Friday, July 17, 2015

'We Read It So You Don't Have To': IQA Council Meeting Minutes 20/06/15

by Jack Lennard

Disclaimer: We really appreciate the hard work volunteers around the world put into the organisations they are a part of, and acknowledge that the sport would not be what it is without them. The tone of this article is largely tongue in cheek, and only partly meant to be read as a serious analysis. We hope you enjoy it, and please do volunteer to be a part of organisations that help this sport be so amazing.

Hello, and welcome to the very first in what we hope will be a long-running series of "We Read Them So You Don’t Have To." With more minutes, reports, and strategic plans being published than ever before, we believe that it is high time for people to stop digging through those lengthy documents for a glimmer of hope or controversy and allow us to do all the hard work for you.

We begin this series with the IQA Congress minutes of the meeting that took place on 20 June, 2015. Frankly, an IQA Congress meeting has become something of an event in itself, rather like a Cold War summit or the arrival of a NASA probe at Pluto. They really do happen that rarely. Since they occur so infrequently, we’ll remind you that the Congress is composed of representatives from member National Governing Bodies who are then supposed to discuss and make binding votes on matters of international importance. Well, we can dream, can’t we?

The first thing to note about the meeting is the lack of quorum (reaching the target percentage of present members to allow the Congress to make binding decisions). For even this rare of a  meeting, there were too few members of the Congress in attendance to allow it to make decisions. According to the minutes, notable absentees were voting members France and Italy. In my opinion, this is ludicrous. Brazil was present, and they can’t even vote in these meetings. A special mention has to go to Hannah Monty, representing Australia, for whom the meeting fell at 2 AM; she still made the effort to appear.

First and foremost, President of the Congress Brian Gallaway told the assembled Congress members not to bother discussing the relationship between the board, the Congress, and the IQA constitution, because, as I have mentioned, there were not enough people present to legally make any decisions. That seems like an apt motto for the last year of the IQA. To be 12 months in and still tinkering with the very basics does not bode well for the rest of the discussions recorded in these minutes. Fortunately, you don’t have to read them. Unfortunately, you have to live with their consequences. It’s probably worth remembering at this point that Gallaway is the second President of the Congress in the last year - the previous President, Matthew Guenzel, seemingly knew a sinking ship when he saw it and stepped down in March.

It’s hard to tell exactly what the members were considering changing when they discussed ‘point 8.8.' The IQA has not released a constitution to the public, so it’s impossible to reference anything related to the drafts that they are still working on a year after their creation. However, we are incredibly grateful to them for releasing their meeting minutes concerning tweaking the constitution, because it really is fun to play the guessing game of exactly what the fractions ‘⅔ and 3/4’ refer to. Given comments about attendance, I’d imagine these fractions refer to the necessary amount of members needed to achieve quorum and therefore allow the Congress to make binding decisions. We agree, Brian. You do need to make it easier for the IQA to make decisions. Harvey Dent could give them some tips.

We do, however, admire Brian’s stance on voting and how it’s important to vote rather than abstain, even if it doesn’t affect your league. However, there needs to be something to vote on for people to be able to abstain. Let’s hope for some juicy democratic action later on in this meeting. Abstainers will be named and shamed.

There then follows a series of discussions concerning terminology changes and administrative definitions. For example, there was thrilling controversy surrounding the change from ‘Member Year’ to ‘International Season’. One encouraging point coming from the meeting was the recognition that the promises of the IQA have not been kept, most notably the regular release of minutes after meetings. At this meeting, they pledge to do better and to release the minutes of meetings no later than two weeks after the meeting itself. (Please don’t, we don’t want to have to sift through more terminology debate.) We almost called them out on these minutes being so late, before realising that, though they had been released, they had not actually been publicised anywhere. Finding them relies regularly checking the IQA website. And we really don’t hate ourselves quite that much.

My slumber during these debates was awoken by a remarkable point from Jill Staniec, representing Canada, who likened “the IQA to Mao’s China.” I kid you not. This was not some weird dream I had - this actually happened. Absolutely no explanation was given. Jill, let me tell you something - Mao would not stand for any of this nonsense about terminology. Jill’s statement came after a discussion about making the role of secretary more appealing. Here’s some advice for the IQA as a whole concerning making working for them seem more enticing: don’t compare the organisation to Mao’s China in publicly released minutes.

At this point, quorum was finally achieved! This was a rare, spectacular moment. Don’t get your hopes up though. They state a few lines later that they do not, in fact, have quorum, which is about as constitutionally legitimate as a coup d’etat. France abstains on some votes (they must have shown up late, though this is unreflected in the attendance records. Edit: we have now been informed that France were in attendance from the start of the meeting, though this is not reflected in the officially released minutes), and developing members (NGBs that do not meet the qualifications of a full member, though they are still completely unsure of quite what the qualifications are) are set a charge of €25 for that status. Belgium becomes ‘confused (ironically)’ over the adoption of its own currency. If you’re imagining a waffle with hipster glasses and a baffled expression, you are not alone. Don’t worry Belgium, we’re confused the euro is still a thing after the last month too.

Now, we understand that this review has not been the kindest reflection of these minutes. But there was a really promising development - the members appoint Eva Alexandra Setiadi from Australia to be chair of the fabled IQA Rules Committee. This bodes extremely well and links to the news that was leaked on 16 June that the IQA is in fact planning on releasing an international rulebook, rather than simply adopting USQ’s Rulebook 9. Although the leak was quickly shut down, several sources say we can expect a result on an international rulebook by the end of the month. Laurens Grinwis Plaat Stultjes, the Vice-President External of the Belgium Quidditch Federation, simply said in an official statement: "They’re working on it." Elisabeth Jørstad of Norway was later heard to remark that they "need a rulebook before next season," to which Gallaway replies that the Rules Committee can work together via email. There is clearly no intention to adopt USQ Rulebook 9 in Norway, then.

The members formalise the ‘every second year’ nature of Global Games, with the next event occurring in 2016. Interestingly, they have started to label the event as ‘World Cup,’ with even Alicia Radford of USQ referring to it as such, if the minutes are to be believed. Expect that title to stick, as they spent long enough prising it away from USQ. Brian Gallaway was appointed Chair of the Events Committee and was tasked with organising the bidding process, setting the entry fee, and appointing a tournament director. The assembled representatives remind him that he has less than a year to achieve this. (Edit: we have been informed that the minutes are mistaken, and that it is Matthew Guenzel, and not Brian Gallaway, who has been made Chair of the Events Committee).

They then lose quorum. It is not stated who left the meeting, which returned the Congress to its usual powerless state, unable to make binding decisions. A quick glance at the rest of the document shows that USQ became suspiciously quiet at this point.

We can’t really blame them too much for still messing around with the QDI (the index that determines a region’s development). It’s hardly the easiest thing to get right, especially when they have to take into account regions as varied in population and team density as Norway, the USA, and the UK.

Canada makes an appeal for other NGBs to work with them on providing development resources for areas such as coaching and kidditch. At this point, we half expect someone to record a "She don’t even go here" remark in the minutes. Unfortunately Jill Staniec is largely ignored, if the minutes are accurate. Gallaway, perhaps out of pity, allows her to post it in the IQA Facebook group--a post that is the equivalent of a cake made of rainbows and smiles.

When should the illustrious group meet next? A shockingly soon time of the second weekend of August is thrown around and largely agreed upon. I think we should expect more about rulebooks in that meeting; a lot of the timing of the meeting is based upon holding it once the Department of Mysteries (oh, sorry, I mean the IQA Rules Committee) have met and have something to show for their work.

But wait! There’s a final sting in these minutes, delivered by Norway. First off: the IQA are setting up a private, personal bank account. Members of the Congress are generally unsettled by this, as well they should be, but not as unsettled as they are by the prospect of having to choose a nation for a business bank account to be based out of. They seem to okay it, and let it slide. We, however, will not. A private, personal bank account, using Paypal as a get-around for those nations whose countries rightly monitor transactions to such overseas accounts, is no way to conduct business for the global organisation of the sport. Brian Gallaway, we’ll be expecting some very transparent financial accounts being released now you’ve made this decision. We will be watching you.

Not that he’ll be spending membership money anytime soon, of course. Because, as the final point of the minutes mention, not a single member of the Congress has paid their dues to the IQA on time: "Everyone is overdue."

And on that bright, optimistic note, we shall end this recap. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. We hope it’s given you a taste for international diplomacy and politics. ‘We Read Them So You Don’t Have To’ - it’s like being in the meetings, only funnier and more efficient.

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