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18 August 2008

Clarification on WSDC membership

Hello again everyone!
I just want to make a couple of points of clarification about full and ordinary membership of the WSDC Ltd Charity we have established.

Full and ordinary membershipFull and ordinary members are intended to recreate exactly the old Council of WSDC as it was before incorporation. Full and ordinary members "own" and have complete control over the Charity, in the final analysis.

Full members are those Council members whose nations have attended 2 out of the last 3 championships

Ordinary members are those Council members whose nations are present at the current tournament (or, if we are between Championships, were present at the last tournament) but who have not been at 2 of the previous 3.

Therefore, to be a full or ordinary member of WSDC:
- Your nation needs to have attended at least two of the last three tournaments, (full) or have attended in Seoul, or be attending in Washington (ordinary); and
- You need to be the sole authorised voting representative of the debate set-up in your nation.

Corporate and individual membership forms.Some nations on the old Council had - and continue to have - formalised structures at home that decided who should represent them and how that person is allowed to vote. In many cases those structures are corporate bodies - companies, registered trusts or incorporated societies to name a few examples. Where that is the case, then because WSDC is now a Charity, those corporate bodies themselves can be the member of Council for that nation, rather than just the individual representative as before.

So for example, for Mexico, the English-Speaking Union of Mexico will be the member, and they will choose someone (anyone they like) each year to represent them at Council and vote. They will be, to start off, an ordinary member, because they are coming for the first time to Washington.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Schools Debating Council (Inc) will be the member, and will choose anyone they like to represent them. They will be a full member because New Zealand has been at two of the last three tournaments.

Because these are corporate bodies, the law says that these entities have "legal personality" (in other words, they are able sign contracts, are identifiable parties in legal proceedings and so on). The individual involved in representing the nation may change often, possibly every year, but it is unlikely that the organisation will. Therefore, if this is the set-up or structure in your nation, you should get your incorporated national body to join WSDC Ltd as the sole national voting representative.

The national body will therefore fill out and submit the corporate membership form

Other nations on the old Council had - and continue to have - less formalised structures, where a group of keen individuals (or perhaps even a committee with a name and rules but without legally incorporated status) look after that nation's debating set-up. In this case, because every member of the Charity must be an identifiable, legal party, that nation will have to choose an individual to be their representative, and that member will have to be the only full or ordinary member of the Charity from that nation.

On behalf of that nation therefore, the individual membership form will need to be completed and submitted.

If the informal committee in a nation decides they want to change their representative on Council, the individual will be expected to resign (though the Directors do also have the power to remove a person's membership where they feel it would be in the best interests of that nation's debating community) and the new representative will need to complete and submit a new individual application for membership form. Similarly, if the nation stopped attending, or if a different organisation started sending that nation's team to the tournament, then the individual would be expected to resign or would be removed by the Directors.

So that is where corporate or incorporated members will now differ from unincorporated or informal organisations under the new legal structure. Where the incorporated or corporate members change their representative, they simply notify the Charity of this. Where unincorporated or informal groups change their representative, they need to have the new representative make an individual application for membership.

Other types of membership.
There are many other people involved in the running of the WSDC Ltd Charity, of course, but they are not members in this special sense (full or ordinary members). For example, once the founding three individuals in the company have resigned, (which they will do at the AGM in Washington, when the meeting will elect the new Directors) even the Directors will not necessarily be full or ordinary members, unless they also happen to be the person that represents their nation. Executive members, similarly, may be members (or representatives of corporate members) if they are their nation's chosen delegate, but being on the Executive itself does not make you one, just as it did not in the old Council.

Once we have an elected Board of Directors and a Development Board, whose jobs it will be to think about how to raise money for the central body, retain contact with our alumni, and look into options for sponsorship, then they will activate a third type of membership described in the Rules, associate members.

Associate members are not members of Council, cannot vote on anything at all, and have no governing power over the Charity. Absolutely any individual or corporate entity can apply to be an associate member. Unlike Council members, the Rules allow for them to be charged a fee for membership. They will be, if you like, "friends" or "supporters" of the Charity. They might, as we grow, get newsletters and updates. I expect a lot of alumni will want to be in this category. However, it will require a Board of Directors with a mandate to set the fee and a Development Board to send them newsletters and other communication so for the time being that type of membership will have to wait until after Washington.

There is a fourth category of membership, life members, who are people sent a special invitation, by vote of the Council, to take up a free and lifelong position. This is meant as an honour for people the Council feel to be worthy of it - for example, tireless contributors of decades' standing. That will be up to the Council at the time.

Full members are effectively those nations (not individuals) who have attended 2 out of the last 3 championships.

Those nations represented by a corporate entity (company, incorporated society, registered trust) fill out the corporate form. That corporation will appoint one person to represent it at meetings. If that person changes from time to time, that does not change the status of the nation's membership. The nation will just advise the Charity who its new representative is. Once it has become a full member, it is unlikely this will change unless the nation misses more than one championship out of the last three. Then it will be relegated to an ordinary member.

Those nations represented by an informal group or non-corporate entity fill out the individual form as they have no legal standing as a group or organization. Only the individual has standing. That individual "is" the nation for the purposes of the meeting and voting. If that individual stops coming, he or she needs to resign and the new individual has to complete and submit a new individual form.

Ordinary members are those nations who are at the Championships for the first time or have missed more than one of the last 3 championships. They can also be corporate or individual members in the same way as outlined above.

Everybody else who wants to join will be an associate member. These are not set up yet. A few will be invited by Council to become life members.

Hopefully all of this makes sense. Do not hesitate to speak out or ask if it does not.

WSDC Ltd ( looks forward to receiving more applications from those wishing to be full or ordinary members prior to Washington.

Kind regards,

Claire Ryan,
Executive Committee

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