Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

YA Award Proposal Naming: Scope of Change

Edit, April 23, 2017: I have changed my mind about the ruling below and now intend to rule that if the meeting first ratifies the proposal with the blank in the name and with the temporary provision, any WSFS Business Meeting (including the one in Helsinki) can name the YA Award in a single year's vote, but that once named, any change would require the usual two-year constitutional amendment process.

One of the items that has been forwarded to Worldcon 75 Helsinki for ratification is the Young Adult Award proposal, which adds a WSFS-sanctioned "Campbell-like" non-Hugo Award to the awards that would appear on the Hugo Award ballot. If ratified, the first Worldcon that would present this award is Worldcon 76 San José in 2018. The name of this award (which is not a Hugo Award) was left blank. There have been many electrons spilled over whether actually naming the award would be a "greater change" to the proposal, and thus require an additional year of ratification. As Chair of the 2017 WSFS Business Meeting, it will fall to me to make the initial ruling on whether such a change is a "greater change."

I currently intend to rule that filling the blank in the proposal increases the scope of change of the proposal, and therefore would require an additional year of ratification.

Our shorthand terms "greater change" and "lesser change" apparently have led to confusion about what they actually mean, by people who are not familiar with parliamentary procedure or the customs and practices of WSFS. In particular, some people have got it into their heads that word count determines whether a change is greater (requires additional ratification) or not. This is not true.

Simply adding words does not automatically make a change greater. Simply removing words does not automatically make a change lesser. What we're talking about here is the scope of change. When we are ratifying a constitutional amendment, we can ratify anything that is between the previous constitution and whatever the result of the proposal would be. We can't exceed the scope of the change, but we can reduce it.

Here's an easy example. Presume there was an existing rule that limited the maximum price of a supporting membership to US$50. (There is no such rule.) A constitutional amendment passes that raises that to $80. It's up for ratification. We can ratify any value that is between $50 and $80. (The trivial case of $50 is equivalent to rejecting the proposal outright, of course.) We cannot ratify values less than $50 nor more than $80, nor can we add in additional elements, e.g. "nor shall Attending memberships cost more than US$200."

So there's an easy case. Things like filling this blank in the YA Award proposal are more difficult, because you have to make a decision regarding what the scope of change is. After hearing arguments from multiple people, I have decided that adding a name to this award exceeds the scope of the change adopted in Kansas City, even though the people voting in KC knew that they were leaving a blank in the proposal.

It is possible to ratify this proposal without naming the award, which would (by default), probably make it either the "WSFS Award" or the "Worldcon Award" for YA Fiction. Assuming the proposal gets ratified in Helsinki, a separate proposal could be introduced to give the award an explicit name. That proposal, if passed in Helsinki, would be up for ratification in San José.

I'm writing about this now because I'm tired of seeing people go around in circles about what do to depending on how the ruling goes. Mind you, it is in fact possible that people could persuade me to change my mind before we get to Worldcon next year. And the fact that the wording in the proposal was actually drafted by me is irrelevant. I've been talked out of positions before and have changed my mind based on debate. That's called having an open mind.

Of course, the Helsinki Business Meeting could overturn my ruling, but now you have some idea of how I stand on the subject and can plan accordingly.
Tags: business meeting, hugo awards, worldcon, wsfs
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