Stop Liberty Region #13 From Splitting Into Councils
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On Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 PM, the teens and families of Liberty Region #13 were notified that our beloved region is going to be split into two councils: Liberty West and Liberty East. Liberty West will consist of Harrisburg, Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Binghamton, and other smaller cities currently in Liberty Region and proposed newer chapters in Western New York. Liberty East will consist of all Philadelphia area and Delaware chapters. Based on the negative reaction to the news about the split from teens, their parents, and advisors, it is clear that there is little support for the proposed action.
Below are a number of additional reasons why Liberty Region should NOT be split into two councils:
- There was no teen involvement in the decision. As a purportedly teen-led organization, it makes no logical sense as to why the voices of the members, those who are supposed to run the day-to-day of chapters, the foundation of this organization and the individuals who make a financial commitment when electing to attend regional events, would be silenced in this process. Even the regional board fount out about this decision at the same time as the rest of the members and their families. In an organization where one of our movement initiatives has been “Voice Your Vote,” how is it appropriate that the members in our region had absolute zero input into this radical decision?
- The proposed split is not financially sustainable. Over the past year, convention attendance has declined. Further dividing the current region and financial resources would only put a greater strain on the respective councils. Conventions would have low attendance and be a financial liability.
- The way that chapters will be split is not appropriate if the intent is to better meet the needs of diverse communities. There was a reason why Central Region East and Philadelphia Region were geographically defined - because the communities in each region had similar needs. This is still the case where communities that are not part of the Metropolitan Philadelphia area have different needs than those who are. However, this was being effectively addressed through different staff focusing on different areas. In addition, while the needs may be different, the wants are the same. All should have the opportunity to be part of a successful region as opposed to two weak councils.
- There is not currently enough teen leadership to sustain separate council boards. There are currently 4 Alephs caucused for regional board. While there are currently 9 BBGs caucused for regional board, only 2 are in the proposed Liberty West Council. Trying to draw more teens into council leadership positions would take leadership away from the chapters. A majority of chapters in the proposed Liberty Region West, are struggling to fill chapter boards. As an organization that stresses the importance and foundational nature of chapters, it seems counterintuitive that chapter leadership would be sacrificed in place of council leadership.
- The regional split will not reduce travel time for many chapters involved. While the proposed Liberty Region East may benefit from this, the proposed Liberty Region West will see little change. In fact, with the likely addition of Rochester to Liberty Region West, travel time to Council events for those chapters may increase.
- The growth of Liberty Region over the past five years is not as significant as it seems. Due to the BBYO membership policy - that members pay a one time fee and are kept on the roles for their entire high school careers, discounts the impact of the paper member. Many chapters who appear very large, for example, one chapter that is close to 100 members on paper has only 25-30 functionally active members. The realistic numbers most certainly do not warrant a split.
- The split would rip the very character of Liberty Region apart. Many teens have friends throughout the current region and are devastated that they will be separated from friends and leadership collaborators. Some teens only have an opportunity to see these friends and get the rich leadership experience that comes when they have a chance to work with others from different backgrounds in different types of communities. Therefore, splitting the region and holding separate council events would be a great disservice to teen personal and leadership development.
Because of the reasons listed above, the teens of Liberty Region #13 ask that everybody - teens, parents, advisors, and alumni - across the order sign this petition. Showing your support will help ensure that this drastic change in Liberty does not happen without full consideration of the many and complicated factors involved in such a split as well as adequate time to consider all the benefits and drawbacks of the action. We deserve to be given a voice on this matter. As Parshat Shoftim says, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” It is our obligation as Jews to stand up to injustice wherever we should find it. If this split occurs without the voices of those who belong to, lead, and love Liberty Region, that is most certainly an injustice.
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