Member Statements on 2023-05-GR10: General Body Meeting Frequency Bylaw Amendment

This is a thread of member statements on the proposed Bylaw Amendment to Amend General Body Meeting Frequency

In FAVOR by Carl R

I ask the chapter to vote FOR this bylaw amendment. Changing our schedule to only require GBMs once every 2 months would mean GBMs are more impactful. Currently, GBMs are low attendance items, without a lot to share. More time in between GBMs would mean more time for updates to develop, as well as less work on chapter steering - who already has to cover a lot of bases. And Steering or the membership can call for more meetings - last year, due to scheduling, Steering had to call extra meetings twice, while having to have GBMs without important updates to bring. Reducing GBM frequency would mean more time for organizing without impacting the time for democratic discussion and decision making.

IN FAVOR by Allison K.

As one of the people involved in making GBMs happen each month, and as a member of this organization, I strongly urge you to vote in favor of this resolution. My first ever experience with Metro DC DSA was attending a General Body Meeting before I was a member back in 2019. At the time the meetings were in person, and I was really impressed by the energy there and how many people had made it out on such a hot day. Seeing that was part of what ultimately convinced me to join DSA. When I get on GBMs now, more often than not very poorly attended, I have to wonder what kind of message that sends to new members, looking to get involved. By reducing the GBM requirement, we can be less likely to struggle to fill out an agenda, and hopefully carry out meetings that make it worth our members’ time.

IN FAVOR by Dieter L.M.

I am writing in full support of the proposed bylaw amendment to reduce the minimum number of general body meetings that must be held and organized by the chapter each year. For context, the current minimum requirement per our bylaws is once a month, and this proposed amendment would raise the minimum threshold to once every two months. I support this proposal for a variety of reasons. Speaking as a member of the steering committee, it would reduce the burden on our committee to organize these meetings by spacing out the cadence with which they are required to be held. Organizing a general body meeting, even if it is currently virtual, can be quite time-consuming and requires a lot of solicitation of information from across the chapter’s various formations. Additionally, as our committee gradually shifts general body meetings to be in-person again, this will be a cost-effective measure that will help us alleviate the toll it will take on our operating budget. Furthermore, reducing the minimum number of general body meetings that have to be organized will increase turnout at said meetings. Due to the current cadence of the general body meetings, it is often hard to have sufficient engaging content to fill the meetings with that will entice members to attend. The last point I would like to make is that our bylaws afford us a procedure that members can use to request additional general body meetings on top of the new minimum that would be adapted. In other words, this proposal isn’t saying that we will only be able to have six general body meetings per year, but rather that it is the minimum, and we as a chapter can still have more than those six should there be a necessity for additional meetings.

IN FAVOR by Tim S.

I support this amendment giving steering flexibility on General Body Meeting frequency because running and planning GBM’s take a lot of time, the extent of which I don’t think most members understand, on top of the very significant responsibilities that steering members, especially the secretary, have. It is important that the general body meet when we have business that needs discussion, and that will continue to happen, but a great deal of the energy that goes into putting on GBM’s goes to preparing slides and corralling presenters, and doing this, not to mention setting aside 2+ hours to actually attend the meeting, instead of more important work is demoralizing and inefficient. This resolution requires a 2/3s majority vote, so please make a point of voting for it, even if you don’t usually participate in elections or don’t see why this is an issue.

IN FAVOR by Hayden G.

The GBM resolution before us would free up organizational resources to best support our campaigns and working groups. It would allow Steering to schedule GBMs with additional intentionality, focusing on improving the member experience and the free flow of debate during meeting business. The Steering Committee could always schedule additional meetings, this is simply creating a new floor.

IN FAVOR by Philip B

I am writing in support of the proposed General Body Meeting bylaw amendment and encourage my chapter comrades to vote YES. This amendment simply changes the minimum number of General Body Meetings required by the chapter bylaws and constitution while still allowing membership to request more meetings if necessary. Currently, the monthly GBM occurrence often requires a lot of work from many aspects of the chapter to put together updates for an agenda each month. This time could be better spent doing other organizing work for the chapter.

IN FAVOR by Imara C.

Comrades, I urge you to vote in favor of a change to our bylaws requiring that we hold general body meetings (GBMs) at least every other month. It is my hope and expectation that moving our GBMs to a minimum of bi-monthly will help us ensure that our meetings are more worthwhile and intentional. This move will provide more time for members to prepare and contribute to the meetings while also helping to prevent burnout and promote greater participation from members. I also think its important to note that this change in our bylaws will not prevent us from hosting GBM more frequently if we’ve the need for them. For example, there are often times when the chapter is pushing an effort that we might very well need to host meetings more frequently and nothing in this change would prevent us from doing so. Overall I suspect that this revised schedule will allow members to have more time to focus on other commitments throughout the chapter, while still being engaged in the important work of our internal democracy. A move to bi-monthly meetings seems a reasonable balance between keeping members engaged and informed, while also allowing for enough time and space for members to fully participate and contribute to the broader work of promoting socialism. Thus I urge you all to vote in support of this change in our bylaws.

IN FAVOR by Stu K.

Support for Amending the Frequency of Chapter General Body Meetings I’m writing this statement IN FAVOR of the proposed bylaws amendment to set the required frequency of chapter general body meetings to once every two months, instead of once every month. As a four-term member of the chapter’s Steering Committee—with one term as chair of the chapter—I’m very familiar with the time and effort required by Steering Committee members to plan and host general body meetings on a monthly basis. Plus, not only is there a lot of work required to make these meetings happen, but the meetings also need to be engaging and worthwhile for members to attend. The requirement that the Steering Committee hold these meetings monthly means that, sometimes, there is not enough content or business to occupy a full two-hour agenda. And general meetings that members don’t find worthwhile to attend may result in those same members avoiding other Metro DC DSA events. I believe the proposed bylaw amendment—which requires general body meetings every two months—would allow the chapter Steering Committee to focus on hosting general body meetings that focus on meaningful business and updates, rather than simply trying to fill an agenda. Additionally, this bylaw amendment would not preclude the Steering Committee from calling a general body meeting in the month immediately following a previous meeting. This level of flexibility ensures that chapter members can still gather to debate and vote on pressing questions as they arise. For these reasons, I will be voting YES on the bylaws amendment to set the frequency of chapter general body meetings at once every two months.

IN FAVOR by Bakari W.

I think that reducing the number of mandatory GBMs is a good idea. GBMs are an amazing tool for engaging members and staying up to date about chapter activities: One of my first actions as a new member was going to a GBM and being excited to get involved with our campaigns, and I know I’m not the only one! But holding GBMs when there aren’t substantive updates to give hurts us by not being engaging for newer members or productive for established ones, causing reduced attendance and less enthusiasm for our cause in the long run. When the chapter puts time and resources into organizing meetings it should be intentional, not just a matter of going through the motions. This resolution facilitates that while also giving us the flexibility to hold additional GBMs whenever there are updates to give or business to handle. I encourage everyone to vote in favor of the GBM Frequency Bylaw Amendment.

IN FAVOR by Michael M.

I’m writing this statement in favor of the Bylaw Amendment to reduce the number of required General Body Meetings from once a month to once every other month. Having been the Secretary for the past four months, I can confirm putting together GBMs takes a lot of time and administrative output from the Steering Committee that takes away from other duties. Even in months with fe-w updates or low attendance, the amount of work required to facilitate a GBM is constant even when content and attendance are high. You have to start planning the next GBM immediately after the last one because they can take weeks to coordinate. I think having GBMs on a bi-monthly schedule will give Steering more time to intentionally pull together loaded agendas to entice more members to join while also allowing us to focus on our daily duties. A GBM could be the first experience a new chapter member (or non member) has with DSA, so it’s important to curate an informative, exciting and welcoming environment so people feel inspired to get plugged in.

Also, the key thing to know about this amendment is that it does not preclude the Steering Committee from planning a GBM outside of the required schedule — meaning if there was a good reason to plan an additional meeting, we would still be empowered to do so.

I am urging you to vote YES on the Bylaw Amendment to reduce the frequency of General Body Meetings.

IN FAVOR by Aparna R.

My name’s Aparna, I’m on the Steering Committee, and I’m encouraging you to vote YES on this bylaw amendment to change GBM frequency to be required to be bimonthly rather than monthly. As someone who has been on the Steering Committee for the past year and half, I’ve been closely involved with organizing these meetings and have seen the burden it has on the Committee. We should always consider what the use of a meeting is and what purpose it serves for the people we want to attend. What we shouldn’t do is have meetings for meetings sake.

Even with concerted turnout efforts over email, text, and Slack, our GBMs for the past few months have only topped out around 40 attendees. It’s time to rethink how we’re approaching GBMs, but the only way we’ll be able to try to redesign the meetings so that they meet the needs and the interests of the members is if Steering has a little more space to try other things– to plan poli ed sections, to invite guest speakers, to organize the logistics around potential in-person meetings, etc. Other chapters across the country have also started moving to less frequent meetings, and have been able to put more planning time into turning people out and making the content useful to members. This BA also doesn’t preclude us from calling more frequent GBMs, as evidenced last year when we announced a few emergency meetings of the members in between regularly scheduled GBMs to deal with urgent chapter-wide business.

Please vote yes on this resolution to change the frequency of GBMs so that our meetings can be more useful for the chapter and so that Steering has more capacity for both the planning of GBMs and for our other administrative tasks!