The pandemic has changed the way we live our lives, do our jobs and conduct our meetings. See below for an important message from our president
The Roanoke Valley Unit of National Association of Parliamentarians closed out its program year by practicing self-quarantine measures. We haven’t seen each other for a while! That said, organizations have been carrying on in spite of the concerns brought on by COVID-19, some with mixed results, and others quite successfully.
What the RV Unit would like you to know is that you still need to follow your group’s bylaws, no matter what you do. If your bylaws have no provisions for electronic meetings, then the first thing you will need to do is have an informal electronic meeting of your highest governing body, which minimally would consist of your elected officers. Those individuals would need to vote to suspend the bylaws for a specific period of time and for a specific reason in order to implement electronic meetings for the interim. Once that is completed, your members need to ratify that decision. Again, you will be vacating your bylaws in order to do this, but drastic times call for drastic measures.
After your organization has agreed to “meet” via Zoom or any other platform, you then should reaffirm the decision, and yes, because it involves bylaws, we recommend a two-thirds majority.
Why all the lead-up details? Simply put, for the record. You never want to be in the position of having decided something so important without the membership’s input, and through a process of affirmation and reaffirmation, you will have covered that base, the results will be a part of the organization’s official record, and you are then free to proceed electronically.
The main thing is to establish your process and make sure the entire membership is clear on how it will work.
One of the most divisive issues with regard to electronic meetings is that all members must have access, and despite the plethora of devices and methods, there are still individuals who not only do not own a computer, but they also will not have a Smartphone or tablet. An electronic meeting will be discriminatory towards those members. Be aware of that, and take steps to keep those members involved and included in the process. It could be as simple as having the meeting on Zoom, with a member connected to a non-electronic member by telephone. You have no idea how important that is. Members for whom the organization has made a special effort will appreciate this, and there is nothing better for good will than being inclusive.
And there you have it. Work out your process, work your process, and then rest assured your membership has been protected.
If you find yourself in need of parliamentary advice, Roanoke Valley Unit recommends you contact Virginia State Association of Parliamentarians or National Association of Parliamentarians for a reference. There will be a charge involved by using a Registered Parliamentarian or a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, but it will be well worth it to get advice regarding electronic meetings from the experts.