Position Taking

The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) seeks to foster, produce, and share rigorously conducted research concerning higher education. Consistent with ASHE’s Principles of Ethical Conduct, ASHE is committed to values of integrity, responsibility, honesty, respect, and fairness, as well as to encourage the use of research to address public policy issues pertaining to higher education. The Association has frequent opportunities to take positions on public issues regarding higher education. The term “position taking,” as used in this document, pertains to occasions when the Association, under the leadership of its President and Board of Directors, must consider whether to use its role and credibility as a scholarly organization to support a particular position concerning an issue relevant to higher education or to the public. This document is intended to provide guidelines to ASHE leaders. Specifically, it outlines a process for reviewing and evaluating requests regarding potential position taking situations, and then formulating decisions.

When ASHE may take a position

Initiation of issues may be from ASHE members or external parties. ASHE members initiating a potential position-taking issue should contact the ASHE Executive Director Dr. Jason P. Guilbeau who will initiate the process.

Possible position-taking issues are likely to fall in one of three categories (as explained in the ASHE Position Taking Policy):

Category A: Issues Directly Related to ASHE’s Mission: ASHE’s mission is “to foster scholarly inquiry of the highest standards of excellence for the purpose of increasing knowledge about and the understanding of higher education” (Sec. 2, para. 1). Thus, as an organization, ASHE is interested in (1) issues that relate directly to the work of higher education researchers and scholars, and (2) conditions pertaining to the scholarly enterprise of conducting research on higher education.  

Category B: Issues Related to Public Policy: In addition to issues related directly to the mission of ASHE to foster research on higher education, broader issues may also arise concerning current or proposed public policies regarding higher education or issues relevant to the bodies of research-based knowledge and to the scholarly expertise on higher education represented within ASHE. On such issues, ASHE leaders, members, or others may on occasion believe that the weight of scholarly evidence relevant to an issue, as well as the importance of the issue, deserve the attention and public position-taking stance of the Association. 

Types of Position Statements

Standing Position Statements: The Position Committee shall develop, maintain, and update standing position statements. The topics and the subsequent Position Statement will be approved by the Board of Directors as recommended by the Position Taking Committee. *These are currently in development as of January 2024.

Reference Position Statements: In some instances, issues may arise that have been addresses by a Standing Position Statement. In these instances, the President, Executive Director, and/or Committee Chair can refer back to Standing Position Statements. For example, if ASHE creates a Position Statement on Affirmative Action and a new court case is decided, rather than write a new Position Statement, a statement can be made that refers to the Standing Position Statement.

Statements on New, Emerging, or Timely Issues: Issues may arise or be initiated internally from ASHE’s own members, or externally from parties outside the Association. ASHE members concerned about a particular issue would be expected to contact the Executive Director with a letter that outlines the issue and offers a rationale for its relevance and consistency with ASHE’s mission and with the proposed guidelines for position taking. In these instances, the President, Executive Director, and Chair of the Position Taking Committee shall confer to determine whether the issue has the potential to meet the criteria for public position taking. If the decision is made to refer the issue to the Position Taking Committee, the President will notify the Board and allow five days for Board members to provide comment and recommendations.

Situations where ASHE does not take positions

Some situations or requests may involve potential position taking but may require more time, staffing, or financial resources than ASHE is able to provide. In other situations, it may simply be inappropriate for ASHE to take a position. For example, it generally would be inappropriate for the Association to endorse or provide “seals of approval” on books, conferences, products, or curricula that are not covered in this policy statement. It is not appropriate or feasible for the Association to take on the role of reviewing and vetting such materials, as would be necessary to provide endorsements, nor to engage in advancing the financial or professional interests of specific individuals. However, the Board of Directors of the Association has the discretion to consider specific requests for endorsements from ASHE, when the requested endorsement advances the Association’s mission and does not conflict with other organizational guidelines and policies.