From the SFRA Executive Committee
SFRA Proposed Bylaw Amendments 2021
Coming out of our collective discussions at the business meeting at our 2021 annual meeting, the executive committee of the Science Fiction Research Association would like to propose a number of amendments to our existing organizational bylaws. These amendments are intended are oriented around the following general goals:
- Explain and clarify existing procedures of the SFRA, as well as update terminology that has changed since the last round of bylaw revisions.
- Expand representation on the executive committee through the creation of at-large positions, including a standing “representative at-large” position intended to increase structural representation of graduate student and NTT members and another intended to increase structural representation of international members.
- Formalize the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including in the composition its executive committee.
- Create a standing conference committee to ensure continuity and best practices across annual conferences.
- Create a development officer intended to pursue growth of the organization, including grant support, bequeathments, and investment of our savings in a traditional index fund.
- Create a two-stage public “nomination” process for positions on the executive committee and eliminate the requirement that elections be competitive.
The executive committee, with the assistance of an ad-hoc bylaw amendment committee, discussed the creation of a formal diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, including the establishment of a formal DEIB officer on the executive committee. This was determined by the group to be a potentially unwieldy and potentially problematic solution, and we elected instead to infuse a commitment to the diversity through the SFRA’s existing structures and task them with implementing concrete DEIB goals. The idea is that the organization should dedicate itself as a whole to DEIB by committing resources to diversity, equity, and inclusion through our existing institutional practices, rather than locating this work in a single committee or individual that can too easily be scapegoated or ignored.
The group has proposed that we set a goal of 50% self-identified DEIB minority-status members and 40% elected/appointed leaders of minority-DEIB status by the end of the next cycle of elections in 2026.
The executive committee would like to thank the ad-hoc bylaw amendment committee (De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Selena Middleton, Taryne Taylor, Christy Tidwell, Dagmar Van Engen, Lisa Yaszek, and Ida Yoshinaga) for their assistance in drafting these amendments.
This is intended to be as public and transparent a process as possible. If there are questions or concerns about any of the proposed amendments, please post them to the SFRA-L list and they can be discussed; concerns can also be raised privately to Gerry Canavan at firstname.lastname@example.org or to any other member of the executive committee.
SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
- Article I, Section 2 adds the word “diverse” to the overall charge of the organization.
- Article I, Section 3 is added to state expressly that SFRA possesses resources that it is empowered to use in pursuit of the goals described in I.1 and I.2.
- Article II, section 2 reflects the new name of the SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship; clarifies that multiple categories of academic workers are eligible for subsidized membership; and changes he/she to they.
- Article III, section 1 clarifies that sometimes conferences are scheduled but not held.
- Article IV, section 2 adds at least two at-large members to the executive committee, including a requirement that to the extent possible one be from graduate student and NTT ranks and one be from outside the US/Canada; and tasks the executive committee with recruiting candidates for elections that reflect the diversity of the science fiction community.
- Article IV, section 3 changes he/she to they.
- Article V, section 2 changes he/she to they.
- The new and altered sections of Article V describes the roles of the representatives at-large, development officer, the conference committee, and the outreach officer (formerly the public relations officer).
- The changes to Article VI explain the nomination process for executive officers and removes the requirement that elections be competitive, replacing it with a process in which members of the organization nominate or self-nominate candidates both before and after the slate of candidates has been announced.