The current bylaws have a provision that bestows on LSA officers (president and secretary-treasurer), LSA journal editors, and Linguistic Institute (co-)directors the honor of becoming a Fellow upon completion of service, without the need to be nominated first. The proposed amendment to remove this Fellows provision is reported by its signatories as motivated by a desire to “advance linguistics on an inclusive basis”. While we agree with that goal, we believe that removing the Fellows provision is misguided and will have the opposite effect. Extraordinary service to the LSA is already one of the listed criteria for election as a Fellow of the LSA, even without the provision. We would argue that acting as an LSA officer, LSA journal editor, or Linguistic Institute (co-)director constitutes extraordinary service. Additionally, we believe that the Fellows provision is not creating a separate class, just streamlining what would be easy decisions. 

There is increasing awareness in Academia that the kind of professional service rewarded by the Fellows provision constitutes invisible labor which is often unrecognized, uncompensated, and commonly performed by scholars in the early and middle stages of their careers when they have not yet advanced to the rank of Full Professor. Those responsibilities are carried out selflessly, at the expense of time devoted to research and publishing. If the Fellows provision is removed, we will see the rank of Fellows who have performed extraordinary service dwindle, since they are less likely to be nominated (we do live in a world where service is devalued with respect to research). The proponents of the amendment have not really explained how removing the Fellows provision will increase inclusivity. Rather, by making it more likely that future Fellows will be elected on account of their research, and not service, the amendment is likely to become more *exclusionary*. There is some evidence (see here and here) that points to service activities disproportionally burdening underrepresented groups. The Fellows provision, in its recognition of extraordinary service as an automatic condition for Fellowship, is indeed promoting greater inclusivity in the LSA and among the ranks of Fellows

Having a streamlined process on the part of the LSA of extraordinary service is a token of recognition and gratitude, and it serves to promote and encourage service by LSA members. It also gives prestige to those service activities, making them worthy of support on the part of Deans and Provosts. If there is concern that an LSA Fellowship could be bestowed on a colleague whose conduct does not reflect the values and standards of the LSA, it is worth remembering that all these service roles are vetted in a serious way: officers and the Language editor are voted on and institute (co-)directors are selected by the Executive Committee. In comparison, regular fellows are selected by the members-at-large of the Executive Committee. We doubt that anyone would commit to the long hours of work that the positions require to sneak into the ranks of LSA Fellows. Having automatic recognition of such extraordinary service goes a long way in advancing the desire for inclusiveness in the LSA. We, the undersigned,  therefore oppose the proposed removal of the provision as stated in the LSA bylaws. 


  1. Raúl Aranovich
  2. Andries W. Coetzee
  3. Karlos Arregi
  4. Georgia Zellou
  5. Andrew Hippisley
  6. Rusty Barrett
  7. Alan C. L. Yu
  8. Ellen Kaisse
  9. Robin Queen
  10. Patrick Farrell
  11. Walt Wolfram
  12. Anne H. Charity Hudley
  13. Sarah Thomason
  14. Itamar Francez
  15. Patrice Speeter Beddor
  16. Natasha Abner
  17. David Pesetsky
  18. Kai von Fintel
  19. Rajesh Bhatt
  20. Barbara Partee
  21. Colin Phillips
  22. Meredith Tamminga
  23. Andrew Koontz-Garboden
  24. Savithry Namboodiripad
  25. Christine Mallinson
  26. Marlyse Baptista