A Statement from the Council about MLA Resolutions

This week, the comment period opens on two resolutions approved by the MLA Delegate Assembly at the association’s 2017 annual convention. In keeping with its fiduciary responsibility and in accordance with the MLA constitution (art. 7.B.3), at its February 2017 meeting the Executive Council conducted a review of the constitutional, legal, and fiduciary issues posed by the language of each resolution approved by the Delegate Assembly. The council must answer the following four questions:

  1. Does the resolution impede the council’s ability to carry out its fiduciary responsibilities?
  2. Does the resolution contain erroneous, tortious, or potentially libelous statements?
  3. Does the resolution, by itself or taken with other resolutions, pose a threat to the organization’s continuing operation as a tax-exempt organization?
  4. Is the resolution consistent with the provisions of articles 2 and 9.C.10?*

Having applied these criteria to each resolution, the council voted to forward them to the membership for a vote. It took no position on the merits of their content, a practice consistent with all previous resolutions forwarded to the membership. At the same time, it has become increasingly clear to both the Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee (DAOC), with whom the council confers on all matters pertaining to Delegate Assembly procedures, that the current resolution process has begun to take up far more than a reasonable share of the organization’s resources, putting an undue burden on the MLA staff as well as on the members who volunteer their time to represent their colleagues on the Delegate Assembly, the DAOC, and the Executive Council.

The council has established an ad hoc committee charged with clarifying the resolution process and looking more broadly at the ways MLA members might ask the association to speak out on matters that concern them. This ad hoc committee will deliberate this year and propose to the Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly what it feels are the best ways for the association to engage in advocacy and express political sentiment. The Executive Council looks forward to the committee’s proposals and is eager to see the membership reenergized by multiple avenues of advocacy. The times in which we are living call for collective efforts that are efficient and focused. We hope you will let us know your thoughts on how best we can do this work.

* Article 2 (Purpose): The object of the association shall be to promote study, criticism, and research in the more and less commonly taught modern languages and their literatures and to further the common interests of teachers of these subjects.

Article 9.C.10 (Delegate Assembly—Responsibilities): In accordance with article 11.C, to formulate and submit to the membership for ratification resolutions on matters of public and institutional policy affecting the study and teaching of the humanities and the status of the language and literature professions represented by the association. Such matters may include proposed or enacted legislation, regulations, or other governmental and institutional policies, conditions of employment and publication, or additional matters that affect the association, its members in their professional capacities, or the dignity of members’ work.