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AFT Resolutions

PROMOTING FACULTY DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

WHEREAS, numerous studies have found that diversity in the ranks of college and university faculty has a positive effect on the educational process, exposing students to a greater variety of information and teaching styles, providing role models and mentors for the increasingly diverse student population, and furthering economic and social justice; and

WHEREAS, "Higher education has literally been revolutionized with women and racial minorities…" and "(Affirmative action) has been an important part of closing gaps in economic opportunity in our society," President Bill Clinton (7/19/95); and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers’ support of affirmative action measures has been manifested in many ways, including the union’s legal advocacy in the University of Michigan affirmative action case of Grutter v. Bollinger (June 2003) and the union’s 2006 policy resolution opposing the anti-affirmative action campaign of Ward Connerly; and

WHEREAS, the research literature regarding both college faculty and professional staff, including the 2007 edition of American Academic, contains a good deal of data enumerating significant remaining barriers to achieving broader faculty and staff diversity; and

WHEREAS, in particular, case studies indicate that a large number of nontraditional faculty members – which includes people of color, women, the disabled and gay/bisexual/lesbian and transgendered people – find the demands of collegiate recruitment, tenure, evaluation and promotion processes to be especially unclear and onerous, sometimes as a result of ineffective communications on the part of colleagues and sometimes as a result of active and subtle discrimination; and

WHEREAS, efforts to improve faculty and staff diversity have been set back by a number of state and federal court decisions, as well as the enactment of state laws and referenda, to roll back reasonable affirmation action measures in hiring and admissions; and

WHEREAS, a particularly pernicious example, misnamed the American Civil Rights Initiative and headed by Ward Connerly, is spending large sums of money to enact state referenda to overturn affirmative action in hiring and admissions, a campaign that the American Federation of Teachers continues to resist:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers reaffirm its strong support for the principle of affirmative action and its commitment to the need for diverse faculty in the country’s colleges and universities; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers affirm the positive and proactive role that academic unions can play in promoting diversity among faculty, librarians and professional staff on campus, and the constructive impact these efforts can have on diversity, member outreach, union organizing and educational quality; and

RESOLVED, in furtherance of that purpose, the American Federation of Teachers shall maintain and expand, wherever resources are available, its working relationships with local, state and national organizations battling proposed legislation and referenda to end affirmative action in hiring and enrollment and will track the progress of these efforts; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers collect and publish summaries of research analyzing impediments to diversity among faculty, librarians and professional staff in collegiate hiring, mentoring and promotion practices as they pertain to people of color, women, the disabled, and gay/bisexual/lesbian/transgendered people, with a particular focus on what unions have done to address these issues; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers gather and widely disseminate the most useful information available on best practices for overcoming barriers to increased diversity–including contractual language, effective recruitment practices, mentoring and clear tenure and promotion procedures; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers utilize its findings to formulate policy proposals and offer technical assistance, in the form of handbooks and other publications, to enable higher education unions to take effective action in these areas.


(2008)