Report on the Meeting of the APA Council of Representatives (COR), February 2010

 

  Emanuel Donchin, University of South Florida, donchin@mail.usf.edu                    

         

 

Randy Engel, Georgia Institute of Technology, randall.engle@psych.gatech.edu

 

The COR convened February 19-21, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt, in Washington, DC. Division 3 was again represented by two members, as Randy Engle joined Manny Donchin at the COR table. As you may recall, our Division lost its second representative during 2009. In the last apportionment, however, members of Division 6 have allocated their vote to Division 3, thus allowing us to gain a second seat at the COR.

 

This meeting of the COR dealt with a number of rather weighty issues, some of much concern to members of our Division.  One issue of immediate concern to many of our members is the manner in which the dual-membership discount was resolved. Here the news is both good and bad.  The good news is that, even though the Board of Directors moved that all dual membership discounts be abolished, the COR voted to continue the discount.  Specifically the COR created a $25 dues credit for full members of APA who are also members of the Association for Psychological Science; the Society of Neuroscience; any organizations that are part of the Federation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences; and members of the state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and the four national ethnic-minority psychological associations.  This dues credit will begin with the 2012 dues cycle.

 

The bad news, of course, is that for members of APS and the Federation organizations, the $25 discount will replace their current 25 percent dual membership discount.  In the horse trading that was required in order to maintain the dual discount, and to add both APS and the SFN to the list of associations whose members benefit from the discount, the size of the discount fell victim.  It is noteworthy that the APA’s Central Office reported that of the 30,000 or so current APA members who could claim the discount, only some 5000 have actually done so.

 

Another financial matter that is of concern to members of Division 3, as well as to the other Divisions that join us in the Caucus of Academic, Scientific and Professional Divisions (CASAP), has been the fate of the annual contribution of $40,000 that the APA has been making to the Archives of the History of Psychology (AHAP), maintained at the University of Akron.  As we reported last year, this allocation fell victim to the budget cuts of 2009.  However, the budgetary situation is somewhat improved.  We offered, therefore, an amendment to the budget that restored the annual allocation for AHAP.  The APA’s Treasurer, and the Board, accepted this as a friendly amendment to the budget proposal and the allocation has thus been restored.

We won’t provide here a detailed report on the APA budget, as adopted for 2010, other than to note that the deep deficits of last year have been averted in the current budget, which actually shows a surplus.  The drastic budget cuts of the past year, and various other economizing steps, have created a more comfortable, if not a plush, budgetary situation.  One note that is worth emphasizing is that the APA journals, and in particular the electronic and Library, subscriptions contribute a very substantial portion of the APA revenues.  Thus the academic community, of which Division 3 is very much a part, is making a very major contribution to the well being of the Association.  This is a point that your representatives never tire of making.

 

Another matter to which the COR attended, in this and in its most recent meeting, is the newly adopted Strategic Plan of the APA.  Within the framework of The Plan the COR adopted a statement about the APA “Values”.  The values statement is quite brief as you will see below.  It has, nevertheless, engaged a very active task force (of which one of us, ED, was a member) in quite extensive discussions, which continued to the floor of the COR.  Ultimately, the following language was adopted…

 

The American Psychological Association commits to its vision through a mission based upon the following values:

 

Continual Pursuit of Excellence

Knowledge and its Application Based Upon Methods of Science

Outstanding Service to its Members and to Society

Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusion

Ethical Action in All that We Do

 

We are pleased that the statement affirms the role of the “Methods of Science” in the acquisition of knowledge.  This seemed stronger and more definite than merely affirming an interest in “Science based” knowledge.  Science, after all, is defined by its methods and it is important, we think, for the APA to affirm its commitment to the Scientific Method.  It may shock some of you that some, at the COR, asserted that this language is “exclusionary” because, to them, the phrase “evidence based” is not synonymous with “Scientifically tested”.

 

A considerable segment of the COR discussion was focused on issues of ethics.  At the core of the discussion is the clear contradiction between the ethical principles that bind the members of the APA to abjure torture in any form and that clearly disallows any member of the APA to participate, or to support, any torture.  On the other side are the assertions of the authority of the Law, which under the previous administration deemed torture to be a proper, and legal, tool in interrogations.  There was a strong feeling among the membership that the Ethical Principles do not make it sufficiently clear that no matter what “the Law allows, or mandates”, Psychologists can not violate their ethical principles.  The following paragraphs are quoted from the summary prepared by Rhea Farberman.

 

“…In response, APA's council directed the Ethics Committee to draft language to make clear that the code offers no defense to human rights violations. After gathering member and public comment, the committee proposed, and the council overwhelmingly approved, the following amendments:

 

“…If psychologists' ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to this Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner. If the conflict is irresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing authority in keeping with basic principles of human rights.

 

From Ethical Standard 1.02:

1.02  Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority

If psychologists' ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. If the conflict is irresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

 

From Ethical Standard 1.03:

1.03  Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational Demands

If the demands of an organization with which psychologists are affiliated or for whom they are working are in conflict with this Ethics Code, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code, and to the extent feasible, resolve the conflict in a way that permits adherence to the Ethics Code. take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code.  Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

 

These amendments are an emphatic statement that the Ethics Code does not offer a defense of following the law or organizational demand to a charge of violating an individual's human rights.

 

Another item that occupied the COR was a proposed revision of the “Model Licensing Act” (MLA) that the APA develops with the hope that the various State Licensing Laws will adopt.  The proposed model created unhappiness among School Psychologists, who were successful in amending the proposed text.  Another controversy, which is of interest to the academic community, is the implication in the new language that may lead to the Licensing of I/O psychologists.  The matter is quite controversial within the I/O community, with members of the SIOP delegation in COR strongly objecting to this trend.  However, there were I/O psychologists on the Task Force that drafted the MLA who advocate licensure for I/O.  In the end the original language was adopted.  The issue, however, is far from closed.  To the extent that Licensure of I/O will require the creation of an accreditation process of I/O programs, it is very likely that the academic departments will strongly resist the process.  At least, your two representatives, both long time chairs, find it difficult to believe that the academic departments will accept such a process.

 

Finally, let us report, that the COR voted that its August meeting will not be held at the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego, the original site of the APA 2010 convention.  It has just been announced that the COR will meet in August at the San Diego Mariott.

 

 To quote Rhea Farberman again::

 

“…In response to a donation to the Proposition 8 campaign by the owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Doug Manchester, a number of APA divisions and members voiced concerns about APA’s use of the hotel during its annual meeting.

 "Today's decision allows council to make an important statement that it stands in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its allies in protest of Mr. Manchester's political views," said APA President Dr. Carol D. Goodheart. "Members of our council will now not be faced with having to choose between their responsibilities as members of council and their wish to express their opposition to Mr. Manchester’s action by not entering his hotel."

Early last year, APA learned that Manchester had contributed $125,000 to Proposition 8, the effort to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling providing marriage equity for same-sex couples. APA is not calling for a general boycott of the hotel, but will make every effort to provide choices to members or groups who do not want to use the Hyatt. Other lodging and meeting space will be available.

"It is important that we be respectful of the decisions of individuals; those who choose to stay at the Hyatt and those who do not," said Goodheart.

In addition, APA plans to use the meeting to highlight the association's policy statement in support of same-sex marriage and the science that supports that position….”

 

Stay tuned for our August installment…