AAR Annual Meeting Safety Policy

The American Academy of Religion is committed to the safety and well-being of all persons who attend or work at our Annual Meetings. Our meetings are large and complex, and they always take place in a busy urban environment.  Such an environment always carries various security concerns, including the possibility of theft, threats of violence, and acts that cause physical harm and property damage. There may also be inherent or avoidable dangers in the physical environment, and anyone at our Annual Meetings may also experience medical emergencies. With this in mind, we have adopted the following safety protocols:

1. Compliance with established protocols

The AAR will cooperate with local law enforcement authorities and emergency personnel. Our contracted meeting partners, such as convention centers, hotels, and transportation providers, may also establish emergency preparedness or security policies, which AAR will follow as required by the respective contracts. A pre-convention meeting shall be held on-site where select AAR staff, members of the local convention bureau/convention center/hotel, medical emergency professionals, and representatives from our contracted partners (such as professional meeting planners, audio-visual staff, General Services Contractor, hired security company management, and transportation providers) meet to discuss the security protocols for the upcoming Annual Meeting. AAR Executive Staff are also briefed about security matters on-site. 

2. Security concerns

In an emergency situation such as a fire or medical emergency, local venue officials will notify police, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel. These protocols are rehearsed at the pre-convention meeting. But other security issues may arise. Program Unit Chairs may have reason to believe that a particular session will be disrupted. Members may feel threatened or profiled or may be concerned for other reasons about their personal safety. We encourage those who have these concerns to communicate them immediately to members of the AAR staff. Emergency contact information for each venue and AAR Staff contact information will be distributed to Program Unit Chairs in advance of the Annual Meeting. On learning of security concerns, the AAR on-site Annual Meeting Safety Committee (consisting of the AAR Executive Director, the AAR Director of Meetings, and the third party Meetings and Events Manager) may elect to ask security personnel to be stationed outside a conference room to check attendees name badges (as is routinely done at the book exhibit). If the Safety Committee concludes that there is a risk of physical injury, it will contact the relevant on-site security personnel so that they may take appropriate action.

3. Consultation

The Safety Committee will make an effort to consult about security matters with security personnel, law enforcement, property managers, the AAR Board, Program Committee, or Program Unit Chairs in advance of taking action about a security concern. However, if the Safety Committee determines that immediate action is required, the Safety Committee has the authority to request increased security presence or to alert security personnel without further consultation. 

4. Communication

If the Safety Committee requests increased security at an event, it will so inform the relevant host, convener, or Program Unit Chair, the panelists/speakers, and, if the Safety Committee deems it necessary, all attendees at the event. 

5. Scope

This policy applies to all meetings and gatherings that take place at the Annual Meeting. The policy will be regularly shared with AAR Program Units, Standing Committees, and Related Scholarly Organizations.