Reframing – Draft 4

While the documents published in Outlook clearly describe the changes to the bylaws as a major endeavor with many ramifications, what I’ve heard of the discussion of the change to the degree requirement (Article IV) seems to assume that this is a continuation of the discussions we’ve been having for years:

  • “We’ve voted on this before. Why do we need to revisit this question?” [Comment at the AAUW NC convention, and, I’m sure, elsewhere.]
  • Everyone’s heard the arguments. We just need to lay them out briefly, and let them sink in. [Approach to considering the membership requirements — Champions’ material]
  • “[T]he members are the ones who should be allowed to make this important decision at the June AAUW Convention in St. Louis.” [October summary of feedback on the bylaws — Strategic Process material; Note: Of course, the members will decide — but without the context of restructuring, this implies a decision like those of earlier conventions.]
  • Postpone the decision until after one-member/one-vote is implemented. [AAUW CA resolution.]
  • Postpone the decision so that opening the membership doesn’t derail the restructuring. [AAUW Champions google group]

Questions/comments like this tend to reinforce the idea that this vote is very similar to the votes in 1999, 2003 and 2005. It’s not. We are considering this change to Article IV in a new context.

What’s different this time is that it’s not just about Article IV. In the change from a 501(c)(4) to a 501(c)(3), we have disconnected from the 1899 charter and dropped the “uniting graduates” part of our purpose.

Our entire strategic process (e.g. Principles of Change, October, 2006, SP Archives) has focused on the need for mission clarity. The proposed bylaws support that clarity. For those who would retain the degree requirement in Article IV, what 21st century purpose would they insert in Article II that would imply the degree requirement?

This change is difficult. Some will not be able to embrace or accept it.  But until and unless we can become an organization with a clear purpose and mission, we are doomed. Thousands of hours have gone into the proposed bylaws — the paper version of a vision for the new organization. Join me as we bring that vision to life, working to advance equity for women and girls, and welcoming all who are willing to help us.

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