On Wednesday at the Annual AOTA Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, I had the unusual experience of being asked to leave a Representative Assembly (RA) Task Group. As I understand it, the request was initiated because the Assembly had had conversation about keeping Task Group discussions confidential. By confidential I assume the intent was that Task Group members not do things like live Tweet about deliberations and that they not report out specifics about who said what or perhaps even the tone of the debate. Unfortunately this was misunderstood and interpreted as the meetings being “closed” and not open to observers. The problem with this is that AOTA has a policy on open meetings.
AOTA Policy A.6 states, “All official meetings sponsored by the Association shall be open to the members except in the following instance(s), in which the meeting would be an executive session (a to f list these specific instances and the full policy is at the end of this blog post).
I brought this policy to the attention of the Task Group leaders and offered to stand in the hallway while they checked. A few minutes later one of the Task Group leaders came out, introduced herself, apologized and invited me back to the room, as I was correct about my right to be at the meeting.
The confusion seemed to ensue because of the time the Task Group had just spent discussing confidentiality. After all, how could be deliberations be confidential if any AOTA member can walk in and listen?
This experience highlights several concerns for me that I have already communicated to the incoming Speaker of the RA and to the AOTA Executive Director. They are concerns that require immediate attention to some extent, but that are not fully within AOTA Leadership or staff control.
Subject: Open Meetings
Code: RA Motion 4/78, 4/89, 2003M54, 2007C7, 2007CO136, 2009FebCS128
PURPOSE: To establish an open meetings policy for all Association meetings.
IT SHALL BE THE POLICY OF THE ASSOCIATION THAT:
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