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July 2024 Board Meeting Recap: Updated Codes of Conduct, Bylaw Amendments and a New Member of Honor Award Among the Highlights

07/10/2024, 11:00am CDT
By Bryan Wendell

The Board met in person in Columbus, Ohio, and online on July 6, 2024, to discuss crucial updates and amendments that will shape the future of the organization.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The approval of updated Codes of Conduct, bylaw amendments aimed at enhancing diversity and representation within the organization, and a new "Member of Honor" award to recognize outstanding volunteers were among the actions taken by the USA Fencing Board of Directors at its recent meeting. 

The Board met in person in Columbus, Ohio, on July 6, 2024, to discuss crucial updates and amendments that will shape the future of the organization. 

Like all meetings, this one was streamed live online for anyone to see. (And, as always, you can find Board meeting minutes and agendas at this link.)

But in case you missed it, here’s what went down.

Consent Agenda

The consent agenda included these approvals:

  • Minutes from previous meetings (May 18, May 31, and June 2, 2024)

  • Bylaw changes put forward for comment at the May 18, 2024, Board Meeting (see the updated Bylaws here)

  • Appointment of Greg Husisian as Ethics Committee Chair

  • Updates to the 2025 MAAPP (Appendix I in this document)

  • Updated Member and Spectator Codes of Conduct (see the updated versions in the July 6 board meeting agenda)

    • These were approved subject to amending minor typographical errors and will be posted here on or before the new membership cycle begins on August 1st.

Spectator Code of Conduct

What changed:

  • Stronger emphasis on creating a positive and supportive environment at tournaments or other USA Fencing-sanctioned activities.

  • Added prohibition against physically contacting referees or tournament organizers in an unwelcome or confrontational manner.

  • Clarified the prohibition on vocalizing criticism that disturbs order on the strip.

  • Specified that spectators should not threaten USA Fencing members or staff verbally or in writing or tag others in social media posts with the intent to harass.

Member Code of Conduct

What changed:

  • Clarified that the Code of Conduct applies in all cases, including at international events.

  • Expanded rules to ensure orderly actions, support of officials and respectful conduct through electronic and social media communication.

  • Listed potential sanctions for violations.

New Business

Motion 1: Amendments to USA Fencing Bylaws

  • What happened: Four amendments were approved and now move to the member comment period. Read more below and see the full text of the changes in the Board minutes here.

  • Why this matters: The USA Fencing Bylaws form the backbone of the organization’s operation, and changes to Bylaws can only take effect after members have the chance to comment.

  • Note: Members can comment on these Bylaws changes over the next 45 days. Leave your comment using this form.

Amendment 1: Section 12.4. 

  • Aims to promote diversity and effective functioning within USA Fencing committees by setting forth rules for proportional athlete, gender, ethnic and parafencing representation.

Amendment 2: Section 12.7.b

  • Changes the composition of the Budget Committee to better represent the breadth of the fencing community.

Amendment 3: Section 12.9.b

  • Changes the composition of the Nominating Committee to ensure a broader pool of candidates.

Amendment 4: Section 12.18 and 12.19

  • Reduces the length of term for committee members to two years instead of one.

Motion 2: Special Elections in Cases of Extended Board Vacancies 

  • What happened: This motion, which would require a special election in cases where certain Board seats are vacated with more than 50% of the term remaining, was withdrawn for review at a later date.

Motion 3: Virtual Board Meetings

  • What happened: Amendment to Section 7.10 of the Bylaws was approved, allowing more flexibility for remote meetings. It now moves into the 45-day member comment period.

  • Why this matters: Enables the board to meet more frequently and cost-effectively using virtual tools.

  • Note: Members can comment on this Bylaws change over the next 45 days. Leave your comment using this form.

Motion 4: Independent Directors

  • What happened: This motion, which would amend the Bylaws to reduce the number of independent directors on the Board to two (from three) was tabled for review at a later date.

  • Why this matters: The motion requires more discussion to align with the organization's strategic goals and compliance requirements.

Motion 5: SafeSport and Conflict of Interest Requirement

  • What happened: Amendment to Section 7.5 of the Bylaws was approved, mandating active SafeSport clearance and a completed Conflict of Interest declaration for all board members. It now moves into the 45-day member comment period.

  • Why this matters: Ensures that board members uphold the highest standards of ethics and safety.

  • Note: Members can comment on this Bylaws change over the next 45 days. Leave your comment using this form.

Motion 6: Board Meeting Recordings

  • What happened: This motion, which would amend Section 7.14 of the Bylaws to post recordings of Board meetings on the USA Fencing site, was defeated by roll call vote (2-yes, 6-no, 1-abstention).

Motion 7: Special Board Members

  • What happened: This motion, which would amend Section 6.1d of the Bylaws to cap the number of special Board members at two, was withdrawn.

Motion 8: Member of Honor Award

  • What happened: Approved, creating a new award to recognize exceptional volunteer contributions.

  • Why this matters: Highlights and honors the critical role of volunteers in the success of USA Fencing.

  • More about the award: Up to two individuals may receive the award in each USA Fencing fiscal year. Board members issue the award based on a two-thirds vote after assessing each nominee’s leadership, mentorship, promotion of fencing, volunteerism, and advocacy and ethics. 

Motion 9: Social Media Policy

  • What happened: The motion to approve the USA Fencing Social Media Policy was withdrawn.

New Motion 1: Amendments to Athlete Representative Appointments

  • What happened: Approved, aligning with recent USOPC changes to the Team USA Athlete Commission Elections.

  • Why this matters: Ensures that USA Fencing’s Athlete Representatives are in sync with the broader USOPC structure. USA Fencing will now be electing one representative and one alternate for able-bodied fencing and one representative and one alternate for parafencing.

New Motion 2: Athlete Representatives Eligible for Board Chair Position

  • What happened: A proposed amendment to the Bylaws to allow Athlete Representatives to be eligible for the Board chair position was defeated by roll call vote (5-yes, 4-no).

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be the Annual Meeting and Board Retreat in Salt Lake City from Sept. 13–15, 2024. Public sessions will be available live on Zoom.

How Bylaws Are Amended

When Bylaws amendments are considered, as outlined above, the Board of Directors first votes to bring forward the amendment for a 45-day membership comment period. The act of moving an amendment on to the membership comment period requires a simple majority. The actual amendment is made 45 days (or more) later and requires a two-thirds majority to pass. You can read more about how bylaw amendments work in Section 14 of the USA Fencing Bylaws. Leave a comment here.

Tag(s): Updates  Meetings