What next, after the election scandal at BEMS?

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updated with post scriptum

In two earlier posts (the first, the second) I complained about the current election scandal at the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS).

I called for the cancellation of the “election” result. New, real election, should take place as soon as possible.

It is very unfortunate, the credibility of Board of BEMS has certainly suffered by this election scandal. Furthermore, and possibly the most importantly, two very fine and accomplished scientists were put into a very awkward position by the mishandling of the election process by the Nominations Committee and the Board of BEMS.

To remedy the situation something should be done right now and something should follow later…

Right now:

Mistakes were made and should be admitted without looking for excuses.

Election, especially of the new President, is important and prestigious event. Correction of the current scandalous election should not happen at the Annual Business Meeting in Ghent in June 2016 because not all members of BEMS will be coming, and those absent would be but should not be excluded. This would not be right.

So, no matter how problematic it will be, how delayed election will be, the election should happen as it should happen, without any additional “short-cuts”… One was enough for this year.

Firstly, and most importantly, the current “election” result should be scrapped immediately, with apologies to candidates and members of BEMS

Once new election process is activated:

1. Find at least two candidates for President

2. Each candidate should, as always, present vision for the Society and how he/she wishes to work for it

3. All BEMS members should be given the opportunity to read the vision and to vote via electronic voting over net

This is for now… then, a bit later, the election parts of by-laws should be revised and rewritten so that similar “election” will not happen in the future…

Later on but very soon:

1. The best is when there are at least two candidates. This should be the norm. Only in exceptional circumstances a single candidate might be permitted.

2. If there is only one candidate then the voters should be asked two questions

– do you agree on the candidate?

– do you disagree on the candidate?

For the situation of using a single candidate should be developed a procedure of what to do if the majority disapproves the single candidate. The simplest way would be to have a new election with new candidates, obligatorily two or more for a post. This procedure, causing time-delay, would make it worthwhile for the Nomination Committee to make a good effort, in the first place, to find two candidates for the ballot and to use a single candidate only as an extreme emergency…

Proposing candidates by members of BEMS seems to be rigid, what can make problems to some willing to serve or propose someone. The 5% of members behind the candidate might be an obstacle… (currently BEMS membership is ca. 250 persons of what the 5% is roughly a dozen).

It would be better if members could send the names to the Nominations Committee freely, even if they could propose themselves. There should be developed set of rules of selection, that should consider gender, geography, seniority (good to have both professors as well as post.docs) and possibly other conditions… Then, the Nominations Committee should publish names of all proposed candidates and the candidates selected for the final ballot by the Board of BEMS with a justification. This would help to keep things transparent.

Nominations Committee should be very active. The President of BEMS knows very well ahead of time that he/she will become Chair of the Nominations Committee and has plenty of time to develop list of potential candidates. It is not enough to send e-mail to all members asking for candidates because such messages will be mostly ignored. It is necessary to send personal inquiries to potential candidates, asking them to serve the BEMS. I bet there are many qualified candidates who are willing to serve. However, there is also group of the potential qualified and willing to serve candidates who are not approached, because of their scientific opinions… This is not right.

Clearly, no matter what excuses can be presented, the current Nominations Committee was not enough active and become satisfied with two single candidates and, approved them without asking BEMS members!  This was very wrong and rewriting election by-laws should prevent such actions in the future.

PS

I just tried to send messages to members of BEMS using the listing available at bems.org… Not possible, as the system limits sending messages to only up to 10 persons per hour… On top of it, messages is possible to send only to one person at a time… This system efficiently prevents members from contacting other members in matters of the Society… Of course, the formal excuse is prevention of spam… but in practice it limits contacts and democracy within BEMS…

For example, to contact 13 members of BEMS, the 5% needed for submitting a candidate for election, would take over 1 hour and sending 13 separate messages…

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2 thoughts on “What next, after the election scandal at BEMS?

  1. Michael, it will be seen if they will admit error and not look for excuses… I am waiting for BEMS response…

  2. But will the Nominations Committee and the Board of the BEMS be big enough to acknowledge that the election process was not open, fair and transparent? Usually, organisations that operate in this way have an agenda and want to manipulate the election process to ensure that their agenda is not threatened.

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