Full membership in AAPG will now require only one sponsor, following a lengthy and impassioned debate among the members of the AAPG House of Delegates at the group’s annual meeting before the Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston.
The body approved an amendment to the AAPG Bylaws that will lower the current requirement of three sponsors.
The amendment was a compromise and substitute for another proposed amendment that would have removed the sponsorship requirement entirely.
Proponents of the initially proposed amendment, like AAPG Secretary Richard Ball, argued that the sponsorship requirement has been an unnecessary barrier to membership that has discouraged in particular young professionals, internationals and geologists outside major energy hubs from upgrading from associate to full membership with voting rights.
“Richard Ball’s slide on our membership trends is a huge red flag for our organization,” said Jeff Lund of the Houston Geological Association, who argued to drop the sponsorship requirement.
Ball and others contended that the sponsorship requirement is unnecessary to maintaining AAPG’s ethical standards because “nefarious people can find three sponsors”; potential members should be considered innocent of being unethical until proven guilty; and if members are admitted and then make ethical breaches, expulsion is still an option – something that has only happened seven times in the last 30 years, Ball pointed out.
AAPG treasurer and past DPA president Deborah Sacrey, however, rebutted that there have been so few ethical breaches within AAPG’s ranks precisely because the sponsorship requirement screens potential members.
She and other opponents to the proposed change argued that eliminating the peer-review aspect would devalue AAPG membership, thereby relegating the Association to resemble a mere trade organization.
Also, while proponents cited the consensus among AAPG’s leadership councils and committees, delegates who opposed the change argued that the consensus among members appears to favor keeping the sponsorship requirement.
Of the 207 HoD members in attendance, 116 voted to approve the substitute amendment to lower the sponsorship requirement to one, with 76 who voted against it.
After the approval of the new amendment, 158 voted to enact it, with 34 against.
Clint Moore, a former AAPG treasurer and chair of the HoD Constitution and Bylaws Committee and Steve Sonnenberg, an AAPG past president and former HoD chair, have both been among the opponents of the proposal to remove the sponsorship requirement.
However, they both argued that the substitute amendment is a good compromise: one sponsor should be easy to find, and if the lowered requirement proves detrimental, it can always be changed next year, while a full removal of the sponsorship requirement might not be so easy to reverse.
“The genies not completely out of the bottle if we lower it to one,” said another delegate.