The Society of American Archivists, through its Council or Executive Committee, periodically is asked to take a position, make a statement, or take action on an issue that arises within the larger context of American society. Recent examples include the heinous murders of members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in support of gay marriage and certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Some SAA members believe that SAA should speak for all archivists on these types of broader social issues. SAA has been compared with the American Library Association and other organizations that choose to issue statements on social issues, whether or not related directly to the missions of those organizations.
Although some – or even most – of SAA’s leaders, members, and staff may hold similar views on social issues and matters of social justice, the organization as a whole does not have the resources or knowledge of a consensus to comment or act on every social issue that emerges. To choose to comment or act on one issue to the exclusion of others would raise concerns about how SAA reaches a decision about when to become involved and when and how the broader membership is consulted (or even polled) about their individual positions on a given social issue.
SAA will take a position, make a statement, or take other action only on issues that are related directly to archives and archival functions. SAA recognizes that social issues and archival concerns may overlap (e.g., in matters of personal privacy, access to public information, or misuse of records for political purposes). In these cases, the SAA Council or Executive Committee will consider the prudence and potential impact of becoming involved in the issue.
Members may recommend that SAA take action on an issue by following Procedures for Suggesting SAA Advocacy Action.
As an organization that values social responsibility, the public good, and the completeness of the public record and that understands the importance of advocacy, SAA encourages its members to engage with social issues to the extent that they, as individuals, are able.
Adopted by the SAA Council, August 2015.