Minutes of the General Assembly, 28 October 2004 in Tihany, Hungary

(Hungarian Translation is Available.)

Minutes of the General AssemblyInternational Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry

Tihany , Hungary

28 October, 2004

The meeting was called to order at 9:30 am.
Board Member Ted Goranson asked for a member to chair the General Assembly. After some short process, Dirk Huylebrouck was selected to chair the meeting. Ted Goranson served as recorder of the Assembly, producing these minutes.
An agenda was set and followed as described below.

Item 1: Legal Problems

Ted Goranson spoke to a problem concerning the governance of the Society. A former secretary has pilfered the Society’s funds, collects funds in the Society’s name and engages in other disruptive activities.
Goranson provided a brief overview of the problem involving extralegal activities of Gyorgy Darvas. All Board members and many members familiar with the situation testified to the accuracy of the account.
The account included the fact that Gyorgy Darvas was present at the Haifa General Assembly and agreed with the decisions concerning elections and the location of the Sydney Congress.
In response to the problem, the Assembly composed the following statement. Some significant discussion and refinement followed, occupying about an hour. The intent was to produce a statement that would clearly resolve the situation with Gyorgy Darvas, resulting in a document that can be used in court actions. As the membership has many native languages, the wording of the document was tuned so that the voice of the membership would be clear and unequivocal.
Some members expressed concern that the problem has dragged on so long. The Society is enfranchised by the membership and the members only meet every three years in Assembly.
The statement follows:
We, members of the International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry, endorse this statement.
The membership held its General Assembly in 2001 during the Congress at Sydney, as decided by the previous General Assembly in Haifa in 1998. This process is as constituted in the Articles of the Society and has been the practice since the Society’s founding.
In Sydney, the General Assembly conducted its normal business, which included the election of the Society’s officers. Two slates were nominated. The process of the election was fair, according to normal parliamentary conventions and the Articles of the Society.
We hold that the Society has an unambiguous, duly elected set of Officers for this term from Sydney 2001 to Budapest 2004 in Denes Nagy, President; Slavik Jablan, Secretary; and George Lugosi, Treasurer. This group is hereafter termed “the Officers.”
Consequently, we affirm the authority invested in the Officers to rescind the permissions of the former secretary Gyorgy Darvas to conduct any business or represent the Society in any way. Also, we specifically affirm the Board’s decision to disestablish the “curatory” which now hampers the legitimate operations of the Society.
We empower the Officers to assign and engage legal agents as necessary to redress the situation.
Also, we demand a transfer of all of the Society’s funds to the Society’s Melbourne account and that a detailed and legally complete accounting of expenses be provided for the period of 1997 through the present.
(end statement)
The statement was unanimously passed. The Assembly took the unusual step of personally signing the minutes so that this statement can be used in legal proceedings.

Item 2: Election of Officers

Nominations were opened for President, Secretary and Treasurer.
• Denes Nagy was nominated for President
• Slavik Jablan was nominated for Secretary
• George Lugosi was nominated for Treasurer
No other nominations were submitted. The nominations were seconded and accepted. Discussion was very brief. The Officers were unanimously elected.

Item 3: Election of the Board

The following nominations were presented and seconded:
• Beth Cardier (Australia/Czech Republic)
• Mario Garavaglia (Argentina)
• Ted Goranson (USA)
• Claudio Guerri (Argentina)
• Ritsuko Izuhara (Japan)
• Slavik Jablan (Serbia and Montenegro)
• Ami Korren (Israel)
• George Lugosi (Australia)
• Veronika Makarova (Russia/Canada)
• Denes Nagy (Hungary/Australia)
• Tohru Ogawa, Chair of the Advisory Board (Japan)
• Julie Tolmie (Australia/Canada)
• Janusz Rebielak (Poland)
Only a small discussion followed. The Board was unanimously elected.

Item 4: Designation of Honorary Members

The following nominations were presented and seconded:
• Jürgen Bokowski
• Donald Crowe
• Michael Longuet-Higgins
• Peter Klein
A small discussion followed. The Honorary Members were unanimously elected.

Item 5: Location of the Next Congress

Following some planning originating in Haifa in 1998, Buenos Aires was presented as a proposed site for the 2007 Congress. Letters (in Spanish) of support from Argentina were presented. Claudio Guerri would be the organizer.
The proposal was unanimously accepted, but spawned a rather long and often heated discussion. The matter of this discussion focused on two related points.
One topic related to the matter of the Congress being combined with the biannual meeting of Societad de Estudies Morfologicos de la Argentina  (SEMA), a semiotics society with whom the Society shares interests and some members. Nagy was concerned that every Congress so far had been exclusive to the Society and emphasized the continuous closeness of the attendees. The concern was that commingling of the meetings would dilute the much celebrated interactions of Society Congresses so far.
The related topic concerned the language of the meeting. The language of the Society is exclusively English, and is so stated in the Articles. The language of SEMA is Spanish. Some members felt very strongly that all Society presentations continue to be in English.
The heat of the discussion related to whether the management of parallel conferences and two languages was manageable. Some members felt that it could be managed. Others felt that very strong policies need to be established early in the planning, including strong review of papers for the quality of the English.
Still others felt that the design of the meeting in this regard could be disruptive, but worth the cost because it would extend the profile of the Society.
The result of the discussion was a strong resolution from the membership that the organizers pay special attention to:
• preserving the identity of the Society Congress even if co-organized with SEMA meeting.
• paying special attention to the language issues, ensuring that all sessions, papers and activities relating to the Society be conducted in good English.
• keeping the Society group together during the Congress in some meaningful sense.
A guarantee of this was sought by some.

Item 6: Regional Congresses

As with the two earlier Congresses, the membership encouraged the organization of regional Congresses (those without General Assemblies). Special note was made of the possibility of a meeting in the Benelux area, organized by Dirk Huylebrouck and/or Nuria Juncosa.

Item 7: Whether to Charge for the Electronic Journal

A suggestion was made that the Society should consider charging non-members for access to the electronic, on-line journal. This journal is expensive and labor intensive to create and maintain.
However, the brief (10 minute) discussion revealed the importance of being open and freely accessible. New members are attracted. The contents are widely cited and is the most prominent of its type. It is at a critical mass where restricted access will work against the intent.
Therefore, the idea was discarded.

Item 8: Yearly Financial Reports

In accordance with the Articles, the fiscal period of the Society is three years, with a financial report at each General Assembly. However, there are operational requirements for yearly accounting periods. The Officers requested authority to develop yearly reports.
This was quickly granted, again unanimously after the briefest of discussion. Most of the discussion on this topic revolved around whether such special permission was ever necessary.
Item 9: Financial Matters
The final agenda item was another topic whose discuussion was somewhat animated. It concerned “fixing” the financial management of the Society. Things have not been handled well recently because of the disruptions of Gyorgy Darvas.
Whatever the cause, the membership expressed the following requirements that are necessary to be implemented for the effective operation of the society. Some members want to be recorded in these minutes as very strongly recommending, even demanding, the following measures and requiring progress reports toward progress.
• Yearly paper invoices must be sent by regular mail to all members to collect dues. Some option should be available for email invoicing for those academics who are frequently moving.
• There must be regional bank accounts established with published numbers so that payments can be made conveniently and without burdensome fees.
Along these lines, some members suggested that a credit card account be explored more seriously than in the past. Along these lines, all agreed that the Society needs a more complete web site so far as administrative details. Such details will include the account information but also denote the Boards and events.

The Assembly was adjourned at about 11:30 am. As noted above, each attending member signed these minutes.