Platypus Internal Discussion: Orgcom
This forum discussion will span until Saturday February 7th, 2009 at Noon (Chicago) 1pm EST.
I am writing to you today in fulfillment of an unfortunate duty. On Monday, January 26, a call came from five members of the PAS for a recall of the current Organizational Committee Slate, and for the election of a new slate which would replace Greg G. with Richard R., and retain all of the other current O.C. members (Ben B., Haseeb A., Laurie R, and Ian M.). The proposed slate retains Ian as the President of PAS.
I will explain below how the constitution, which the group recently ratified, determines the procedure for the recall of the O.C., the election of a new slate, and alternative options available to the membership. First, to the best of my ability I would like to give an brief explanation of why this is occurring, and to make a case for what I believe would be the proper tenor for these proceedings. Please forgive the length of what follows: it is important for those who have not been immediately affected by the problem to be informed of its roots and ramifications.
The call for Greg's replacement argues that the present O.C. has become a dysfunctional leadership group because of Greg's role in it. To explain why this is the case I feel I must present an interpretation of how Greg's role in the O.C. came to be such a conspicuous problem. (For the most part Haseeb must be exempted from this narrative as he only entered the OC at the beginning of January and was away in India for all of that month.)
Over the past several months Greg has taken up a position of critical opposition to the activities of the organization, arguing that the agreement among the membership to conduct these activities is inappropriately grounded in habit, friendship relations and individual authority. Within the O.C. we've increasingly been occupied by addressing these concerns, which are not without legitimacy. However it has come to the point where we are unable to address issues other than Greg's criticisms. The O.C. has found Greg to be unsatisfied by our efforts to reform and develop our activities, organizational structure, and inner-organization conduct; Greg has expressed that our attempts to explain why we have agreement in the group about certain actives (Primary Reading Group, Fora, and Film Screenings) has been insufficient at best and avoided at worse. This opinion has laid the basis for an intractable disagreement to form between Greg and the other O.C. members, who feel that there has been recognition of the reforms needed, and that these reforms should be made by improving the organization's activities as we follow through with them to the best of our current ability. Greg has now withdrawn himself from all practical activities of the group except for the O.C. Although this would not alone merit his recall from the O.C., the fact that he has quit his responsibilities on the basis of a complete rejection of their validity does. His position has caused severe problems in the activities where he formerly held responsibility, namely the University of Chicago Chapter public events, out reach and recruitment.
The O.C. has found that Greg's criticisms have adversely affected the work he is involved in, especially the work of the O.C., and he has rejected all attempts to make it possible for him to continue working to improve the organization in a productive and on-going way. He has refused the request that he step down from the O.C., which now makes necessary the involvement of the membership in a referendum and recall vote.
4. A recall election for an elected member of the Organizational Committee shall be held within three (3) weeks upon petition by 20% or 15 members, whichever is greater, of the Platypus Affiliated Society with the exception that no recall election may be scheduled during the period beginning in June and ending in August.
5. An election to dissolve and reconstitute the Organizational Committee shall be held within three (3) weeks upon petition by 25% or 25 members of the Platypus Affiliated Society, whichever is greater, with the exception that no such election may be scheduled during the period beginning in June and ending in August.
There is an obvious error in the phrasing, in that we do not have 25 active members and therefore point five would be impossible to enact. Therefore, we must regard this phrase as intending to read: "25% or 25 members, whichever is less..." The same applies for the corresponding phrase in point four.
If the motion to hold a recall vote is supported by 25% of the membership in the case that the election is of a new slate, or 20% if the motion is to recall Greg from the O.C., then within three weeks it will be necessary to hold a vote, in which at least a 2/3 quorum of the membership must participate. There are 21 active members of PAS, and therefore, we have the necessary number of members supporting the alteration of the O.C. in either case.
On behalf of the other members of the O.C., I propose that the vote be made to recall Greg and not dissolve the current O.C. We feel that it would be better for us to be able to make a decision as to who should replace Greg, in the event that the vote recalls him, on the basis of conversations with members who we feel have potential to take on the position. I will be contacting the five members of the PAS from whom the motion originated to ask them to withdraw their proposal in order to motion that we vote to recall Greg alone. I will inform the membership of the outcome shortly.
The vote will be scheduled for Sunday, February 7. All chapters must have a mandatory meeting of the membership to cast votes anonymously before the reading group. The Chapter heads will need to send the results to me that night after which I will announce the results.
Before we hold the vote we will open up a space for the membership to discuss the situation, in which Greg can present his interpretation of the problem, and where we can discuss whether the entire slate should be recalled or whether only Greg should be recalled enabling the other members of the O.C. to determine the fifth member of their own choosing. The forum will transpire online and will begin on Monday, February 1, and end Friday February 5. This forum will be only open to members, and is not to be made public. Also, all discussions that transpire should maintain an appropriate decorum, avoid ad hominem attacks and focus on the issues. The current O.C. will appoint a moderator for this discussion whose job will be to uphold these standards.
Again, I want to reiterate how regrettable I find this situation, but how necessary it has become. It should be absolutely clear that Greg is no way being asked to leave the organization, but to step away from the O.C. where his oppositional stance has overtaken our work with debate about the groups basic legitimacy and stalled attempts to improve our ability to recruit and promote our project. As an organization we have a tremendous opportunity to grow into a serious force. However, the greater this opportunity grows so grows the threat of its failure. Its success can only be achieved through consistent organized activity, which while subject to criticism and debate, must nevertheless be upheld and stood behind in its fundamentals. Only in this way will the fruits of our labor be realized, such that we can assess our project in a more concrete and less prophetic way as we develop.
Please feel free to send me questions, comments and suggestions or to wait until the opening of online forum to where all issues can be addressed.