Caucusing at ACPA19

At ACPA18 in Houston, ACPA launched an experience designed to make individual and collective progress toward the realization of our Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization. Caucus groups organized around racial identities provided participants an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which race shows up in their work, and how they could be more effective at advancing racial equity and decolonization at their institutions and in the field.

ACPA leadership heard from many members about the power of having that caucus space set aside to engage in critical, necessary discussions about the racism and the settler colonialism endemic to higher education. We will continue to offer this opportunity and strongly encourage all Convention attendees to participate. Concurrently, ACPA leadership received some needed feedback about how those caucuses were structured and moderated, and this year’s team is responding to that feedback with enhancements to the Caucus experience.

Goals for Caucusing at ACPA19

As a result of caucusing, members should:

  • Articulate a deeper understanding of their own racial identities;
  • Connect with colleagues who engage in solidarity work toward racial justice and decolonization;
  • Identify issues of power, privilege, and oppression in our individual work and broader field; and
  • Begin to individually and collectively develop strategies that move the self and field toward liberation and social change.

Enhancements to the ACPA Caucusing Experience

First, we received a clear message about the manner in which Caucus centered whiteness. From the lack of moderators for caucuses of color to questions that focused on the role of White people in dismantling racism, such concerns were shared by the Equity & Inclusion team and have resulted in two key changes for this year:

Second, some concerns were raised about the skill level and relatability of some moderators. Specifically, concerns spoke to the level of professional risk involved in these discussions, and a hope to develop a relationship with moderators to encourage trust. To address this concern, we are:

  • Beginning the moderator recruitment process three months earlier
  • Requiring potential moderators to submit descriptions of their moderating style, and encouraging them to allow us to post their profiles to the ACPA19 website
  • Requiring moderators to attend a training webinar prior to Convention

Lastly, the SIRJD syllabus for caucusing last year was deep. ACPA19’s E&I team spent the summer reviewing content to make this necessary knowledge-building component of the Caucus experience more streamlined and manageable. To those ends:

  • Content has been reduced, reordered, and will be released monthly to scaffold engagement in a manner that is more manageable
  • Each monthly section has guiding text suggesting how much of the content you should endeavor to read
  • Each work has a brief summary outlining the contents utility

You may find the updated syllabus here.

It is our goal these enhancements to the Caucus experience enable ACPA19 attendees to craft ever more bold visions for enacting SIRJD principles in our work. For more information about Caucus, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. We are excited to join you in this journey.