MESA - Middle East Studies Association

Task Force on Civil and Human Rights

Creation and Protocol

The Task Force on Civil and Human Rights pays close attention to the legal and political landscape and monitors shifts that may negatively affect our members. It tracks official rhetoric that targets Muslim and Middle Eastern communities and the reported harassment of Muslim and Middle Eastern students and faculty. It is attentive to the ways in which immigration law and the proposed registry program that targets Muslims may pose challenges to Muslim and Middle Eastern communities, and students and researchers working on the Middle East. It serves as a vehicle to monitor such developments and devises ways for MESA to respond effectively to the federal administration and its policies.

The Task Force works closely with MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF), intending to complement, not overlap with its work. When there is uncertainty about whether CAF or the Task Force should take up an issue, the MESA Consultation Group decides. Members of the Consultation Group include the MESA president and president elect or past president (whoever is in office at the time), Task Force chair, CAF chair, and the MESA executive director.

Once an issue comes to the Task Force on Civil and Human Rights, the chair will inform the entire Task Force of the matter. The Task Force will then deliberate on the best course of action (e.g., reaching out to other organizations, like the ACLU; drafting a statement for the MESA Board of Directors to adopt; or writing a memo). If a majority of those who respond agree to issue a memo, the chair will ask for volunteers to research the issue further and to write the memo. Once a memo is drafted, it will be circulated to the Task Force for discussion and for a vote of approval within a limited time frame, and then sent to the president for final approval. 

Upon the recommendation of the Board of Directors, the president of MESA appoints the members of the Task Force in consultation with the chair. The Task Force consists of a chair, a vice chair, and six to eight members, including one from the Board of Directors. The MESA president and past-president or president-elect and executive director serve as ex-officio members.

The chair will appoint a smaller sub-committee of Task Force members to handle situations that require an immediate response as determined by the chair and president of MESA. It will consist of 2-3 members with legal expertise; the MESA president and Task Force chair will serve ex-officio. This sub-committee of the Task Force will work expeditiously and solicit immediate feedback from Task Force members. Once a memo or statement is developed by the sub-committee, the Task Force will have 8-12 hours to offer feedback.

Task Force members serve a three-year term, renewable once. The Task Force chair and vice-chair serve five-year renewable terms. In addition, some CAF members may serve as consultants, with voting rights, to the Task Force.

The Task Force convenes in a formal session once a year at the annual meeting of MESA. Members maintain close contact between sessions and can take up new issues at any time during the year. The MESA Secretariat handles the correspondence and administration of the Task Force.

Task Force Members

Amaney Jamal, Princeton University (Chair)
Arzoo Osanloo, University of Washington
Asli Bali, UCLA School of Law
Beth Baron, City University of New York, MESA President (ex-officio)
Laurie Brand, University of Southern California
Noura Erakat, George Mason University
Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, University of Pennsylvania
Zachary Lockman, New York University
Marc Lynch, George Washington University
Amy W. Newhall, University of Arizona, MESA Executive Director (ex-officio)
Judith E. Tucker, Georgetown University, MESA President-Elect

Contact the Task Force

tfchr@mesana.org



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