grave concern regarding the proposed changes to the FSA Articles of Incorporation

As you may know, the Free Spirit Alliance is considering a change to its Articles of Incorporation to make it easier for people to become members. I've had a chance to review the proposed changes. While I appreciate Cat's work on this, and support the general idea, I have a very serious concern with the following provision of the proposed amendments:

"Any voting member has the right to request that another individual be placed on a ban list and removed from the membership roll. This would be followed by a vote at a meeting after notice has been sent to the individual. A ⅔ majority of all members in attendance, either in person or
by proxy, at that meeting would be required to place an individual on the ban list. In addition, being ejected from one of the Corporation's events automatically places a person on the ban list."

As I read this, since ejection from an event is at the sole discretion of the event coordinator, the FSG and Beltane coordinators can -- without recourse or due process -- strip an FSA member of their membership. However much we may trust the folks who currently coordinate our events, I don't think this is a wise policy.

Unless someone can point out something I'm missing, I must vote "no" on the proposed change, and ask that other members do likewise.

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Comments

However impractical a vote

However impractical a vote over someone's ejection from an event can be, I believe said person should be allowed to appeal... requesting their revoked membership be reviewed and/or taken to a vote

I believe your concern is

I believe your concern is warranted, Tom. As it appears, it does seem to allow a select few to unilaterally determine a persons fate when all else have to be processed by a vote at a meeting with a 2/3 majority in favor. If they word it to state that a person may be ejected from any event by the coordinator, but that making it a permanent ban must also be taken up at a meeting and a 2/3 vote in favor must also occur to enforce the ban in perpetuity, that would be one thing. As I am reading it, I don't see it as fair or reasonable. Personality conflicts can very much feel real to those who are dealing with them, and we are all capable of lapses in judgment in that regards. I believe it takes more than one pair of eyes to come to as serious a determination as that.

Proposed Changes

Yes, it does seem that way but the reality is that the only people who have ever been banned for life in the time that I have been there were two and they had both committed what were more than just lapses in judgement, such as offering alcohol to minors. And getting them banned was not done capriciously or just at coordinator whim. In fact, the second person I know of that was banned was only banned for a year, but was banned by Harry from the site full stop. The first person I know of had been warned about their behavior over several events and was told they would be banned if it continued.

How will future members interpret and carry out these rules?

While I appreciate the consideration that was taken in past cases of banning it concerns me that this change plants the idea that careful consideration and due process are not necessary. Consider a situation that gets a bit out of hand, a temporary lapse in judgement by an otherwise good person, or just a personality conflict/disagreement in which the event coordinator asks one person to leave the event. A permanent ban may not be necessary, perhaps a cooling off period and a chance for parties to reconcile is all that's really needed. Now the event coordinator has to temper their decision to eject someone from an event by only ejecting those who have committed an offense severe enough to warrant banning from membership in FSA altogether.

In my humble opinion it would make more sense to suspend someone's membership if they're ejected from an event until such time that the standard voting procedure can take place. In other words: ejection from an event = a voting member exercising their "right to request that another individual be placed on a ban list and removed from the membership roll."

Actually, none of the people

Actually, none of the people I am aware of (two for the record) have been members of FSA, so that is a completely separate thing. Also, as I said before, one of them was not banned by FSG but ejected from the event, and then at Harry's request, told he was not allowed at Ramblewood again, which is a different matter entirely. This does not come up all that often in reality. I can only think of one person who was actually ejected from the event during the time I have been there (6 years I think) that was neither of the people who was banned.

past performance is no guarantee of future results

Yes, in the past ejections have been rare. But then, in the past, ejections couldn't be used as a political in-fighting tool. And politics can get nasty.

Back during the Great Upheaval, there was a guy who accused some FSA members of -- and I am not making the up -- murder. If he had been able to get them ejected from FSG, and thus booted from the organization, I'm sure he would have been plotting to do so.

For those who remember who I'm talking about, what if someone that nutty got themselves made coordinator? Not even of FSG, necessarily; say we bring back Mythical Journeys and let someone run it, thinking it's a small event and we'll see what they do, but they turn out to be nuts. I can see very ugly consequences.

Worst case thinking? You bet. I'm a software developer and a martial arts instructor, paranoia is part of my business. Regulations, like software, should be written for the worst case.

i commit to...

putting an agenda item on the very next meeting's agenda to modify that sentence to read something like,

"In the event of an ejection, it's the event coordinator's responsibility to submit the ejectee's name to the membership for consideration for addition to the ban list if he/she believes it to be warranted."

would that make people more comfortable with passing the mostly-good language?

eve

so another 2/3 vote needed to amend the Articles a second time?

I appreciate the thought, Eve, but that would require another amendment of the Articles, yes? The Trustees would have to make another motion recommending the change, and we'd have to have another 2/3 vote. Why not take the time to get it right the first time?

My understanding (and possibly I just missed something) was that the Trustees were going to solicit more input from the membership about the precise language here. I imagined (this is my own brain filling in the blanks) something like a thread on the Free Spirit Forum mailing list -- or perhaps on that new member's mailing list that we've talked about. (With the small size of our current membership, we could just set up a mail reflector...) I thought we'd all go through a few drafts, taking some time but producing the very best results with the most buy-in from everyone.

This is a big-ass change and ought not to be rushed or done haphazardly. "Let's get this through and patch it up later" is not, IMHO, a good way to proceed.

Nope, bylaws. And I thought

Nope, bylaws. And I thought that that was your only issue?

BTW, I already asked Penni to put in an agenda item

replace "In addition, being ejected from one of the Corporation's events automatically places a person on the ban list."

with

"In addition, if an event coordinator finds it necessary to eject someone from one of the Corporation's events, he/she is responsible for submitting that person to the membership for long-term ban consideration."

with the implication of "if he/she thinks it's warranted"

How will future members interpret and carry out these rules?

While I appreciate the consideration that was taken in past cases of banning it concerns me that this change plants the idea that careful consideration and due process are not necessary. Consider a situation that gets a bit out of hand, a temporary lapse in judgement by an otherwise good person, or just a personality conflict/disagreement in which the event coordinator asks one person to leave the event. A permanent ban may not be necessary, perhaps a cooling off period and a chance for parties to reconcile is all that's really needed. Now the event coordinator has to temper their decision to eject someone from an event by only ejecting those who have committed an offense severe enough to warrant banning from membership in FSA altogether.

In my humble opinion it would make more sense to suspend someone's membership if they're ejected from an event until such time that the standard voting procedure can take place. In other words: ejection from an event = a voting member exercising their "right to request that another individual be placed on a ban list and removed from the membership roll."

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