Hi all, There has been some discussion over the years about what "Joining" and "Membership" means in FSFE.
As fellowship representative, I've received feedback from a number of people about this topic and it keeps coming up, ever since I was elected in 2017. As our organization is all about people, this is a critical topic and as I've received feedback about it from several people I feel compelled to raise this for the community to evaluate and to find out how many more people had this impression: - after clicking the "Join" buttons on the FSFE web site and filling out a form with the heading "Join the FSFE" and making a payment to the association, people felt they had become a "member" of FSFE e.V. - after filling out the "Join" form, people have received cryptographic tokens (the Fellowship smartcard) and believed this was evidence of "membership" of the association FSFE e.V. - upon receiving invitations to vote in the annual election for fellowship representatives, people felt the process of voting is associated with being a "member" of the association and believed that they had been accepted as "members" of the association I haven't seen any legal advice on whether these circumstances entitle people to assert full voting membership status or not. In discussions at the GA level, I've strongly objected to use of the word "Join" if the intention of these buttons/forms is not to give people full membership with an equal vote. The feedback has been acted upon and the web site is gradually changing: rather than making people into members, though, the button was changed from "Join the FSFE" to "Become a Supporter". This is more accurate but may not be what everybody wants. Nonetheless, we have about 1,700 active fellows/supporters who have "Joined" using the button that previously existed on the web site. Regardless of the legal situation, I feel it is important for the organization to do the following: a) obtain and publish legal advice on the rights of those "members" who clicked the "Join" button to have a full vote on things like constitutional changes. If legal advice tells us they have rights, even if those rights were not intended, then we need to act on that immediately to inform people about their rights. b) give these people an unambiguous statement about whether they did or did not really "Join" the association FSFE e.V. c) regardless of what the legal advice tells us, consider making a statement confirming all these people as members with the right to vote at a general meeting There are practical problems with this. The most obvious problem is that there is no board and the GA functions a little bit like a board and a board with 1,700 members would not be very functional. To resolve that, the association would probably need to revise the constitution to create a procedure for the GA to elect a board. However, I don't believe practical problems like this should prevent the association from clarifying the status of everybody who "Joined". The "Joining" has already happened, it is not something that can be ignored. Recognizing the status of these people in a respectful manner is simply the right thing to do and the practical issues should not be used as an excuse to avoid or delay giving members that respect. I understand some people don't feel this issue is important but as the fellowship representative, I feel compelled to raise it for the people who do believe in this issue, including those who have renounced their "membership" over this issue. I feel that responding to this issue constructively will make the organization stronger. Regards, Daniel _______________________________________________ Discussion mailing list Discussion@lists.fsfe.org https://lists.fsfe.org/mailman/listinfo/discussion