Archive for May 11th, 2007

Hooking up at Conventions

Friday, May 11th, 2007

In a recent comment, Tommy from Mid-America region argues that convention rules should be more lax so that Alephs and BBG’s would have more opportunity to “hook-up”.

He is absolutely correct.

In my post “The Convention Game” I argue that when members violate convention rules they are not only breaking their word, and truly going against the very foundation of BBYO as a youth led organization. Tommy, in his comment, points out that this is a lot to ask for from a bunch of teens with raging hormones. This is true. He does not quite say that raging hormones should be an excuse for breaking the rules – if he did, on that we would part company. He then makes a strong case for changing the rules. In doing so he is, from my perspective, embracing his role as a leader in BBYO.

I don’t know what role Tommy plays in his region, but whether Aleph or RAG (or even advisor), I encourage him to mobilize his friends to modify the rules. This needn’t be difficult. For example: I’ve been at more than one convention where they had a large “late night room” – those members who wanted to could hang out together well past curfew as long as they didn’t actually fall asleep (though inevitably some did). A good regional director will be open to creative suggestions for more social opportunities, but it’s up to the members to raise this issue if they feel existing rules are too strict.

Convention planners should include plenty of social programs – I’ve seen some cases where they were so focused on separates they didn’t plan nearly enough social time. I’ve also seen conventions go so far off schedule that what social time was planned was lost, either through poor planning or lack of cooperation by members on basic issues like getting to meals on time.

As an advisor, I agree 100% with Tommy’s observation that one of the most important purposes of conventions is for Alephs and BBG’s to hang out (if not hook up). On more than one occasion I’ve offered (unofficial) advice to members on how to accomplish this without a major rules violation. But the way to increase these opportunities is not by condoning rule breakers and breaking trust. It’s by changing the rules and being trustworthy. To give you an example: A “late night” hangout room such as I describe can only work when the members can be trusted to follow the agreement that makes such arrangements possible.

It is my obligation as an advisor to see that convention rules are followed. It is the responsibility of the youth leadership to enforce the rules so that advisors don’t have to. It is the obligation of every member to follow the rules as they promised. And most important of all, it is the right of every member to be vocal and involved in changing the rules for the betterment of the order (and yes, that includes the social aspects as well).