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SPSSI Supports Proposed Change to APA Bylaws

Allen M. Omoto, SPSSI President
Maureen O’Connor, SPSSI Past-President
Dominic Abrams, SPSSI President-Elect

An important amendment to the American Psychological Association (APA) bylaws will be sent to the APA membership for vote in November. This bylaws change proposes to seat one representative each from four different national ethnic minority psychological associations (EMPAs) on the APA’s main decision-making body, its Council of Representatives. At the present time, one representative from each of the four associations (Asian American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, National Latina/o Psychological Association, and Society of Indian Psychologists) is granted “observer status” to attend the APA Council meetings; however they are not allowed to vote. The bylaws change, overwhelmingly supported by APA Council at its August 2012 meeting, would give each association the opportunity to elect a representative who would be granted full rights and responsibilities equivalent to all other representatives on APA Council, including voting rights.

This is actually the third time that this proposed bylaws change will be brought to APA membership for vote. The EMPAs were originally accorded observer status as an attempt to increase the number of ethnic minority psychologists in APA and in the profession but also to improve the historically tense relationships between APA and members from marginalized groups. The move to voting rights and full responsibilities for the observers is part of a larger set of joint initiatives involving the EMPAs and APA. The last time that this bylaws amendment went to the APA membership it was defeated by a narrow margin (63.29% of the members approved; just less than the required two-thirds). SPSSI adopted an official statement in support of the bylaws change at that time.

After consultation with its current representatives to the APA Council, SPSSI Council unanimously adopted a statement supporting this proposed bylaws change. As noted in the statement, SPSSI Council supports this change based on the results of research and also because it is consistent with SPSSI’s values and commitments. Therefore, on behalf of SPSSI Council, we urge all members of SPSSI who are also members of APA to read the SPSSI statement and to vote in favor of this change. The statement adopted by SPSSI Council is below:

Division 9/SPSSI supports changing the APA bylaws to permit one voting seat each on the APA Council of Representatives (COR) for the Asian American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, National Latina/o Psychological Association, and the Society of Indian Psychologists. These ethnic minority psychological associations have had observer status on APA COR; it is now time to accord them voting rights and responsibilities. SPSSI’s support for the bylaws change is based on the results of research demonstrating the positive effects of diversity on individuals and organizations, and also on SPSSI’s longstanding commitments to social justice and inclusion. SPSSI believes that the work of APA will be enhanced, and that the field of psychology will be better served, by close collaboration between psychological associations and by including a range of perspectives in cooperative work.

Thank you for taking time to review this important issue and to cast your vote. SPSSI’s current representatives to APA Council, Richard Suinn and Wendy Williams, can answer any questions that you have about this issue. If you are so inclined, they can also find ways for you to be involved in getting out the vote or advocating for this bylaws change. You can contact Dick at and Wendy at

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