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SPJ board adopts new standards for chapters

By Billy O'Keefe

The SPJ board of directors took action against several local chapters that failed to file required reports on time, based on changes it approved to the four-star review system on Sunday.
Twenty-nine of SPJ’s 67 professional chapters have failed to meet the criteria this year, according to Jeremy Steele, the outgoing region 4 director who recommended most of these changes. Some infractions included not being active enough and not filing an annual report.
The categories for action are:
• Assistance — Chapter needs help because it failed to filed the annual report by deadline
• Probation — Chapter failed to file an annual report for two or more years
• Inactive — Chapter will no longer receive funds from national for lack of activity
• Revoked — Chapter no longer exists
Twenty-three chapters were put in the assistance category, two were put on probation, three were declared inactive and one was revoked, although that chapter had merged with another years ago.
Steele said a chapter should only be considered inactive when it is nonexistent. The first warning results in assistance status, the second results in probation.
Board members say that they hope this new system will give them a better idea of how to help struggling chapters and that the changes will make the process easier on local chapters.
“We want it to be a two-way street,” said Hagit Limor, the SPJ president-elect. The local and national levels could better help each other through this system, she said.
Phillip Beck, president of the Greater Philadelphia Pro chapter, is not impressed. He said his chapter was put on probation for repeatedly failing to file its annual report despite staging professional development programs and regional meetings that national did not take into account.
“I think there are larger issues to be addressed, and I think SPJ would do well to reconsider the effectiveness of its process,” he said.
Board members said there is still a lot of “tweaking” to be done in the system and welcomed feedback from all chapters on developing the system.
“These things are always a work in progress,” said Neil Ralston, SPJ’s vice president for campus chapter affairs.
Limor said the board of directors would be willing to adjust the process as needed.