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Proposed Amendments to the Constitution


The Committee on Amendments to the Constitution received three proposals for amendments this year from the Executive Council.

The first proposal grew out of the council’s decision to replace the association’s division and discussion group convention structure with a new forum structure. Since the constitution includes references to divisions and discussion groups and to forums as a session type, the constitution must be amended to allow the implementation of the new structure to go forward. This proposal generated a set of amendments that deal with references to divisions and discussion groups (in arts. 10.A.1, 12.C, and 12.D) and to forums as a session type (in arts. 12.C and 12.D).

The Executive Council’s second proposal was to eliminate references to printed matter, including a printed directory, from the constitution. This proposal was prompted by changes that were made to the policies that govern the Web site to protect members’ privacy. One of these changes was to make explicit members’ right to suppress their directory listings, both from the Web site and from the printed list of MLA members. Suppressing a directory listing would, however, raise questions about members’ eligibility to stand for election to the second vice presidency (art. 6.D), the Executive Council (art. 8.A.1), and the Delegate Assembly (art. 10.C), since the constitution relies on the printed directory to establish eligibility for these offices. This proposal resulted in a set of amendments, three of which affect the above-mentioned articles and allow eligibility to be checked by means of the membership database instead of the printed directory. The final amendment in this set, to article 10.E, eliminates the only other reference to print in the constitution.

The council’s third and final proposal was to amend article 3.D to eliminate the limiting gender reference to “men and women of letters.” This proposal resulted in a single amendment, which is presented below.

All the proposed amendments were forwarded to the Committee on Amendments to the Constitution in late spring. The committee completed its work on the amendments and will forward them to the Delegate Assembly, which will vote on the amendments at its regular meeting on 10 January 2015. So that members can be fully informed of such matters, the MLA constitution (art. 13.B) requires that all amendments to be brought before the Delegate Assembly be “published in an appropriate publication of the association at least ninety days before the meeting at which they are to be voted on.” This Web page provides the required notice. If approved by the assembly, the amendments will be submitted to the membership of the association in 2015 for ratification.

The present and proposed versions of the articles subject to amendment appear below. The current language that is subject to change and the proposed new language appear in boldface.

Amendments That Allow the Implementation of the New Forum Structure


Amendment 1 (to article 10, Delegate Assembly—Composition and Election)

Present constitution
A. The assembly shall represent the following:
  1. Areas of study. One delegate shall be elected by the executive committee of each officially constituted division.

Proposed revision1
A. The assembly shall represent the following:
  1. Areas of study. One delegate shall be elected by the executive committee of each officially constituted forum.


Amendment 2 (to article 12, Conventions and Meetings)

Present constitution
C. The Program Committee shall exercise general supervision over divisions and discussion groups, making recommendations to the Executive Council about their number, the fields represented, and the conduct of their meetings at the convention. The executive director, assisted by the Program Committee, shall have final responsibility for planning or approving forums and other special events at the convention.
D. The executive director shall be empowered to make regulations regarding papers and discussions and to coordinate or modify the various divisions, forums, and discussion groups in any program until the Executive Council meets and acts on the changes or policies involved.

Proposed revisions2
C. The Program Committee shall exercise general supervision over forums, making recommendations to the Executive Council about their number, the fields represented, and the conduct of their meetings at the convention. The executive director, assisted by the Program Committee, shall have final responsibility for planning or approving plenary sessions and other special events at the convention.
D. The executive director shall be empowered to make regulations regarding papers and discussions and to coordinate or modify the various forums in any program until the Executive Council meets and acts on the changes or policies involved.

Notes
1. The change of wording in article 10.A.1 effectively changes the apportionment of seats in the Delegate Assembly. Since article 10.D charges the Elections Committee with “[examining] the allocations within the various categories of membership in the Delegate Assembly and [proposing] necessary changes to the Delegate Assembly,” the Elections Committee will meet in the fall to develop a plan to reapportion assembly seats so that the assembly remains close to its current size. The assembly will consider the plan at its January 2015 meeting.

2. In article 12.D, the reference to forums as a session type is being eliminated, not replaced with a new formulation, since it is a remnant from 1974, when the constitution was amended to allow the division and discussion group convention structure to replace the previous section and group structure. The 1974 amendments were presented in such a way as to obscure the need to eliminate this reference (see Sept. 1974 PMLA, p. 694). A conflict between articles 12.C and 12.D resulted: 12.C gives the executive director “final responsibility for planning or approving forums” but 12.D takes that responsibility away. The current proposed amendment eliminates the conflict along with the second reference to forums as a session type.


Amendments That Deal with the Elimination of References to Printed Matter


Amendment 3 (to article 6, Officers—Election)

Present constitution
D. The second vice president of the association shall be elected from the field of English (including American) in alternate and only in alternate years. At all times the Nominating Committee shall bear in mind the various fields of interest within the association. The Nominating Committee shall have final authority to rule on the eligibility of nominees recommended by petition. Candidates, including those nominated by petition, must have been listed in the printed directory of members of the association for the two preceding years. No member shall serve more than one term as second vice president. Current members of the Executive Council shall not be eligible for nomination for second vice president, either by the Nominating Committee or by petition.

Proposed revision
D. The second vice president of the association shall be elected from the field of English (including American) in alternate and only in alternate years. At all times the Nominating Committee shall bear in mind the various fields of interest within the association. The Nominating Committee shall have final authority to rule on the eligibility of nominees recommended by petition. Candidates, including those nominated by petition, must have been included in the membership list of the association for the two preceding years. No member shall serve more than one term as second vice president. Current members of the Executive Council shall not be eligible for nomination for second vice president, either by the Nominating Committee or by petition.


Amendment 4 (to article 8, Executive Council—Composition and Election)

Present constitution
A. Each year three at-large members of the Executive Council shall be elected for four-year terms according to the following procedure:
  1. The Nominating Committee, bearing in mind the provisions stated above and in paragraph 5 below, shall nominate seven candidates whose names shall be submitted to the executive director no later than 15 April. The names shall be listed, together with brief vitae and a notice of the right to petition, in an appropriate publication of the association before 1 June. Candidates, including those nominated by petition, must have been listed in the printed directory of members of the association for the two preceding years.

Proposed revision
A. Each year three at-large members of the Executive Council shall be elected for four-year terms according to the following procedure:
  1. The Nominating Committee, bearing in mind the provisions stated above and in paragraph 5 below, shall nominate seven candidates whose names shall be submitted to the executive director no later than 15 April. The names shall be listed, together with brief vitae and a notice of the right to petition, in an appropriate publication of the association before 1 June. Candidates, including those nominated by petition, must have been included in the membership list of the association for the two preceding years.


Amendment 5 (to article 10, Delegate Assembly—Composition and Election)

Present constitution
C. Each year one-third of the members of the Delegate Assembly shall be elected for three-year terms, except for ex officio members, who shall serve for the duration of their terms in office. Elected delegates’ terms shall begin at the close of the association’s convention following their election. Candidates for election must have been listed in the most recent printed directory of members of the association or, if they are graduate students, in the current membership list. No delegate may be elected to represent more than one category at a time, and no member may serve for more than two successive terms. During an elected term in office, delegates who change geographical location or professional status shall not lose their seats. Vacancies arising from death, resignation, or failure to maintain membership shall be filled at the next regular election.

Proposed revision
C. Each year one-third of the members of the Delegate Assembly shall be elected for three-year terms, except for ex officio members, who shall serve for the duration of their terms in office. Elected delegates’ terms shall begin at the close of the association’s convention following their election. Candidates for election must have been included in the membership list of the association for the preceding year or, if they are graduate students, in the current membership list. No delegate may be elected to represent more than one category at a time, and no member may serve for more than two successive terms. During an elected term in office, delegates who change geographical location or professional status shall not lose their seats. Vacancies arising from death, resignation, or failure to maintain membership shall be filled at the next regular election.


Amendment 6 (to article 10, Delegate Assembly—Composition and Election)

Present constitution
E. Any member of the association may initiate a petition proposing an additional candidate for regional and special-interest contests. The petition must include the written consent of the candidate, the signatures of at least twenty-five members of the association, and specification of the contest involved. The Elections Committee shall have final authority for assigning candidates to particular contests. A notice of the right to petition, together with the deadline therefor, shall be printed in an appropriate publication of the association along with the announcement of the candidates selected by the Elections Committee.

Proposed revision
E. Any member of the association may initiate a petition proposing an additional candidate for regional and special-interest contests. The petition must include the written consent of the candidate, the signatures of at least twenty-five members of the association, and specification of the contest involved. The Elections Committee shall have final authority for assigning candidates to particular contests. A notice of the right to petition, together with the deadline therefor, shall appear in an appropriate publication of the association along with the announcement of the candidates selected by the Elections Committee.


Amendment That Deals with Gendered Language


Amendment 7 (to article 3, Membership)

Present constitution
D. Honorary members and fellows. Foreign scholars may be elected honorary members of the association, and distinguished men and women of letters of any nationality may be elected honorary fellows. [. . .]

Proposed revision
D. Honorary members and fellows. Foreign scholars may be elected honorary members of the association, and distinguished persons of letters of any nationality may be elected honorary fellows. [. . .]

 

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© 2014 Modern Language Association. Last updated 09/15/2014.