SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
12 July 2018
Volume 19 Issue 7

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Strengthening the Voice of Student Members in North America – A Deliberative Process

Jane Staveley, Chair, Ad-Hoc Committee on Student Voting

The SETAC North America Board of Directors has completed a review of issues regarding voting privileges and representation on the board for students. The August 2017 issue of SETAC Globe discussed the history and background of this issue, and the June 2018 issue discussed the intentions of the board:

  • All North America students have full voting privileges in SETAC North America;
  • The North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC) representative to the SETAC North America board has full voting privileges
  • The SETAC North America general election will be used to select NASAC’s representative to the board

No further action is required on the first issue because our governing documents allow student voting, and all SETAC North America students will be invited to vote in the next general election in September. Implementation of the other two suggestions will require a vote by SETAC North America members; ballots will be distributed by email in September.

The purpose of this article is to make all members aware of the thoughtful deliberation that went into the development of these recommendations. At the request of Tom Augspurger, SETAC North America Immediate Past President, an ad-hoc committee was formed in January 2017 to explore the issues and provide recommended solutions. In true SETAC fashion, the committee represented different sectors of our membership and different experiences within SETAC. The committee was chaired by Jane Staveley, Exponent, and included Kristie Willett, University of Mississippi; David Ownby, Towson University; Emma LaVoie, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Juliska Princz, Environment and Climate Change Canada; and Chris Schlekat, NiPERA.

Our charge was to check the feasibility of allowing the student representative(s) on the board to vote and to determine the voting privileges of students in general elections. As part of our discussions, we had to dig into the constitution and by-laws of both SETAC North America and SETAC, sort out some confusing categories of memberships that seemed related to the “olden days” of our journals being provided in hard copy, pick the brains of SETAC North America's Executive Director Greg Schiefer and others, and figure out what the heck the term “ex officio” means. After a number of conference calls and email exchanges, we provided our recommendations to the SETAC North America board; the actions moving forward closely follow our committee's recommendations.

One of the salient principles we kept in mind was that, although representatives elected to the board are from different sectors, they represent the entirety of SETAC North America when they make their decisions. In other words, we expect that a representative from government, academia or business brings the perspective of that sector to the board but makes decisions that are in the best interest of the Society as a whole, not any one sector. Similarly, we expect students on the board to bring the student point of view but act in the interest of the entire membership. This is why we recommended that the entire membership vote on the student representative to the board. Currently, the Nominations Committee is developing the ballot for fall elections in which all members residing in North America get to vote. With the change, nominees for the student representative will also be put forward to the Nominations Committee from NASAC. The student elected will spend one year on the board as a non-voting member while also serving as the NASAC vice chair; the following year, they become the NASAC chair and will also be a voting member of the SETAC North America board. Confusing? Check-out the frequently-asked questions page, and feel free to contact me or any of the other ad-hoc committee members with questions, and we will do our best to answer them.

And don’t forget to vote on this issue when you see the ballot this September!

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