Two Constitutional Amendments to Be Considered at August 14 Membership Meeting

At recent meetings (February and May 2010) the Council approved two recommendations for amendments to the SAA Constitution, both of which will be discussed at the 2010 Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C., on August 14.

Foreign Associate Members’ Eligibility for Fellowship

MOTION: That the SAA Constitution be amended as follows: [underline = addition]

III. Membership

B. Fellows of the Society of American Archivists

To recognize sustained and outstanding achievements in pursuit of the goals of the profession and the work of the Society, there shall be a special class of individual dues-paying members, known as Fellows of the Society of American Archivists, which shall consist of members elected to that class by a seventy-five percent (75%) vote of the Committee on the Selection of Fellows. The number of Fellows shall be no more than five percent (5%) of the total individual membership reported at the last annual business meeting of the Society. No member of the Society shall be elected a Fellow who has not been a full member or a foreign associate member of the Society in good standing for at least seven (7) years immediately preceding election.

Support Statement: Per the recommendation of the Committee on the Selection of Fellows, this change would "enable SAA to honor foreign associate members who have made a substantial contribution to the Society or to the archives profession. Such members regularly attend SAA meetings in addition to the meetings of their own national associations." The requirement for seven years of continuous membership may be met with any combination of full membership or foreign associate membership. Domestic associate members are not eligible to be SAA Fellows.

Fiscal Impact: None.

Membership “Grace” Period

MOTION: That the SAA Constitution be amended as follows: [strikethrough = deletion, underline = addition]

IV. Dues.

A member shall be enrolled upon the first payment of dues and shall receive benefits during the period for which dues have been paid. All dues shall be payable in advance. Membership in good standing shall cease when dues are ninety (90) twenty-eight (28) days in arrears. Changes in membership dues shall be determined by a majority vote of those members present and voting at the annual business meeting of the Society.

Support Statement: SAA conducted general elections via an online ballot for the first time in 2009. In the course of configuring the electronic voting system, staff discovered a discrepancy between a policy in SAA’s Constitution and long-standing administrative practice. According to Article IV of the SAA Constitution, “Membership in good standing shall cease when dues are ninety (90) days in arrears.” For at least the past 10 years, office procedure has been to cancel member status approximately one month after the dues expiration date. SAA’s old association management software system (AMS) was set up according to this model no later than 1999. (No records are available at SAA Headquarters regarding procedures prior to that time.) Unaware of the discrepancy, staff configured the new AMS according to the same logic in April 2007. For the purpose of the 2009 and 2010 elections, the 90-day grace period was honored. At the Council’s February 2010 meeting, staff brought this situation to the Council’s attention and was directed to reconfigure the AMS to bring procedures in compliance with the Constitution. No member has contested the operational one-month grace period in the past ten or more years. Currently members receive their first dues renewal notice via email 90 days prior to their expiration date. Four additional notices are sent to members prior to cancellation, two by first-class mail and two by email. In staff’s professional opinion, these procedures provide necessary and adequate notice for member retention purposes. Given the speed of communication enabled by modern technology, as well as the advent of online credit card transactions, a one-month grace period – defined specifically as 28 days in order to accommodate February – constitutes good policy and good stewardship of SAA’s resources.

Fiscal Impact: If approved, this amendment will save the Society approximately $10,000 per year in direct expenses for printing and mailing of Archival Outlook.