COL approves Rotary eClubs

Council on Legislation approves e-clubs

26 April 2010 - Rotary International -

After more than an hour of debate, district representatives at the 2010 Council on Legislation voted Monday to make e-clubs a permanent part of Rotary International. The measure, approved by a vote of 430 to 85, received loud applause.

“This will allow Rotarians with physical disabilities or [scheduling] restraints to meet regularly and conduct service projects through the Internet,” said RI Director Antonio Hallage as he presented the proposal to the Council. Representatives from Rotary's 531 districts are convening in downtown Chicago this week to consider more than 200 proposals, some that would make changes to RI constitutional documents.

Submitted by seven Rotary e-clubs along with the RI Board of Directors, the measure makes permanent the six-year-old e-club pilot project, which is set to end on 30 June. Enactment 10-06 defines e-clubs as Rotary clubs that meet electronically. A separate amendment, approved by a vote of 311 to 197, allows for two e-clubs per district. E-club members have the same responsibilities as other Rotarians to conduct service projects and promote The Rotary Foundation.

Some of the pilot e-clubs meet solely through online forums, while others combine electronic with in-person meetings. Each e-club makes that determination for itself. Noting that the average age of an e-club member is 47, supporters of the enactment noted that the clubs are an effective way to recruit younger Rotarians. “If our organization is to grow globally, we must embrace new ways to invite young members,” said Lucinda General, the representative from District 5510 (Arizona, USA).

The 14 e-clubs boast 360 members in 30 countries and geographical areas, and 586 service projects. E-clubs conduct meetings in Chinese, English, Finnish, Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish. Collectively, they have contributed almost US$150,000 to the Foundation. “I was worried that the e-club measure wouldn’t pass,” said Gerald Sieberhagen, of District 9270 (South Africa). “Anyone who had taken the time to visit an e-club site before this meeting would have seen the huge value e-clubs offer to the organization. There’s a huge opportunity for more e-clubs to be chartered.”

Some representatives expressed concern e-clubs would introduce unintended side effects if they were made permanent. “As the number of e-clubs increases, there may be a situation in which there is division between the e-clubs and the ordinary clubs. I don’t think that this is something we would want,” said Chohei Hashimoto, of District 2650 (Japan). Others noted many questions remained unanswered about e-clubs. "Which PETS [presidents-elect training seminar] does the president of the e-club attend, assuming he or she is not physically in the district? How does the district governor do his/her official visit?" asked Chris Offer, the representative from District 5040 (British Columbia, Canada). “Do we have to develop specific online training for one club in the district? There are probably more questions than answers today.”

Douglas W. Vincent, of District 7080 (Ontario, Canada), said e-clubs presented an opportunity too valuable not to embrace. "This is not taking anything away from Rotary; it’s adding to Rotary."

April 30, 2010 5:00pm - Mark Maloney, Chairman of the 2010 CoL adjourned the CoL when all the 219 proposals where considered. The Credentials Committee earlier reported 527 of the 533 delegates attended the Council of Legislation 2010 at Chicago. The week-long sessions approved 46 enactments and 19 resolutions, the highest in recent times.

As the curtains of the CoL 2010 came down, the major highlights were adoption of the fifth avenue of service, formalizing eClubs, providing transparency measures to financial process, and giving more teeth to the Board to deal with the election process.

Delegates from all over the world are now getting ready to return to their homes.

Author's Note: We, at Rotary eClub NY1, are proud to be 1 of the 14 original Rotary eClubs who took part in the gathering of information for Rotary Int'l.


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