limiting the benefits of STC membership

Subject: limiting the benefits of STC membership
From: Mike McGraw <mcgraw -at- BROOKTREE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:57:21 -0800

Robin, Betsy Maaks, and Michael Uhl have raised an interesting question:
what are the benefits of STC membership that can or should be provided only
to our dues-paying members? It seems apparent that different chapters have
very different answers to this question.

From Michael's remarks it seems the Carolina Chapter provides its _Carolina
Communique_ in an online version and collects no money from either members
of non-members who come to the chapter's meetings.

Michael also says:
> It is highly inconsistent for the STC leadership to discourage publication of
> newsletter articles on the Web. When I was Job Bank manager last year for the
> Carolina Chapter, the rules stated that I could not discriminate against
> non-members. I had to help anyone who called.
> Our newsletter team looks at the Web pages as a way to promote STC membership,
> not a way for people to avoid paying dues.

Other chapters charge quite a bit for meetings (even if most of the charge
pays for a nice restaurant dinner) and refrain from making other services
available to non-members.

The San Diego chapter, provides our newsletter, _Signature_, to members only
and charges admission to monthly meetings (held at a local restaurant) in
such a way that students pay less than their meal cost, members pay a dollar
or two above the meal cost, and non-members pay $10 more than members ($5,
$15, and $25, respectively). We want to see non-members attend but we also
want to see folks join the organization after a meeting or two (or right
away if we can be that convincing :*). Meetings are also our only source of
operating income outside of the Society dues rebate.

The question of providing equal access or service to non-members as well as
members came up recently in another context. San Diego STC has long
provided a telephone service in which local employers can list openings for
technical communicators. We take down their information and record two
outgoing message lines (one for "regular" jobs and one for temporary or
permanent positions). Just recently we've begun to make the same job
information available by email, but we limit the mailing list to STC members.

It's been suggested that by not providing this email service to _anyone_ who
wants it we are violating STC's status as a non-profit organization. At the
same time, if we cannot provide _some_ service to our members only, just
what is the incentive for local technical writers, editors, managers,
teachers, and students to pay their dues and to join STC?

as Betsy Maaks says:
> If you think everyone should be entitled free of charge to all that you
receive by > being a paying member, I can only say that I think your point
of view is different > from the STC's and its officers who are trying to
uphold the value that other > members receive from their dues.

and Michael asks:
> So, I ask the STC leaders out there: are we going to discriminate between
members > and non-members, or aren't we? I'll go either way on this, as long
as we're > consistent across all STC activities.

Where do we draw the line between benefits available to members and to

Mike McGraw
co-VP/Employment for 1995-96
San Diego STC chapter

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