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SEM Position Statement Guidelines
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Like many other academic societies, SEM believes that it should address issues that impact the study of ethnomusicology, our membership, and the people with whom we work. The guidelines described below are to be used by SEM members in order to bring issues to the attention of the SEM Board and the rest of the Society.


Guidelines for SEM Position Statements
Revised by the SEM Board of Directors on May 14, 2012

The Society may issue position statements that take a public stand on matters of direct relevance to ethnomusicology and to the Society. We hold that it is our responsibility as scholars and educators to lead the way in the development of ethnomusicology, its professional standards, and the safety and wellbeing of ethnomusicologists and the people with whom they work.

In the past, the Society has taken positions on a number of matters directly and deeply relevant to ethnomusicology and ethnomusicologists. For example, the Statement on Ethical Considerations was drafted by the Ethics Committee and ratified by the Board (1998); the Board formally asked then-President Bush to intervene in the imprisonment of Tibetan ethnomusicologist Ngawang Choephel as a humanitarian gesture (2001); and the Board sent a letter to President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell protesting restrictive Homeland Security measures that prevented artists from obtaining visas to visit the U.S. (2002).

In the future, the following procedures should be followed in proposing, drafting, and ratifying SEM Position Statements:

  1. Position statements may be proposed by any member of the Society, as well as by the formal bodies of the Society, such as the SEM Board, the SEM Council, standing committees, sections, and special interest groups.
  2. Originated by any group or person, position statements must be submitted in a fully crafted, written form to the Board.
  3. The Board will consider the proposed statement, revising it if necessary. If the Board feels that the document has the potential to be adopted as an official Position Statement of the Society, the Board will refer the document to the Council for a recommendation.
  4. The Council will discuss the statement, either in person at their annual meeting or via electronic means. After their discussion, the Council must vote to indicate their recommendations to the Board. In most cases, the Council will make a recommendation to the Board to approve or reject the statement. At least 60% of the members of the Council must vote in favor of approval for the Board to consider the statement as having received a positive recommendation.
  5. On rare occasions, the Council may choose to vote on the question of whether or not the proposed statement should be decided by a referendum of the general membership. At least 60% of the members of the Council must vote in favor of holding a general referendum for the Board to consider that option as the Council’s recommendation.
  6. After receiving the Council’s recommendation, the Board will then decide to approve the statement, reject the statement, revise it for further consideration, or hold a referendum of the membership. (If a referendum is held, 60% of the votes cast by the membership must be in favor of adopting the document for it to become a Position Statement of the Society.)
  7. All position statements that have been approved (either by Board vote or by referendum) will be published in the Newsletter and on the SEM website and will constitute part of the historical record of the Society.
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