ACPA’s Response to MRN’s Open Letter

In response to MRN’s Open Letter to the ACPA Community, members of ACPA leadership invited the letter’s authors to have a phone conversation on April 30 to discuss the impacts and concerns described in the letter, examine recommendations, and explore future actions in regards to demographic survey questions in ACPA.  We appreciate the following ACPA leaders who were able to participate in the conversation:

  • Kathleen Kerr, President
  • Kathy Obear, Director of Equity and Inclusion
  • Eleanor Mower, Associate Executive Director
  • Chris Moody, Director of Membership Development
  • Lance Kennedy-Phillips, 2014 Convention Evaluation and Assessment Chair

In addition, below is a letter from ACPA President Kathleen Kerr that was sent to MRN Chair Adam Ortiz after the conference call.

May 3, 2013

Hi Adam – I want to thank you and the other leaders from MRN and CMA who took time to talk with me earlier this week about their concerns. ACPA is an organization that truly values social justice and strives to be inclusive in all ways, and it is incredibly helpful to have members and leaders willing to share with us and problem solve with us when we can do better. How we ask our members about themselves via surveys and assessment instruments is one area where we can do better.  I appreciate that the leadership of MRN and CMA are catalysts for change.  This change will result in our Association being stronger, and our policies and practices being more aligned with our espoused values.

As you are aware from our phone call, the activity of revising how we ask member demographic questions has been underway since June of 2011, but is still not complete. Identifying a standard set of questions is incredibly challenging as we do not believe one “best” practice exists.  We have and continue to review standards from other Associations, campuses, and even federal and state guidelines.  That being said, the ACPA Governing Board is committed to completing this work in the coming months, so that going forward we are in agreement about how to best ask these questions of our diverse membership.

Specifically, here are the “next steps” we discussed on the call:

  • The subcommittee working on the standard questions document will continue to collect input from Association leaders and entity groups (May-June)
  • A final document will be brought before the Governing Board for review and approval
  • Once approved:
    • A senior staff member in the ACPA International Office will be identified to review all centrally distributed surveys and assessment instruments to make sure that they consistently adhere to the approved standards.
    • Other Association leaders, International Office staff members, and Convention Planning Team members will be made aware of the adopted standards and expectations for their use.
    • ACPA membership will be informed of the adopted standard questions, including the importance, value, and context of this work via an article in Developments.
    • Entity groups that distribute surveys independent of the International Office will be provided with the standard questions, applicable contexts, and their rationale.

I am happy to continue the conversation or begin another on a different topic.  Please be in touch and feel free to share both my appreciation and a summary of our discussion with the MRN, if it would be valuable.