ASCCC Valuing Your Voice: Walking the Talk
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) Bylaws Article VI states, “Academic Senate caucuses are intended to serve as groups of independently organized faculty to meet, network, and deliberate collegially in order to form a collective voice on issues of common concern that caucus members feel are of vital importance to faculty and the success of students as they relate to academic and professional matters.” The caucus structure is a conscious effort by the ASCCC to establish a means within the organization to ensure all voices are heard.
In spring 2009, the delegates to the ASCCC Plenary Session passed Resolution 1.05, Creation of Diversity Caucuses, calling for the creation of caucuses for “faculty belonging to monitored groups with minority or diverse ancestral roots from traditionally underrepresented groups.” The goal was to “bring issues or concerns pertaining to equity and diversity related to leadership at the state and local level as well as to the profession and to professional practice” to the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate. The ASCCC Bylaws were changed in 2010 to reflect the addition of the caucus structure, and two more resolutions in 2010 and 2013 respectively were passed to update the bylaws and procedures regarding caucuses.
HOW MANY CAUCUSES ARE THERE IN THE ASCCC?
Over time, the total number of caucuses has varied and has included representation from noncredit faculty, part-time faculty, and vocational education faculty. Caucuses currently active and recognized by the Executive Committee for 2019-2020 include the following:
- LGBTQIA+ Caucus (established November 9, 2010)
- Small or Rural College Caucus (established February 4, 2015)
- Latinx Caucus (established December 19, 2017)
- Womyn’s Caucus (established July 20, 2019)
- Black Caucus (established November 6, 2019)
WHAT CHANGES HAS THE ASCCC MADE TO THE CAUCUS STRUCTURE SINCE 2019?
ASCCC Bylaws call for the Executive Committee to establish the policies, procedures, and guidelines for caucuses, and thus the current Executive Committee members, in collaboration with the current caucus leaders and the Faculty Leadership Development Committee, responded to fall 2019 Resolution 1.09, Academic Senate Caucus Restructuring by updating and changing the caucus guidelines as follows:
- Caucuses are now allowed to freely determine their own internal organization and operations structure as they see fit; this change was in response to current caucus leaders conveying the need to dismantle unnecessary hierarchies and to allow for each caucus to have a “contact” instead of president or similar hierarchical leadership structures.
- The ASCCC has provided a space at every plenary session for caucuses to meet; however, caucus meetings were scheduled at night after the resolutions process was complete. Beginning in 2020, caucus meeting times will vary in order to facilitate involvement in the resolution and election processes.
- The ASCCC, to the best of their ability, will stagger the caucus meeting times so that participants may attend more than one caucus meeting if they choose, supporting intersectionality of faculty among caucuses.
- Caucuses are encouraged to collaborate with ASCCC leaders regarding professional development activities to support diverse faculty.
- Each caucus is now assigned an ASCCC Executive Committee member to serve as a resource to the caucus; these individuals may be caucus members if they choose to join. The Executive Committee member does not serve in a leadership capacity but rather as a conduit to the Executive Committee.
- Caucuses only have to update their membership and status every five years to remain active by submitting the Recognition of Caucus Application form to retain active status with ASCCC. Prior to the new process, the form had to be updated every year.
WHY DID THE ASCCC MAKE CAUCUSES A MORE SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE ORGANIZATION?
ASCCC leadership heard the urging of current caucus leaders and members to be more intentional in ensuring that they are listening to the voices and needs of diverse faculty membership, as called for in the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan. Hopefully, these changes will encourage involvement from faculty and create further support for underrepresented faculty voices.
HOW DO YOU JOIN AN ASCCC CAUCUS?
Faculty who are interested in joining a current caucus or attending a caucus meeting can find more information on the ASCCC caucuses webpage.  All are welcome.
HOW DO YOU START AN ASCCC CAUCUS?
In order to be formally recognized by the ASCCC, caucuses must meet the criteria detailed on the ASCCC Caucuses webpage.2 That criteria includes submitting the Recognition of Caucus Form to the ASCCC Office at any time during the year and listing membership and contact information from a minimum of ten faculty from at least four different colleges and at least two districts. The application should include a statement explaining how the objectives and activities of the caucus will further the goals and objectives articulated in the ASCCC strategic plan.
Caucuses should be formed around broad issues of ongoing concerns connected to academic and professional matters not specific to one discipline, be open to all, be free of fees or dues, operate in a lawful manner, and not promote any offensive actions or hate. Caucuses are formally established by a simple majority vote of the ASCCC Executive Committee to approve the written application. For additional information, please contact the ASCCC office at info [at] asccc.org.
1. Information on joining or forming a caucus can be found at https://www.asccc.org/node/184082/.
2. See note 1 above
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