Travel and Conferences

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SRCT organizes travel to outside events germane to our mission and helpful to our membership.

Organizational Hurdles

There are several steps involved in requesting travel funding from Student Funding Board.

Timing

Student Funding Board requires additional timing before approving and allocating student travel than for other events. Additionally, SFB is often more exacting with travel requests, so when seeking travel funding, anticipate that final approval may require an appeal, or even a resubmission. Send in your budget request as early as reasonably possible. At minimum, your request should come at least a month before travelling. As budget deadlines are every two weeks, this may mean sending in your first request as early as five weeks ahead of time.

Details and Supporting Documentation

You must include the G Numbers of all students who will be seeking reimbursements when you submit your request.

Student Registration

Create a Google Form to direct interested students to that collects their Mason email addresses, G Numbers, and phone numbers, along with whether they own cars, would be comfortable using their car for travel, details regarding the car, and if they would be comfortable driving.

Ensure that students are aware of all organizational requirements and expectations when travelling. Student Involvement has forms waiving liability that must be signed before embarking from George Mason, and SRCT must maintain these forms per its ordinary document retention policy.

Carpooling

For safety purposes regarding overnight travel, have at least four people in each car. The driver must have someone in the passenger seat who is awake for safety. The two students in the back should be asleep. If multiple vehicles will be travelling to an event, the passenger should be entrusted with maintaining communications with other cars in the group.

Bring snacks, pillows, and blankets in each car.

Drivers will need to be divided between travelling cars.

LibrePlanet

LibrePlanet is an annual conference held in Cambridge (a suburb directly across the Charles River from Boston) by the Free Software Foundation for "people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and address challenges facing the free software movement." LibrePlanet has talks, meetups, and workshops for a wide variety of technical backgrounds. The opening keynote will be someone different each year--in 2016, for instance, it was Edward Snowden--and the final keynote will be Richard Stallman. Everyone should have an opportunity to fully appreciate The Stallman Experience. It's like nothing else.

The event itself is held in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science Department's building, the Stata Center, which has a fascinating, eye-catching architectural design.

Notes on Trip Logistics

The drive from to George Mason to Boston is at minimum eight hours, but this assumes no breaks and perfect traffic. Plan instead for a ten hour trip. This also allows a bit of wiggle room for late departures. If you aim to leave George Mason at 9:00pm, you will then arrive at Boston at 7:00am. LibrePlanet ordinarily begins at 9:00am, so this allows time for our travellers to park, meet back up, and get a hearty breakfast before the conference.

At least one break and switch between drivers should occur. In the past, we've held this tradeoff at the first rest stop on the New Jersey turnpike. When arriving in Cambridge, park at one of the city's surprisingly inexpensive public parking lots. The Green Street Parking Garage is both cheap and is easily within walking distance--a couple blocks--of MIT's campus.

A good hotel option, one that we've used in the past, is the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill. The Wyndham hotel lines include Super 8 and Days Inn: they're not the fanciest of hotels, but are of a nice enough quality to be clean and safe. This hotel is in a great location for our needs, one stop away from the Kendall/MIT subway stop at Charles/MGH.

Pycon

Pycon is the annual conference of the Python Software Foundation. Its location rotates every two years. From 2014-15 it was held in Montreal, Canada, allowing us to drive from campus.