In the last decade, I’ve attended AAUW conventions wearing three hats:
Advocate for dropping the degree requirement for AAUW membership:
Champion for “online” branches, especially statewide, virtual branches:
Tech maven encouraging websites, social media and more:
Proposal 3 of the Proposed Bylaws Amendments is, fundamentally an editorial change that moves
- Article IV. Membership and Dues
- Section 2. Basis of Membership
- Paragraph a. Individual Members
- Subparagraph 2. Appeals of Refusal of Admission to Membership
to its own Paragraph — Paragraph d (after the paragraphs b.College/University members and c. Other Organizational Members). See the original text of the 2016 AAUW Bylaws (p 3-4) and the 2017 Voter Guide (p E16).
There is also some light editing to have it refer to college/university members (who do not present “credentials”).
I hope this will be accepted by the membership as a logical improvement to the bylaws.
There is a backstory, though.
This grew from a question I asked about the College/University members — “If they are an accredited institution and they pay their dues, they are members, right?” I was told the answer was “no” — an institution that worked against the mission of AAUW could be refused membership based on the language of IV.2a(2):
Any potential Individual Member or College/University Member who claims qualification for membership in AAUW and that has been refused admission to membership may present credentials to the Board of Directors for review. The decision of the Board of Directors shall be final.
With that answer, it was obvious to me that the paragraph needed to stand on its own and to be wordsmithed lightly:
Any potential Individual Member or College/University Member who claims qualification for membership in AAUW and that has been refused admission to membership may present credentials appeal to the Board of Directors for review. The decision of the Board of Directors shall be final.
This also seemed to answer some of the questions posed in the debate in 2009 on dropping the degree requirement: What if high school students wanted to join? What if a member gave memberships to all her grandchildren? This clarifies that edge cases can be disapproved by the board, and may give some comfort to those who feel that open membership is dangerous in some way.
- Full disclosure — the original question was in the context of trying to make the individual member requirements match those for C/U members.
- Looking at it now, I think that “Individual Member or College/University”?could also be deleted. But as far as I know, there are no other “Organizational Members” and they are more apt to be subject to board scrutiny anyway.
Archive (in case aauw.org changes): 2016 Bylaws | 2017 Voter Guide
This site started to discuss issues related to the major changes in AAUW from 2007-2009. Here’s my most recent essay (for a CA Online email list discussing the 2017 proposed bylaws amendments).
It is, of course, *very* hard to tell why people don’t renew and even harder to decipher why they don’t join. But anecdotal evidence suggests that the GenY/Millenials find an organization with a membership requirement such as ours just very odd.
- I was sitting near some YWTF members when the vote was announced at the 2015 convention. They were, frankly, dismayed at the result — but even more flabbergasted by the cheers that went up in response, and the laughter when Patricia asked for respectful dialog on the issue.
- On Monday, as a representative of the state board, I attended a meeting of a half-dozen members of a branch that’s in the process of disbanding. When the issue came up, two spoke strongly in favor of keeping the degree requirement and no one (but me) spoke against it. This is a branch that’s been “stuck” for several years — no web site, no participation in the MPP, continued monthly meetings during the day, and so forth. To me there’s a connection about “hanging on to the requirement as what makes us unique” and failing to move in new directions (though, of course, I know there are counter examples).
- The statewide, virtual Tar Heel Branch in NC has 103 members, about half of them primary. It operates as like a collection of “at-large members of the state”. Given that NC has about 10% of the members of CA, and that Tar Heel is so much larger (in primary members) than CA Online, I think there’s evidence that many members *want* a looser connection. [Though, of course, it may be that there’s just a denser set of branches in CA that folks can join if they want — vast swaths of NC are more than an hour from a branch.]
Now I do understand that to many members the degree requirement is just part of AAUW’s DNA. But I ask you to approach our documents, our projects, our website, indeed our mission statement, and try to find a connection to the degree requirement. When our charter said part of our purpose was the “fellowship of college graduates” (not a direct quote, but the language was there), the degree requirement made some sense. Indeed, after voting for change in 1999, I didn’t follow through on leaving because people cited that language. However, in 2009 we dropped that language, and I would say that the requirement is inconsistent with the rest of our bylaws.
So what do new people find if they join? Yes, if they are invited to a luncheon and feel welcome because of their degree, it is part of what they see. But those who join us to fight for equity for women and girls may not see that.
I still think that if the vote in 2005 had been reversed and Frieda Schurch’s question to the delegates, “What are we about? Equity for women or showing off our degrees?”, had been part of the debate on dropping the requirement entirely (instead of changing baccalaureate to associate), the opposition would have melted away then, and the issue would have been long behind us. But we carry on.
What will the future be with or without the degree requirement?? We really cannot know. Some branches will look exactly the same. Others will fold. New ones — and new YWTF chapters — may thrive.
Whenever I’m in a virtual group of more than a few people, I encourage the use of a Google Group (groups.google.com) to keep the list of addresses “in the cloud” instead of in everyone’s individual address books. If the group uses Google Apps, they can also create a “group” there — it just explodes one address, like firstname.lastname@example.org, to multiple addresses (which can be easily edited when personnel change). Other mail systems from web providers (e.g. Dreamhost) have a similar functionality. The problem any of these things solve is that
When a person joins or leaves the list, the list of addresses needs to be updated in only one place. [And, of course, it means that *someone* needs to remember to update the list.]
But sometimes that just doesn’t work — either because I don’t have the energy to convince the powers that be to do it that way or … So there are times when I need to set up a “group” of my own in Gmail. This used to be pretty straightforward – go to Contacts, Select Groups, Create a group and add addresses to it (like you would with the Google Groups or Google Apps Groups).
Google, in their infinite wisdom, has, however, changed things so that Gmail “groups” are now “labels”. You can go to Gmail > Contacts > Labels to see who is in a group and delete the members. But to add people to a group you need to find their address on a list in your contacts, select their address, then hit the little label icon in the upper right and select the correct group name.
It works, just weird. But I got used to labels rather than folders for messages and now find it *extremely* useful to be able to add multiple labels to a specific message (to the point where Mailchimp’s “a campaign can be moved to a folder, but only one folder” seems horribly old fashioned).
Just posting to solidify what I learned.
Okay, I guess I understand that the new model bylaws are an improvement. But I must say that asking branches/states to update their bylaws twice in a calendar year reminds me of a company I worked for where the CFO would ask all the managers to redo their budgets whenever cash flow got tight — if they were fiddling with spreadsheets, they wouldn’t be spending real money.