American Sociological Association

Sociology in Action: Sharon Elise

Sharon Elise, California State University-San Marcos, works on social justice with the California Faculty Association in Sacramento, CA. ASA asked Elise about that work:

What is the mission of the CFA? The CFA is established to strengthen the cause of higher education for the public good; to promote and maintain the standards and ideals of the profession; to provide a democratic voice for academic employees; to provide legislative advocacy; and to maintain collective bargaining agreements covering salaries, working conditions, and other items and conditions of employment.

Can you describe the CFA and your involvement? We are engaged in ongoing work onCFA's Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation which includes workshop development and implementation, and ongoing strategies for change. The California Faculty Association Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation project is guided by 10 principles, supported by a resolution passed in 2015 by delegates to the 83rd CFA Assembly.

The guiding principles are:

  1. We are a strong social justice organization, but we can be even stronger.
  2. We intentionally center Anti-Racism as part of our mission.
  3. We acknowledge that even WE in CFA are part of the problem of racism.
  4. We acknowledge that WE can be part of the solution by being intentionally committed to addressing it.
  5. We engage in courageous conversations about racism and discrimination, in order to transform our union.
  6. We adopt changes in organizational values, policies and practices consistent with principles of anti-racism and social justice.
  7. We become a more inclusive Union by focusing on, adopting and adapting the principles of anti-racism, social justice and equity to our union and employment work.
  8. We practice anti-racism and non-discrimination behavior with one another and others, including our students and colleagues, in order to become more socially just beings and to ensure a stronger and more inclusive union.
  9. We ensure that this transformation is sustainable and the philosophy upon which it is based is continually offered to new and emerging leaders in our union and on our campuses.
  10. Fairness and Justice should be faculty working conditions!

What sociological knowledge and/or skills do you use? Decades of background in critical race and gender scholarship and teaching, with experience in working to transform the academy and professoriate.

How did you connect with the California Faculty Association? ? I am a union member who has engaged increasingly in activism, first as campus representative to the Council for Affirmative Action, and then becoming a member of the CFA Board of Directors. I went on to a position on the Anti-Racism and Social Justice Leadership Team, and was most recently appointed as an Officer, serving as Associate Vice-President for Affirmative Action, South (southern California).

Duration of the project? Two years and ongoing.