AHA Advocacy 2021

  • AHA Issues Letter Regarding Proposed Termination of Tenured Faculty Members at Salem State University (April 2021)

    The AHA has written a letter to the president and provost of Salem State University strongly discouraging them from proceeding with the reportedly proposed termination of four tenured members in the history department. “This drastic reduction in faculty would severely diminish the department’s ability to maintain the impressive pedagogical and research standards that the department sets for itself and apparently maintains, along with its striking level of engagement with local communities,” the AHA wrote. The letter noted the Salem State history department’s participation in AHA Tuning, the data at Salem State showing history ranked #1 of 30 majors in the “fill rate” of its courses, and the fact that “Salem is a site of considerable historical importance,” making the role of historical work at Salem State “in many ways a special case.”
  • AHA Statement on Violence against Asians and Asian Americans (March 2021)

    The AHA has issued a statement deploring the recent incidents of violence and harassment aimed at Asians and Asian Americans. “This hostility against particular groups because of their ethnic origins—expressed via cultural stereotypes, scapegoating, physical aggression, and bloodshed—has deep roots in our nation’s past,” the AHA writes. “The murder in Atlanta of eight people on March 16, including six women of Asian descent, suggests that we have not transcended this history.” From 2019 to 2020, the number of hate crimes committed in the United States against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders increased by 150 percent. “The racialized misogyny explicit in the Atlanta killings is the product of generations-long stereotyping and cultural denigration against Asian American women in particular.” 44 organizations have signed onto the statement to date.
  • AHA Letter Expressing Support for the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission (March 2021)

    In a letter to the City Council of New Orleans, the AHA expressed enthusiastic support for the work of the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission and its final report, “a remarkable document of collaborative historical research.” The letter praised the process undertaken by the Renaming Commission and its consultation with historians, including many AHA members. The letter urged “all localities undertaking this kind of process to recognize that it is indeed possible to listen to a broad spectrum of voices, and not just the loudest, angriest, or most powerful.”
  • AHA Protests Imprisonment of Moroccan Historian (March 2021)

    The AHA recently sent a letter to King Mohamed VI and Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani of Morocco protesting the imprisonment of Maâti Monjib, historian at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat. Monjib was sentenced to a year in prison for charges that appear to be “baseless, levied more in the interest of a political agenda than honest law enforcement,” and is on a hunger strike. The letter urges “the release of Dr. Monjib and the respect of his civil and legal rights,” and asks for “immediate attention to this matter to ensure Dr. Monjib’s health and well-being.”
  • Success of Lawsuit Challenging ICE Records Disposition (March 2021)

    The American Historical Association joins co-plaintiffs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in sharing the success of our lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit challenged NARA’s approval of ICE’s records disposition, which would have authorized ICE to destroy several categories of records documenting mistreatment of immigrants detained in ICE custody. On March 12, 2021, Judge Amit Mehta granted summary judgment on the challenged aspects of ICE’s records destruction plan. The court also made clear that during its records evaluation process, NARA must pay close attention to the records' long-term research value and must meaningfully consider public comments raising concerns.
  • AHA Expresses Concern over John Carroll University Policy Permitting Elimination of Tenure (March 2021)

    The AHA has issued a letter to leaders of John Carroll University expressing “grave concern about the recent approval by [the] Board of Directors of a ‘budgetary hardship’ amendment to the university’s Faculty Handbook,” noting that “both faculty governance and the integrity of tenure seem to be hanging by a thread.” The AHA urged the board “to reconsider the threat to tenure protections” that the amendment represents.
  • AHA Signs onto ACLS Letter Urging Iowa Legislature to Vote against Bill Eliminating Tenure (March 2021)

    The AHA signed onto a letter sent by the American Council of Learned Societies to members of the Iowa legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds. The letter strongly encouraged lawmakers to oppose House File 496 and Senate File 41, “which would remove the status of tenure for professors and discontinue the practice at Iowa's three public universities.”
  • AHA Signs Onto MESA Statement Protesting Turkey's Attacks on Higher Ed (February 2021)

    The AHA has signed onto the Middle East Studies Association’s Statement in Solidarity with Protests at Boğaziçi University. Students and faculty protesting the appointment of a new rector “have faced police brutality, protesters have been described by government officials as terrorists, and those detained have been subjected to abuse, including strip searches and sexual harassment.” The statement condemned the “ongoing and intensified government assault on higher education in Turkey” and urged President Erdoğan to “restore the autonomy of universities and the protection of academic freedom—including freedom of expression, opinion, and association—in Turkey’s legal order.”
  • AHA Issues Letter Expressing Concern for Polish Historians (February 2021)

    The AHA sent letters to Polish leaders Andrzej Duda, Mateusz Morawiecki, Jarosław Kaczyński, and Jarosław Gowin expressing concern about recent legal proceedings against Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, two historians convicted of libel regarding their co-edited book, Night Without End. In the letter, AHA emphasized that “a legal procedure is not the place to mediate historical debates” and urged Polish leaders to “uphold the rights of historians to investigate the past without legal harassment and with no fear of reprisals for making public their historical- and evidence-based findings.”
  • Schools, History, and the Challenges of Commemoration (February 2021)

    The AHA issued a statement expressing alarm regarding the San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee’s process in proposing changing the names of 44 public schools. The committee “showed little interest in consulting professional historians, relying instead on Wikipedia articles and cursory glances at other online sources.” The AHA is “not advising the people of San Francisco on the substance of their decisions,” the statement clarified. Instead, the AHA urged the San Francisco School Board to “begin this process anew, inviting broader public participation, enlisting the expertise of professional historians, and encouraging a robust debate about the way historical figures and events should or should not be memorialized via school naming practices.”
  • AHA Expresses Alarm at University Press of Kansas Financial Cuts (February 2021)

    The AHA sent a letter to the Board of Trustees of the University Press of Kansas expressing alarm about financial cuts and the press’s possible elimination. The letter notes that “few presses have done so much to burnish their home institution’s reputation, to advance the careers of promising scholars, and to make vital contributions to historical knowledge as the University Press of Kansas,” and that its demise “would be an incalculable loss for the historical discipline and for generations of American historians yet to come.”
  • AHA Issues Letter of Support for Institute of Political History in Hungary (February 2021)

    The AHA sent a letter to János Áder, president of the Republic of Hungary, expressing “deep concern about recent government actions against the Institute of Political History,” including “unfounded attacks on our colleagues,” “eviction from its new premises,” and “defunding.” The AHA “urges the Hungarian government to reconsider the misguided steps that have already been taken to the detriment of the institute and to safeguard its premises, support its activities, and vouchsafe its independence now and in the future.”
  • AHA Signs Onto ASEEES Statement Calling for Immediate End to Libel Trial of Polish Historians (February 2021)

    The AHA has signed onto the Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies statement calling for an end to the trial of historians Jan Grabowski (Univ. of Ottawa) and Barbara Engelking (Polish Center for Holocaust Research), who are charged with libel for their 2018 co-edited book, Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland. The trial “strikes at the very core of academic and intellectual freedom,” and the statement calls for a “clear and unambiguous repudiation of the legal and political strategy that allowed such a trial to go forward in the first place.”
  • AHA Endorses Educating for American Democracy Initiative (February 2021)

    The AHA has endorsed the Educating for American Democracy initiative, a multi-institution, cross-partisan initiative to create a Roadmap for Excellence in History and Civic Education for All Learners. The roadmap is “a practical and highly implementable guide about how to integrate history and civic education to give today’s diverse K-12 students a strong sense of connection to and ownership of our constitutional democracy.”
  • AHA Opposes New Policy on Virtual Scholarly Exchanges in India (February 2021)

    The AHA issued a statement registering concern about a new policy issued by India’s Ministry of Higher Education/Department of Higher Education that “requires Indian scholars and administrators to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of External Affairs if they want to convene online or virtual international conferences, seminars, or trainings.” The AHA states that this policy is likely to “affect a wide range of scholarly exchanges that are critical to the free international expression of ideas” and “strongly maintains that government agencies should not intervene in the content of scholarly exchange.”26 organizations have signed onto the statement.
  • AHA Posts to Federal Register Regarding Proposed NARA Digitization Policies (February 2021)

    The AHA sent comments to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on the proposed rule “Federal Records Management: Digitizing Permanent Records and Reviewing Records Schedules.” The AHA “strongly support[s]” the requirement that “every five years, agencies review records schedules which are ten or more years old.” The AHA also recommends that NARA “require the involvement of subject matter experts in each review process undertaken with an agency” and “regularly draw on the expertise of staff members throughout the agency who have appropriate subject backgrounds and training.” The AHA also judges NARA “to have exceeded the requirements of federal law by stating that records will be accepted ONLY in digital form,” which could “delay, interrupt, or delay indefinitely the transfer of records.”
  • AHA Signs onto ACLS Statement Urging Kansas Board of Regents to Uphold Employment Protections for Faculty (January 2021)

    The AHA has signed onto a statement by the American Council of Learned Societies urging the Kansas Board of Regents to withdraw its endorsement of a proposed policy that would “ease the path to suspending, dismissing, or terminating employees, including tenured faculty members, without undertaking the processes of formally declaring a financial emergency.“ The AHA also sent a letter to the University of Kansas regarding this issue.
  • AHA Urges California Legislature to Amend AB1887 for Scholars (January 2021)

    The AHA sent a letter requesting that the California State Legislature amend the list of exceptions to AB1887, a law that bans state-funded travel to specified states with anti-LGBTQ laws. While the AHA “support[s] the principles underlying AB1887,” it is concerned that the boycott “restricts the work of graduate students and early career scholars, preventing them from completing research that would actually showcase the significance of LGBTQ life, among other pressing subjects, in targeted states.” The AHA urged the legislature to “permit state-funded travel for research and educational initiatives related to the discipline of history, broadly conceived, including LGBTQ culture, health, law, and politics.”
  • AHA Issues Letter Urging University of Kansas to Preserve Employment Protections for Faculty (January 2021)

    The AHA issued a letter urging the University of Kansas to reject a Kansas Board of Regents policy that would “temporarily allow public institutions of higher education to terminate or suspend employees, including tenured faculty, without declaring a financial emergency.” “As historians,” the AHA wrote, “we are especially aware of what can happen when principles of academic freedom in higher education lose the essential protection of tenure.” The university should “reject this extraordinary departure that would enable the university to enact drastic and arbitrary personnel actions while bypassing the process of formally declaring financial emergency.”
  • AHA Issues Letter of Concern Regarding History Program and Faculty Cuts at University of Evansville (January 2021)

    The AHA issued a letter expressing grave concern regarding the proposed removal of the history major and termination of two tenured history professors at the University of Evansville. Calling the process leading to the proposed cuts “an especially striking embarrassment for an institution whose stated values emphasize ‘a culture of trust,’” the AHA urged the university to “consider the educational and community impacts of this short-sighted plan for realignment, which will serve to weaken the preparation of your students for the global citizenship imperative to economic and civic accomplishment, as well as the lifelong learning essential to professional success.”
  • AHA Condemns Report of Advisory 1776 Commission (January 2021)

    The AHA has issued a statement condemning the report from "The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission.” “Written hastily in one month after two desultory and tendentious ‘hearings,’” the AHA writes, “without any consultation with professional historians of the United States, the report fails to engage a rich and vibrant body of scholarship that has evolved over the last seven decades.” 47 organizations have signed onto the statement.
  • Ransacking Democracy (January 2021)

    The AHA issued a statement condemning “the actions of those who, on January 6, stormed the United States Capitol, the seat of the nation’s legislature, the heart of its democratic form of governance.” The AHA deplores the “inflammatory rhetoric of all the political leaders who have refused to accept the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election and thereby incited the mob.” 63 organizations have signed onto the statement.
  • AHA Joins Coalition to Save National Archives Facility in Seattle (January 2021)

    The AHA has joined the Washington state attorney general’s office; the state of Oregon; 29 tribes, tribal entities, and Indigenous communities from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska; and 8 community organizations, historic preservation organizations, and museums in filing a lawsuit “to halt the federal government’s unlawful and procedurally deficient sale of the National Archives at Seattle facility.” The government plans to transfer the Seattle facility’s records, most of which have not been digitized, to archive centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Riverside, California— rendering public access to the records difficult if not impossible for millions of users.
  • AHA Expresses Solidarity with Mexican Historians (January 2021)

    The AHA has issued a statement expressing solidarity with “professional historians affected by the extreme and arguably punitive fiscal retrenchment affecting Mexico’s system of higher education.” The AHA “reminds decision makers that the habits of mind and knowledge that derive from the study of history have never been more important and deserving of adequate funding than at the present moment.”