Backstory on AAUW Bylaws Change Proposal 3

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 changes): 2016 Bylaws | 2017 Voter Guide


Once more, with feeling

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.
Some anecdotes:
  • 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.

Distraction Free Writing on

As you may know, I support some sites on, e.g. the AAUW Tar Heel Branch. (And I just threw out a Facebook comment that maybe it’s time to start an AAUW Facebook group of volunteers devoted to supporting the branch/state sites that are using WordPress, whether or

I don’t usually comment on WordPress upgrades here, but the latest upgrade on is of particular interest — and I just got back from WordCamp Raleigh, so such issues are, perhaps, more top of mind than usual. (The upgrade is a preview of what’s coming in WordPress 3.2 for users.)

The WordPress team has done a fabulous job, as usual, but there’s one feature I’d like to write about – partly to help me understand it better.

This version of the software has changed the “full screen edit” mode to one that supports “distraction free writing” (again, see either the or discussion of the upgrade).

Well, I can see the point for blogs, and I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually. But since I’m always distracted when writing — and posts are often short enough that often I don’t bother to open the full-screen editor, the new environment seems a bit too stripped down for me. In particular – what happened to the toolbar?? Who decided to delete most of the buttons and go to keyboard shortcut based formatting? Yes, if you click the “Help” icon you get an actually helpful table of keyboard shortcuts, e.g.

Alt+Shift+Letter Action
n Check Spelling
j Justify Text
d Strikethrough
u o List
o 1. List
q Quote
g Full Screen
p Insert Page Break tag
e Switch to HTML mode

How many people expect real help to be behind such an icon? How does this change my elevator speech, “If you can send an email message with an attachment you can write a blog post since the edit screen looks so familiar.”? Of course, some people will never find the full-screen edit button and others may welcome the keyboard shortcuts. Is this a subtle push to keep the style sheet in control of the formatting? That may very well be a good thing (as you see, I’m writing to come to an understanding), but it’s still an odd cultural shift.

And, yes, the full screen editing for HTML mode is fabulous! (For me, anyway — for my users, not such a big deal.)

Side note:

There was a question in the final session today about WordPress as a CMS vs. a Blogging Platform. The answer was, as I recall, the equivalent of “yes.” Of course WordPress is very flexible and it’s both, but the “blogging” roots and mindset are pretty deeply embedded. It’s still the best for my applications, and I’m willing to fight through some oddities and annoyances even if I’ve got more complicated information architecture and access control issues than a typical “blog”. Just hoping I can bring along my friends.


How to engender urgency?

The previous post talks about a history of AAUW of North Carolina leadership.  While looking up other things, I came across these two documents in the archive:

The 2005 proposal looks so similar to the one we’re now considering — and so few of the 2006 positions were ever filled — I fear we aren’t at the root of the problem: how to encourage more people to contribute. If we can’t do that, it doesn’t really matter how we arrange the deck chairs, does it?

Of course talking about this openly probably isn’t helping. But after this many years of reworking the same problems …