Student voting rights amendment goes to ASCE membership on 2021 election ballot

Should student members be able to vote in ASCE elections?

ASCE members will answer the question in May, with a constitutional amendment that would grant student members voting rights on the 2021 Society election ballot.

The ASCE Board of Direction approved a second reading of the constitutional amendment last October, as prepared by the Governing Documents Committee, sending it to the 2021 election ballot.

“Our students are the future of the profession and the organization,” said ASCE 2020 President K.N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, at the time.

The amended constitutional language reads:

“Membership in the Society is available worldwide to civil engineers, civil engineering students, and other persons similarly qualified in another branch of engineering or in an allied profession. The voting membership grades of the Society shall be Student Member, Affiliate Member, Associate Member, Member, Fellow, Distinguished Member, and President Emeritus. The rights, privileges, responsibilities and qualifications of membership shall be set forth in the Society’s Bylaws and/or other appropriate governing documents.”

The amendment requires two-thirds approval from voting members in the 2021 election to go into effect.

“I think students having a voice in Society-level affairs is a great way to increase involvement and retention during their undergraduate journey, along with improving transition as students graduate and become professional engineers,” said Matthew Jacobson, EIT, ENV SP, S.M.ASCE, a senior civil engineering student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who has served as his student chapter’s president, chaired the ASCE Student Presidential Group, and spent two years as an ASCE student ambassador.

“I believe ASCE has made great strides over the past few years to involve students at the society-level from the Student Presidential Group, Student Ambassador Program, and ASCE committees, and allowing them to vote is the next step in keeping them engaged,” Jacobson said..

Members at the grade of affiliate or above who are current on their dues by April 1 may vote in the election.

ASCE’s election provider, Survey and Ballot Systems, will send an email to eligible voters announcing the election on May 1. Voting will close at 6 p.m. EDT June 1.

For more information about the ASCE 2021 election, including a complete ballot, visit the ASCE website or email Patty Montgomery.

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  1. Allowing the last category of membership namely Student Members, to be able to vote and be heard will make ASCE a very inclusive and forward looking/thinking organization. Your support in this regard is greatly appreciated.

  2. I have a yes and a no. Yes, it is something that is valuable from the student body and I would love for them to have opportunities to practice what they are learning in the classrooms, but my “no” comes from issues that require decisions that need to be made from seasoned professionals who have been in the practicing industry long enough to know and understand how some of these decisions can effect the engineering body as a whole. As a student, you only know enough from what you learned in class, but when you become a professional after years of experience, you gain the ability to know and understand the effects of key decisions on a much larger group of people. There is a level of maturity that is required for some decisions that not all students at the collegiate level have yet and there is still much more to learn and grasp once you complete your degree. In college, not everyone has reached a level of maturity that is required to make some of the key decisions that are required in this profession. I think what we are in dire of need is allowing the students to shadow the professors and engineers in this industry so that they can be aware of the immediate issues that is on the discussion table.

  3. I see no value in allowing students to vote in national elections. They are completely unaware of ASCE outside of their Chapter and the Student Competitions.

    They do not know the people running for positions, they do not know what responsibilities and duties the positions have, and since they don’t pay dues – they have no vested interest in the elections.

    Allowing non-dues paying students to vote, waters down the votes of all dues paying members.

    Findlay G. Edwards, former Student Chapter Advisor (10 years), F.ASCE, Life Member


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