[OPE-L:6958] Report by Advisory Committee on Admissions Procedure

From: ope-l administrator (ope-admin@ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 16:17:23 EDT

The Advisory Committee (hereafter called AC) has, in consultation
with Jerry, reviewed the existing list policies on the procedure
for  deciding  on admissions of new members.   We are in agreement that
the policies developed over the years on OPE-L for deciding 
on admissions have worked very well and are in no need of any major
revisions.  We do believe, though, that for the benefit of the entire
list the existing policies should be reported on (again), which we do
below,  and modified to include the specific responsibilities of the AC
in the decision-making process concerning admissions (see below). There
is no discussion in what  allows on 're-admissions' since that is a 
separate issue which the AC will review at a later time.

I. Criteria for admissions:
The criteria used has been and should continue to remain   *diversity*  
based upon the recognition that we  want OPE-L  to remain:

a) an international list;

b) a list where different Marxian theoretical perspectives  and 'schools 
of thought' are present;

c) a list with a wide range of research interests, or  'areas of
expertise',  related to Marxism and political economy are present.  

d)  a list with a diverse membership with regards to race and gender.

These 'diversity criteria'  have been reported on to the list on prior 
occasions and no one has ever expressed disagreement with these 

An additional  consideration -- rarely an issue --   is that we are a 
collaborative group and don't need people who are likely  to engage  in
'flames'  which, in turn, could drive other listmembers away and  thereby
hurt the list.  (We remind the list that OPE-L has a "no 
flames" policy.)

II. Size of list
A number of listmembers over the years have complained when the 
volume gets too great -- indeed that has even led to  resignations in 
the past.  We also recognize that there is a relation between list size  
and the quantity of posts. This is a major reason  why admissions have 
been relatively infrequent. One has to remember that when we first got 
started (in 1995) we saw an upper limit for the list of  about 30  -- we,
 of course,  are _way_ beyond that. 

Nevertheless,  we think that  it would be a big mistake to close off 
admissions altogether --  we have to remember that some of the better 
scholars, particularly in less developed economies,  still don't have
email  and we should have  at least some room to accommodate them.

The AC has no recommendation at this time for how large the list size 
should be allowed to get.  We do, though, want to emphasize that  we 
should give list size and volume consideration as part of this process. 
It may be at some point in the future that we might have to propose some 
major change (e.g. limiting the posts/day or /week/listmember) if we 
continue to  increase list size, but we don't think that we're at that
point  yet. 

III. Procedure
a) The existing practice of encouraging all discussions about specific 
individuals to take place off-list should remain. This is in fairness to
the  individuals in question and so that listmembers can be forthcoming
in  their responses.

b) the admissions  procedure normally begins with the *recommendation  of
a listmember*.  Listmembers can make recommendations for new 
members to either Jerry or to AC members. If you make a recommendation 
to Jerry then he will bring it to the attention of the AC.

c) On rare instances, individuals have asked  Jerry themselves if they
can  join.  In the past, Jerry  usually responded by asking how they
heard  about  and what they know about OPE-L then  -- if it goes further
--  tell them more  about the list  and seek out the opinion of other
listmembers. This procedure  will be slightly revised as follows: if
someone asks to join who has not been  recommended by listmembers then
the situation will be reported on and  discussed by the AC which will
then decide on an appropriate response  including whether other 
listmembers more familiar with the person should be  asked for an

d) When someone has made a recommendation,  Jerry and the AC  want to 
see that the person making the recommendation has considered the needs 
of the list (see I. and II above),  has motivated the individual in
depth, and that  the person being recommended has  email. It's even
better if the listmember making the recommendation  knows the person
being recommended  and  can make suggestions about others on the list who
are familiar with the  candidate and her/his work.  If someone just gives
the AC a name, then we  will  ask the listmember making the
recommendation for more information.  

Jerry reported to us that if he displayed a 'prejudice' in the past, it
was the  following:  if a listmember recommended someone from the US (and
to a  lesser extent, the UK) the person making the recommendation had to
be   prepared to  _really_ motivate the candidate. The reason for this
was that  he didn't want --  and he didn't think the list wanted -- a
list composed   overwhelmingly of  subscribers  from the US (as is so
often the case on  other Net lists.)   The AC  agrees that we should have
as much as possible  a list composed of subscribers around the world and
simply ask that  listmembers take this (along with the rest of I and II)
into consideration prior  to making a recommendation.

e) Previously, Jerry  would then ask 2-3 listmembers (on average) whether
 they thought that a candidate should be admitted. The individuals asked
were  selected for  what he considered to be commonsense reasons, e.g. 
if  someone from Japan was being recommended,  then he'd most likely ask 
1  or more subscribers from Japan;  if a candidate was  working in the
area of  Marxian empirical research then he'd most likely ask someone
else who is  also working in that field and therefore should be familiar
with the candidate's  writings; if  a person presented a paper at a
conference like the IWGVT he'd  often ask someone who also presented
papers at that conference;  etc. In all  cases,  Jerry believes that he 
tried to be as fair as possible to the candidate  and it was very rare
indeed when after d),  someone else  opposed membership.   In those rare
instances where  there was disagreement by the people being  asked  Jerry
 had to mediate by having further dialogue  -- with the result that  they
were invited.   While this might seem 'ad hoc',  we believe it has worked
 out pretty well:   in just about all cases listmembers have been very
happy to  respond to JL's inquiries.  On rare occasions  Jerry deemed
this step to be  unnecessary:  in some cases, he knew that there would be
general agreement  that a  candidate should be accepted and in those
cases, he by-passed this  step and went directly to f).

The AC will modify the existing practice as follows: after d), the AC
will decide  with input from Jerry whether other listmembers should be
asked and, if so,  which listmembers.  In general, the AC recognizes --
as Jerry has recognized  in the past -- that our listmembers represent a
tremendous resource and we  believe that other members should be asked 
for their opinions (selected along  the lines previously used)  prior to
invitation. We also *want* the rest of the list  to feel that they can
have an input into this process through individual  consultation.

f) An invitation will be sent out by Jerry which briefly explains what
the list is  about,  tells the person about the archives, and includes  a
 list of current and  former  subscribers.  Jerry will  then ask in the
invitation that if the candidate  wants to join,  then  s/he  should 
reply to the invitation by sending him  any  information about  her/him
(e.g.  job, writings,  research interests)  that the  candidate would be
willing  to share with the list in a welcoming post that he  will author.
  The  welcoming posts  are a list tradition which we would like to  see
continue: they are often very informative and frequently stimulate 

g) If the candidate responds in the affirmative, s/he is subscribed and  
welcomed to the list. 

To repeat: while we feel that the existing policies worked out very well 
(Jerry reported to the AC that in the 6 1/2 years of OPE-L history, he 
received _no_  on-list *or* off-list objections to new members), the AC f
eels that the greatest benefit to the above modifications in procedure
will  be that it will (hopefully)  lessen Jerry's burden and
responsibility in the  admissions process.


Allin Cottrell cottrell@wfu.edu
Fred Moseley fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu
Alfredo Saad-Filho asfilho@aol.com
Jerry Levy (Coordinator) glevy@pratt.edu and Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com

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