This issue of open membership is back on the table again as an amendment for vote in the spring of 2018.
What’s different this time is that the proposal came from the national board which is in the middle of a strategic planning discussion on the future of the organization. They see this change as a necessary one, and (obviously) think there is a way to turn around the 2017 results (either by better messaging on the necessity for change or by expanding the electorate to more members who will vote for the change.)
On the other hand, the comments on http://www.AAUW.org about the proposal follow the same pattern we’ve seen since 2009.
- Some members (the majority of the comments) feel that the degree requirement is part of the uniqueness, the “brand” of AAUW and must not be changed.
- Others (without regard to whether it would increase membership or bring in more donations) feel that it’s inherently counter to the mission of “equity for women” and feel it must be be changed to root out the hypocrisy at our foundation.
There’s no viable compromise on the table:
- a “non-degree” category of membership is still a “second class” membership, anathema to those who want to drop the degree requirement on the basis of its being counter to a fight for equity
- a “branch option” amendment to the bylaws was rejected out of hand in 2015 and has not resurfaced
- the 2009 resolution calling for guided discussions and, perhaps, pilot projects has not resulted in any movement towards a compromise
We cannot predict what the board will do with the information from the comment period or how they will deal with the fact that there are branches practicing civil disobedience and admitting members without degrees. [Yes, members. Members of AAUW. As Linda Hallman said in the discussions leading up to 2009, it has been decades since anyone “checked”.] At a minimum, there needs to be a solution that would hold these branches harmless.
Assuming that the amendment stays on the ballot (in the face of the anger of those members who disagree with it being brought up again), please use this site as a source of talking points that support the change. You may find these documents particularly helpful:
- AAUW of Idaho letter to the branches supporting “Yes on Amendment 3”
- AAUW of Pennsylvania expanded rationale/explanation for the amendments
- AAUW of North Carolina board’s resolution in support of the amendments