ACL Policy on Political Statements and Actions

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Background

The purposes of the Association for Computational Linguistics, as defined in its constitution, are: to promote research activities in the field of computational linguistics, promote cooperation and information exchange among related professional and technical societies, represent computational linguistics to foundations and government agencies worldwide, and provide information on computational linguistics to the general public. Researchers from around the world join this organization to engage in scientific activities, independent of their country of origin, and without an expectation that their membership implies engagement in political activities. The ACL Executive Committee members are elected as stewards for the operations of the ACL, and not as political representatives for its members.

Nonetheless, the Executive Committee is contacted on some occasions by members of the ACL, requesting that it respond to current political events. The requested actions include asking the exec to issue formal political statements and to circulate political petitions to the membership. Moreover, the Executive Committee may determine of its own motion that current political events might require a statement or action. The Executive Committee wishes to be responsive to requests from members of the ACL and to fulfill its responsibilities while at the same time representing all of the members of ACL’s diverse, international body and not deviating from its defined purposes.

Policy

Under most circumstances the ACL Executive Committee will refrain from issuing political statements. There are only limited circumstances in which political statements or action by the ACL might be warranted.

The Executive Committee will only consider making political statements in cases where all of the following hold:

  • The statement concerns policies or practices that directly relate to the purposes of the ACL.
  • The statement concerns policies or practices, or proposed policies and practices, of governments or organizations (and not individual people, including politicians).
  • There is strong evidence that a large portion of the membership is in favor of such a statement being made and that making such a statement will not inhibit portions of the membership from engaging in ACL activities.