Can’t Something be Done about the Way Philosophers are Hired in the US?

By that question, I mean in particular the wrenching way we expect students on the market (and Ph.D.s in adjunct and similar positions) to pay the APA fees plus huge fees for hotels. I am giving a paper at the APA on Derrida’s lecture 2001-2 lecture course, so I looked up the price the APA negotiated for the hotel.

First, there’s a kind message on the APA website alerting all the fact that they have totally gummed up the way employment ads are to be done, which likely means the largest Jobs for Philosophers of the year (the November issue) will be missing many of the actual jobs out there. Really heartening for those on the market. (Obviously, for those interested, I am quite pleased in my first year here at Memorial, so that’s not why I write this here.)

Then, I bring up the PDF for the hotel registration:

Regular and nonmember single room rates are $169/night plus 14.5% tax. Double room rates are $189/night plus 14.5% tax….

Student member single room rates are $153/night plus 14.5% tax. Student double room rates are $173/night plus 14.5% tax.

Great negotiating there! (In the past, I’ve often been able to book the APA hotel through a cheaper price on Expedia, as long as I do it well in advance.) How cheap could it be if the price is offered to non-members? (I.e., anyone with a web browser to look this up.) Thus, for all of us, that tops out at about $200 a night for a single room, which for three nights is about half a liberal arts college travel budget, without air fare.

Now, it’s an advance that they actually negotiated a cheaper rate for students this year. But when I did a full market search in my first year with a Ph.D., I had interviews on all three days of the APA, which meant staying three days, plus airfare, plus registration.

Of course, the APA does offer a cheaper rate on registration for students, but how does knocking 30% off that bill really compare to the many hundreds that must be spent because the APA can’t find cheaper accommodations? Is there no other way? Imagine booking all of this and finding out, as many do, that they don’t get an interview. (For non-philosophers: it’s true, many have to book early to get plane deals and the hotel rate, but departments often don’t call right up to the Christmas holiday to schedule a time for a job interview.) I understand if the APA can’t find, say, dorm accommodations for students at local universities given the time of year, so the sooner we just move to skype for the first round of interviewing (for all the problems it has), the better.



  1. Skype is a philosophy department’s friend. This whole practice and style of interview is an unethical abomination and should be abolished altogether.

  2. My guess — just a guess — is that you can’t book a hotel for a giant conference unless you also guarantee a certain number of rooms at a certain negotiated rate. It’s unclear to me there’s reason to expect price determination to float with however rates are determined for Expedia, especially since the booking is done far in advance. (Incidentally, as a Washingtonian, my impression is that $169 is a pretty good rate, all the more so if you’re limited to hotels that can host a conference.) –That said, I’m all for skyping.

    1. thanks–these are good points. I recognize all of that. But one thing is that…well, why Washington? There are many communities that could hold such a conference at a cheaper rate, or perhaps arrangements made with local universities for housing. But I’m glad the APA is beginning the process of negotiating lower rates for grad students. It’s a good start.

      1. Maybe the APA has tended to limit itself to larger cities like DC in part because they are more accessible and as a result cheaper in terms of transportation (lots of flights into a nearby airport, and train and bus service — maybe inter-city trains are less relevant for the non-Eastern meetings and of course for non-Eastern folks coming to the Eastern). And again there are possible venues for hosting a giant conference. Would, say, a university in a university town really be able to provide housing, and the rest of logistics, for the number of folks who attend the Eastern APA?

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