National Women’s Studies Association votes in favor of BDS and in support of contingent faculty!

An unprecedented number of National Women’s Studies Association members cast votes in support of two recommendations.

The first recommendation, developed by Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine (FJP), an ad-hoc group founded in Puerto Rico at NWSA 2014, urges the Association to join the international Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and draws on transnational, intersectional feminist frameworks to emphasize an “indivisible sense of justice.” Voting on this question follows on a solidarity statement released by NWSA early in 2015, issued in response to strong member engagement with BDS at the 2014 NWSA Conference in Puerto Rico.

The second recommendation, developed by the Contingent Faculty Interest Group, advocates a range of supports for NWSA to take up on behalf of contingent faculty members within the organization and in the field of Women’s Studies: it emphasizes the disproportionate impact of precarious employment in higher education on women and people of color.

NWSA President Vivian May said, “The shift to electronic voting, approved by the Governing Council at its June 2015 meeting, is part of our larger strategic plan to increase member participation, respond to the needs of the field, and build on two longstanding commitments in NWSA: fostering democratic processes and taking up key questions of injustice and inequality.”

Here is a complete overview of the results:

35% of NWSA members voted.

88.4% of votes cast were in favor of the BDS recommendation, for a total of 653 votes in support.

97.2% of votes cast were in favor of the contingent faculty recommendation, for a total of 730 votes in support.

On Friday, November 27 the National Women’s Studies Association Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the Governing Council, voted to approve both recommendations. The main text of the first recommendation, in support of BDS, was approved in full.

The Executive Committee was unanimous in its agreement that contingent faculty issues are timely and crucial: they voted in favor of NWSA issuing a public statement of support for contingent faculty, early in 2016, that highlights how questions of precarious employment in the academy and in the field of Women’s Studies are pivotal issues for the organization and the field. The Executive Committee proposes that NWSA staff work with members of the interest group to implement recommendation items two through four and encourages contingent faculty members run for Member-at-Large or other seats on the Governing Council, consistent with the NWSA bylaws.

“We have been truly excited to see such a dramatic increase in member participation, with 35% of NWSA members voting on the current issues, and a 25% increase in voter participation compared to the Spring 2015 elections, in which 10% of members voted,” said NWSA President Vivian May. She continued, “as we head into our elections for open Governing Council seats in Spring 2016, we are certain to build on this historic momentum.”

May concluded, “this unprecedented voter turnout is an important moment for NWSA. Our field is dynamic and vibrant and, more importantly, as feminist scholars, educators, and activists, NWSA members are taking up some of the most pressing issues of our time.”