paula england response

I sent a short note to ASA President Paula England on the letterhead issue. She wrote that I was free to share the information on scatterplot, so here it is:

Thanks for your note.  The policy of the Executive Officer, Sally Hillsman, stretching back a number of years has been that elected officers of ASA may use ASA letterhead when writing on ASA business if they wish.  As you may know, the question of whether Salaita’s treatment abrogated academic freedom and whether ASA should speak out was raised at the end of the Council Meeting in August.  Council could have voted an official ASA position, but there was no time for that, so members informally encouraged me to write as President if I decided it was appropriate.  I drafted a letter, but decided to see if a few other officers agreed.  Not everyone did, so at first my call was to say nothing.  Later, however, the three presidents and secretary decided we did want to speak out. We used ASA letterhead, as we were writing as presidents and secretary of the ASA, but I was careful to word the letter not to imply that this was an official ASA position (that would be appropriate only if Council had voted).  Two elected officers who didn’t agree with our letter decided to write a letter taking a different position, and approached the Executive Officer about whether they too could send it on ASA stationery.  Sally consulted with me, and articulated what the policy had been. Given the past policy, I felt the fair thing to do was grant their request.

Regarding your question about postings under “Advocacy” on Member News and Notes, I’m told by ASA staff that “Advocacy” is just an internal file name (a bit of a residual category), not a title used in the text of News and Notes.

13 thoughts on “paula england response”

  1. I found this surprising. I would not have guessed that it was a longstanding position of the ASA Executive Office that “ASA business” provides a broad license for letting whatever elected officials use the organization’s name as a platform for personal political advocacy, even without any pretense of espousing broad principles on behalf of membership. Who knew Vice President Elect and Council Member At Large conferred such power to speak in our names? Since apparently this was all standard operating procedure, it’s good to have it on the record.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Imagine the uproar if an elected official wrote a statement on ASA letterhead denouncing gay marriage. Before you say to yourself, “but we would never elect such a person!” note that mark regnerus has been an elected council member of the family section.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Gotta agree with both JF and SK on this (and Aaron P on the previous thread). I’m glad it’s on the record that it *is* SOP, but not so glad *that* it’s SOP. This is not to say that I disagree w/ England et al on the substantive position; I quite strongly agree and at least now know I will never ever vote Risman or Bohon into any role where they might be called on to defend professional principle because I think they don’t here. And, given that it *is* SOP, I can see why England et al did it and am okay with it. I also have to be okay with the form of the Risman/Bohon response in the sense that (by SOP) they had their right to advocate for Palestinian/Arab exceptions to the first amendment (and with their right to further propagate what I think so-unfair-as-to-be-calumnious charges) on the same letterhead where England et al took their stand. But I’d also very happily vote to see SOP changed as own-petard-hoisting is just too likely and perhaps happened here (I’m very dubious that Risman/Bohon could get support for their position from a majority of sociologists informed about the case; those presumably most informed, at UIUC, notably voted no-confidence in Wise). This is especially so given the points made in previous posts: we tend for good reasons to know way more about candidates work than we do about their views on the stuff the association should/shouldn’t do.

    Another advantage to a different SOP is the beneficial constraint: with no safety valve (informal “write if you feel appropriate”) there would have been more pressure to vote, time constraint notwithstanding.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’ll admit that I hadn’t realized that UIUC Sociology had issued a no confidence statement, but here it is. It seems extraordinary to me that a national scientific organization would authorize issuing a letter of support to a university’s chancellor that the scientific department at the university in question had voted no confidence in. I wonder if sociologists at UIUC are upset about this; certainly, they should be.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I certainly am. Gotta love the solidarity…. The org sociologist in me has to remind here (with apologies to Mitt Romney) that organizations are some combination of people and procedure. It’s true that “the organization” authorized the use of letterhead. It’s also true that particular people wrote the letters. You can say what you will about whether England et al should have released their statement without a vote, but they did have SOP and, on substantive principle, it seems likely they could have gotten that vote. It’s worth pointing out also that one of the multiple ways in which Salaita is being railroaded is that he has been reminded of PoC exceptions to procedural rights, so it is good that Prez England was properly principled in acknowledging Risman/Bohon’s technical procedural right to put their dissent on letterhead (two wrongs…). It’s finally worth reminding again that R/B’s willingness to exploit that – given for instance the UIUC vote – speaks to their own principles. And it all underscores that we really really need different SOP, and soon.


    1. Good question. I’ve been poking around on the settings and such as I have admin privileges and I cannot even see where the post-specific option is. But I know it has been used before so it must be somewhere.


      1. btw — was def not “author’s decision” given that I posed it as a question. Thx for looking around. I was teaching. For future ref for others it’s in Advanced Settings. Checkbox.


    2. Rule 43.2(d) in the Scatterplot Style Guide is that authors of posts have discretion over whether to allow comments. That said, I don’t remember how one does it in the WordPress interface.


      1. JF — do you know how to change it in my defaults? I think it should be settings/discussion but it does not show me what blegs suggest it should so I assume it has to do w/ permissions. I am by rule scatterbrained in order to have a login, but don’t have admin privileges I presume (or do I?). As a general rule, if I post I’m happy w/ comments on and would explain in text why not if not. So change away if I forget again someday.


  5. because jdwblahblah screwed up and has now fixed that. Now back to posting 3 years after…, and the default is different than three years ago. Will note to self for next time.



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