So You Want to Form a Caucus?

December
2010
Lionell Nash, Equity and Diversity Action Committee
Reyes Ortega, Equity and Diversity Action Committee

In Spring 2009 the Academic Senate passed a resolution calling for the formation of caucuses for the purposes of broadening opportunities for faculty to discuss issues related to diversity and for developing Academic Senate leaders from underrepresented minorities. Resolution 1.05 S09, entitled “Creation of Diversity Caucuses,” placed the responsibility of identifying issues and concerns related to equity and diversity with the Academic Senate representatives from Areas A, B, C, and D. The area representatives would then report their findings to the Academic Senate Executive Committee.

Resolution 1.06 F09 expanded the use of caucuses to include other groups of faculty who may benefit from organizing around a common issue or interest. It also defined the organizational processes for caucuses and the process to be officially recognized by the Academic Senate. In Spring 2010 the delegates approved resolution 1.01, which included bylaws language for the formation of caucuses and directed the Academic Senate to develop processes and procedures to guide the creation of caucuses. Subsequently, the Standards and Practices Committee, with input from the Equity and Diversity Action Committee (EDAC), drafted the following formal processes and procedures for establishing caucuses.

Purpose:
The Academic Senate’s caucuses serve as forums within the Academic Senate in which faculty with similar interests may meet to address concerns they feel are vital to faculty and the success of students. The purpose of an Academic Senate caucus is to provide an opportunity for individuals to network and discuss issues of like interest as they relate to academic and professional matters. By promoting dialog on issues of interest to faculty in all California community colleges, the caucuses strive to strengthen relations between faculty and the Academic Senate, promote solutions, enhance communication, and seek to improve the overall relationships of all faculty on our campuses by giving voice to many faculty in a variety of forums. The caucuses serve to inform their participants and the Academic Senate, but they do not represent the Academic Senate.

Process for Recognition of a Caucus:

  1. Individuals interested in forming a caucus will identify at least ten members from at least four different colleges and at least two districts with common goals and/or interests.
  2. At any time during the year, the interested members of the proposed caucus may send a letter to the Academic Senate president to request caucus status. This letter shall include the caucus’ name, statement of purpose, and list of members.
  3. After the caucus proposal is reviewed by the Executive Committee, the Academic Senate president will forward to the requester official notification that the caucus is recognized as an Academic Senate caucus.
  4. Once the caucus is recognized and official, it will elect a caucus chair annually at the first meeting of the caucus and submit regular meeting minutes to the Academic Senate Office.
  5. Each May, the caucus chair will inform the President of the caucus’ intent to remain active and provide a current list of membership.
  6. If a caucus fails to alert the Academic Senate President of the desire to stay active, the caucus shall be deemed inactive and a new letter of intent will need to be submitted to re-activate the caucus. The intent is to have caucuses that are active and represent current faculty in California community colleges.

Executive Committee Process

  • When a caucus request is received, the president shall include the request on the next agenda. A request to become a caucus can occur any time during the year.
  • The Executive Committee will verify that the caucus goals and purpose are related to academic and professional matters (10 +1). The president will notify the requester of the outcome of the Executive Committee decision. If denied, the president will provide a reason.
  • If the Executive Committee approves the caucus, the Academic Senate president will submit notification to the body through normal communication channels such as listservs, area meetings, website, session communications, breakouts, and publications (president’s update and Rostrum).
  • Executive Committee members cannot sit as members of a caucus.

Ways the Senate can Support Caucus Efforts:

  • Support in the identification of potential caucus members and in establishing a caucus.
  • Recognition by the president during plenary sessions.
  • Opportunity to submit articles for the Rostrum.
  • Availability of breakout rooms, which will be listed in the program, in the evenings during plenary sessions.
  • Opportunity to submit an item on area meeting agendas for updates and discussions.
  • Opportunity to submit agenda items for the Executive Committee agenda.
  • Technology support via networking tools (such as a place on the Senate website to post members, agendas, and minutes, as well as listservs for communication purposes).
  • Information about available scholarships will be shared with caucus participants.

Note: The above-mentioned support is provided based on current Senate processes and policies.

Ways a Caucus Can Support the Senate’s efforts:

  • Provide a forum within the Academic Senate in which faculty with particular interest may meet to address concerns and share information vital to faculty and the success of students.
  • Seek solutions to concerns and issues raised by members of the caucus through the resolution process. Invite members of the caucus to submit a “Nomination to Serve Form” each year so that the Executive Committee receives a diverse pool of faculty from which to select committee and task force members.
  • Disseminate Senate resources such as papers, Rostrums, event information to members of the caucus and college faculty.
  • Communicate to the Senate office any suggestions for improving the caucus and its relationship to the Senate.

An example of a qualified caucus is the newly approved Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) caucus. The LGBT caucus goals are to improve the collegiate experience of LGBT students. The LGBT caucus will “…work to inform and advise the ASCCC and other professional organizations of the unique needs and challenges faced by LGBT students and develop resources to create welcoming environments free from discrimination for all students, including those whose sexual orientation or gender expression is in the minority, so that they can reach their academic and personal goals.” To view the LGBT caucus charge and membership and other caucus information, visit the caucus page on the Academic Senate website at http://www.asccc.org/caucuses. The Academic Senate Executive Committee also recently approved requests for a part-time faculty caucus and a noncredit matters caucus, and other faculty have expressed an interest in organizing Latino, African American and Asian caucuses as well as caucuses for faculty interested in disability issues and sustainability. EDAC held a breakout at last month’s fall plenary to heighten faculty awareness about caucuses and would like to encourage faculty to consider joining an officially recognized caucus or to request approval to initiate a caucus. You may direct inquiries about joining or forming a caucus to the Academic Senate Office at info [at] asccc.org.

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.