Establishing Advocacy-Chapter Dues

Part of establishing a campus chapter of the AAUP is establishing dues rates. First, call a chapter meeting to discuss dues.  The executive committee should prepare for the meeting by listing all of the things they would like to do as a chapter, and doing a little research to come up with estimated costs of each. You might get some volunteers out of this, too, especially if you can come up with trade-offs—e.g., volunteers to distribute newsletters in dept mailboxes = FREE vs. stamps to mail newsletters to home addresses = $__. 

Examples of chapter activities include:

  • Newsletter (cost depends on how many pages, how many issues per semester, and how it will be delivered)
  • Website (costs may include hosting fees, domain name registration, and technical support)
  • Posters/flyers around campus
  • Buying Redbooks for key members of the administration (take advantage of the member/bulk discount)
  • A regular brown-bag lunch to discuss an AAUP policy statement (the chapter might provide some refreshments or drinks; cost depends on frequency and estimated crowd)
  • Wine & cheese reception after a talk or before a chapter meeting
  • Hosting a talk by an outside speaker (costs may include advertising, room rental, travel costs, and an honorarium)
  • Chapter-sponsored trip to lobby state government (costs may include reimbursing drivers for gas, renting a van, photocopying)
  • Placing an ad in the local paper
  • Building a legal defense fund
  • Help fund chapter delegate’s attendance at the AAUP’s annual meeting
  • Help send activists to the Summer Institute

At the meeting, encourage members to add to the list (even if they don’t bring a cost estimate with them). The goal is to end the meeting with a list of projects that the whole chapter is committed to undertaking with full funding and support.  (In other words, don’t expect the membership to just sign off on whatever the executive committee proposes; if there are important items on your list, be prepared to articulate why it is important for the chapter to take them on.  Otherwise the executive committee is likely to be stuck doing all the work themselves.)

The next phase of the meeting is figuring out how much money the chapter needs to collect annually by agreeing on a list of projects and adding up the costs, and a making reasonable projection of how many members will share those costs.  Any data you have on attendance at meetings, the success of past efforts to collect funds, the number of members on campus, etc., will be useful. 

Reality check: divide the proposed annual chapter budget by the projected number of chapter dues payers. Are you comfortable asking your colleagues for that much, on top of current  national AAUP dues?  If necessary, go back and prioritize the list of projects. How much would chapter dues have to be to only fund the top three projects? It is much better to start with modest plans and expand as the chapter grows, than to push for too much too soon.

Once you have agreed on a dollar amount, ask for one or two volunteers to develop a chapter dues form.  The form should include the list of projects the chapter will undertake with the money collected, as well as text along these lines: “Eligibility for membership in this chapter shall extend to all current and retired faculty members and graduate students at [your institution] who are national members of the American Association of University Professors.”  (This is to reiterate what your chapter bylaws say, namely that you can’t join the chapter without joining the national organization.)

Note: It is up to you whether or not to require payment of chapter dues in order to be a member of the chapter, vote, and run for office. If your chapter bylaws follow the template provided by the national office, there will be an article on dues  laying out the procedure for establishing chapter dues. Make sure that you follow your bylaws in implementing this or any other substantive change.

Collecting Chapter Dues

When first establishing chapter dues, you are going to want to make the case to your colleagues that this will be money well spent. Publishing the minutes of the meeting described above is a good way to do that. It is also important to talk with your colleagues face-to-face, delivering the new chapter dues form and inviting them to contribute. Ideally, you should ask everyone who attends the dues meeting to commit to spreading the word among AAUP members in their circle—don’t let all the work fall on the executive committee!