How USA Dance Bylaw Changes are Approved

A question has been raised about how changes to the USA Dance bylaws are approved, and the answer is that revisions may be approved upon either a vote of the membership or a vote of the Governing Council.  In 1996 during the presidency of Archie Hazelwood, USA Dance petitioned the USOC for approval to become the National Governing Body of DanceSport, and members of the Executive Committee of the Governing Council together with the help of an outside consultant took on the task of completely re-writing the bylaws in order to make sure they complied with the USOC Constitution and the U.S. Amateur Sports Act.  The bylaws were then submitted by the GC to a vote of the membership, and the membership approved the new bylaws.  These bylaws were subsequently accepted by the USOC, and USA Dance was awarded NGB status.

Since that time and continuing first under Archie Hazelwood and then under the next three presidents, changes to the bylaws have been made yearly upon a 3/4 approval vote of the Governing Council.  Sometimes the changes have been small, such as correcting typographical errors or making minor word modifications to clarify provisions.  At other times, primarily during the late 1990’s through mid 2000’s, changes were more extensive, including the approval of a number of provisions primarily in the DanceSport area as well as the creation of the Social Dance Division and the Vice President of Social Dance. Throughout this time the core provisions satisfying the requirements placed on National Governing Bodies by the USOC have remained intact.

In 2009 the GC approved a re-organization plan, eliminating the regional structure and substituting it with a more targeted district structure, and creating Director positions in place of Regional Vice Presidents.  This was done to facilitate better national and chapter communications and utilize the specific skills of national volunteers.  Also at that time, the chapter bylaws were incorporated into the national bylaws, and Area Coordinators were added to the Social Dance Council.  These changes were reported to the membership in early 2010 and while a few concerns were received, they were positively dealt with by the GC in a manner acceptable to the chapters.  More recently, to better address the needs of our young athletes, the Junior Athletes Parents Committee and the Collegiate Competition Committee were added to the DanceSport Council in the same manner.

Some may prefer that changes to the bylaws be made only upon a vote of the membership, but I, along with our past presidents have found this to be unrealistic given that the USA Dance bylaws not only cover organizational structure and responsibilities but many provisions which have been continuously evolving over time in the national and international dance community.  However, the Governing Council has decided that periodically taking the bylaws to the membership for a vote is a positive step both for the sake of transparency and in order to raise awareness of the bylaws.  Consequently, at the 2012 annual Governing Council meeting, the GC decided to submit the bylaws to the membership for a vote during the 2013 national election in order to ratify the prior GC approved changes that have been made over the years.

The Governing Council is tasked with making important national decisions regarding USA Dance.  Members can be assured that as bylaw changes require a significantly higher level of consensus and votes, they are only undertaken as required and remain in compliance with the USOC responsibilities of a National Governing Body.

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