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  • ...

    john.m.sturrock March 29, 2006, 1:03 p.m. (Message 44893)

    On the 20th March, Chris Ronald wrote : -
    
    
    > Hello Strathspeyers,
    >
    > This message is addressed to the RSCDS members on the list - which I 
    > assume
    > means most subscribers.
    >
    > HQ is proposing a number of changes to the Constitution, which it plans to
    > submit to the AGM in November. They have just been posted in draft form on 
    > the
    > HQ website "for consultation with Branches and members".  Overall,  they 
    > seem
    > designed to further streamline the management arrangements that  were
    > introduced three years ago.
    
    
    I had expected this to prompt a lengthy debate on  strathspey.  Instead, 
    almost at the same time, a discussion started regarding chords. This took on 
    a life of its own, lasting a week, to the exclusion of most other topics. 
    While very interesting in itself, nothing that was said was ever likely to 
    change the future of SCD  -  as one correspondent remarked, it is always 
    likely that each area will stick to its own customs.  Now that that 
    discussion has run its course, perhaps we might turn back to the topic that 
    could be significant to the future  -  the re-writing of the RSCDS 
    Constitution.  Membership of the Society has roughly halved over the last 16 
    years, and we must be coming to some sort of crunch.  Added to that, my own 
    observations of dancing in many places lead me to estimate that less than 
    10% of those dancing regularly in the Milligan tradition, are actually 
    members of the Society.
    
    The current Constitution was ratified less than 17 months ago, and the 
    previous Constitution only 24 months before that.  Given the current 
    situation of the Society, one has to wonder if constant re-writing is in its 
    own best interests, if the new one will prove any more workable than the 
    old, and if limited management time would not be better employed facing 
    problems within the bounds of the existing Constitution(s)?
    
    The proposed new Constitution can be found on the Society website by logging 
    in as a member, in the top right hand corner, BEFORE clicking either 
    'What's Changed'  or  'News'.   Among other things, it appears to grant 
    future responsibility for future Constitutions, to a newly shrunk Management 
    Board.
    
    I think debate could be very illuminating.  Someone, somewhere, perhaps far 
    from Scotland, might just bring up something that changes the course of 
    SCD...
    
    John M Sturrock
    Cupar UK
  • ...

    Andrea Re March 29, 2006, 10:52 p.m. (Message 44897, in reply to message 44893)

    john.m.sturrock ha scritto:
    
    Hi there,
    
    funnily enough almost at the same time as John's posting I got an e-mail 
    from Martina (IB & Central Germany) asking what I thought of the 
    proposed changes to the constitution.
    I have accessed the RSCDS website and, following John's instructions, I 
    found the relevant file (I confess that I couldn't find it before....). 
    People will be glad to know that I don't have the time for a long 
    message at this moment in time, so I shall ask only one question:
    
    why should I care about the proposed changes? I am not terribly into 
    RSCDS politics at high level and certainly my understanding of the pro's 
    and con's of having so many members on the Education committee or 
    whether there should be a position of Management Committee Convenor 
    elect is non existent. I am sure that these proposals along with the 
    others are indeed worthy of approval, but how is that going to affect my 
    life as a dancer/teacher in Dundee one way or another?
    
    Andrea (fae Dundee)
    
    PS
    
    John highlights the problem of, for example, the dwindling membership, 
    but what has got to do with the proposed changes? I leave John's message 
    here for reference.
  • ...

    Keith R Bark March 30, 2006, 5:25 a.m. (Message 44904, in reply to message 44897)

    Most of the changes in the constitution appear to be clean-up and trying to
    make the committees more efficient (by reducing size and ensuring some
    continuity of management).
    
    The one topic that we do need to consider though is that of Society
    Examiners and membership of the Education and Training Committee.  The
    proposed change is that the Management Board will appoint two examiners to
    the E&T Committee but not allow examiners to stand for elected positions on
    the committee.  I agree that we need examiners on the committee but
    appointments are always risky as the current Management Board will appoint
    examiners who are in agreement with their opinions.  As the board changes,
    so the appointees change.  It is somewhat like appointments to a Senate or
    to a House of Lords rather than an elected body.  I think it would be better
    to have the wording such that if the elected members of the committee does
    not include at least two examiners, then the Management Board should appoint
    examiners to make the number of examiners on the committee up to two.
    
    What are other people's thoughts?
    
    
    Keith R Bark
    Mississauga, Canada
  • ...

    Angus Henry March 30, 2006, 5:39 a.m. (Message 44905, in reply to message 44904)

    I share Keith's concern -- we need to get well away from dynastic  
    appointments!
    
    Angus
  • ...

    suepetyt March 30, 2006, 11:14 a.m. (Message 44915, in reply to message 44904)

    I agree that there should not be appointments by the Board.  Two positions
    could be reserved for examiners, but these should still be elected by the
    membership.
    
    I also agree that the Board should not be allowed to change the constitution
    without member vote.  There is also a concern that many of the facets of the
    constitution will be moved to 'rules' which can be changed more easily.
    
    Reducing the number of Board Members is a good idea, - perhaps we should ask
    for Board meetings to be videoed and made available on the web!
    
    Happy Dancing
    Sue Petyt
    www.suepetyt.me.uk 
    Skype Sue Petyt
  • ...

    Andrew C Aitchison March 30, 2006, 9:35 a.m. (Message 44912, in reply to message 44893)

    On Wed, 29 Mar 2006, john.m.sturrock wrote:
    
    > Now that that 
    > discussion has run its course, perhaps we might turn back to the topic that 
    > could be significant to the future  -  the re-writing of the RSCDS 
    > Constitution.  Membership of the Society has roughly halved over the last 16 
    > years, and we must be coming to some sort of crunch.  Added to that, my own 
    > observations of dancing in many places lead me to estimate that less than 
    > 10% of those dancing regularly in the Milligan tradition, are actually 
    > members of the Society.
    
    If falling membership is the problem, is it appropriate that non-members
    can't see what they think of the proposed constitution ? They may be the
    ones best placed to see if it will cause them to (re)join ?
     
    > The current Constitution was ratified less than 17 months ago, and the 
    > previous Constitution only 24 months before that.  Given the current 
    > situation of the Society, one has to wonder if constant re-writing is in its 
    > own best interests, if the new one will prove any more workable than the 
    > old, and if limited management time would not be better employed facing 
    > problems within the bounds of the existing Constitution(s)?
    
    >                                  Among other things, it appears to grant 
    > future responsibility for future Constitutions, to a newly shrunk Management 
    > Board.
    
    I'm uncomfortable with that in principle.
    Fundamentally, if the members don't control the constitution they don't
    control anything. OK, asking the membership to change it is an effort and 
    an expense, but it shouldn't need changing very often.
    If the membership was obstinately conservative and repeatedly refused
    to make necessary changes to the constitution, that might be an argument
    for a change here, but recent experience is that the membership *are* 
    prepared to change it (perhaps too willing ?).
    If the members wont agree the right changes, that is their perogative;
    if the constitution is changed against their wishes (which is the 
    only reason I can see for this change - I don't accept "expense")
    why should they even bother to remain members ?
    
    [ I'm not a member of the RCSDS, as I rarely dance SC these days. Why not ?
      It isn't a good way of meeting single people in their thirties.
    ] 
    
    Andrew
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 30, 2006, 9:57 a.m. (Message 44914, in reply to message 44912)

    Andrew C Aitchison wrote:
    
    > If falling membership is the problem, is it appropriate that non-members
    > can't see what they think of the proposed constitution ? They may be the
    > ones best placed to see if it will cause them to (re)join ?
    
    Taking this the other way round, I don't think people generally leave the 
    Society on purpose because they have a beef of some kind with its 
    constitution. In fact I wonder how much of the membership reduction is due 
    to, er, biological reasons -- old members of long standing passing through 
    the Pearly Gates with not enough new members coming in to make up the 
    shortfall. Are there any numbers at HQ giving an insight into this?
    
    The question then remains not primarily how to maintain existing members, but 
    how to attract new ones. This has more to do with how the Society presents 
    itself to prospective members, and again I would venture to guess that the 
    constitution is the least of its problems in that regard. Sure, the 
    constitution should be a reasonable one and allowing for efficient management 
    of the Society, but how many people have recently said »Well, SCD is really 
    the bee's knees but with *that* constitution I'm never going to be an RSCDS 
    member«?
    
    > >                                  Among other things, it appears to grant
    > > future responsibility for future Constitutions, to a newly shrunk
    > > Management Board.
    >
    > I'm uncomfortable with that in principle.
    > Fundamentally, if the members don't control the constitution they don't
    > control anything. OK, asking the membership to change it is an effort and
    > an expense, but it shouldn't need changing very often.
    
    I agree with Andrew here. I'm all in favour of efficient management of the 
    Society, but the Management Board has been elected by the membership (in a 
    roundabout way, but still elected) and should not be given the power to 
    basically perpetuate itself into eternity by changing the constitution in 
    that regard. Not that I believe this is likely to happen, but it is good to 
    have the safeguards even so. (We Germans have a story or three to tell about 
    things like this, if you look at the history of the 20th century.)
    
    Incidentally, I don't know about Scottish law in this regard and I expect this 
    has been vetted beforehand, but an arrangement like this would not be legal 
    here in Germany. Changes of the constitution of an »eingetragener Verein« 
    (registered association) must always be approved by a general meeting of the 
    membership. There is no way you would get this change past the court of 
    registry.
    
    > [ I'm not a member of the RCSDS, as I rarely dance SC these days. Why not ?
    >   It isn't a good way of meeting single people in their thirties.
    > ]
    
    You should come to Germany, then :^)
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    None can love freedom heartily, but good men -- the rest love not freedom, but
    license.                                                        -- John Milton
  • ...

    Jim Healy March 30, 2006, 11:54 a.m. (Message 44916, in reply to message 44914)

    Greetings!
    
    The following comment is only in repect of a matter of fact.
    
    Anselm writes:
    >>
    the Management Board has been elected by the membership (in a
    roundabout way, but still elected) and should not be given the power to
    basically perpetuate itself into eternity by changing the constitution in
    that regard.<<
    
    Scots law is no different. What is on the web site is a discussion document. 
    Any changes to the Constitution must be approved by a 2/3rds majority of 
    those voting at the AGM. The safeguards are there.
    
    Jim Healy
    Perth and Monaco
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 30, 2006, 12:10 p.m. (Message 44917, in reply to message 44916)

    Jim Healy wrote:
    
    > Scots law is no different. What is on the web site is a discussion
    > document. Any changes to the Constitution must be approved by a 2/3rds
    > majority of those voting at the AGM. The safeguards are there.
    
    Yes. Any changes to the *current* constitution must be approved by the AGM, 
    and I didn't mean to imply any different.
    
    However, I should like things to stay that way, hence I'm seconding Andrew's 
    opinion that the MB should not be given the power *by the AGM* to 
    unilaterally change the constitution in the future :^) I don't know whether 
    Scots law allows the membership to explicitly vote itself out of the loop 
    like that; German law (irrelevantly to the matter at hand) doesn't.
    
    Again, I am sure that the current changes have been proposed with only the 
    best of intentions.
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don't have the balls to live
    in the real world.                            -- Mary Shafer, NASA Ames Dryden
  • ...

    WL Whyte March 30, 2006, 2:16 p.m. (Message 44921, in reply to message 44914)

    Andrew wrote......
    
    
    > Among other things, it appears to grant future responsibility for 
    > future Constitutions, to a newly shrunk Management Board.
    
    > I'm uncomfortable with that in principle.
    > Fundamentally, if the members don't control the constitution they
    > don't control anything. OK, asking the membership to change it is an 
    > effort and an expense, but it shouldn't need changing very often.
    
    That is not my reading of the draft new Constitution.
    
    The Constitution can only be changed by the Society in General Meeting, and
    indeed requires a two-thirds majority of those delegates present (para 49),
    which is quite a hurdle. There is no change from the present Constitution in
    this regard. 
    
    What has changed and is mildly troubling is that the Management Board (MB)
    is reduced to half the number of ordinary elected members, because, it is
    murmured, the present MB is too unwieldy. Having a smaller board, plus the
    new powers of the MB to appoint outsiders such as "Directors" and
    "Executives" ...well if you are going to persuade some folk to work for
    nothing at least give them a grand title :-) , and giving these appointees
    voting powers AND trusteeship, does appear to somewhat erode the democratic
    nature of the Society.  Some will of course say that democracy can be
    inefficient, but history students and others (like Anselm) can tell us the
    cure is worse than the disease.
    
    William Whyte
  • ...

    redrose_solutions March 30, 2006, 12:12 p.m. (Message 44918, in reply to message 44893)

    This is what the draft constitution states with regard to alterations to
    the constitiution (item 49a):
    "An alteration to the Constitution of the Society shall be effected only
    by a motion passed by the Society in General Meeting which shall have received
    the vote of not fewer than two thirds of the delegates present."
    
    Changing the rules is a different matter (item 23d):
    "The Management Board shall have the following powers: (...) to make or amend
    Rules within the terms of the Constitution for the administration and management
    of the affairs of the Society."
    
    Several postings so far have referred to concerns about changing the constitution
    without member vote. There is currently no provision for individual RSCDS
    members to vote at the AGM; voting at the AGM is done by Branch delegates,
    who may, or may not, depending on the way a Branch conducts its business,
    have been instructed to vote in accordance with the members' wishes. If you
    are a RSCDS member but not a member of a Branch (= a HQ member), you have
    no vote at the Society AGM.  You do, however, (draft constitution item 6a)
    have the right to stand for election to the Management Board and Management
    Committees and to offer yourself as a candidate for appointed posts (and
    get involved in decision-making from within the RSCDS management structure).
    
    The consultation process for the draft constitution and rules is scheduled
    to run until 25 May, which is the closing date for submissions to HQ. The
    more feedback the better!
    
    Susi
    
    Susi Mayr
    Vienna, Austria (& RSCDS Management Board)
    xxxx@xxxxxxx.xx.xx
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 30, 2006, 12:22 p.m. (Message 44919, in reply to message 44918)

    Susi Mayr wrote:
    
    > This is what the draft constitution states with regard to alterations to
    > the constitiution (item 49a):
    > "An alteration to the Constitution of the Society shall be effected only
    > by a motion passed by the Society in General Meeting which shall have
    > received the vote of not fewer than two thirds of the delegates present."
    
    All right (deep breath). I'm relieved :^)
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.
                                  -- Ken Olson, President, Digital Equipment, 1977
  • ...

    alan mair March 30, 2006, 1:12 p.m. (Message 44920, in reply to message 44918)

    Susi Mayr wrote-
    
    "Changing the rules is a different matter (item 23d):
    "The Management Board shall have the following powers: (...) to make or
    amend
    Rules within the terms of the Constitution for the administration and
    management
    of the affairs of the Society.""
    
    That statement has been written into the RSCDS Constitution for many years.
    It applied to the Executive Council and was transferred to the Management
    Board with no change in its wording - but there is now a change in the draft
    Constitution in that the word "rules" has been changed to "Rules". If there
    is to be no change in the accepted (and desirable) practice that the "Rules"
    attached to the Constitution can only be changed or added to at AGM (but
    with a sinply majority), why has this small but important change been made?
    The Management Board is elected to administer and manage the Society so we
    would expect it to make and amend rules accordingly. The Rules which are
    part of the Constitution and Rules were approved by the members in General
    Meeting and consequently should not be changed or added to without the
    approval of a General Meeting.
    
    Alan Mair
    Cupar, Fife.

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