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 encouraging 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" pertains to occasions when the Association, under the leadership of its President of the Board of Directors 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. 

Positions and Statements:

  • (2023) ASHE issued a position statement to synthesize research on the impact of COVID-19 on faculty, staff, and students and offered innovative short-term and long-term implications for supporting these populations.
  • (2022) ASHE joined AERA and 5 other leading research associations in submitting an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court in support of narrowly tailored race-conscious admissions practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. 
  • (2022) ASHE joins more than 90 other higher education associations in issuing a higher education statement regarding the importance of preserving free and open academic inquiry and debate on campus.
  • (2021) ASHE is recommitting to the affirmation of Trans lives. Although intercollegiate athletics are a specific, recent, and on-going site of trans oppression within postsecondary education, these very public actions amplify and extend concerns raised by various scholars about higher education as a site and scene of violence against trans people.
  • (2021) ASHE has joined with PEN America, the American Historical Association, the American Association of University Professors, Association of American Colleges and Universities, and 80 other academic associations in opposing the spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities.
  • (2021) As President Biden marked his 100th day in office, ASHE is urged action on top federal higher education issues. In February 2021, ASHE member provided feedback on outlining a research-informed federal policy agenda for higher education. From survey responses, the ASHE Position Taking Committee tapped committee member Dominique Baker (Southern Methodist University) to draft a letter. The letter has been approved by both the Position Taking Committee and Board of Directors and was sent to Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona and Acting Assistant Secretary for Postseconday Education Michelle Asha Cooper.
  • (2021) ASHE names areas of concern related to the issuance of the May 2020 Title IX regulations, as well as areas where the May 2020 regulations enhance opportunities for redress of sexual harassment, including sexual and domestic violence and stalking on campus. As the Biden administration revisits the May 2020 regulations, ASHE advances several recommendations, informed by research, for continued improved practice in the effort to end such harassment on all campuses in the United States.
  • (2020) ASHE extends its commitment to research and practice that advance racial justice in response to the U.S. President's recent directives and Executive Order.
  • (2020) ASHE signs on to a letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with 69 other education and civil rights organizations, in support of California’s Proposition 16, which would reinstate affirmative action in public higher education and afford all Californians equal opportunity to fully participate in society. Prop. 16 would repeal Prop. 209, the 1996 ban on affirmative action, and provide an opportunity to rectify years of discrimination against women and people of color in higher education.
  • (2020) ASHE & ACPA Issue Joint Statement on June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court DACA Decision
  • ​(2020) Comment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regardng rule making to establish the standard for determining whether students who perform services at a private college or university in connection with their studies are “employees” within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. § 152(3)).
  • (2019) A statement about the monitoring of Chinese students and scholars, signed along with 19 other groups, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Professors, and ACPA-College Student Educators International.
  • (2015) AERA and ASHE Joint Resolution on Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin
    • ​"The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), as the two national scholarly associations devoted to the study of all education and higher education, respectively, affirm the principle that academic freedom, grounded in the tenure process, is essential for high-quality research and teaching. As recently as 2014, both AERA and ASHE emphasized their longstanding commitment by endorsing the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure issued by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Accordingly, AERA and ASHE urge policymakers in the state of Wisconsin, and at all levels of government, to protect against policies that would erode tenure and diminish academic freedom. The governing councils of AERA and ASHE endorse the American Historical Association's (AHA) statement in support of tenure and academic freedom in Wisconsin, issued on June 11, 2015, in conjunction with 21 other scholarly societies."
    • Click her for PDF of ​AHA Statement

Summary of Steps to Follow in Potential Position-Taking Situations for ASHE (July, 2013)

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 forward your request to the President of the Board of Directors.

Possible position-taking issues are likely to fall in one of three categories (as explained in the ASHE Task Force Document on Position Taking):
  • Category A (issues directly related to ASHE’s mission);
  • Category B (issues related to public policy); and
  • Category C (issues related to organizational and governance issues within ASHE). 
The President of the Board of Directors determines (based on the guidelines and consideration of Categories A, B, or C) if the issue has the potential to meet criteria for public position taking, and, thus, whether to refer the issue to a “Standing Committee on Position Taking.”
  • If the President of the Board of Directors decides to refer the issue to the Standing Committee, the President of the Board of Directors notifies the Board and allows 5 days for Board members to comment (time can be shortened if necessary).
The Standing Committee on Position Taking has 3 duties:
  • Initial Consideration: The Standing Committee uses the guidelines in the policy on position taking to determine if the issues constitutes a situation for potential position taking.
    • If determined not to be a situation for potential position taking, the Standing Committee returns the issue to the President of the Board of Directors for disposition.
    • If determined that the issues merits consideration as a potential position-taking situation, the Standing Committee sends a memo to the President of the Board of Directors and Board explaining why the issue should be reviewed more fully.
  • Review and Analyze: If the Standing Committee decides to review the issue, it has 2 options:
    • Proceed with the review, without outside ASHE counsel, and develop recommendations for the President and Board (the policy guidelines provide examples of a wide array of possible recommendations).
    • Recommend that the President, with the advice of the Board, appoint and charge an ad hoc committee of ASHE experts to review relevant data on the issue. The Ad Hoc committee would be charged by the President to review and summarize scholarly evidence (data) relevant to the issue and to provide that review and summary to the Standing Committee for use in its review and preparation of recommendations for the President and Board.
  • Recommend a Position-Taking Action: Based on its review, the Standing Committee provides recommendations to the President and Board related to position taking. The policy guidelines indicate such recommendations lie on a continuum from no action to modest position taking to more substantive public engagement by ASHE. (Examples are provided in the policy guidelines.)
The Board reviews the recommendations from the Standing Committee.
  • A decision to take a position (other than no action) requires an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the ASHE Board.
Note: In regard to Category C issues (those that arise as ASHE manages its own internal business and affairs), the ultimate responsibility to make decisions resides with the President of the Board of Directors and Board. However, when such decisions might involve an implied statement about public issues, the President of the Board of Directors may choose to request input from the Standing Committee on Position Taking.

Related Documents

Review the Report and Recommendations from the ASHE Task Force on Position Taking.
Click to review Position-taking with steps
Position Taking Summary Chart