Sometimes lawmakers, in their focus to solve a problem, end up writing laws that to outsiders seem ridiculous – laws that quickly end up as fodder for comedy central. While we can’t predict whether any of the forthcoming BBYO policies will be entertaining in that way, we can certainly speculate.
For example, imagine if we had access to the super top-secret proposed policy draft – the one presented at Staff conference. You know, the one that every staff member was sworn on a pile of blue books not to reveal to mere members or advisors on pain of torture. If we had a copy, we might find a number of humorous proposals…
A potential Aleph-in-Training or Member-in-Training (AIT or MIT), having shown a desire to become affiliated with the local AZA or BBG chapter, shall enter a two-week trial period at which time he/she is under no obligation to either the chapter or the individual members.
If the potential member wishes to become an AIT/MIT, he/she must pay membership dues and shall automatically become an AIT/MIT
Does this mean that if a prospective member doesn’t pay after two weeks, he or she can no longer attend events? Hmm… In my experience it’s a rare prospective indeed who joins after a mere two weeks, so chapters might end up getting a lot smaller. Wouldn’t matter though, since even those two week prospectives would count as “engaged”…
The only individuals who may participate in BBYO overnight programs are registered members, assigned staff, and guests or prospective members approved in advance by the senior-most local field professional or a member of the field services department.
Each overnight participant and his/her parent/guardian must fill out a permission/consent form to attend any overnight program.
Host parent(s) are asked to sign off on the Host Family Checklist, located in the forms manual.
Want to hold a chapter overnight at a house? It’s not so easy anymore.
Now you’ll need to make sure there are two adults (tough luck for single parents or those where one is out of town – they can’t host unless you can convince another adult to stay over). The parent will have to sign off on a brand new checklist, and will have to collect emergency contact information from every participant, not to mention the keys of any drivers.
Everyone attending has to fill out a form in person or B-Linked.
And professional staff (not your advisor) will need to ok every member, guest, chaperone and prospective who attends. If someone shows up who isn’t approved in advance, looks like you’ll have to send them home.
But to be fair, the principle here is sound. After all, the best way for BBYO to eliminate all risk of problems at overnights is to eliminate as many of them as possible. In fact, by this logic, the organization could eliminate all risk by simply eliminating all events.
The Virtual World
BBYO strongly discourages its professionals and volunteers from maintaining profiles on social networking websites that are frequented by BBYO teens. Staff members who choose to maintain a virtual presence are prohibited from interacting with BBYO teens using these sites; there is a mechanism on the BBYO dashboard and b-linked.org to communicate with teen constituents.
Let me get this straight – BBYO trusts staff to spend time with teens in person, but meeting them online is prohibited?
Why, that’s almost as funny as suggesting that BBYO dashboard and b-linked (which bans advisors) is an effective way for staff to communicate with teens!
Seriously, I can understand the intent behind this policy. After all, the last thing BBYO wants is for teens to discover pictures of their advisor or regional director on Facebook flat drunk in a Vegas bordello. And figuring out how to apply a real-world non-fraternization policy to the virtual world is no easy task – especially when the people writing the rules probably have never actually gone virtual.
The truth is, like it or not, the virtual world is going mainstream, from MySpace, to WOW, to Second Life, to BattleNet – and a blanket prohibition of this sort is going to prove simplistic and ineffective. BBYO needs a real policy for virtual communications – not a panacea based on popular paranoia.
To be fair, there are a lot ofÂ well-written policies out there, and while the internationalÂ staff has taken great pains to avoid any sort of effective communication about what they are doing, it’s clear that someone out there is actually listening to some of the feedback they are getting (while carefully avoiding any acknowledgement that said feedback has been received or acted upon).Â
As for the policies mentioned here – theyÂ would be truly funny if it weren’t that they were potentially close to becoming real. How close? Who knows? After all – we don’t actually know what the draft policies are, being as they are super-duper-top-secret for eyes of professional staff only…