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Louise

Member vs. Associate Member

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Hello, all.

According to RONR, "member" is defined as"a person having the right to full participation in its proceedings - that is, as explained in 3 and 4, the right to make motions, to speak in debate on them, and to vote." (p. 3 l. 8-12)

Does this mean that only full members with all those rights should be called "members"? Is it too confusing to have two classes of members by that name ("member"), even if they have distinctive titles (ABC and XYZ, say), each of which has its own set of rights and responsibilities outlined in the bylaws?

We are proposing the wording in our bylaws draft, "There are two types of members in the [organization], namely [ABC] and [XYZ]."

Would it be better to word it as "There are two types of members in the [organization], namely [ABC] (Members) and [XYZ] (Associate Members)" just to ensure there is no confusion?

Or am I way overthinking this?

Louise

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If you choose to have different types of membership, be sure to answer all the related questions (that surely will arise) in your bylaws.

Personally, I don't see any real difference in the two options you provide. The eradication of confusion will need to be accomplished with detailing the differences, not providing different names.

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Be careful about the titles you give the classes of members. If you define one class as Members and another as Associate Members, that may make sense in Article III in your bylaws. But elsewhere in the bylaws, if you have a statement, for example: "Members shall not serve more than two terms in any office." Does this refer only to the specific class of Members (note the capital 'M'), or does it refer to all members -- Members and Associate Members? Refer to Principle of Interpretation number 8, page 591, lines 11 through 30. (In this example, a title such as "Full Members" or "Active Members" in place of "Member" would go a long way in eliminating this particular ambiguity.)

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Matt Schafer makes a good point. "There are two classes of members, Bactrians and Lusitanians, who may be redundantly described as Bactrian members and Lusitanian members, respectfully. Both classes have all rights of membership, except that Bactrians may chew gum at the club bowling alley and Lusitanians are restricted to skinny-dipping at the badminton courts."

Does that mean that Lusitanians may not chew gum at the bowling alley, or are not allowed in there altogether? Bylaws must be written with great care.

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Be careful about the titles you give the classes of members. If you define one class as Members and another as Associate Members, that may make sense in Article III in your bylaws. But elsewhere in the bylaws, if you have a statement, for example: "Members shall not serve more than two terms in any office." Does this refer only to the specific class of Members (note the capital 'M'), or does it refer to all members -- Members and Associate Members? Refer to Principle of Interpretation number 8, page 591, lines 11 through 30. (In this example, a title such as "Full Members" or "Active Members" in place of "Member" would go a long way in eliminating this particular ambiguity.)

Very good advice. I had already gone through the draft and examined each instance of the word "member" to ensure there was no ambiguity. I went through it one more time after reading your post, just to be (more) sure. The only place where I found any ambiguity (which isn't to say there aren't more instances that I *haven't* found...) was in the dissolution clause. As it reads now, both classes of membership would be included in that voting. The current bylaws are the same. It will be up to the membership whether they want that to continue to be the case in the new bylaws or not.

So then perhaps avoiding the use of "Member" and "Associate Member" was helpful, in that we often used the other names we had given the two class of members ([ABC] and [XYZ]), thereby eliminating a number of ambiguous situations. I just want to be sure RRONR "allows" us to use different names, without any serious repercussions.

Does that mean that Lusitanians may not chew gum at the bowling alley, or are not allowed in there altogether? Bylaws must be written with great care.

Indeed they do. I'm learning that full well. I can't count the number of sentences that have been rewritten...and rewritten...and then rewritten yet again. I'm dreaming in Articles just now...

Thanks for the assistance, Mr. Tesser, Mr. Schafer and Mr. TC. 'Tis much appreciated.

Louise

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