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Report on APA Council of Representatives
By Allen M Omoto & Maureen O’Connor, Division 9 Council Representatives
We are pleased to provide a report about our activities as SPSSI/Division 9 representatives on the APA Council of Representatives. We’d like to highlight three areas of activity: apportionment, Council business, and a brewing controversy involving one of the hotels for the 2010 APA Convention. As always, we welcome input, questions, comments, and suggestions so that we can best represent and advocate for Division 9/SPSSI concerns within APA. Please contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
1) APA Apportionment
If you are a member of APA, you recently received an apportionment ballot from APA. DO NOT THROW AWAY THIS BALLOT. Votes on this ballot determine the number of seats that divisions and state associations have on the APA Council of Representatives (COR). SPSSI currently has only two seats on COR. SPSSI/Division 9 is considered by many to be the “conscience of APA.” As SPSSI’s representatives, we have worked on recent resolutions against torture and the implementation of a member-adopted policy on psychologists in national security detention settings; have been actively involved in efforts to revise some of the APA Ethical Standards; pushed to insure that human rights and social justice are included in the APA strategic plan and new mission statement; continued to work with the Divisions for Social Justice, a coalition of divisions that work collaboratively to further social justice concerns within APA; and serve on the Executive Committees of two major caucuses within APA COR – the Public Interest Caucus and the Caucus of Academic, Scientific, and Applied Research Psychologists.
We are proud to represent SPSSI/Division 9 on COR and hope that you see the value of this work. SPSSI/Division 9 needs your help to retain (if not add to) its COR seats and to continue working for you. PLEASE ALLOCATE ALL 10 OF YOUR APPORTIONMENT VOTES TO DIVISION 9. Any APA member can cast apportionment votes for Division 9, so please also ask your colleagues to support SPSSI’s work by casting apportionment votes to Division 9.
2) APA Council of Representatives Meeting, August 2009
APA COR met at the APA Convention in August, 2009; below is a summary of the principle discussions and actions most relevant to Division 9/SPSSI.
a) APA’s Strategic Planning Process
As we have reported previously, APA has been engaged in an intensive strategic planning process. Nearing its completion, APA now has a new Mission Statement and Vision Statement (see http://www.apa.org/about/). At this meeting, COR adopted three Goals to receive attention over the next 3-5 years, specifically: 1) Maximize organizational effectiveness, 2) Expand psychology’s role in advancing health, and 3) Increase recognition of psychology as a science. Representatives from a number of Divisions, including ours, were instrumental in making sure that Goal 3 was included in this list. Currently, a list of values is being developed to guide APA’s work. Given SPSSI’s concerns, we have worked with other Division representatives and caucuses within APA governance to make sure that “social justice” and emphasis on science-based knowledge are included in the formal value statements. These values are expected to be voted on in February 2010.
b) APA Budget
APA’s Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer briefed COR on the serious budget crisis facing APA. Although APA’s real estate holdings remain strong, publications revenue, membership dues, and long-term investments have all been reduced, leaving APA with an operating deficit that has been addressed with stringent budget cutting. Staff lay-offs have occurred; programming is being reduced; and numerous governance meetings have been canceled, including the Fall Consolidated Meetings for APA Boards and Committees.
c) Ethics Code Revision
The Ethics Committee has placed on its website proposed wording changes to the Introduction and Applicability Section and Standards 1.02 and 1.03 of the APA Ethics Code and is asking for public comment. This comment period closes December 15 and is for comments on specific wording recommendations for these three sections of the Ethics Code, including asking for preference between the phrase "makes known their commitment to the Ethics Code" and “make known their obligations under the Ethics Code." The recommended changes were originally proposed by the Movers of a Resolution directing the Ethics Committee to propose wording changes to the Ethics Code (with SPSSI representative Allen Omoto as one of those movers). This group recommended "commitment to," but "obligations under" may actually be stronger and preferable. For more information and to comment, please go to the Ethics Committee website at: http://www.apa.org/ethics/.
d) Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change
COR voted to receive the report of this Task Force which was chaired by SPSSI member Janet Swim. The Task Force Report thoroughly examines connections between psychology and global climate change and has received significant publicity, including garnering international attention. The Report, replete with recommendations for research and policy, is available at: http://www.apa.org/science/climate-change/.
e) Other Resolutions Adopted
Council voted to approve three other resolutions as described below.
i) Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts. This Resolution reaffirms APA’s opposition to prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and its support of diversity. Further, it affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, and notes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. The Resolution encourages the use of evidence-based practice to address any distress resulting from sexual orientation. It also encourages advocacy groups, elected officials, mental health professionals, policy makers, religious professionals and organizations, and other organizations to seek areas of collaboration in promoting the wellbeing of sexual minorities. See: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/resolution-resp.html.
ii) Resolution on Families of Incarcerated Offenders. This Resolution is directed at policymakers to address the serious challenges facing families of those who are incarcerated, particularly children. It urges a number of federal agencies to support research focusing on the consequences of incarceration and to develop services for families. Recommendations for state and federal courts, for educational institutions and school professionals, relevant federal agencies, and psychologists and other mental health professionals to improve services for offender’s family members and communities are also included. This resolution can be found at: http://www.apa.org/ppo/news/jjdpa-resolution.html.
iii) Resolution on Emancipating and Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking. With this Resolution, APA recognizes the global scale and size of the human trafficking problem and its disproportionate impact on women and links it to human rights concerns. The Resolution urges funded research on the social and cultural underpinnings of human trafficking, ways to assist trafficked persons, and research into psychological treatments and educational needs for trafficked persons. It also urges the US government, state and local governments, foreign governments, and international non-governmental organizations to work to end human trafficking and to assist its victims. See: http://www.apa.org/governance/cpm/chapter12b.html.
3) Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel Controversy
We are monitoring the controversy surrounding the APA Annual Convention in August 2010 in San Diego, CA, and specifically the planned use of the Manchester Grand Hyatt as a headquarters hotel. The owner of this hotel, Doug Manchester, contributed $125,000 in support of California’s Proposition 8 in fall 2008, which abolished same-sex marriage in the state. The hotel also has been targeted for protests from labor rights supporters. APA signed a contract with this hotel long before these issues arose and would now be subject to costly penalties for cancellation. In February 2009, the APA Board of Directors voted to honor the contract, and APA President-Elect Carol Goodheart subsequently appointed a working group to address the issues and make recommendations for how to proceed. The working group has recommended that the APA use this as an opportunity to highlight research on LGBT issues and marriage equality. We have been working with representatives from other Divisions (including from the Divisions for Social Justice) and the SPSSI Executive Committee to develop a strong and collaborative response to this situation. We will keep SPSSI members informed about developments as well as the course of action that SPSSI adopts.
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