April 2015 AAUW President’s Letter by Beth Nienow

April may be the “cruelest month” but it’s also a great time to make plans for spring gardening and summer vacations and other warm weather activities. I hope you’re planning to attend the AAUW Minnesota convention in Austin, April 10-11, and perhaps even the AAUW National Convention in San Diego in June.  Even if you’re not planning to attend the conventions, please do plan to vote in the upcoming AAUW national election.  From April 15 through June 19, you can cast your ballot online to select the next AAUW Board of Directors and vote on the proposed changes to the Public Policy Program and amendments to the AAUW Bylaws.  A detailed voter guide is available on the AAUW web site and will also be included in the Spring/Summer issue of Outlook.  To vote online, you’ll need your member ID and voter PIN, which you will find printed on the back cover of your Spring/Summer Outlook.

AAUW is encouraging all members to go paperless and vote online.  However, you can request a paper ballot between April 1 and May 8 by calling 800-326-2289 or emailing connect@aauw.org. Our board has also discussed having laptops available at the May general meeting or possibly scheduling a voting session at Dunn Brothers.  Another option is to use the public internet access computers at the Rochester Public Library.

This is going to be a significant election because we will be voting on an important and potentially controversial proposed bylaws amendment: to eliminate the degree requirement for membership.  I know that within our branch, members have strong feelings for and against making this change.  The voter guide makes a strong case in favor of the proposal in presenting the rationale for the amendment on the basis of increasing inclusiveness; on the other hand, requiring a degree may be an incentive for potential members to pursue and finish a higher education program.  This would be the biggest change in our association since AAUW opened membership to men in 1987, and with that change, our demographics were not significantly altered – we are still predominantly women, and the name of the association remained the same.  I urge everyone to consider this proposal thoughtfully and make your voice heard by voting.

Once again, our branch has been selected to receive a $500 grant from AAUW Minnesota to send a local student to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). I just met our student, Colleen Farley, and she is very excited.  Colleen was highly recommended by the University of Minnesota – Rochester, where she is president of the Student Activities Board.

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