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When is a New Member a Member?


Guest Karen
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A member who was inducted in May 2015 is now on the list of nominees to run for an elected office, with elections usually conducted in April.  The member meets specific qualifications.  However, a question was raised of the actual time in place as a "member" to be nominated for an elected office. 

The bylaws state:  All other elected and appointed officers shall be members who have been active in the Chapter... for at least two (2) years,....prior to election and have met all financial obligations and requirements of the Chapter, as defined in Article.....   The bylaws also state that a candidate for membership becomes a new member when 1) elected by 2/3 vote of active members of the chapter in January AND 2) pays dues and installation fees by March 1.   New members shall be inducted between May 1 - June 30. 

The question is whether or not an "induction" is just a formality.  Did the member actually start membership status in March, when dues and installation fees were paid, thereby meeting the 2-yr member status on March 1 of 2017 and can therefore run for an elected office?  Or does membership status begin when the new member is inducted in May?

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Guest Karen said:

 

The bylaws also state that

a candidate for membership

becomes a new member when

1) elected by 2/3 vote of active members of the chapter in January

AND

2) pays dues and installation fees by March 1. 

New members shall be inducted between May 1 - June 30.

 

 

Induction is a ceremony, according to Robert's Rules of Order.

If your bylaws provide a series of steps for membership, then that is that.

If a person misses his own induction, but fulfills all the requirements which define "membership", then that person is a member who is not inducted. -- That's all.

***

Note that your "ceremony" is a 60-day window.

Did you think that the new members cannot exercise their rights of membership prior to the induction ceremony?

 

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5 hours ago, Guest Karen said:

The bylaws state:  All other elected and appointed officers shall be members who have been active in the Chapter... for at least two (2) years,

I trust your bylaws define what you mean by "active".  RONR doesn't.  In RONR-land one is either a member or not a member, it doesn't matter how lazy you may be.

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The bylaws do define an active member.  The member solidly meets all of those qualifications and would appear to be eligible for nomination.  There is also an Intake process, which includes the induction that is generally done in May.  The Intake process is described in the policies manual, but is not listed in the bylaws.  If counting the May induction, then the member will be one month shy of a 2 year status of being active, since elections are held in April.  This means the opportunity to serve in an elected or appointed office would take at minimum 4 years, since elections are held every 2 years.  Others have served without this specific pinpoint of time.  However, this election cycle the question was raised.

Question:  When is the member counted as an active member?  Is it based upon what is listed in the bylaws?  Or does the Intake process, which includes the May Induction ceremony, as listed in the policies manual, override the bylaws?  

Please advise.

 

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Guest Karen, I believe your question has already been properly answered by Messsrs Goldsworthy and Huynh:  The way we interpret your bylaws, a member becomes a member upon being approved by the required two thirds vote and paying the required dues by March 1.  It is ultimately up to your organization to interpret its own bylaws, but RONR is quite clear that at least when it comes to the "installation" of officers, a formal installation ceremony is purely ceremonial and has nothing to do when the officers actually take office unless your bylaws specify that officers do not take office until after the installation ceremony.  I see this as no different.  Per RONR, unless there is a rule to the contrary in your bylaws, elections take effect immediately, instantly.  In my opinion, and in the opinion of our regular posters who have responded, your members become full fledged, bona fide members upon being voted in by the required two thirds vote and paying the required dues by March 1.  I don't see any other way to interpret it.  But, as I said earlier, it is ultimately up to your organization to interpret its own bylaws.

If someone raises a point of order that a nominee is not eligible, the chair should rule on the point of order.  That ruling can be appealed to the assembly.

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There are specific steps and great care is taken to withhold some member opportunities, seemingly out of rituals as implemented by the intake process listed in the policies manual.  Most just agree that they will not have full membership until after the induction.  This matter has not been an issue in the past.  Other newer members have been elected and appointed to offices without scrutiny of interpretation of time in membership. However, the question has been raised.  I did not think that the policies manual could overide the bylaws. Are you saying that interpretation can change this election year?

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The policies manual cannot override the bylaws.  If the bylaws say that new members get all the benefits of membership immediately, then they do, policies to the contrary notwithstanding.  However, if you are uncertain as to what the bylaws say, the way that the organization has interpreted them provides information - and the organization is the ultimate interpreter of bylaws, not us.  So I'm not talking about a matter of overriding, but of interpretation.

On the other hand, if the bylaws are clear and explicit that new members become members prior to the ceremony, then that gives an easy answer to the OP, and the organization should stop restricting their rights via policy.

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Guest Karen, are "new" members traditionally allowed to vote in the April election?   If so, that seems to me pretty clear evidence that they are considered members at that time.  If they are not allowed to vote in the April election, that is pretty strong evidence that they are not yet considered members.

Edited to add:  It is still ultimately up to your organization to interpret its own bylaws.  Custom may point the way, but custom must fall to the ground if it is found to be in conflict with the bylaws.

Edited by Richard Brown
Added last paragraph
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4 hours ago, Guest Karen said:

The bylaws do define an active member.  

The member solidly meets all of those qualifications and would appear to be eligible for nomination.  There is also an Intake process, which includes the induction that is generally done in May.  

The Intake process is described in the policies manual, but is not listed in the bylaws.  

If counting the May induction, then the member will be one month shy of a 2 year status of being active, since elections are held in April.  This means the opportunity to serve in an elected or appointed office would take at minimum 4 years, since elections are held every 2 years.  Others have served without this specific pinpoint of time.  However, this election cycle the question was raised.

Question:  When is the member counted as an active member?  

Q. Is it based upon what is listed in the bylaws?  

Q. Or does the Intake process, which includes the May Induction ceremony, as listed in the policies manual, override the bylaws? 

 

There is no such thing as "active member" inside the 700+ pages of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised.

So, no one here can tell you what an "active member" is, within your organization.

That is a petard your own organization has hoisted on itself. (A line from Shakespeare, modified for you.)

***
If your bylaws define "member", then you cannot create lesser-level rules (like "policies") which imply, "The bylaws lie. There are lots more qualifications before one can be classified as a member."

***

>>The bylaws do define an active member.  

So! There you go!

You don't need an Intake! You already know, per your bylaws, who is "active".

No extra hoops and hurdles.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/14/2017 at 9:12 PM, Hieu H. Huynh said:

It appears that "a candidate for membership becomes a new member when 1) elected by 2/3 vote of active members of the chapter in January AND 2) pays dues and installation fees by March 1."

After some discussion on this matter, it became apparent that there could be an amendment to the bylaws to state that an member must be active in the chapter for 2 years before "serving in" an elected office, instead of before "being nominated to" an elected office.  This would allow the newer members to be a part of the nomination and election process in March and April, with the election to office taking effect in May at Installation. 

How can this change go ahead and be made for the April meeting? Is it possible to ratify the action, allowing the member to be on the list of nominees and then give amendment notice at the April Election meeting, then vote on the amendment at the May meeting making it effective immediately?

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This sounds like a By-law interpretation to me.  The member must be a member for two years to serve on the Board, and it is up to the organization to decide whether or not the member meets the qualification as the member paid his/her does in March, but did not start as a member until May.  I would argue that as the person was accepted as a member in January and paid his/her dues by the end of March, that as of the end of March this year, the member has served two years.  But that is only my opinion, and I am not a member of the organization.

I would suggest the organization look at either holding the installation ceremony in April, or holding the election of officers in late May in the future in order to stop this type of situation from occurring again in the future.  Or better yet, make the By-laws state clearly when the member officially would become a member.  For example, a statement such as this would help: "An individual is deemed to be a member once he/she pays her membership fees, regardless of when his/her installation takes place."

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On 4/3/2017 at 0:06 AM, Rev Ed said:

This sounds like a By-law interpretation to me.  The member must be a member for two years to serve on the Board, and it is up to the organization to decide whether or not the member meets the qualification as the member paid his/her does in March, but did not start as a member until May.  I would argue that as the person was accepted as a member in January and paid his/her dues by the end of March, that as of the end of March this year, the member has served two years.  But that is only my opinion, and I am not a member of the organization.

I would suggest the organization look at either holding the installation ceremony in April, or holding the election of officers in late May in the future in order to stop this type of situation from occurring again in the future.  Or better yet, make the By-laws state clearly when the member officially would become a member.  For example, a statement such as this would help: "An individual is deemed to be a member once he/she pays her membership fees, regardless of when his/her installation takes place."

I agree!  Thank you for the suggestion.  Where can I find language in RONR that indicates a person becomes a member when they membership dues are paid?

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24 minutes ago, Guest Karen said:

I agree!  Thank you for the suggestion.  Where can I find language in RONR that indicates a person becomes a member when they membership dues are paid?

You won't find language in RONR that indicates a person becomes a member when his membership dues are paid. A person becomes a member when the bylaws say he becomes a member.

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On 4/4/2017 at 10:41 AM, Guest Karen said:

I agree!  Thank you for the suggestion.  Where can I find language in RONR that indicates a person becomes a member when they membership dues are paid?

On 4/4/2017 at 11:07 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

You won't find language in RONR that indicates a person becomes a member when his membership dues are paid. A person becomes a member when the bylaws say he becomes a member.

I have to agree with Dan.  The issue in your organization is one of By-law interpretation.  And RONR won't help you with that one, unfortunately.

 

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