Since the 1980’s the USA Dance bylaws have stated that chapter officials have the right to participate in Governing Council meetings, and with the chair’s approval, may speak during the meeting. Also under the bylaws national past presidents have the right to attend and participate in GC meetings as well. In most years there were at least several of the above individuals participating in the meetings and taking part in the discussions,
This changed in January of 2017, when the newly-elected National President, Glenn Weiss decided not to follow the language in the bylaws, effectively removing the rights of chapter officials and national past presidents to attend and participate in GC meetings. Several months later the GC voted to amend the bylaws, removing the long-standing right of attendance and participation without notice or input from the 150 USA Dance chapters, the national past presidents or a vote of the membership.
When a notice was recently sent to USA Dance chapters and national past presidents informing them of an upcoming face-to-face GC meeting that would occur on a Friday through Sunday, rather than being invited to attend the entire three-day meeting, invitations were only issued to a small informational portion of the meeting taking place on one of the three days. No invitations were issued to the business portions of the GC meeting, which would be conducted behind closed doors.
USA Dance is a National Sport Organization recognized by the USOC, and is required to conduct its business in a transparent fashion. While closed sessions may be in order for those parts of a meeting that deal with either employee matters or matters of litigation, all other parts of a GC meeting as well as any votes taken should be done in open session.
Under current leadership, USA Dance is heading down a road of secrecy, non-adherence to existing bylaws, and major revision of said bylaws without input or approval of the membership. While other dance organizations may behave in this way, USA Dance must hold to a higher standard mandated by the U.S. Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Constitution.
In the last few months no less than five national officials elected by the membership have resigned from the Governing Council because they were not in agreement with the direction in which Mr. Weiss was taking the organization. Surely it is time to reconsider that direction and chart a new course where transparency, adherence to bylaws, and respect for members’ right of participation become the order of the day.