Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Russell Amendment is Defeated - for Now

Russell Amendment is Defeated - for Now
Selena Chavez, AAAED/LEAD Fund Intern


Short Summary:

    In April of this year, the House added a controversial amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA bill outlines the budget for military and defense spending by the government. However, lawmakers attach controversial issues onto the bill to make a statement, although they often remove them last minute before it is passed to the president for approval.1 This year, the amendment added by representative Steve Russell entitled the Russell Amendment stirred tensions among the Senate.
    The Russell amendment, which was approved by the House Armed Services Committee, would allow any branch or agency of the Federal government to discriminate in their hiring processes based on their religious beliefs. Democrats who strongly opposed the amendment argued that “the amendment would effectively override President Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Democrats also worry it could allow for discrimination against women, based on their reproductive health choices.”2 Many Senate Democrats were so against the amendment that they composed a letter describing how it would be detrimental to anti-discrimination and civil rights.
    However, the Republicans recently agreed to remove the Russell Amendment from the NDAA in the middle of the Democrats protests. President Obama made it clear that he would veto the bill because of controversial measures like the Russell Amendment, so removing the Amendment assured a higher likelihood that it would be passed. While the NDAA is now free of the Russell amendment, there is still fear that a Trump Presidency means that President Obama’s 2014 executive order will be repealed.



Russell Amendment
  • What: An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which outlines the budget for defense and Military spending. The Russell Amendment, which was added to the the bill in April by House “exempt[s] religious organizations with government contracts from federal civil rights law and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The amendment would effectively override President Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Democrats also worry it could allow for discrimination against women, based on their reproductive health choices.”
  • Democratic sentiments: “Forty Senate Democrats plus two independents wrote in a letter last month that the provision would amount to government-sponsored discrimination by permitting religiously affiliated federal contractors to refuse to  interview a job candidate whose faith differs from theirs and to fire employees who marry their same-sex partners or use birth control.”
  • Current Status: President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. However, “Republicans agreed to take out Russell’s measure amid protests from Democrats” (November 29th). While the NDAA is now free of the Russell amendment, there is still fear that a Trump Presidency means that President Obama’s 2014 executive order will be repealed.

Notes on the Russell Amendment from Articles

Gay Rights Looms as Hurdle to Passing Defense Bill
http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/gay-rights-looms-hurdle-passing-defense-bill-n682571
  • “Forty Senate Democrats plus two independents wrote in a letter last month that the provision would amount to government-sponsored discrimination by permitting religiously affiliated federal contractors to refuse to interview a job candidate whose faith differs from theirs and to fire employees who marry their same-sex partners or use birth control.
  • “The provision would "vastly expand religious exemptions" under the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to allow contractors "to harm hardworking Americans who deserve to be protected from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religious identity, or reproductive and other health care decisions," they said in the letter.”

National Security Threatened By Religious Amendment In Defense Spending Bill   
http://www.politicususa.com/2016/11/12/national-security-threatened-religious-amendment-defense-spending-bill.html
  • “This is not a minor inconvenience for a couple of American workers. The Russell Amendment jeopardizes all existing non-discrimination policies that currently protect over one-fifth of the United States’ workforce. As an added affront to civil society and the soon-to-vanish concept of equal rights for all, the amendment also authorizes any so-called “religiously-affiliated” organization that receive federal grants (faith-based initiative money) and contracts to discriminate against every aspect of society that offends their religious senses; even if their religion amounts to being a personal mental bias against anyone.”
  • ““It is simply stunning that House Republicans have decided to make targeting LGBT Americans a priority in the Defense Authorization bill. The Defense Authorization bill should be about making our country safe, and honoring the oath we take to protect and defend the American people. It should not be a place where the most extreme [evangelical] elements of the Republican Conference are allowed to codify hatred and intolerance against Americans based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”- Nancy Pelosi


‘Religious liberty’ anti-LGBT amendment puts defense budget at risk
  • It is not only LGBT employees whose jobs would be at risk due to the Russell Amendment. The letter explains that the amendment “would also allow religiously-affiliated contractors and grantees to inquire about and discriminate against employees or potential employees based on an individual’s religion.
  • The language of the amendment “would give legal grounds for an employer to prevent a gay man from having their husband added to their health insurance,” David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, explained to NBC. “Trans people could be fired from their job upon announcing their intent to transition."

Fight over LGBT provision threatens to stall defense bill when Congress returns
  • The dispute started in April, when the House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment from Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) exempting religious organizations with government contracts from federal civil rights law and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The amendment would effectively override President Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Democrats also worry it could allow for discrimination against women, based on their reproductive health choices.

Republicans Strip Their Anti-LGBTQ Provision From Defense Bill
  • The House passed its bill in May, with that amendment from Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) in it. But the Senate passed its own NDAA in June without that language. That has left a final bill ― and the fate of that amendment ― in limbo for months as House and Senate negotiators went behind closed doors to hash out their differences.
  • Ultimately, Republicans agreed to take out Russell’s measure amid protests from Democrats, top committee aides told reporters Tuesday.
  • Other paths” likely means that some Republicans will turn to President-elect Donald Trump to repeal Obama’s executive order, which he can do with the stroke of a pen if he wants. It’s unclear where Trump stands on this issue.
  • Lawmakers often load up the NDAA with controversial measures, only to pull them out at the last minute. That’s because they know the bill has to pass ― it authorizes all of the nation’s defense spending for the next fiscal year ― so they want to make a statement on a particular issue while the bill is moving. Once it gets close to the time to send the bill to the president, they strip out the things the president opposes and send him cleaner legislation.

Anti-LGBT amendment stripped from defense bill
  • Known as the Russell Amendment, the measure in the NDAA could have allowed taxpayer-funded discrimination against women, single mothers, LGBT people and religious minorities in religiously-affiliated organizations, including hospitals and universities.
  • “Taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people is wrong — plain and simple,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “The fact that the defense spending bill was being used in an attempt to fund discrimination against minorities is disturbing. Thousands of LGBT service members put their lives on the line for our nation, and they and their families should never face discrimination here at home simply because of who they are or whom they love. We are pleased that in the end, lawmakers removed the discriminatory measure and fairness and equality seem to have prevailed.”

The increasingly diverse United States of America

Farmland outside a Midwestern city turns into a bedroom enclave of commuting urban professionals. A handful of non-white people move to Dubuque, Iowa. Already diverse cities become increasingly mixed with immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

These are just some of the ways diversity is increasing in U.S. communities.

Read more here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

On Giving Tuesday Your Support is Needed Now, More Than Ever



The President's Corner

Dear Colleagues:

Our country is at a crossroads, one that particularly affects EEO, AA, Diversity and Inclusion professionals, and the people whose lives depend on our work.  We have witnessed a proliferation of threats to students of color, religious minorities, individuals with disabilities, the LGBT community and women on our campuses and in our workplaces.  Sadly, public expressions of bigotry--racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny—appear to have increased at alarming rates and expressions of both conscious and unconscious bias have reached levels unseen since the 1960s.

As we face this crossroads, we don’t know if affirmative action, diversity and inclusion, and related civil rights laws, regulations and government policies, will be selected for weakening or elimination.  What we do know is that we, as an association of dedicated professionals, will continue to promote access, equity and diversity in our workplaces and schools.

On “Giving Tuesday” your support is needed now, more than ever.  We must mount an even greater effort to monitor what happens within our States, in the Congress, and in the federal agencies.  We must increase our communications to you and to your colleagues, keeping you informed of current events.  Lastly, we must call on you to speak up, where necessary, in hopes of maintaining robust EEO, AA and diversity laws and policies.

These additional and essential responsibilities for AAAED, and our members, will demand more resources and support. Therefore, if you are not currently a member of AAAED, now is the time to join.  If you are already a member, we ask that you recruit a friend or colleague to join us.  It is critical; it is necessary.  Can we count on you? 

AAAED, founded in 1974 as the American Association for Affirmative Action, is the longest-serving association of equal opportunity, affirmative action and diversity professionals in the country.  We have survived for forty-two years – during administrations that supported our programs and some that did not.  In the 1980s, you may recall the organized efforts to eliminate Executive Order 11246, which would have ended affirmative action for federal contractors.  In the end, it took the concerted efforts of the civil rights community, members of both parties in Congress, our nation’s largest employers and strong advocacy by our military leadership to convince the president not to re-write Executive Order 11246 into oblivion.  We won that battle and we are confident that we will win again – with your help.

We must be unified. And we are determined to shout loudly and clearly that injustice will not stand and that access, equity and diversity must continue to be firmly rooted in this nation’s laws and policies.  We may be facing our greatest challenge to date, ironically, in the face of this nation’s growing diversity.  We need to be prepared to respond — and quickly — to each challenge that is presented to the ideal of equal opportunity for all.

The time is now.  Please join AAAED, or renew your membership, by going to our website at http://www.aaaed.org/aaaed/Join_Us.asp.  Don’t forget to invite your friends and colleagues.  We welcome you to our ranks of dedicated servants to the cause of access, equity and diversity.

Gratefully,








Myron R. Anderson, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Berkeley Finds Professor Guilty of Harassment

Another professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has been found guilty of sexually harassing a student in violation of institutional rules, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A five-month investigation by Berkeley found that Nezar AlSayyad, a professor of architecture, planning and urban design, spent months becoming close to, or "grooming," a graduate student before placing his hand on her upper thigh and proposing that they travel together to Las Vegas. The Chronicle found two additional allegations of harassment against the professor. In an alleged incident that happened more than 20 years ago and was never investigated, a student complained that she felt taken advantage of after she and AlSayyad had sex; a third student accused him of sexual misconduct this spring, and an investigation is pending. He is reportedly barred from teaching next semester.

Read more here.

EXCLUSIVE: Woman dubbed 'Public Enemy No. 1' of the teachers' unions is eyed by Trump team for Education Secretary Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3939586/Woman-dubbed-Public-Enemy-No-1-teachers-unions-eyed-Trump-team-Education-Secretary.html#ixzz4QBXMSXGr Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The Donald Trump transition team is eyeing former Washington, D.C. public school chancellor Michelle Rhee for Secretary of Education, multiple sources close to the transition tell the Daily Mail.

The appointment of Rhee – who has been dubbed 'Public Enemy No. 1' of the teachers' unions -- would be a bold move by the Trump team, and a signal that his administration is gearing up to take an aggressive stance on education reform.


Read more here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Baylor student was shoved and called the n-word. This is how the school responded.

The exchange lasted just a few seconds, too quick for Natasha Nkhama to register anger, fear or rage.
The morning after Donald Trump won the presidential election, the Baylor University sophomore was walking to her 10 a.m. neuroscience class when another student bumped into her.
“He sort of shoved me off the sidewalk and he said . . . ‘no n—–s allowed on the sidewalk,'” Nkhama recounted on social media. “And I was just shocked.”

Read more from the Washington Post here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity Statement on the Recent Election

On Thursday, November 10, the President of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, Myron R. Anderson, Ph.D., issued the following statement about the potential implications of the presidential election on the laws, policies and practices of the federal government as they relate to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and diversity in employment and education.

“The election for the President of the United States was challenging and raised issues of concern to those of us who work in the cause of access, equity and diversity. Notwithstanding the outcome, we, the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, remain unchanged in our support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Executive Order 11246 (Affirmative Action Program for Federal Contractors) and other nondiscrimination and equal opportunity laws. These laws serve as the foundation for the work that we do. This act, the Executive Order, and the history that they encompass, served as a legal precedent at our founding in 1974, and are as important now and into the future.”

Anderson encouraged all to understand the changing landscape in our government and the changing demographics. “Our work is just, and may be more important going forward. We will work collectively to continue to articulate not only the reality of our changing demographics, but also, and in particular with the incoming new federal leadership, the business case and return on investment that is a critical value for any organization, ---private, public, government---to be successful and thrive.”

He added: “The importance of advancing access, equity, and diversity is an imperative for this country to remain great and we will support our members and colleagues in the quest to achieve this goal.”

Check out the official press release here.

A New Front of Activism

The assistant professor is up for tenure next year, and he’s concerned. His course evaluations were low, and he knows that he needs to show students not only that he’s an effective teacher but also that he cares.

And those aren’t the only issues.

He is one of only two black male law professors at his university — just the second ever to go up for tenure — and to him the bar for promotion appears higher than for his white peers. He believes he has more to prove, more barriers to overcome.

Read the rest of the article here.

Campus Sexual Assault in a Trump Era

With Donald Trump winning the presidential election on Tuesday -- and with Republicans maintaining control of both the Senate and House of Representatives -- victims and their advocates worry that the White House’s five-year push to combat campus sexual assault may end with President Obama’s tenure.

Through detailed guidance documents and investigations at more than 200 institutions, the Obama administration made preventing campus sexual assault a signature issue of its Education Department. The administration's updated interpretation of the federal gender discrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 allowed the White House to sharply increase the enforcement efforts of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The intensified focus on campus sexual assault and Title IX prompted an outpouring of complaints and lawsuits against colleges and universities over claims they mishandled reports of sexual violence.

Read the article here.

The Incidents Since Election Day

Many minority, Muslim and/or immigrant students are reporting increased harassment since Donald Trump was elected president. On many campuses, incidents specifically include Trump's name, and, at others, various slurs are being reported.

Racial and ethnic incidents on campus are hardly new and have been happening since well before Trump entered the presidential race. But as reports circulate about these incidents, some students are saying that things are worse. And their view has added to anxiety and anger many students feel about the outcome of the election. While many of the reports involve slurs, others include physical attacks.

Read More from Inside Higher Ed here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

OFCCP’s Shiu Discusses Tenure, Agency’s Next Steps

Nov. 4 — Federal contractors shouldn’t expect much immediate change from the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs following Director Patricia A. Shiu’s departure, but compliance reviews focusing on the finance and technology industries as well as “paperless” audits could be on tap for the next administration.

Read more here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Harvard Admissions Lawsuit, Explained

For two years, Harvard’s admissions policies have been at the center of an ongoing lawsuit alleging race-based discrimination against Asian American applicants. The case was put on hold in advance of a Supreme Court ruling on the affirmative action case Fisher vs. The University of Texas at Austin. Now that the Court upheld that admissions policy over the summer, Harvard’s case is again moving forward.

Harvard moved to dismiss the case entirely, just weeks after the court ordered the University to release six years of undergraduate admissions data for use in the lawsuit.

Read the article here.

University of Michigan Launches $85 Million Diversity Plan

Black student enrollment at Michigan universities has fallen since the state enacted a ban on affirmative action in 2006. The law has forced college administrators to seek other, sometimes less effective, means of boosting campus diversity and inclusion, even though studies show the ban has had a chilling effect on such efforts.

The University of Michigan has persevered, however, recently announcing its $85 million, five-year plan for creating a more equitable and diverse institution.

Read the article here.

Arman Sharif: UCLA must be in solidarity with Cal, demand own multicultural center

UC Berkeley student groups have been pushing demands for nearly 30 days for administration to relocate the school’s multicultural center to new facilities. But down in Westwood, this kind of center doesn’t even exist for UCLA.

The bridges Multicultural Resource Center was formed to provide resources to underrepresented students of color after Proposition 209 banned affirmative action in 1996.

Read the article from The Daily Bruin here.

University Of Texas Champions Free Speech, Ignores Demands To Disband Conservative Student Group

The University of Texas at Austin will ignore demands from student officials to “disband” a young conservative student group following a controversial “affirmative action bake sale” last week.

The bake sale instantly drew large crowds of protesters, many claiming the bake sale was a “hate crime.” A petition demanding the removal of the group also circulated the campus and as of Thursday, it has 863 signatures.

Read the article here.