1.28.2015

Update: The Continuing Saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society



Beth Ann Judas, MA, Phd


The final decision of the AIA Council was that the AIA-St. Louis (AIA-STL) board must resign, in its entirety, by February 1, 2015 or the AIA would revoke their charter. January 13, 2015 saw another moment in the continuing saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society.  The Society called an emergency meeting to discuss the decision by the AIA Council during the 2015 Annual Meetings in New Orleans.

According to Douglas Boin (@douglasboin), who was present at the meeting, the members of AIA-STL discussed the situation and then voted to retain their board. The vote was 30 for the board, 27 against the board, and 4 abstentions, which suggests that many Society members felt strongly that the board did not act incorrectly (and the close numbers also demonstrate possible conflict concerning this issue).  Although members demonstrated support for their board, with that one act, they condemned their society.

But there was a sudden twist in the story. On Sunday night, January 25, the St. Louis officers and board of directors decided to resign in order to allow AIA-STL to continue its association with the national organization. Prior to their resignation, the officers and board picked their replacement interim officers and board.  Presumably, this will allow their members to decide who wants to participate in an election of officers.  The resignation was effective as of January 26, 2015.

Meanwhile, AIA memebrs and archaeological communities wait to see what will officially happen on February 1. The assumption at this point is that the AIA will allow AIA-St. Louis to continue as an affiliated socity since they have met the requirements set forth by the AIA Council at the 2015 Annual Meetings.

I have to admit this update has been a little harder to write, which is why I haven't posted this as quickly as I thought I would (plus, every time I think that I am ready to post it, some new information appears).  Aside from my confusion as to why the society members wanted to vote themselves out of existence, I can only assume that the vote against removing the officers was a result of the members believing-very strongly-in their board's decisions.  Was there also a bit of hoping to call the AIA's bluff? Perhaps... But that is all moot now, as the officers and board of directors resigned, and now we wait to hear from the AIA itself.

Meanwhile, over the past several months, I've had various conversations concerning this issue with friends who are not archaeologists and who know nothing about archaeology (except whatever interactions they have with it as a result of being my friend).  And the conversations, while positive, in-depth ones, seem to be exercises of how do (should?) archaeologists communicate complex issues such as this with the general public, especially one such as this, which is not as clear cut as one would think.  The sale was legal, but question of ethics in regards to an archaeological society and what roles and responsibilities it has as a public face of archaeology remains. It's easy to have in-depth discussions between friends and acquaintances over dinner or drinks, but that's not a feasible answer for reaching out to the rest of the public. Ultimately, the hard and terrible question remains, how do we communicate archaeological issues and ideals in a manner that makes sense to lay people?

*Announcement of Officers and Board Resignation on the Facebook page of  "St. Louis Archaeological Institute of America" (January 26, 2015)

*An Announcement concerning the AIA St. Louis Society (January 21, 2015)
The AIA announces that the St. Louis Society's charter will be revoked if the 100% of the current St. Louis Society board members resigned by February 1, 2015.  The announcement recognized the the decision of the St. Louis Society to not remove their board members from their positions on January 13, 2015.

*All of the statements made by the AIA re the AIA St. Louis Society gathered into one page on the AIA website.

*Changes to the (national) AIA Regulations
These updates were voted upon at the January 10, 2015 AIA Council meeting

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