Friday, 19 September 2014

Complete mess at IASS Executive Committee meeting - Paul Cobley new President, Kristian Bankov new Secretary General

Yesterday the Executive Committee of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS) had its meeting to elect a new IASS board (all executive positions). The meeting took place during the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), and was attended by 50-60 Executive Committee members. I represented both Norway (along with Drude von der Fehr) and the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS), and voted on behalf of both.

Paul Cobley was elected the new IASS President. He got my support after announcing a sensible, reform-oriented electoral program. Kristian Bankov was unanimously elected new Secretary General, after Massimo Leone withdrew his candidature. Both are elected for the period 2014-2019.

Like the IASS General Assembly held the day before, the meeting of the Executive Committee was unfortunately characterised by a selective and random approach to rule-following. I was embarassed at both occasions. At the General Assembly no proper financial report was presented, for instance - and the electoral procedure was a mess, and far from transparent. At the meeting of the Executive Committee, the Committe first decided with a clear majority that after two consecutive mandates, an elected official is not eligible for any position for the next 5-year period. Then, an hour or so later, a majority of the very same Committee elected Susan Petrilli as one of five Vice-Presidents (if only for 2 years), even though she was ineligible for any position according to the decision just made by 80% of those present. In other words: The Executive Committee voted on whether or not to follow its own rules, and a clear majority voted not to follow them.

A bit later two Treasurers (plus one Vice-Treasurer) were elected, since by mistake too many names had been put forward, and the Committee did not want to choose between them.

Adding to the unprofessional mess, at both occasions, was the fact that even though English, French and Spanish are all official languages of the IASS-AIS, at several points voting took place after the members had been informed e.g. just in French. At these instances half the audience did not know what was going on.

All this is funny at best, tragic at worst. The IASS is in desperate need of some simple professionalism.

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