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The Myth of "Shutting Down" the Divlist (Division Leaders Listserve)

 

Several writing or speaking under the "Call For Change" name have stated that AAMFT "shut down" an email listerve for divisional leaders as a way to inhibit organizational communication or discussion of issues among divisional leaders.  These statements are simply not accurate.

The Facts:
 

NEITHER THE AAMFT BOARD OR STAFF EVER SHUT DOWN THE DIVISION LISTSERVE.  THE ONLY TRANSITION WAS IN THE SUBSCRIPTION PROCESS TO PARTICIPATE. 


What Actually Occurred:

  • AAMFT has had a listserve for divisional leaders for years.  It has always had guidelines for participation--no solicitation, no profanity or personal attacks, etc.   Almost universally, listserves establish such guidelines to define purpose and scope, and create a safe, productive, and enjoyable environment for participants.

HOWEVER, NO ONE HAD TO AGREE TO ABIDE BY THOSE TERMS OF USE TO BE ENROLLED ON THE LISTSERVE. DIVISIONAL LEADERS, EITHER AS DIVISIONAL PRESIDENTS OR APPROVED BY PRESIDENTS, WERE AUTOMATICALLY INCLUDED IN THE LISTSERVE.  While this informal agreement had not been a problem in over a decade, in 2009, it became one.

  • In April, 2009, emails from the the New Jersey division, and responses written in reaction to those emails, violated the guidelines for participation on the division listserve. Regardless of opinion on some content in these emails, division leaders expressed grave concerns about the tone and personalization. 

Reactions to some of these posts included statements such as, "I took the time to thoroughly read the "DivList Policy and Terms of Agreement" from AAMFT's website. One guideline specifically states, "Do not post any defamatory, abusive, profane, threatening, offensive, or illegal materials-"Personally, I found ....... ENTIRE email to be defamatory, abusive, and offensive, to name a few and is a DIRECT VIOLATION of the stated AAMFT's guidelines for the proper use of the divlist. To resort to personal attacks of ...... character and even going so far as to state that ...... needs professional help is offensive! (I will not print other words that I could think of that more aptly describes this since it woud be profane)."


  • The AAMFT Board reviewed the policies and processes of the divlist, and concluded that without having had anyone actively consent to abide by the guidelines, there was little in the way of "due notice" for removing an individual if a violation occurred.  Therefore, the Board moved that individuals who were going to participate on the divlist should be required, upon subscription, to agree to a set of guidelines and netiquette to address these concerns.  The Board adopted these Division Listserve Policies.

  • The only way to gain everyone's active assent to abide by the policies and guidelines for the list was to unsubscribe everyone, and ask them to re-subscribe individually, rather than being placed on the list automatically.  Council of Divisional Presidents' Chair, Scott Edwards, notified all participants of the divlist of this new policy of individual agreement to abide by the netiquette several days before the shift occurred.

  • The day of the transition, CDP Chair Edwards wrote over the divlist informing division leaders that the transition to individual subscription was occurring.  Within 30 minutes of that notice, every individual who had been participating on the divlist was sent an email with instructions for how to agree to the terms of use (the netiquette) listed above, and subscribe to the divlist. Only if one refused to agree to the terms of use was one unable to further participate on the listserve.

    The Division Leaders listserve has never been unavailable to Divisional Leaders in AAMFT.  The only change that occurred was that everyone individually had to agree to abide by the purposes and rules of the list.

 

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