Mujeres Talk: Understanding the Past and Shaping the Future of MALCS: the 2012 Bylaws Proposal

Photo credit: tcp909 (from Flickr)
Photo credit: tcp909 (from Flickr)

In 2010, the MALCS Executive Committee suspended the MALCS bylaws in order to engage in a major revision of the document. It became clear that the bylaws, last revised in 1991, were in need of updating. We spent approximately one year discussing and producing a draft. We presented that draft at the 2011 Institute where we facilitated discussions during two workshops and the business meeting. We have spent the time since engaging in more discussions and revisions based on the feedback we received at the Institute.

We made many changes to the bylaws. Many changes were our attempt to “clean up” the document—essentially to resolve stylistic and structural issues. Other changes were meant to bring the document in line with current practices including, for example, providing more complete outlines of officer roles and responsibilities. Still other changes were intended to articulate the cultural context and/or philosophic direction of the organization.

We present the complete draft on our website for your consideration. What follows is a listing of major changes proposed in this version of the bylaws.

We propose adding “Afro-Latina” to the list of mujeres supported by MALCS. 

Article II, Section 1: “The primary goal of the organization is to support Chicana, Latina, Afro-Latina, Native American and Indigenous activists and scholars in higher education and community leadership.”

We propose a shift in the membership section creating space for gender non-conforming Chicana, Latina, Afro-Latina, and Native American and Indigenous people to be members.
Article III, Section 1. We understand that identity is a complex matter in the twenty-first century. Traditional categories have been problematized. Clear lines have been blurred. New formations have emerged. Having said that, we also understand that historically Chicana, Latina, Afro-Latina, Native American and Indigenous women have been discriminated against and underrepresented in institutions of higher education. As a result of this history, MALCS shall be open to Chicana, Latina, Afro-Latina, and Native American and Indigenous women and gender non-conforming people who support the goals and objectives of the organization as stated in Article II, and who pay the appropriate membership dues.

At the moment, we make critical decisions at the Summer Institute. We propose that we allow some business to be conducted between Institutes.

Article IV, Section 3. If necessary, other national business may be conducted between summer institutes (or special national meetings) via secure electronic formats. The Executive Committee must ensure opportunities for membership to learn about and engage in discussion about business matters conducted in this way.

We propose shifting officer terms, with the exception of chair-elect, to two-year terms. (Chair-elect remains a three-year commitment as chair-elect, chair, ex-officio.)

Article VIII, Section 5, Subsection B. The Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Membership Coordinator serve 2-year terms.

Article IX, Section 3, Subsection A. At-large representatives shall be elected at the Summer Institute and serve two-year terms with staggered start dates and end dates to ensure office continuity;

We propose the addition of three standing committees. 

Article XII, Section 1. The Executive and Coordinating Committees of MALCS have three standing committees. Membership may include members of the Executive Committee, Coordinating Committee, or other MALCS members with an interest in the work of the standing committee.

  1. Communications Team. The task of this standing committee is to develop and recommend to the Executive Committee a strategic and implementation plan to ensure a stable and vibrant community employing communications technologies
  2. Funds Development Committee. The task of this standing committee is to develop and recommend to the Executive Committee a strategic and implementation plan to secure the long-term financial security of the organization including strategies for soliciting and securing endowed and grant funds.
  3. Nominations Committee. The committee will be responsible for notifying members of open positions, recruiting and accepting nominations, and preparing a slate of nominees for the national election

We considered other changes as well but opted not to recommend those at this time. 

Last year, concerned about the economic circumstances of our institutions, we proposed making the Institute a biennial event. Almost all who responded were deeply concerned. For many, the work we do at the Institute encourages and sustains us throughout the year. We decided to keep the Institute an annual event and redouble our efforts to recruit host institutions.

At virtually every Institute, there are questions about the role of allies at the Institute and in the organization. We entertained proposing a membership category for allies. One reason we considered this is that we all know a number of people who are not Chicana, Latina, Native or Indigenous women but are very committed to our mission and goals. We also wondered if it might useful to have a broader membership base in order to successfully petition for large foundation grants. We realized after preliminary discussion that we could not put forward a proposal of this sort without have more, much more, conversation among the membership. We hope to prompt such conversation in the coming years.

And some closing thoughts

This has been a long process, but it has been exciting as well. It has given us the opportunity to reflect on the history and the mission of MALCS and all of those mujeres who have contributed over the decades to its success. At the same time, it has provided space for us to anticipate and plan for the future of MALCS. We hope that you will join us in robust discussion about these bylaws, a document intended to serve as critical foundation for our organization in the coming years.

Thank you.