MEMO FOR AMC MEETING 29 MARCH 2003Agenda Extract
This memo sets forth reasons why the motion under item G. 3 of the meeting agenda amending ASIE 1998-017 should not be passed by AMC.
AMC does not have the authority to legislate members standards of behvior.
Nowhere in the By Laws is AMC authorized to act as a legislature with respect to individual members behavior or conduct. Affirming the round table ideology of Mensa, the following wording is included in the By Laws:
(3) Every member shall have the same rights and privileges accorded every other member, without qualification or limitation, unless sanctioned under sections (5) or (6) of this Article.
A plain reading of the By Laws will show that the function of AMC is to conduct the administrative business of Mensa on behalf of the members. AMC has powers to organize the structure of AML, appoint members to functional offices, to do necessary business on behalf of the society.
A hearings committee was established under the By Laws separate from AMC precisely to remove from AMC any responsibility for the discipline of members. This step, as well as the adoption of an ombudsman, was taken under the theory of separation of powers with full recognition of potential conflicts of interests between administrators and the individual member. This history is memorialized at Responsibility and Accountability in Mensa: History and Recommendations.
Prior definition of offenses by legislation is not necessary
There is no single best theory of jurisprudence. In this matter, we can contrast two: judge-made law and legislated law (there are others). These theories relate historically to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of the Common Law and the continental tradition of the Napoleonic Code. Both have their place, but it is not a matter of indifference as to which is appropriate. The choice of jurisprudence depends on existential circumstances.
In the context of American Mensa, the Common Law tradition of judge-made law is better.
Those who wrote the By Laws and created the original Hearings Committee did not act negligently or thoughtlessly. They had specific reasons for treating acts inimical to Mensa not further defined as the sole basis for a disciplinary charge. The following table compares the two options.
Tends to focus on real circumstances.
Tends to focus on semantics Requires thoughtfulness in judgment Emphasizes formal logic over existential understanding Facts of the case come first
Conceptual framework comes first
Subordinates certainty to objective experience Emphasizes psychological certainty (in an uncertain world) Outcome depends on actual circumstances Outcome depends on fitting circumstances to a preconceived conceptual model Fits the concept of diverse individuality
Fits the concept of authoritarian hierarchy Requires a showing of actual harm to Mensa regardless of terminology Opens the door to It's not in the book, so I'm innocent.
AMC Agenda 03-29-03 Page 6 3. Moved REMINE, seconded BURG: ASIE 1998-017 is amended to read as follows:
For the purpose of ASIE 1998-017, Mensa is defined as including American Mensa, Ltd., any recognized subdivision or local group of American Mensa, Ltd., any recognized national Mensa or subdivision thereof, and Mensa International Ltd. "Acts inimical to the society" are defined as "deliberate acts that are harmful to, or result in harm to, American Mensa, Ltd." Acts inimical to American Mensa, Ltd. (referred to as AML) shall include (though the definition shall not be limited to) the following:
- Any intentional misrepresentation by a member in dealings with or under the auspices of Mensa including falsifying records;
- Unauthorized use of Mensa property, including copyrights, trademarks, and trade names;
- Threatening, intimidating, coercing, or otherwise interfering with the authorized activities of Mensa;
- While participating in activities sponsored or sanctioned by Mensa, engaging in conduct that: a. endangers the well-being of others, b. results in willful damage to property, or c. involves illegal or improper use of funds of Mensa;
- Deliberately making a false or misleading oral or written statement to a Hearings Committee;
- Failing to discharge a debt to Mensa, within sixty days after written notice of the existence of the debt has been sent to the debtor; or
- Failure to exhaust all avenues of settlement and redress within Mensa before taking a dispute to external authorities.
EXPLANATION: This amendment adds a non-exhaustive list of acts inimical, as modeled on the rules used by other not for profit social organizations. The amendment is necessary because the conduct of some members has, on a number of recent occasions, gone beyond that which is acceptable under general organizational standards and may have caused harm to the organization. Since there is presently no map as to what may constitute an act inimical, members affected by the improper conduct of other members have hesitated to bring charges. This amendment provides clear and simple guidelines as to the conduct that may subject a member to sanctions by a Hearings Committee, without strictly limiting the potential acts inimical to this list.
FINANCIAL IMPACT: None expected.
To Mensa Politics
Created: 25 Mar 03