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|T.I. #88, Fall ’88. This is more out of date than most of the columns, but it’s still useful for the discussion of branch population. I added a couple of blocks to the table to reflect the new rates adopted in 1991 (which bring Associate membership back to the price of the donation portion of Sustaining membership) and to describe the new membership-for-office rules adopted in 1993.|
My cousins, herewith another glimpse into the clockwork that runs the Known World: the origin and role of Associate membership in the Society. (I wound up tracing the whole evolution of SCA membership to write this column. Fascinating stuff if you’re a list-hound like me—otherwise, ignore the box [table] on page x [below].)
Once upon a time, anyone who put on garb and attended SCA events was a member.
Subscribing to the publications was a separate issue, and not needed even to hold
office until 1971. Associate status appeared when subscriptions were first tied to
membership, and originally required residence at a subscribing address. It allowed
someone to support the central operations of the Society without having extra copies
of everything sent to his house. Later on, the concept was expanded to let people
join without getting publications at all, if they wished to do so. When it was defined,
Associate membership cost the same amount as the donation in a Sustaining
membership—the surplus over the T.I. and newsletter stipends, which supports the
mailing list and other admin expenses—but it was allowed to fall behind in 1983 as
a gesture to those who couldn’t afford an increase of the size required then.
I get two sorts of unhappy mail about Associate memberships. People start with the idea that Associates are “just as good as anybody else” and get upset because they don’t count towards official branch population, or they start with the idea that Associates are “second-class citizens” and get upset because they hold branch offices and speak up in official pollings. Neither view is accurate.
Associate members have never been part of the population quotas, not because they’re less important than anyone else, but because the subscriber count serves as a simple short-hand reference for the size and activity level of a branch. We don’t like to see a branch composed entirely of subscribers—it usually turns out to be pushing membership too hard, and probably having too little fun to survive. A “normal” branch has a fair number of Associate and Family members, but the proportions vary from place to place and from time to time, so we don’t want to impose a set ratio. However, when it comes to rising in status, Associates make a branch look better...and when it comes to formal or informal variances from the required totals, a branch that runs a bit low on subscribers is much likelier to be left alone if it has a healthy group of non-subscribers than if every man, woman, and pet is getting the newsletter and they still can’t make the count.
Associates are real members, and the SCA welcomes their support at all levels. Except where Corpora or the By-Laws exclude them, Associates have the same opportunities as other members. At this writing, they’re barred from becoming Directors, Corporate Officers, or Kingdom Great Officers. They’re also limited in access to the Crown or Coronet, since at least one person in each competing couple must have a subscribing membership. The other may be an Associate, but must live at the same address as a subscribing member to qualify. The same rule applies to Associates holding Kingdom Lesser Offices. By the time you read this, the Board may have decided to allow or require kingdoms to insist that certain local officers also have access to official publications. Several of the kingdoms have argued that a person directing an SCA branch needs up-to-date information on kingdom and SCA policies. Well, actually, several kingdoms were requiring this already, or were requiring subscriptions for each local officer, and they weren’t best pleased when I told them they couldn’t do it. They turned to the Board, and I think the Board will agree that word-of-mouth is not always a reasonable alternative. (Why not wait for the decision? The deadline for this column is 1 May, and of the topics likely to be interesting in September, membership is the one I feel like writing about at the moment....)
There are myths about other requirements or disabilities of Associate status, but I don’t want to lend them dignity by repeating them. If you didn’t read it here, it probably ain’t so—at least write and ask before you let it bother you. The Society gives each of us room to earn respect through personal wisdom and effort, without regard to things like membership class, or age or sex or any of the other artificial distinctions we have to deal with outside. Listen to each other and don’t worry about the fine print on the label—that’s the best way to keep the Known World thriving!
|MEMBERSHIP CLASSES IN THE SCA—HISTORICAL SURVEY|
1969 (Original By-Laws)|
A—Board of Directors
E—Nobility (peers and their households)
F—Gentry (“responsible persons” and their households)
G—Subscribers—$1.50 ($3 in 1968)
H—Attendees (anybody not in A thru F)
No class was a prerequisite for any other.
1972 (Amendment to By-Laws)|
A thru F unchanged; H eliminated; G Subdivided:
1. General Member; got membership card only—$1
2. Subscriber; got pubs only—$3 ($4 in 1973)
3. Subscribing Member; got both—$4 ($5 in 1973)
4. Contributing Member; got both, plus published thanks—$15
5. Patron; got both, plus published thanks & other privileges—$50
Classes A thru F required a Class G membership, type not specified. This expanded the 2/71 Board ruling that all officers must have subscriptions, and did indeed mean that you had to be a paying member of some kind to get an award. However, I was around in the mid-70's, and saw no sign this was being enforced.
1974 (Revised By-Laws; stayed the same thru 1978)|
A-F Unchanged, except that C and D were retitled “Sovereigns” and “Consorts”
G—Subdivided as follows:
1979 (Moved from By-Laws to Corpora)|
A thru F—Eliminated as separate membership classes, eliminating the membership requirement for awards.
G—No longer a separate entity. What’s left (same cost as 1977) is:
1980 (Revised By-Laws) (Costs same as 1979 table)
* 1979 & 1980 rules were internally inconsistent, barring Associates from Crown/Coronet in one paragraph but allowing them in another.
1984 (Revised By-Laws) (Costs same as 1983; still current in 1988)
G&PD #37 (1984) allowed kingdoms to establish membership requirements for armigerous awards and territorial barons and baronesses.
1992 (By-Laws revised 11-91, effective 1-92)
1993 (Refined By-Laws) (Costs same as 1992)
Other revisions require territorial baron/esses to be SCA members, and allow officers of all levels to be Associate or Family members as long as they live at residences receiving the kingdom newsletter.
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The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).