Alumni Association

OLA Charter and Bylaws

The Oberlin Lambda Alumni (OLA)* Charter

Founding Committee:
Andrew Cemelli ’85
Martha Shackford ’69


  1. To facilitate the relationship between the college and its gay and lesbian alumni;
  2. To increase the visibility of gay and lesbian persons and concerns in the life of the college.

Membership is open to all interested alumni who wish to be included. Our officers are selected on an annual basis by a steering committee, which is open to all interested persons.

Plans for the next year:

  1. Development of a mailing list;
  2. Organization of a Commencement reception for returning gay and lesbian alumni;
  3. Working with the development office staff on increasing the participation rate among gay and lesbian alumni;
  4. Working with the various student groups to bring back to campus alumni for informal discussions over spring weekend;
  5. Developing winter term projects for housing for gay and lesbian students;
  6. Distributing a regular newsletter describing our activities.

Approved 9/16/89
Executive Board

* The first name of the group was “The Oberlin Gay & Lesbian Alumni Task Force.”

Adopted February 2, 1992; last revised August 1998.


1.1 Name and affiliate status
On September 16, 1989, the Alumni Association of Oberlin College chartered Oberlin Gay and Lesbian Alumni (OGALA) as a new Self-Defined Alumni Group with Affiliate status. On May 20, 1990, the group’s steering committee adopted the name: Oberlin Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Alumni (OLGBA). At the Spring 1997 meeting, the steering committee adopted the current name: Oberlin Lambda Alumni (OLA). OLA operates under the Alumni Association's "Policy and Guidelines for Self-Defined Alumni Groups," originally issued September 15, 1989.

1.2 Purpose

  1. To facilitate the relationship between Oberlin College and its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered alumni.
  2. To assure the visibility of and advocate for the concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in the life of the College.

1.3 Membership
Membership is open to all interested alumni who wish to be included. Members are asked but not required to pay annual dues.

1.4 Finances
OLA is financially self-sustaining, receiving no financial or in-kind support from the Alumni Office except as specified in the "Policy and Guidelines for Self-Defined Alumni Groups." OLA’s income is from dues and other voluntary contributions, which count as restricted gifts to the Oberlin Annual Fund. OLA income and expenditures are handled through an account with the Alumni Office. The fiscal year begins July 1.

1.5 Mailing list
In conjunction with the Alumni Office, OLA will develop and maintain a mailing list of members.

1.6 Confidentiality
OLA and the Alumni Office will take reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of the mailing list and of donors to OLA. However, the list of steering committee members is not confidential.


2.1 General Description
Plans, policies, and expenditures of OLA will be determined by a steering committee of nine members.

2.2 Meetings
The committee will have two meetings per year, held at Oberlin in the fall (in conjunction with Alumni Council weekend) and in spring (second semester). Committee members must be notified of the meeting at least 2 months in advance.

2.3 Quorum
A quorum empowers the steering committee to make decisions. There is a quorum if:

1. All members of the steering committee who are in Oberlin for a meeting are present,


2. At least four committee members, including one of the co-chairs, are present.

Advisory members do not count toward a quorum.

2.4 Decision process
Decisions of the steering committee will be made by consensus of all steering committee members present.

The committee may authorize persons to make decisions on its behalf between meetings, except that the adoption or change of bylaws and the selection of steering committee members and officers may not be delegated.

The steering committee may by consensus adopt an alternate decision process if necessary for a particular decision.

2.5 Consensus defined
Consensus is defined as arriving at a decision that everyone feels reasonably good about and is willing to accept, through a process of open discussion, open-minded listening, and creative search for solutions. Consensus is reached when someone states the decision and asks, “Does anyone object to that?” and the response is silence. OLA’s model for consensus decision-making is the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, which may be consulted as an expert resource if more information and help are needed.

2.6 Steering Committee Member (9 positions, including both officers and non-officers)

Term of Service:
Three years, beginning the first day of the spring steering committee meeting. No limit on consecutive terms. Terms are staggered, with three new steering committee members selected each fall.

If a person chosen to fill a vacant seat is present at that meeting, the term begins immediately upon selection. The term of a steering committee member chosen to fill a vacant seat expires when the term of the original member would have expired.

Attends two meetings of the steering committee per year. Participates in consensus decision-making at these meetings. Volunteers for committee projects and responsibilities as the individual’s time and interests dictate. May take on additional responsibilities as an officer.

Any member of OLA who is willing to fulfill the responsibilities is eligible. The committee will seek a balanced membership including disabled persons and representing diversity in age, gender, HIV/AIDS status, place of residence, ethnic identity, and College or Conservatory background.

How chosen:
Alumni who want to join the committee may contact, or be recruited by, any current committee member. All interested persons will be invited to apply by writing a brief letter to either co-chair. Alternatively, they may agree to be nominated in writing or orally by a committee member.

At the fall meeting, the committee will review all current applications and nominations. Before selecting a person as a new steering committee member, the committee will verify that the person is willing and able to serve. New steering committee members will be selected by consensus.

At its discretion, the committee may temporarily leave one or more of the nine committee seats unfilled or may temporarily seat more than nine members.

2.7 Officers

The following conditions apply equally to all officers.

Term of service:
Begins the day after the fall meeting. Ends the last day of the fall meeting, either one or two years later. No limit on consecutive terms.

If a person is chosen to fill a vacant office, the term begins immediately upon selection. The term of the officer chosen to fill a vacant seat expires when the term of the original officer would have expired.

All officers shall be members of the steering committee.

How chosen:
Officers will be chosen by consensus at the fall meeting. At the spring meeting, any vacant offices will be filled.

Any steering committee member may nominate himself, herself, or any other member for office. Before selecting a member as an officer, the committee will verify that the person is willing and able to serve.

2.7.1 Co-Chair (2 Positions)

Two years.

Candidates for co-chair must have served as members of the steering committee for at least one meeting. It is the goal of the steering committee that one co-chair will be male and one will be female, but the steering committee has the discretion to choose two co-chairs of the same sex.

Shared responsibilities:
The two co-chairs operate closely to carry out the following.

  1. Plan meeting agendas and schedules.
  2. Facilitate meetings.
  3. Solicit and receive nominations for steering committee membership. Present nominees and recommendations to the committee.
  4. Serve as contact persons and general coordinators for OLA between meetings.

Divided responsibilities:
With the committee’s approval, the co-chairs will decide which of them will serve as delegate to the Alumni Council and which as campus contact person.

The delegate to Alumni Council will:

  1. Attend Alumni Council
  2. Prepare and present an annual report on OLA activities to Alumni Council
  3. Report to the committee on news of interest from Alumni Council

The campus contact person will:

  1. Keep in touch with the Alumni Office staff and other campus contacts such as student organizations and the General Faculty's Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Concerns Committee.
2.7.2 Secretary (1 position)

One year.


  1. Take minutes at meetings.
  2. Submit typed minutes to Alumni Office for copying and distribution after meetings.
  3. Take care of routine correspondence, including letters to welcome newly selected committee members.
  4. Maintain the OLA archive.
2.7.3 Treasurer (1 position)

One year.


  1. Keep track of the committee's Alumni Office account.
  2. Prepare and present financial report at committee meetings.
  3. Coordinate budgeting and fundraising.
  4. May authorize expenditures of OLA funds between meetings in amounts of $200 or less.
  5. Serve as contact person for OLA finances between meetings.

2.8 Advisory members
Additional OLA members may volunteer or be nominated to serve as advisory members of the steering committee on the basis of past experience, commitment to special projects, or professional expertise. Advisory members must be approved by consensus and will serve terms of one year, which may be renewed as needed. Advisory members are not expected to attend steering committee meetings, but will work directly with the officers on a project basis and will receive all regular steering committee correspondence.

2.9 Project leaders
The steering committee may designate any steering committee member or advisory member to be a project leader. This person will take responsibility for a specific activity. Examples may include the newsletter, regional activities, membership, and reunions.

2.10 Removal of inactive members
If a committee member fails to attend two consecutive meetings at Oberlin, his or her seat is vacant as of the start of the second missed meeting. At its discretion, however, the committee may retain the member.


3.1 Procedure
Bylaws will be changed by the following procedure.

  1. The proposed new bylaws are delivered to all steering committee members no less than 30 days before the next meeting.
  2. Any steering committee member who cannot attend the meeting, and who wishes to comment or propose amendments, may do so by submitting them in writing to a co-chair.
  3. Amendments to the proposal may be introduced at the meeting.
  4. Change of bylaws requires consensus of all steering committee members present at a meeting with a special quorum: no fewer than six steering committee members, including one of the co-chairs.
  5. New or revised bylaws will be distributed to all committee members and to the executive director and the president of the Alumni Association.
  6. In addition to the procedure for amending the bylaws described in paragraphs 1 through 4 of this Section 3.01, the bylaws also may be amended by: (a) a written consent setting forth the amendment and signed by all of the members of the steering committee; or (b) consensus among members of the steering committee accepting the proposed amendment, achieved via electronic mail or other electronic communication. An amendment adopted by the unanimous written consent or by consensus via electronic communication shall not require a meeting of the steering committee and shall be effective as of the date set forth in the consent or last date of the electronic communication.