Minutes of SRN EC Meeting
Monday 20.4.2020 at 10 pm GMT/UTC (via Skype)
Circulation list: Carmen Sofia Brenes (CSB), Rose Ferrell (RF), Alexandra Ksenofontova (AK), Rafael Leal (RL), Margaret McVeigh (MM), Paolo Russo (PR), Rosanne Welch (RW)
1. Apologies for absence
All present. RL joins at 10.30.
2. Minutes of previous EC Meeting for approval (All)
Minutes Approved. PR to send final draft to RL for upload to website.
3. Contingency Plan for SRN EC elections in light of COVID-19 (All)
b. Alternative options or postponement to 2021
PR initiate discussion amongst the Executive Council (EC), which will be work in progress with a view to reach a decision by the May meeting so as to notify SRN membership in due course.
According to the SRN Constitution, elections of new EC members requires secret ballot which can only be ensured at the AGM.
The EC considers the feasibility of a “virtual AGM” for elections only. First of all, the elections are not meant to happen as a stand-alone event (i.e. not tied to an AGM). Moreover, a virtual AGM would prove very difficult to set up given that members are scattered all over the world in different time zones and would require some form of membership authentication before anyone could be admitted to vote. Similar issues would arise as well if using online polling tools/apps – these would possibly guarantee secrecy of ballot, but would need a separate system to check eligibility and would not comply with the required presence of impartial scrutineers. The SRN Constitution allows “postal” votes for those who wish to express their votes but cannot attend the AGM; but not as a replacement for the elections per se.
MM and AK point out that, from a strictly legal point of view, a virtual AGM does not equate to an in-person AGM; the same is true for “postal” and “email”. Unfortunately, the SRN Constitution does not include any special arrangements in case of extraordinary circumstances such as the current COVID-19 crisis; at the same time, there is no precedent to base a decision on. This vulnus can be addressed by amending the Constitution but any changes need approval by two thirds of members at an AGM; and therefore, while the SRN might consider adding alternative arrangements in case of any future unforeseen circumstances similar to the current one, this can only be done at the 2021 conference at the soonest, and at the moment these are not viable.
Given the above, it will be down to the EC to make a decision, bearing in mind that the Constitution also states that decisions made by the EC must benefit all members. The most sensible option at the moment seems to issue a Call to Members with a proposal to extend the mandate of the current EC by one extra year (one off, until 2021), including the three members who are due to step down this year (i.e. Carmen Sofia Brenes, Paolo Russo and Margaret McVeigh – pending individual availability) as well as the other three members due to step down in 2021 (i.e. their mandate will extend until September 2022) so as to ensure that the new members elected in 2021 are supported by the extant members with more experience of the roles and duties. This would ensure continuity for all the initiatives developed by the EC these past few months, whose visions and future plans (which were due to be reported at the SRN2020 Oxford conference) can be duly actualized. The EC would keep expanding membership, especially by promoting the SRN in underrepresented regions; revamp the website; draft proposed changes to the Constitution to be put to Membership in 2021.
ACTION – PR and All to draft Call to Membership for EC approval in May meeting before sending out to Membership. Point raised by AK, to which PR confirms that the Early Career Representative (ECR) is an exception to the above as it is not voted in by members but rather chosen and co-opted by the EC.
ACTION – EC to put out Call for Nomination for new ECR by June meeting (min. 60 days before deadline). Nominations to be collected over the Summer; decision to be made by EC in September.
4. Newsletter and social media updates (MM, RW, AK)
a. Updates on skipped March issue of newsletter and Facebook posts
b. Planning June issue of newsletter
PR and AK have planned the move of March news items to the Facebook page. MM wonders whether this would make the newsletter redundant but the general consensus is that the newsletter and Facebook complement each other rather than overlap.
In general, with regards to news items, we should keep using Facebook to tease members to read the full items in the newsletter. Moreover, even though some content will have been released on Facebook in April and May, nothing prevents us from including it in the June Newsletter for reference anyway. It is also noted that the Newsletter is then archived on the website and remains always accessible, not just at the time of the issue’s original release.
On the other hand, the Facebook address can also be a useful port of call for new members, especially from underrepresented regions who can find and connect with colleagues who have similar research interests.
The EC notes that – without the usual lead-up to annual conference – the Facebook page might not be as lively in the upcoming Summer months. MM suggests using it to share stories of transferring teaching online (and more) that most colleagues will be experiencing at this time.
RF congratulates AK on her excellent work on the Facebook page! AK thanks everyone for sourcing content for the Facebook posts.
5. Future conference dates (RW, All)
RW raises some uncertainty over the 2023 slotting of the Missouri conference due to the now much later date further into the future and her contractual position with Stephens College. She therefore wonders whether she could swap with the Vienna conference in 2022. The EC cannot make such a decision and advises RW to contact the Vienna organizer (Claus Tieber) directly. Should he agree on the swap, the EC would second the new plan.
6. Any other business
RF proposes to create content on the history of the SRN to put on the website.
The Facebook page can be used to attract contributions/stories from members and conference organizers that can then be collated and uploaded onto the website. All agree this is a good idea and PR notes this should/could be an ongoing task – not just one point in time – with the new website section kept open for any future contribution.
To this purpose, RL has prepared a shared folder in Google Drive that can be further customized and used as a template/work-in-progress document for members to add content. PR has lots of useful information about past conferences that he can share.
CSB offers to help RF with this ongoing project.
Date of next meeting: Monday 18 May, 10 pm UTC/GMT (consider DST)
Meeting ends at 11.12 pm