It was by all accounts a great GA, but it was marred for some people because of that great demon, change. The change was that this year one needed to pay for a name badge to get in to all GA events except the Service of the Living tradition and the Sunday Service. In previous years, you could go to the exhibit hall and the Ware lecture without paying a registration fee. And because of past accusations of inconsistency in applying the nametag rules, in an apparently racist manner (white youth allowed to come to youth events without nametags but youth of color turned away...a painful story) the ushers were instructed to be absolutists on this matter. So some people who had left their name tags in their rooms were turned away from events.
Stories, furies, and disappointments were therefore a part of the GA experience of many. I turned my minister's badge over on my chest and rushed the ushers to get into the exhibit hall, I must confess, and I got away with it. In gratitude I spent a lot of money on books. But not everyone was so brazen or so lucky.
I'm with the planning committee on this one; we're too big to not require name badges, and consistency of enforcement is a good thing. I have just three little thoughts about polishing up next year's implementation. They are probably good general rules for making changes in general.
First, Publicize, publicize, publicize!
Change being hard and humans, even UU humans being dense, more publicity of the "We Really Mean This" aspect of name badge change needs to be a part of the registration experience, including the minister's registration experience. We ministers have been long accustomed to going to Ministry days and tucking ourselves in to the exhibit hall (to spend money) and going to a few early events without registering. If that's no longer going to be possible, that's fine (it may not be fine with the exhibitors, but that's another problem.) And we will all catch on eventually, but it will help with compliance if ministers (and everyone else) are told about this when they decide on registration. Not once, but three times. AND IN BOLD
Second, Take Human Failings Into Account
Because even UU's do silly things like leave their nametags in their rooms, there needs to be a publicized way for persons to slink into an office, confess their sin, and get a pass into the next event. Human nature being what it is, that's the only way to keep tender hearted ushers from unpleasant encounters and to keep at bay the human propensity to try to get favors through one's connections (a propensity that does not need to be confused with racism, as we seem to insist on doing.) If I forget my name badge and get to the Ware lecture without it, I'm sent to a corner to appeal to the head usher, who has a registration list to compare with the picture ID I will present, and will then escort me in. (And you can bet that tomorrow I remember my name badge.)
Third, You Can't Have Change without Changes.
I could rush the ushers at the doors of the exhibit hall not only because I worked to confuse them, but because they were trying to do the impossible; watch people's entry and exit in an uncontrolled space. If you are serious about checking name badges, you need to have entry-only and exit-only doors, you need roped-off lanes so that every person has to pass muster singly, and you need a sign that says, "Please show us your GA Badge!" All this can be done with efficiency and good humor; just go to Disneyland or your nearest airport for lessons. But as one with a soft spot for volunteers, I would also add that very difficult events such as, perhaps, youth evening parties which have a history of being crashed by outsiders probably need paid security.