The general membership of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has approved (with 81% of voters supporting) a bylaw amendment that does two things: first, it removes term "non-political" from its self-description; second, it reaffirms the committment to operating in accordance with its 501(c)3 status.
The amendment was introduced by a diverse array of MESA members during the business meeting of the 2016 Annual Meeting. It was then that those in attendance voted 247-57 in favor of putting the amendment up to a general membership vote, which was held between 1 February and 15 March 2017. According to the organization`s bylaws, the amendment needed to be supported by a two-thirds majority of votes cast.
Since the business meeting, the debate around the bylaw amendment featured genuine discussion, questions, and concerns around the nature and future of MESA as an academic association. However, the voting period also featured the odd intervention of first-time MESA member Carry Nelson. A number of long-time MESA members spoke out in favor of the resolution to convince their colleagues who were either unsure or skeptical of the resultion:
- Twelve Former MESA Presidents Endorse Bylaw Amendment
- Asli Bali, John Chalcraft, and Elyse Semerdjian on Why They Support the Amendment
- Solidarity Statement by Several Organizations in Favor of the Bylaw Amendment
- Never Gordon Takes on Carry Nelson in The Chronicle of Higher Education
At approximately 4:15pm on Friday 17 March 2017, the Secretariate of MESA emailed all members indicating that the bylaw amendment passed, with 81% of votes in favor of the amendment.