The news that WMU would no longer be providing blankets to people renting dorm rooms made it to social media late on Monday, 8 May. The ICMS website had been updated
to reveal that blankets would be sold for 17 dollars a piece.
We know that this is more than many grad students, contingent faculty, and even junior tenure track faculty can afford, especially with no advance notice. We know that people flying into the conference are charged extra for checked luggage. We know that this is not something the ICMS organizers would ever have chosen, and we hope that if we can get through this year, it will allow ICMS to sit down with WMU and develop a permanent solution that respects our entire community.
In the 18 hours since we learned of all this, we have found volunteers to drive to stores and purchase blankets, we have found local shelters who are eager to accept used blankets (for those who don't wish to keep theirs or cannot transport them) and volunteers to collect them Sunday and drive them to the shelters. Update: Conference organizers tell me that blankets left in the dorms will be donated to local shelters.
We've got a doc up online for info-sharing and coordination. [Well okay, we're working on it and I'll update this when we get the url!]
Many have offered to pitch in funds. There are about 3,000 beds
in the dorms in the Valleys, and many years the conference fills them. Some of those folks are driving and can bring their own gear. Some can afford to purchase a blanket. Some of those rooms are single occupancy for the conference and not double. Update: Conference organizers tell me that there are about 500 grad students alone in the dorms this year, so we have a serious goal ahead of us.
Let's try to fund a few hundred blankets. Let's Dobest for our own fair field, full of folke, as Langland would say, for caritas is never wasted.
Update from the con! Blankets are available at the registration area- you just need to ask. They're expecting you!