As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, higher education faces unprecedented challenges, with significant consequences for institutions, faculty members, and students. In its statements about the pandemic, the MLA Executive Council has appealed to institutional leaders to uphold their central mission and support faculty members, staff members, and students in their vital work in the humanities—now and as colleges and universities continue to face the pressing issues of this crisis.
Below is an overview of statements related to COVID-19, issued or endorsed by the MLA Executive Council. Click on the statement names to learn more.
In March 2020, the Executive Council approved a statement drafted by the MLA, calling on colleges and universities to implement practices that will ward off disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for graduate students; contingent faculty members, including adjunct, postdoctoral, non-tenure-track, and graduate instructors; untenured faculty members; and international scholars and students. It was endorsed by twenty-eight other organizations or their executive committees.
In March 2020, the MLA Executive Council added the MLA’s endorsement to this statement, which was drafted by the American Sociological Association and endorsed by thirty-five other organizations. It calls on all institutions of higher education to consider appropriate temporary adjustments to their review and reappointment processes for tenure-line and contingent faculty members during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In April 2020, the MLA Executive Council added the MLA’s endorsement to this statement, which was drafted by the American Sociological Association and endorsed by thirty-two organizations. It states, in part, “In the context of COVID-19, we recommend that institutions make temporary adjustments to timelines for student progression and completion, including revising funding timelines as appropriate.”
In June 2020, the Executive Council approved this update to the MLA’s “Statement on COVID-19 and Academic Labor” to address the health risks that faculty members, students, and staff members are facing while working and teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the MLA encourages institutions to take into account the gendered inequities, socioeconomic inequities, and the needs and constraints of marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students and faculty members working during this time.
- Joint Statement on COVID-19 and the Key Role of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the United States
In August 2020, the Executive Council approved adding the MLA’s signature to this statement, drafted by leaders of academic organizations, libraries, and research centers. It calls on “all leaders of institutions of higher education to uphold the central importance of the humanities and the social sciences” as they “make important decisions that will shape the institutions under [their] stewardship for years and perhaps generations to come.”
In September 2020, the MLA Executive Council approved the MLA’s endorsement of a resolution, written by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials, regarding challenges in the collection development ecosystem for Latin American and Caribbean studies, brought about by COVID-19 and the associated budgetary restrictions.