It’s Monday, August 5. I’m running on coffee and Diet Coke. And the annual business meeting in 45 minutes is basically all that’s left on my SAA Council “stuff I’ve got to do” list. I’m tired, so I’m excited to rotate off of Council. But I’m kind of bummed too. I’m excited to see what Council will do next year. We have an awesome group of new folks rotating on, and there’s momentum for doing some really great things. I look forward to seeing what will happen with issues like salary transparency and rethinking SAA’s structure (including the massive number of Sections!). And I’m both glad and sad that I won’t be at the table with these awesome folks when the discussions take place.
So in thinking back over the last three years, there has been an insane amount of change within SAA and within our professional discourse. Off the top of my head, here are some Council things that stand out as things that have happened that I was really proud to be a part of:
- Signed on to the Native American Protocols and issued a statement calling the original decision and discussion out as a reflection of white supremacy
- Eliminated unpaid internships from the SAA job board
- Issued a bazillion statements about important issues to the profession (and issued them relatively quickly, all things considered)
- Instituted the first streaming option for annual meeting sessions
- Rethought the SAA intern program to make it the Early Career Member program, focused heavily on mentorship by appointed SAA leaders
- Decommissioned the toxic Archives and Archivists listserv
This was ton by *ALL* of Council. No one person on Council can do something without the rest of the group. This is why elections are so important. We need a slate of candidates who are committed to progressive action. We need to actively learn about those candidates (to me, too often SAA elections are like student government where the best known names are elected without folks really knowing what the candidates think about really important issues). And we need to vote. That’s important for all of the positions on Council — the nine Council members (three per year), the Treasurer, the Vice President, and the President.
I had been asked to run for Council once before and I hesitated. Partly because I didn’t think anyone knew who I was (I’m not in a state that’s part of a regional, I don’t really publish much, etc.), and partly because I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to deal with the politics side of SAA. I had chaired a Section and a committee, served on a task force, subcommittees, and steering committees. And I knew that my experiences with student loans, loads of debt, not working at an “elite” institution, etc. were different from many of the folks I thought of when I thought of SAA leadership (whether that perception was true or not). I just didn’t know if I was ready in a lot of ways.
I finally agreed to run, and I want to give a shout out to one person who was instrumental in helping me make that decision. Bergis Jules was elected to Council the year before me. I knew Bergis from Archives Leadership Institute, and I really respected (and still do, of course) him. I thought that we might have the makings for making some awesome changes to SAA. And we did. And I’m proud of that.
We’ve still got lots to do, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what role I would want to have in SAA moving forward. But I’m optimistic for SAA’s future. I’m excited for change, and I hope others are too. Keep pushing, and think about what role you might want and be able to take. The organization has changed greatly since I joined as a new grad student in 2001. And it’s going to keep changing. Please speak up and do what you can to ensure that change is the best change.