Here are a few comments as I edit the branch bylaws for conformance to the changes passed at the AAUW convention in June. There are two documents with information about the changes — a memo to all branch presidents and bylaws chairs, and the new model branch bylaws. See aauw.org/About/bylaws/ for copies of those
The bylaws committee had a difficult job since there are hundreds of different instantiations of the branch bylaws “in the wild” — so how do you say what to “change” when you don’t have all the starting points? Of course any time there are two sets of directions, there’s apt to be some inconsistency. While the model bylaws say certain articles are “mandatory” many of those who are updating current bylaws will have no reason to review the model bylaws. I started trying to make my bylaws conform to both the strictures of the memo and the model bylaws, but I’ve decided that the final document will be some combination. It will be reviewed by the branch bylaws committee to make sure I’ve not slipped in something too egregious.
Some issues with the memo
- The memo says to replace “Association” with AAUW — but it evidently doesn’t mean to do that in the heading and the “Name” section since in the later section on Governance it says “American Association of University Women, hereinafter called AAUW”. On the other hand the model bylaws start using “AAUW” right away and only write out the full name in the heading. I’m going with the model bylaws for the Tar Heel Branch.
- The memo says to replace the old wording “purpose of AAUW is to promote equity for all women and girls, lifelong education, and positive societal change” with the new purpose for AAUW approved in St. Louis. However, that language (the mission that was in use for at least ten years up to 2006) never appeared in the model bylaws and doesn’t appear in my branch’s bylaws. A solution here (which also resolves a reference to the Educational Foundation and removes the problematic “unite graduates of different educational institutions” which did appear in the 2008 model bylaws) is to simplify the branch’s article on the Purpose and use the language from the national bylaws (and the model branch bylaws).
Some issues with the model bylaws
- The Fall 2008 version of the model bylaws had two articles for Name and Purpose. The new model combines them. However, since that would renumber all the other articles, for ease of understanding and discussion, I’m not going to make that change.
- The change in wording from having the name be “AAUW XYZ Branch” to “XYZ Branch of AAUW” is more pleasing to the ear but flies in the face of years of work to get our name listed near the top of alphabetical lists. For now I’m going to favor the Style Guide over the model bylaws since the memo doesn’t require this change.
- The membership and dues article includes many changes not referenced in the memo. For instance, the model bylaws do, for the first time, I think, reference an at-large member joining a branch by paying state and branch dues. This is more complicated than that, and I do hope the policies governing the transfer from MAL (expiration date depends on when the member joined) to branch member (expiration date is June 30) are posted (along with all the rest of the policies that affect branches, states, and individual members). The change isn’t mandatory by the memo, so I’m not going to include it or the other changes in the model Article IV.
- AAUW NC in its bylaws explicitly grants membership benefits to representatives of AAUW college/university partners in the state and says that they are charged no dues. It would be helpful if the model bylaws had language to cover this case. The difficulty comes since the representatives’ renewals are billed by AAUW to the college, not (as with other branch members) by the branch to the individual. So the simple solution is to charge no dues and call the representative “renewed” when the national dues are paid. On the other hand, some branches/states may want to charge local dues — and, indeed, the MPP pushes the branch in that direction. If AAUW will continue to bill for national dues for partner “members” (and, one assumes, their representatives), then they should be classified differently from ordinary branch members, the model bylaws should offer suggestions on how to handle the local finances related to them, and the MPP should be enhanced to cover their local/state dues (if any).
Issues not clarified in either document
- The new AAUW bylaws removes the classification of “Associate Member” which was used for those who had completed two years of study towards a degree, who were admitted to membership no later than 1957, and who have maintained branch affiliation ever since. There are a handful of these women still affiliated with the organization, and according to the old bylaws, they had the right to transfer to another branch. A member of the bylaws committee advised me to leave that language in the branch bylaws. However, since there are no Associate Members in North Carolina, and the language has been removed from the model branch bylaws, I am going to remove it from the branch bylaws for the sake of simplicity and because of possible confusion with the 2005 change to admit those who have earned an associate or equivalent degree. I do hope the board will make a statement recognizing the surviving Associate Members and their more than 50 year commitment to AAUW.