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At its 2002 business meeting in Houston, the National Council considered renewing the 1998 Resolution on Site Selection, as it is required to do each year. In declaring its public support for affirmative action, the ASA has long assumed a leadership role on this issue, and it remains the only ACLS-affiliated professional society to do so. While the members of the Council remained vigorously and unanimously committed to promoting affirmative action through its conference site selection, we took seriously the increasing concern, voiced both by the Executive Committee and the membership at large, that a boycott on the state level was no longer the most effective tactic for manifesting this support, and might have detrimental effects on other measures by which the ASA attempts to foster diversity in the profession. The Students’ Committee, for instance, has voiced concerns over graduate-student access to the annual convention; a wholesale boycott on two western states may have negative effects on the ability of students from those states to travel to the convention site. It was pointed out that just as federal and state laws on affirmative action can depart significantly from each other, so too can municipalities adopt more progressive policies to counteract those of the state at large. With these concerns in mind, the Council resolved to continue the public support of affirmative action and fair practice toward which the boycott was originally directed through a change in strategy that rewards such practices at the local rather than the state level. The selection process for the 2006 conference site will thus include sites in California and Washington.
The Council unanimously adopted the following resolution, originally adopted in 1998, linking local support for affirmative action with the ASA’s selection of future meeting sites.
“At this critical moment in the national debate over equal opportunity, the American Studies Association, a 6,000-member, nonprofit, professional organization of American Studies scholars and educators across the U.S. and the world, wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the principle of affirmative action. We have enjoined the ASA National Council to devise appropriate strategies each year for supporting this principle. ASA has for years sought to promote strategies to advance affirmative action, such as boycotting convention sites in the states of California and Washington in response to the passage by voters in those states of anti-affirmative action measures. In selecting future convention sites, will seek to reward cities and states that publicly support affirmative action by privileging them as convention sites. We will furthermore urge the Program Committee each year to work closely with local organizers in order to highlight issues of discrimination and fair practice specific to that site. We will also encourage other professional associations to join us in this effort to fight discrimination and re-segregation, specifically to participate with us in the NAACP Report Card Project on hotels and conventions, which establishes guidelines for labor policies that promote equal opportunity and social justice.”