In case you were not able to attend the Delegate Assembly meeting at the 2017 MLA Annual Convention in Philadelphia, I write to let you know the results of voting on three regular resolutions and one emergency resolution. A report on all actions taken at the meeting will appear in the next MLA Newsletter and in the May issue of PMLA.
Members of the Delegate Assembly voted to move forward for consideration by the entire MLA membership a resolution to refrain from endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Delegates at the meeting cast 194 ballots on the resolution, 101 for moving it forward and 93 against doing so. The MLA’s bylaws require a simple majority vote at the Delegate Assembly meeting to move a resolution forward for consideration by all members.
In accordance with these bylaws, the MLA Executive Council must now examine the resolution to determine if any constitutional, legal, or fiduciary issues are posed by its language.
The council will then either forward the resolution to the membership without modifications or with nonsubstantive modifications or determine that it is unable to forward the resolution for reasons set forth in the MLA constitution.
If the council forwards the resolution, all MLA members will be able to vote on it in 2017 after a monthlong commenting period. The resolution must be ratified by a majority vote in which the number of those voting for ratification equals at least ten percent of the association’s membership.
Today’s vote was held after two years of discussion by delegates. These discussions took place on MLA Commons, at the 2016 convention, and at a town hall meeting at the 2017 convention, where scores of members debated the question of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I am pleased that so many members participated in these conversations and that the discussion leading up to the vote was thoughtful and informative. We are committed to ensuring that the next stages of the resolution process continue in the same spirit and that all of you have the opportunity to make your voices heard.
Delegates also voted on an emergency resolution to endorse the American Association of University Professors statement “Higher Education after the 2016 Election”; it received 104 votes for moving it forward and 8 votes against and will be reviewed by the MLA Executive Council to determine whether it can be forwarded to the full membership.
MLA delegates considered two other regular resolutions:
- A resolution to endorse Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott of Israeli institutions, which received 79 votes for moving it forward and 113 votes against
- A resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom in Palestinian universities by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, which received 83 votes for postponing it indefinitely and 78 votes against
If either of the resolutions approved by the Delegate Assembly are ratified by the membership, they would become formal expressions of member sentiment. In the context of our constitution and resolution process, resolutions cannot compel the association or its members to take or refrain from taking any action that requires the expenditure of association funds or the forgoing of association income.
I would like to thank the Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee for providing opportunities for respectful discussion throughout the resolution process. We will continue to make sure members are aware of the ways they can share their views on the resolutions.