Division News

Proposed voting amendments

Questions and answers on proposed amendments to provide a voting seat on council for each of the four national ethnic minority psychological associations

Date: Sept. 1, 2012

To: Division 1
From: Psychologists for the Seating of the four Ethnic Minority Psychological Associations
Subject: Proposed Amendments to Provide a Voting Seat on Council for Each of the Four National Ethnic Minority Psychological Associations

In the spirit of honoring APA’s position to increase diversity in membership and governance, please pay special attention to the provisions of the proposed Bylaws amendment. When called upon to cast your vote, please support the amendment.

Highlights

APA Council of Representatives was strongly in favor in its support of this amendment.

The ethnic minority psychological associations’ (EMPAs’) missions include the advancement of the science, practice, and education in psychology.

Increasing diversity in membership and governance is an APA priority.

The seats from the four EMPAs are added to the current 162 seats on council and will not affect the current structure of the apportionment balloting systems. Council’s role is to support APA’s mission to “advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” Diversity figures prominently in achieving this mission.

Each representative from an EMPA is a dues-paying member or Fellow of APA and in good standing.

The campaign to educate the APA members about the national EMPAs and getting members to vote on this issue is currently underway; the proposed amendment was only defeated by 129 votes in 2008.

Important Questions and Answers

Who are the national ethnic minority psychological associations and why did the Council of Representatives decide to provide seats to them?
The groups consist of the Asian American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, National Latina/o Psychological Association, and Society of Indian Psychologists. Each of these national organizations was established 20 to 40 years ago, along with APA and the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (APA Division 45), form the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests (CNPAAEMI). The Presidents (or their designated representatives) of those associations have met twice a year for over 15 years. A basic assumption in the historical design of representation on the APA Council of Representatives is that the APA is strongest when a diverse and wide range of perspectives is included, and this strategy is one step toward inclusion. The APA Council of Representatives determined that the provision of seats to the national ethnic minority psychological associations would serve to advance the relationships between APA and the ethnic minority psychological associations, which was formally initiated at the Opening Ceremony of former APA President Richard M. Suinn’s 1999 convention.  More importantly, increasing ethnic minority diversity in APA membership and governance has been identified by Council and other governance groups as an APA priority. This amendment would directly address this priority and continue to ensure that APA’s representation nationwide reflects the changing demographics in the U.S.

Would the APA Council’s Representatives from these groups be required to be APA members?
Yes, just as division, state, provincial and territorial representatives are required to be APA members, these members would be required to be dues-paying members as well.

Do these associations reflect the mission of the APA or are they simply political entities?
The missions of the four associations include the advancement of science, practice, and education in psychology. Members of the four ethnic minority associations are scientists, educators, and practitioners, many of whom have much to offer APA in regard to all areas of psychology, including the growing field of ethnic minority psychology. More importantly, increasing ethnic minority diversity in APA membership and governance has been identified by council and other governance groups as an APA priority. This amendment would directly address this priority. Three of the associations have scientific journals, and all have engaged in public policy advocacy related to critical psychological issues in ethnic minority communities.

In addition, the increase of ethnic minority diversity in APA governance has been identified by the APA Council of Representatives and other governance groups as an APA priority. Moreover, the vision statement of the APA underscores the association’s desire to serve as the primary resource for all psychologists and as an effective champion of the application of psychology to promote human rights, health, well-being and dignity.

Why should we vote for the bylaws amendment for a third time? What will our members think if they have to vote for the same (or similar) amendment yet again?
The amendment, which requires a 2/3 plurality, was only defeated by 177 and 129 votes in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Only about 12 percent of the eligible APA members cast their ballots for the 2008 election. With Council’s support and participation, we are launching a national “get out the vote” grassroots campaign to inform and educate APA members about this initiative, the mission and contributions of the four national ethnic minority psychological associations, and the importance of casting their vote in support of the bylaws change. Further, past history indicates that APA members are not necessarily offended by being asked to vote for something three times. This has been a most successful strategy of many elected presidents of APA — progressively sensitizing members to their vision and increasing the visibility of their concerns through multiple presidential candidacies.

Will other ethnic group societies be encouraged to join Council in the future? Where would this inclusivity stop?
The Society for Indian Psychologists, National Latina/o Psychological Association, Asian American Psychological Association, and Association of Black Psychologists are the only extant national associations of ethnic minority psychologists in the United States and the only ethnic minority groups recognized by the U.S. government. Ethnic minority psychologists remain a very small percentage of U.S. psychologists. These four groups, in existence for 20 - 40 years, have been meeting twice a year for over 15 years via the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests, which includes APA Division 45. It is a unique coalition of ethnic minority psychological associations.

Should APA seek to extend an invitation to other groups/associations to accept a seat on the Council of Representatives?
If other ethnic minority psychological associations seek a seat on the APA Council of Representatives, the APA may, at its discretion, subject those associations to the rigorous governance review, comment, and deliberations that the national ethnic minority psychological associations and aspiring new divisions have undertaken. 

I have heard that some of the national ethnic minority psychological associations include members who are not psychologists? Why should such members be able to vote for their Association’s APA COR representative?
Current APA Bylaws permit persons who hold the APA membership status of “Associate Member” for five or more consecutive years to acquire APA voting rights. APA Associate members are persons with a masters’ degree (or its equivalency) in psychology. Many divisions currently have persons with such status who are not ethnic minorities.

Why do we give the four ethnic minority psychological associations voting seats on the APA Council of Representatives when I have to "fight" for one for my Division/State through the apportionment ballot?
All of the 54 divisions, 50 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, and four US territories are allocated one or more seats on Council every year (total of 162 seats based on the 10 apportionment votes that all APA full members are allowed to distribute). The four ethnic minority groups would add four seats (for a total of 166) and would not be part of the apportionment system. The current allocation of seats would not be affected. Should this proposed amendment pass, it would not impact SPTAs and Divisions by increasing the number of people fighting for a limited numbers of seats. 

Should you have any questions, please contact:

  • Rosie P. Bingham

  • Iva Greywolf

  • Helen Neville

  • Miguel Gallardo