Friday, June 27, 2008

AE hell: Public displays of .. um .. intense affection

Yesterday I got an email from a colleague that prior to a class two students (in their thirties) decided to roll around on the lawn (one on top of the other) behind the building and outside the window of where the class was held. And then during the class they talked and GROPED each other. And what suggestions do I have for how to handle it.

Well if class is over, there's really nothing to be done unless contact saying "just wanted to let you know that a number of people in class were incredibly uncomfortable with your behavior." But what SHOULD have happened is that the instructor needed to handle it. If it was me I would do a total stare-down and say (in a tone) that it's really important to pay attention; OR I would tell the class we're taking a 2-minute break and immediately talk with those students privately; OR during the impromptu break I would tell the staff they need to immediately handle it.

Where the situation is considerably more impossible for an association executive is when it's on a dance floor at a convention event ("dirty dancing" taken to extremes including "extreme" kissing), or if a couple is actually caught "in the act" in what they thought was a meeting room "no one was using" or something happens "under the table". Dance "behavior" is getting raunchier -- and when it's a professional event (and attendees are aged 18-80) there are people who just don't want to "watch it" -- and there's no avoiding it when people WANT to be watched on the dance floor. So what's the solution? Do we tap them on the shoulder and say "get a room" or "you're really making some here really uncomfortable" -- or do we put up a "no lewd behavior, please" sign? And you KNOW how receptive anyone who has been drinking a lot is to behavior suggestions ...

As for the "I didn't think anyone would know/catch us" situations, being caught is often penalty enough -- but I don't think an association can really find a way to prevent that -- it would be quite awkward to either announce or have in meeting materials "in case you didn't know, our classes, banquets and dances are not for sexual activity."

And the final nightmares are the DJs, comedians, hypnotists or actors who go a bit too far with unsuspecting members. One DJ asked me if I wanted an "adult version" and I was quite shocked to see what options DJs have to "liven up" events (I said NO), or comedians with adult humor (which are really popular), or events where showgirls/actors might sit on someone's lap, kiss them, etc. with staff staring like "uh oh, I hired someone to give a public mini lap dance to a member"? After one of my UH OH moments, I ensure contracts with entertainment are REALLY CLEAR if the show is G, PG or R/Adult -- and if there is adult content (which can be fine for adult events) it's REALLY helpful to TELL your attendees that (especially if kids might be there too - so parents and others can make an informed decision in advance) -- such as "Note: Entertainment includes some adult content/language.

And that my friends is what makes association management what it is ... one day you're passing significant laws that benefit the industry, the next day you're trying to stop 2 students from groping in class.

1 comment:

David M. Patt, CAe said...

Cindy, you must work in associations that are a lot more exciting than mine. I've never seen dirty dancing or naked members or meeting attendees (thank goodness).