On Communicating Effectively

Last night at the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting, some frats and sororities sent a number of people to the meeting to attempt and hijack the agenda because they’re upset at some city-level legislation that affects them. They didn’t get in an agenda item on time per our (admittedly hard to find) policy but most of us were willing to play nice (though our parliamentarian (def’n 2) shot them down on a number of issues, especially the scrapping the existing agenda part).

In any case, at a few minutes to 10pm, they made a motion demanding that the secretary (that’s me) suddenly take on a number of new responsibilities. I walked. Maybe not the most mature response, but I’d had enough of their parliamentary procedure posturing, and it was time for some drinks. I guess I’ll find out one of these days what happened at the rest of the meeting, but at this point I don’t really care. I’m probably taking an N-month vacation from volunteering my time. Fire me: I’m a volunteer. It was enough to make me want to say Nie pozwalam! and end the meeting (a motion to adjourn could have almost the same effect, except that would have been dodgy, since they’d tried that when we wouldn’t put their agenda items first, and that got shot down). Then again, considering the way I walked out, I can only hope I had as “beneficent” of an effect as if I’d invoked the Liberum Veto.

But more seriously, the big problem they had was that while they had read the bylaws of the organization, they hadn’t bothered to spend the time learning the unwritten rules that we work by. And in an all-volunteer organization, the latter are much more important than the former. Sure, there may have been motions passed tonight directing the secretary (me again) to write some letters. But I’m a volunteer, and because they tried to disrupt the organization I’ve given thousands of hours over the past few years, I’ll be damned if I’ll put writing any letters for their cause ahead of the couple-hundred other things I have on my to-do list for the neighborhood association already.

It’s a shame, really. I’ve wanted for years to get more younger folks (under 50 would be a start) involved in the neighborhood association, but when some show up, they try to replace the existing agenda, which has items on it with invited speakers who are making time to come to our meeting, and hit us with motions to approve proposals without even bringing the full text of those proposals to the meeting.

I guess the point of this is that I really wish that people who have trouble communicating would just shut up. And on that note…

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:51.