The vote on Women at the LC

Gentlemen:

Here are four options from the Board of Management in response to Tom Bennett’s motion at our last business meeting, as a way of expressing your interest. The Board of Management does not endorse any of these options.

1. Should the Club admit women as full members?

2. Should women be allowed as guests of any member at any meeting?

3. Should women be allowed as guests of readers, with prior notice to members?

4. Should women be invited to special events arranged by the Board of Management?

This vote will be by secret ballot at the May 5th Business meeting. You will be given a ballot then.

There will be no discussion of the options at that meeting. The issue involved has been discussed at length at a previous meeting, on our Website Blog, privately among yourselves, and can be discussed at our April 7th Business Meeting. I doubt that we will change anyone’s mind on May 5th.

Regular and Honorary Members are the only authorized voters and must be present to vote. Associate members are unable to vote. That would require a Constitutional amendment, and there is no provision in the Constitution for proxy voting so voters will receive one ballot at the meeting.

I encourage you to take advantage of our Website Blog to discuss you views, opinions, and suggestions. You can also email me directly with questions.

Jack McDonough
President

5 thoughts on “The vote on Women at the LC

  1. admin Post author

    This very divisive issue has certainly caused a rift in the Board of Management – and I fear will cause a major disruption among the members. I find myself in a curious position – my “career” at P&G was noted by my efforts to develop greater diversity in the management ranks. At one point, when I was heading manufacturing for the Food Division (when P&G had a Food Div), I was proud to have promoted 2 white women and 2 black men to the Plant Manager level out of 7 plants. Also, I have been Board Chair of two organizations, Crayons to Computers and Every Child Succeeds, that were led by very capable women whom I respect in every dimension as leaders. So, I have absolutely no hesitation working or socializing with women at any level at any time.

    However, I still feel that The Literary Club has a unique position offering camaraderie and literary experiences to a group of men. In fact, one of the key reasons I joined the club was to share this opportunity for a group of men to get together focusing on literary pursuits without secret handshakes, rituals, or specific religious beliefs. My wife encouraged me to join so that I could experience the gender specific relationships she values in the various women’s organizations she has joined. Of course, the Cincinnati area is replete with women’s organizations with charters ranging from social, to literary, to business.

    Also, our club has rarely been in a stronger position than it is now. Compared to 10 years ago, total membership – Honorary, Regular, and Associate has increased by four – 119 today vs. 115 then. This modest growth has occurred in spite of an unusual loss of 30 to the grave. The club’s ability to attract very strong new members is reflected in the addition of 51 new members from 2004 to today. Of these, 46 are Regular Members, 4 have moved to Associate status, and 1 resigned. At present, we have four outstanding candidates in the new member process with likely vote later this club year. Any organization that can fill almost half the membership in a 10 year period is certainly robust, and not in need of making choices that threaten the basic nature of the club.

    Net, I am voting “No” on the first three issues being considered. My “Yes” vote on the fourth issue is a bit guarded since it is unclear how we could accomplish the task. Our club house is quite crowded now on special evenings, so adding another group (of any gender) at a specific function would likely involve meeting someplace else. However, this idea of a special event more often than the current 25 year cycle is intriguing. This could be a spouse/partner dinner or trading visits with a women’s group of similar literary focus on an annual or similar cycle. Again, I have no idea of how to accomplish this, but it seems worthwhile to consider.

    Michael Kremzar

    Reply
  2. admin Post author

    To: Literary Club:

    Here are the results from the vote at the Literary Club meeting last night, May 5, 2014

    1. Should the Club admit women as full members? Yes 15 No 51

    2. Should women be allowed as guests of any member at any meeting? Yes 21 No 45

    3. Should women be allowed as guests of readers, with prior notice to members? Yes 28 No 38

    4. Should women be invited to special events arranged by the Board of Management? Yes 37 No 29

    Mike Kremzar

    Clerk

    Reply
  3. Tom Bennett

    Further Thoughts on the Future of the Literary Club

    In October 2013 I gave the prayer at the beginning of our Annual Dinner. In it, and I paraphrase, I asked support for our wisdom; in our work to relate to one another our knowledge, to listen to one another’s beliefs, and to tease one another’s imaginations. … to be able to join and to build such an organization where seeking and relating are honored and uplifted … to help us to remember that our quest is broader and deeper together in unity and foster in us all a continued devotion to learning … as we continue to seek knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

    Recent events surrounding the “women as members” issue, and the subsequent elections, lead me to believe that we have fallen far short of these ideals, and in particular, the oft mentioned but not codified standards of gentlemanly conduct and comity, that one might expect from an organization dedicated to the enjoyments and explorations of knowledge, belief, and imagination.

    To think about how the Literary Club might pursue enhancing our comity I glanced quickly through the bylaws to see if remedies or guidance existed there. They do not… there are no provisions there for the remediation of strong differences of opinion. There are also no provisions for the removal of members whose actions fall far below any standard of gentlemanly conduct in disagreement; likewise, there are no provisions for any small portion of our membership to attack, shun, or otherwise force the resignation of other members because of disagreements.

    My sense is that the bylaws remain silent on such matters because it has been taken for granted that admission to this place was admission to a “band of brothers” engaged in free and open inquiry without the sort of fear that comes from the rancor of uncivil and closed minds; indeed, it was assumed that despite our occasional personal proclivity to be witty and sharp, it was taken for granted that such conduct was not to be personally hurtful or injurious, and that such incivility and close mindedness was to be left beyond the front door.

    Given that these thought bears some truth regarding our situation, I would, were I to be present at the next business meeting June 2, bring a motion to the floor asking that the Board of Management move expeditiously to accomplish two ends: first, to initiate a significant effort, either itself, or through the appointment of an independent panel of current members, to initiate a “reconciliation” effort directed towards restoring those resigned members to full participation in our fraternity; second, to explore fully both the grievances of those feeling forced to resign and the overall conduct of members during the extended discussions of this surprisingly controversial subject. This latter effort seems crucial to understanding fully what transpired and to codify in a general sense what many of us, I believe, took for granted regarding membership and conduct within this “band of brothers.”

    This latter effort might yield a pledge of commitment to the kind of interactions and relationships that our Literary Club, committed to the open exchange of ideas, would expect of members calling them to a higher level of discourse than we find extant in public discourse today. Such a pledge might be included as a document to be signed by new members at the time they sign the Constitution; and, for that matter, to be signed by all continuing members after its approval by the membership. I believe it is in the unity of our membership that we will find our strength and our ability to grow into the Club we all believe we want it to become.

    Thomas P. Bennett

    Reply
    1. Tom Bennett

      I have had several very constructive back channel comments to my post above. They lead me to post an addendum.
      It is clear to me that what seems to be at issue is whether a “divisive” issue can be dealt with openly and honestly without a sense of partisanship as opposed to with a sense of winning/losing. In my sense of an organization aimed at inquiry and exchange, there are “learners and teachers” rather than “winners and losers.” And the learners and teachers ought to be seen as particularly interchangeable in this space. To paraphrase, leave your ego at the door.

      I believe resignation out of pique seems sadly unwarranted but so is turning your back on those who have so over-reacted. If we are to inquire fully and fairly there will inevitably be those who are unhappy with what they have “learned” but should we not reach out to them and remind them that we were brothers before and are brothers still?

      Reply
  4. Mike Kremzar

    Well stated, Tom. Each of those who have resigned are valued and welcomed back. Various of the BOM are reaching out to them with the intent of understanding first, and making sure they know that the club wants them in our midst. The 2014-15 BOM will be meeting over the summer to discuss our role in reconciliation of all members. For me, I consider myself the President of the entire Literary Club in all our diversity of issues and opinions. Also, I know that words cannot heal emotional issues by themselves, I and the BOM will be judged on our actions. My office is my phone, email, and attendance at meetings. This is not a shy group and I need it hear from you. Mike Kremzar, 513-772-0755, tigerworld@cinci.rr.com

    Reply

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