Update, December 14: Hyperlinks in this article have been updated to direct readers to the most current versions of the Regional Composition Policy, the proposed amended bylaws, and the FAQ document.

Like many professional associations, NIRSA uses a regional structure to facilitate engagement among members and potential members at a local, geographically convenient level. Throughout NIRSA’s history, the regional structures have been an important and successful format for member recruitment, retention, and engagement. These networks have also been an important venue for delivering professional development, networking, leadership development and other programs and services.

NIRSA’s regional alignment is constituted by the organization’s bylaws and, currently, there is not a formally adopted process for considering requests for changes to the Association’s regional alignment. The Board has been working for the past two years to develop a sound process for considering changes to NIRSA’s regional composition. We worked with multiple volunteer task forces (Regional Realignment and Canadian Region) and collaborated with the NIRSA Member Network, and the NIRSA Bylaws Committee.

The NIRSA Board recently approved a Regional Composition Policy, outlining the process for states, provinces, or countries to request changes to their regional alignment, as well as outlining the process for an individual country to form a distinct, new NIRSA region. The process requires engagement from local member and NIRSA leaders, and must provide an opportunity for member comment. Under the policy, the NIRSA Board will make the final decision; the process will allow for any previously denied requests to resubmit at a later date.

Before the new policy can go into effect, a change to the NIRSA Bylaws needs to be adopted by members to remove the detailed description of each region. The proposed bylaws amendments will be put to a full membership vote in January 2017 as part of the upcoming NIRSA elections. A draft of the proposed amended bylaws is available on the NIRSA website.

Why Now?

NIRSA Canadian members have advocated to organize as a distinct NIRSA region. In cooperation with the Canadian Region Task Force, Canadian members and volunteer leaders have piloted the proposed process to request to form a new NIRSA region by presenting the documents and considerations outlined in the new policy to the NIRSA Board. The NIRSA Board has endorsed the proposal, and should members choose to adopt the proposed changes to the NIRSA Bylaws, it plans to formally approve the proposal and establish Canada as a region of NIRSA.

The Board has also been approached by individual states that would like to consider a change to its regional alignment. The proposed change to NIRSA Bylaws and the implementation of the new policy would establish a clear process that involves affected Members. Because the current process requires a vote of all members, the decision is currently dictated by a majority of members who may not even be directly impacted by the request. Based on best practices in association management, we believe NIRSA should revise the Association’s protocols to enhance NIRSA’s governance in this area.

We would like our Association to be nimble in its ability to serve member needs. The policy that the Board has endorsed shows that we value having a process that thoroughly vets any regional change, and that allows a decision to be made by those members who stand to be most impacted.

Join the Conversation

The NIRSA Board is currently seeking feedback on the proposed changes. We will be presenting the proposal, with time for discussion, during an educational session at fall regional conferences. You can also contact us directly via email or share other feedback via elections@nirsa.org.

Learn More

Make sure you’re eligible to vote

Electronic ballots will be emailed to all professional NIRSA members in January 2017. Check your membership status and make sure your email address is correct by visiting your NIRSA profile at nirsa.me.

  • For more information, please contact NIRSA President Stacey Hall, Ph.D., RCRSP, CRSS, 2016-2017 NIRSA President and Campus Recreation Director at the University of New Hampshire, or any member of the NIRSA Board. For questions regarding your membership or contact information, contact NIRSA Membership Coordinator Megan Granholm.

Learn about the NIRSA Board of Directors here.