Constitutional Amendment Proposed on Eligibility to Hold Office

The SAA Council proposes the following amendment to the SAA Constitution for consideration by SAA members at the Annual Membership/Business Meeting on Saturday, August 27, in Chicago.

THAT the SAA Constitution, Article III.A.4., be amended as follows (strikethrough indicates deletion):

Institutional membership shall be open to institutions or agencies responsible for or substantially interested in the custody, study, teaching, control, or use of records, archives, and/or private papers. Institutional members are eligible to receive the publications of the Society. Each institutional member may identify a primary contact person, who is eligible to vote, hold office, and serve on appointed groups.

Effect of the Amendment: Primary contacts of institutional members would no longer be eligible to hold elected office (i.e., President, Vice President, Treasurer, Council member, Nominating Committee member) in SAA without first joining as individual full members. Individual membership may be obtained at any time, which immediately confers eligibility to be elected to office in SAA.

See the attached document below for a briefing paper on the proposed constitutional amendment on eligibility to hold office.

0511-III-B-BriefingPaperConstAmend.pdf145.87 KB
5 Comment(s) to the "Constitutional Amendment Proposed on Eligibility to Hold Office"
banks14857 says:
Reducing the value of institutional membership

In the briefing paper it was stated that 21% of SAA's revenue comes from Institutional Members.  It was also stated that the potential fiscal impact of the proposal is unknown. What would be the impact to the Society if the proposal is adopted and roughly 25% of the institutional members opted to drop their membership because of reduced benefits?  It would translate into a 5% decrease in revenue.  How would a 5% decrease effect the operations of the Society? 


We can hope that membership will remain status quo.  But is it likely?  We are, after all, still living in a time of increasing budget cuts.  Decision makers (perhaps the "Primary Contact") at our member institutions may be seeing, once again, that their fiscal budgets are either being cut or are remaining bare bones for another year. Do we really want to remove a benefit and thus reduce the value of Insitutional Membership at a time when the decision makers are deciding what additional line items will be sacrificed?

Surely the Society does not want to give the decision makers any reason to question the value of remaining an institutional member.   

pirtlej says:
Clarification Needed

Will this amendment prevent the primary contact of Institutional Members from holding elected office in Sections and Roundtables?  The effect of the amendment only seems to address the larger SAA constitutional offices.  Also, are leadership positions in Sections and Roundtables considered as service on an 'appointed group,' even though section officers are elected?  There just needs to be a few words added to address Institutional Members roles in Section and Roundtable leadership.

Lasewicz says:

Full disclosure: My organization is an institutional member, and I am its primary contact. Fuller disclosure: I am patently unelectable, so I don’t have a horse in this race. J Amending the SAA constitution to partially disenfranchise nearly 10% of the membership – constituting more than a fifth of the SAA dues revenues – seems to be a high price to pay merely for the sake of creating consistency with the Fellows prohibition against institutional members. I’m bothered by the absence in the supporting documentation for this amendment of any indication of SAA having actual problems with institutional member primary contacts holding office. Instead, it appears that creating policy consistency is the sole expressed reason for proposing this amendment.


Philosophically speaking, I’m very disturbed that the path Council has chosen to achieve that consistency is even further restrict the rights of these members, creating an even more disenfranchised class of membership. Given the magnitude of the financial contribution these members make, it seems to me that a more appropriate path that Council should be looking towards is the expansion of the rights and services granted to these organizations. SAA would achieve the same policy consistency, without having to disenfranchise any of its members.


Practically speaking, this amendment if passed will shrink the pool of knowledgeable, experienced members available for SAA leadership positions, as primary contacts tend to be leaders in their institutions. It also has the potential to create a reduction in revenues. I know in my case, I could get full SAA benefits by dropping the more expensive institutional membership and paying the lesser individual membership fees. And should an institutional member take offense should this amendment pass and terminate its SAA membership, the financial impact would equate to the loss two top tier dues paying members.


For these reasons, I think this amendment is misguided and should be voted down.

Carmi747 says:
Amendment on Eligibility to Hold Office

Remind me again why SAA wants to disenfranchise the people who provide 21% of the annual operating support?

banning says:
Institutional memberships

I believe the thinking on this amendment is off-base.  Institutional members contribute much to the success of SAA as a whole, both in time spent and in support through dues.  By its own measure, while only comprising 9% of the membership, institutional members contribute 21% of total dues. 

In a time when much effort and discussion is dedicated to membership equity and diversity, passing this amendment would be short-sighted and ironic.  How can the society embrace and plan for a more diverse membership when they are limiting the rights of membership for some?  It would be better to do away with the institutional membership option than to pass a second class citizenship within SAA.