Wow, 2018 is in the rearview mirror! It’s been a busy and productive year for the AAUS, and I’d like to thank all our volunteers for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Academy, as well as our Operations Manager for keeping us afloat and on task! In particular, I’d like to thank Vin Malkoski for all his hard work as he transitions off the BOD (to devote more time to the Foundation), and welcome Jonathon Langham to the BOD. If you are interested in serving the AAUS in the coming year, Heather (firstname.lastname@example.org) can put you in contact with an appropriate committee chair.
As always, the BOD remains committed to addressing your needs and/or concerns in a timely manner. We strive to be responsive to membership, and transparent in our deliberations/actions on behalf of the Academy’s business. That said, we did manage to facilitate a very passionate discussion on wording in the new Standards for Scientific Diving Manual. For the few who might have been living on the dark side of the moon-- a quick recap. During the summer of 2017, a sub-committee of the Academy conducted a major revision of the manual. That revision was out for review by membership during the fall, and comments were incorporated into the manual in early 2018. The manual was then returned to membership for a second review during the spring, and additional comments were incorporated into the manual at that time. The new manual was rolled out at the Tahoe Symposium, where the issue of a DSO-as-voting-member-of-DCBs was raised, and an impromptu motion/vote indicated broad consensus that the existing wording be changed from “DSO may be a voting member of the DCB” to “say must or required/mandatory” [quote from meeting minutes]. This was an important enough issue that we changed the manual immediately to state in the DCB section: “Voting members include the Diving Safety Officer (DSO)”, and in the DSO section: “The Diving Safety Officer (DSO) serves as a voting member of the DCB”, based on our understanding of the intent of the assembled membership. However, some individuals have since contended that the vote was for the word “must”, and by not including that specific word in the
manual the voice of the membership was not being represented. Since then, the BOD had a lengthy discussion on this issue during the final conference call of the year (December10, 2018) and decided to retain the existing wording (highlighted above). To be clear, the BOD feels that this wording clearly indicates that the DSO will have a vote in their respective OM’s business, and that the intent of membership has been captured by this wording in the new manual.
There have been questions regarding the BOD’s reluctance to change the manual, again, to include the (more) forceful wording “must”. The rationale of the BOD was that there is a process for voting within the Academy By-Laws that was not followed- one could argue that the members who weren’t in attendance in Tahoe have been disenfranchised and/or that the Tahoe quorum does not represent the broader Academy view. Unless the AAUS voting process is followed, we cannot truly determine the will of the entire Academy. Perhaps more critical is the fact that impromptu votes on wording may miss subtle but important consequences for the AAUS- we need to avoid the impulse for knee-jerk reactions when it comes to something as important as our Standards for Scientific Diving Manual and take the time to review all points of view/eventualities. As a consequence of these discussions, the BOD has tasked Heather with setting up a running post on the website where membership can ”discuss” issues with the manual (everyone will have to read this carefully as they work to update their own manuals by the June 01, 2019 deadline). Given our plans to seat a medical advisory panel in 2019, it is likely there will be revisions to the manual in the not too distant future, and we will incorporate additional changes suggested and discussed by membership at that time. In the short-term, any OM is welcome to incorporate “must” into their own manuals, as this wording is in keeping with the spirit of the AAUS Standards for Scientific Diving Manual.
Thanks again, and safe scientific diving in the coming year!
University of Mississippi