2013 Constitutional Changes: A friendly guide!

The AJET National Council has put together the following guide to clarify and explain the changes that are proposed in the new constitution which is up for approval. Most of the changes are meant to clarify the current text and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. Some of the changes are updates to the names and titles of AJET’s resources, positions and events, and a few changes are important updates to reflect the current membership body of AJET.

It’s important to note that these amendments are not only the work of the current council, but also of past council members. Most of the changes that are included in the new constitution were proposed by the 2011-2012 AJET National Council. To attribute credit where credit is due, the previous council’s suggestions are noted in the list of changes below. The new constitution is the brainchild of many hours of hard work put in by many people, and we hope you will agree it’s a document that can help National AJET operate efficiently and effectively for years to come.

Please click here to open a PDF of the amended constitution in its entirety in a new window.

AJET Constitution Revisions

Format

The current constitution has very little formatting, and, as such, is very difficult to read, even for members of the AJET National Council. Many of the drastic changes in the appearance of the revised version can be attributed to the new formatting which was added for the purpose of clarity and professionalism. The details of this formatting are below:

  • A consistent outline form was applied throughout the document to allow for the sections to be easily identified. The outline form also makes the document more readable overall.
  • Titles of articles are now consistently centered and separated by spaces from the content of the article.
  • Long paragraphs were avoided when possible and were instead broken up into sections which are clearly labeled or put into outline form.
  • Changes were made to correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalisation and to improve overall linguistic consistency.
  • The majority of acronyms were removed to make the document easier to understand for someone unfamiliar with AJET. Any acronyms used are now defined the first time they are used.
  • The current constitution uses “National Council”, “AJET National Council” or “NC” to describe the AJET National Council. These multiple terms were all replaced with “AJET National Council” in order to be consistent.
  • The order of the Articles was rearranged where appropriate. This was done for clarity, such as making sure that terms were defined before they were written about in another section. It was also done to group similar topics together in order to make information easier to find throughout the document.

Content

The following are general changes to content which have been made throughout the proposed constitutional amendments:

  • The current constitution is excessively wordy. Redundant adjectives and phrases were removed, and categories were added in place of “including but not limited to” lists when possible to improve readability.
  • Outdated positions which no longer exist on the AJET National Council were removed, and those which have changed names but exist in a similar capacity were updated. These include SEA Representative, Database Administrator (replaced with Website Coordinator), Interpreter (replaced with Translation and Interpretation Coordinator) and AAJ Editor (now Online Publications [AJET Connect] Editor).
  • References to Language Groups (LG) and National Groups (NG) have been taken out, since these kinds of groups are now considered to be types of Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Changes to more specific content are listed according to the article in which they occur in the proposed constitutional amendments:

Title

  • The title has been lengthened for clarification purposes on recommendations from previous council. It now spells out the entire name of our association, instead of only including the acronym.

Article I: Name

  • The groupings of syllables in the romanisation of the AJET Japanese name have been changed slightly.
  • With no difference in meaning, the wording of the sentence defining AJET has been changed for clarity purposes.
  • The Japanese translation of “AJET National Council” has been removed from this section on a recommendation from the previous council. It has been relocated to Article IV.

Article II: Purpose

  • The description of AJET as a non-profit/not-for-profit organisation has been removed, as AJET does not legally fit the description for either of these types of organisations. (No AJET National Council member is paid for their services.) This will not affect the way that AJET handles its finances.
  • The purpose of AJET was simplified to cover a broader range of activities. The phrase “organize events, sponsor special projects[,] and other events, issue publications […]” was changed to “AJET promotes community and peer fellowship, provides support and resources and acts as the representative body of JET participants.” Please note that “events” and “special projects” are included as “community”, “peer fellowship”, and “support”, and “issuing publications” is included as “resources”. Cooperating with related professional organisations is intended to also be included under community and fellowship, though it can also be seen as a resource or representing JET participants.
  • A few specific activities (like Opinion Exchange and Tokyo Orientation meetings) were removed, to allow future councils more flexibility when planning and financing activities which may arise.
  • None of the changes in this section were made with the intent of altering the way that AJET functions. The wording has been changed, but, as stated above, it still encompasses all of AJET’s current activities and leaves room for new things that could benefit the JET community.

Article III: Membership

  • AJET will only have one type of voting membership on recommendation from the previous council. The current constitution contains both voting and non-voting members, which depends on the paying of dues. As AJET no longer requires membership fees, membership is now simply defined as all current JET participants.

Article IV: National Council

  • In the current constitution, this article was Article V. It was moved to this location in order to provide a definition of the AJET National Council before discussing the different positions on the council.
  • Positions on the AJET National Council were updated to reflect only those positions that are currently held.
  • SEA Representative, Database Administrator and AAJ Editor were removed.
    • Because of the small number of currently participating SEAs, it was decided to extend interested representatives or liaisons an opportunity to consult with and contribute to AJET activity on a case by case basis rather than through an appointed position.
  • Appointed Officers was added as a broader category instead of specified individual positions (like the Database Administrator and AAJ Editor). The specific positions will be described in the Bylaws so future councils can create and abolish appointed positions as needed on a yearly basis. Appointed positions have historically changed often according to the needs of AJET. Article IV is meant to define the positions of AJET which are consistent, so permanent positions are the only ones defined in this section. This change was implemented on recommendation from the previous council.
  • The amendments specify that only elected officers may participate in council votes, while appointed officers are non-voting members of the council. The current constitution names some exceptions to this rule, but it was decided that only the council members who have been directly elected by the members of AJET should have the responsibility to represent the members in council votes. For this reason, the exceptions have been omitted.
  • The amendments also allows both the Vice Chair and the Treasurer, as executive officers, to vote in council votes, while the Chair’s vote is still reserved as a tie-breaker.

Article V: Officers and Executive Officers

  • Amended Article V is included in the current constitution as Article IV (Officers and Administration).
  • The term of office will now be strictly defined as one year, from June 1st until May 31st of the following year. The option which references the “final re-contractors conference” was removed, as the particular type of re-contractors conferences that are referenced are no longer held by CLAIR.
  • A description of Appointed Officers was added, as recommended by the previous council, in order to clarify the process of appointing these positions, and to generally outline the type of position so it can be described further in constitutional Bylaws.

Article VI: Meetings

  • The contents of Article VI were divided into sections for the purpose of readability.
  • Ambiguous phrasing (eg. “AJET shall hold various meetings”) was removed and more specific details about how the meetings are held (in person, via Skype, etc.) was added.
  • The number of meetings per year was changed to reflect the discontinuation of the Annual General Meetings (AGM).
  • The number of AJET National Council members who must be present in a meeting in order to achieve quorum was increased.
  • A minimum two-days notice to be given before holding a meeting was added.

Article VII: Elections

  • Article VII was included in the current constitution as Article X.
  • It has been clarified that members of the Election Committee may not run for office while serving on the committee.
  • It was specified that the elections will be held online and that the Elections Officer and Website Administrator should work together. This was based on the current constitution which does say that the Database Administrator (a position since replaced by the Website Administrator) should be involved in the election process.
  • It is now specified that information gained during the elections should be kept confidential.
  • A section about council vacancies after an election was added to clarify the process for filling these vacancies once the elections have passed. The process is the same as the procedure to fill a vacancy for a council member who leaves their position in the middle of their term (this is discussed in Article VIII).

Article VIII: Resignations, Removal, and Vacant Seats

  • Article XI (Removal of NC Officer from Council) was used in order to create this new Article.
  • The procedure for council member resignation was specified.
  • A reference to the AJET Agreement was added. This document will be included in an Appendix.
  • The fraction of the constituency required to sign a petition for a council member’s removal has been decreased from one third (⅓) to one fifth (⅕). The fraction of the constituency required to overturn a unanimous vote by the AJET National Council to remove a council member from office was decreased from three fourths (¾) to two fifths (⅖). These numbers were chosen in order to be a significant amount, yet still a realistic number to achieve. They are considered realistic based on data from AJET member participation in surveys and elections over the last several years.

Article IX: Affiliated Groups

  • Articles VII (Prefectural Chapters, Blocks, SIGs, NGs and LGs) and VIII (New Groups) from the current constitution have been combined in the new Article IX for ease of reference.
  • Article VIII of the current constitution was revised to introduce Article IX of the proposed constitution. It was decided that this introduction best served to establish the rules for proposing and forming new affiliated AJET groups, before continuing on to address existing affiliated groups in the proposed revision. Additionally, the process for creating new affiliated groups has been simplified to a council vote. AJET wants to encourage members to form Special Interest Groups and does not want to limit the size of these groups by requiring a certain amount of support on a petition.
  • Changes were made for brevity, language and grammar to make it consistent throughout the document (e.g., acronyms were removed and clarified). On recommendation of the previous council’s proposed revisions, some sections in the current constitution Article VII were combined into the singular umbrella of Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Also on recommendation of the previous council, Section 5 of the current constitution, regarding publications, was removed, as publications has become a permanent part of AJET activity and the appointed position of the AJET Online Publications Editor now oversees these activities. Otherwise, content in the proposed Article IX introduction remained the same.
  • Section 1 of proposed Article IX and the current constitution’s Article VII refer to prefectural chapters. Revisions were made to organise the content for readability and consistency throughout the document. The subsection regarding Prefectural Representative was removed as this position does not exist. Instead, the proposed revision amended this subsection to encompass all elected officer positions within an affiliated prefectural chapter.
  • Section 2 of proposed Article IX and the current constitution’s Article VII refer to Special Interest Groups (SIGs). The section was amended to state the specific interests such groups may address (e.g., nationality, language, religion and sports). This also encompassed those groups represented by the separate Sections 3 and 4 of Article VII in the current constitution. It was decided to combine these as rules for these SIGs’ creation and operation as affiliated groups remain the same regardless of interest. Also, Section 5 of the current constitution was removed as publications is no longer a SIG but has become a permanent feature of AJET activity and a separate appointed position has been created to oversee this function. It was also decided to include that SIGs will be advised by a member of the AJET National Council, as this position exists on the council. The section was reorganised for readability and logic. These reorganisations are now listed in the subsections a through f.
  • Section 3 of the proposed Article IX replaces Section 6 of the current constitution’s Article VII, referring to the Peer Support Group (PSG). The section was amended only to reorganise the duties and responsibilities of PSG in the listed subsections for readability purposes. The content between the proposed revised section and the current section remains the same.

Article X: Bylaws

  • The content of proposed Article X and the current constitution’s Article XII (Bylaws) are the same.

Article XI: Amendments to the Constitution

  • The number of AJET members required to sign a petition for an amendment to the constitution has been decreased from 20% or 500 signatures (whichever is less) to 5% or 250 signatures (whichever is less). These numbers were chosen in order to be a significant amount, yet still a realistic number to achieve. They are considered realistic based on data from AJET member participation in surveys and elections over the last several years.
  • It is now specified that online voting should be used instead of postal ballots.
  • It is now specified that the amendment must be posted in full on the ballot during votes to pass a new amendment.
  • The percentage of AJET members needed to participate in order to make an amendment vote valid has been decreased from 20% to 10% in order to reflect more realistic participation numbers.
  • References to the AAJ newsletter and National AJET list serve, which no longer exist, have been updated to the AJET website, Connect magazine, and social media, which are the current and most efficient methods of information distribution for AJET.
  • Since the Annual General Meeting (AGM) is no longer in existence, this has been removed from the process of amendment approval.

Please note the changes to Article XI do not affect the amendment process which we’re currently going through.

These constitutional amendments are being enacted by the process described in the current constitution, Article XIII.3, as quoted below:

3. An amendment may be approved by the NC with a three-fourths (3/4) majority of the NC with the general membership being informed at least three (3) weeks prior to the proposed amendment going into effect. The membership must be informed by the publication of the proposed amendment in the “AAJ” national newsletter and via the “National AJET” list serve. If there is a ballot, of at least one hundred (100) members of the AJET membership that oppose the amendment, then the amendment must be voted on by the general membership at the next AGM for it to go into effect. (Current Constitution)

The amendments proposed were announced via the AJET e:Connect email list (the current National AJET listserv) and via the National AJET Block Facebook groups (the current way of distributing timely, pertinent JET news used in substitute of the AJET Across Japan (AAJ) newsletter) on March 12, 2013. Voting members have until April 1, 2013 to oppose the amendments by signing a petition and submitting it via email to the current Vice Chair, Sarah Lewis, at . If there is a successful petition, the amendments will be voted on by all current voting members of AJET via an online ballot in lieu of the defunct Annual General Meeting. This will allow all members a chance to cast a vote.

We hope that you’ll agree that the above mentioned changes are beneficial to the future continuation of AJET and the AJET National Council. If you have any questions (or if you spot a change that we forgot to include on this list), please email Sarah at .

Thank you for taking an active interest in National AJET!