for individual remarks, including those of the chair. While that may be true, a session chair has a privileged position and a responsibility for moderating the session.
Needless to say, we find generalising statements about students highly problematic, and we can but apologise to the participants in the session. From a formal point of view, however, there is not much left for us to do. The complaint cannot move further in the Chalmers organisation since the chair was not hired by Chalmers nor a consultant to Chalmers. As EATAW2019 was not a Chalmers event but merely hosted by Chalmers, we have no way to move forward with the session chair person. As organisers, however, we have informed the board, the chair person, and we will re-write the instructions for session chairs and forward these to the organisers of EATAW2021.
As far as the EATAW Board goes, work has been initiated towards articulating and publishing ethics guidelines for the association. The EATAW Chair will also post a message about the process on the EATAW discussion to keep all members informed about the issue and the Board’s position.