APA Council of Representatives Report
Wendy R. Williams, Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, Berea College
The Council of Representatives met via Zoom on August 5 and 6, 2020. The following report includes both work that was accomplished at the meeting, as well as reports received by Council which occurred since the COR meeting in February 2020, with an emphasis on things we feel would be of interest to the SPSSI membership.
Renewed Call for EMPA Voting Rights: Given the worldwide awareness and calls for racial and social justice, and the fact that the Ethnic Minority Psychology Associations’ (EMPA) are allowed at the council table but not allowed the right to vote, there has been a resounding call to enfranchise the EMPA with voting rights in COR. A new motion was brought to the floor and approved with 98% of the vote. Additionally, a motion was brought to the floor to keep pro/con statements with the bylaw amendment ballot measures brought to the membership. Lively discussion followed as to whether their inclusion introduces bias for the voter. The vast majority of Council (95%) voted not to include the pro/con statement with the EMPA Voting Rights measure. However, Council did vote to include an explanatory statement with the bylaw amendment ballot sent to the membership.
Psychology’s Understanding of the Challenges Related to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic: APA President, Sandra Shullman, Ph.D., and APA CEO, Arthur C. Evans, Ph.D., Jr., along with APA Board Chairs came together to meet the need for a statement that would speak to psychology’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Board Chairs worked with their boards to craft a statement highlighting four key societal domains: health and well-being; family and social development; education, training, and learning; and work, organizational, and human performance. Council, board, and committee members provided feedback over the summer resulting in a final statement presented to Council at the August meeting. The motion to accept the statement was overwhelmingly approved, with many mentions of kudos from COR members. You can view the resolution here: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/08/covid-policy-statement.pdf
Report of the Work Group on Enhancing Council’s Effectiveness as a Policy-Making Body: Council voted to receive the report provided by the Work Group, recognizing the amount of work that was accomplished in a short period of time during a global health pandemic. Council also voted to refer the report back to the Work Group as well as the Council Leadership Team to allow further comments from Council.
Voting Privileges and New Membership Category for Graduate Students: Historically, Graduate Student members have been limited in voice and action within APA. The APA Graduate Student (APAGS) Committee initially brought this item to Council in the Fall of 2018. Council at that time voted in favor of putting the matter before the APA membership to vote on the bylaw amendment. The amendment received 65.98% in favor from the general membership. However, it did not pass due to the required two-thirds majority (66.67%) to pass. The measure was only 58 votes short of achieving two-thirds of the vote. Because Graduate Students are an integral part of the field of psychology, not to mention its future, APAGS re-introduced the item to Council for discussion and approval to send the amendment back to the membership for another vote. At the Aug 5–6, 2020 meeting, Council again discussed this proposal. Specifically, that after one year as a “Graduate Student” member, they be granted full voting privileges. Council again approved to send the amended bylaw proposal to the APA membership for another vote this fall.
APA’s Response to the Global Climate Change Crisis: Council approved a policy statement on APA’s response to the global climate change crisis. The proposed statement was developed by the Board of Scientific Affairs with the aim of reaffirming APA’s 2011 policy resolution on climate change, committing APA to collaborating on climate change with other organizations in the United States and internationally, and establishing an expert task force to advise on APA’s future activities on climate change. The vote passed with 98.7% approval. The policy statement can be found at: https://www.apa.org/about/policy/climate-change-crisis.
Report of the 2019 Violent Video Games Task Force: Council received the report of the 2019 Violent Video Games Task Force. The report utilizes psychology to make a positive impact on critical societal issues, by facilitating the public’s understanding of APA’s current statement on violent video games research and to increase the influence of psychology on policy decisions. The vote passed with 96.3% approval. The report itself can be found at: https://www.apa.org/science/leadership/bsa/report-violent-video-games.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0qJKNsCZ_GDRTLAUraD43SeXXReeU_06Ms4S5xESLp5SzKdFy--T_1_z0
Resolution on Opposing Discriminatory Laws, Policies, and Practices Aimed at LGBTQ+ Persons: The issue of discriminatory legislation and initiatives has negative impact in their general presence in the public sphere and on the psychological well-being of their targets. This item passed COR with 100% approval rate. The resolution can be found at: https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/opposing-laws
Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Parents and their Children: The updated resolution will provide a policy statement that will prepare APA and psychologists to respond to proposed legislation, to requests for amicus briefs in legal cases, and to communication from members, the public, and the media related to how sexual orientation and gender identity/expression affects parents and children. The item passed with 100% approval rate. The resolution can be found at: https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/sexual-orientation
Resolution on Supporting Sexual/Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents in Schools: The updated resolution will address issues of gender and sexual orientation diversity among children and adolescents, enhance psychology’s role in advancing school health, and increase the visibility of psychology’s contributions to research, practice, and public policy regarding gender and sexual orientation diversity among children and adolescents. The item passed with 100% approval rate. The resolution can be found at: https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/gender-diverse-children
Amendment to Association Rules Regarding Delegation of Specific Duties to the Board of Directors (BOD): During the Good Governance Project in 2014, COR delegated certain administrative financial responsibilities (related to the budget, CEO, and dues) in order to devote more time during its twice annual meetings to developing policy for the discipline of psychology. The trial delegation was extended in 2017. Although language was proposed to make the delegation of authority a permanent part of the rules language, this was amended instead to (1) create another three-year period and (2) add continuing three-year reviews after the next three year period. Thus, the BOD will lead processes involved in confirming, evaluating, and reconfirming the CEO; as well as all budgetary decision-making with Council receiving a report on APA’s budget and finances at least once per year. However, in terms of dues, COR maintained that any increase in dues must be approved by Council, while dues decreases need only BOD approval.
Diversity & Inclusion Learning Session: Council engaged in a Diversity and Inclusion Learning Session focused on how to build to a more inclusive COR culture, led by Dr. Bernardo Ferdman. Council specifically focused on balancing comfort and discomfort. Although the activities were well-run and engaging and the overt tone is significantly more civil than it has been in the past, COR’s anonymous feedback at the end of the day revealed that some members still resent engaging in this work and do not see its value, and some see its value but think they should be exempted from continuing time spent on these issues. SPSSI’s voice at the table is still very much needed.
Amicus Curiae: APA regularly engages in submitting amicus curiae. Since August 2019 the newest action was in Doyle v. Hogan. A challenge was brought against a new Maryland law that prohibits mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts—a law which in part references APA taskforce and resolutions on the topic that shows these change efforts have not been shown to be either safe or effective. APA’s submitted brief reaffirms the psychological data that demonstrates the harmfulness of conversion therapy efforts.
2020 has been a surreal year in many ways. Both Wendy Williams and Janice Adelman stepped into the Div 9 Rep assignments as substitutes for the year. Now as the end of 2020 nears, we send Wendy off with continued best wishes and many thanks for her time and energy representing SPSSI’s voice in APA this year; we extend thanks to Janice and welcome her continued presence with an elected full-term position beginning in January 2021; and we also warmly welcome back Luis Rivera to complete the rest of his elected term. If you have questions or concerns that you want your representatives to bring to the APA on your behalf, please contact Luis at email@example.com, or Janice at firstname.lastname@example.org.