Please find below information about the recent resignation of Youth College Network (YCN) Council members.
There are discussions to create a revival of the New England College Network, which Michael Posner, a YCN predecessor, had begun this before YCN to enable colleges to communicate. The main challenges seemed to be lack of USABDA funding and support for events such as the NCC and IDF.
YCN Council Resignation Letter
It is with great sadness that we write this letter and announce the resignation of undersigned members of the current Youth College Network (YCN) Council. After much deliberation and discussion, we are all in agreement that we can no longer continue to be a part of the YCN Council under the current USABDA structure.
All of us on the YCN Council are products of the YCN program - we all attended college and either joined the dance club on campus or created one after our positive YCN experiences. We all have witnessed the amazing energy and lasting friendships that were created at the International DanceSport Festivals in England (a series that has been discontinued) and in Florida. We all wanted to give something back to the organization through serving as USABDA volunteers within the YCN.
Under and in large measure due to the current administration of USABDA, we have watched numerous good people resign their posts from the YCN.
Those of us remaining have been struggling to make a positive difference in USABDA. Over the past 3 years, however, all of our energy, volunteer hours, and excitement too often have resulted only in frustration and disillusionment. As just one example, the Governing Council entertained a motion in January at its annual meeting to "eliminate the YCN Council." Although this item was "tabled," the current USABDA leadership has effectively eliminated our ability to carry out our duties.
You may have noted the lack of Youth articles in the Amateur Dancer in the past year and a half, and it is partly because we, the YCN Council members, no longer have a voice in the USABDA leadership. For the past 6 years (after restructuring) we have attempted to move the YCN forward.
Due to the current atmosphere and the attitudes of many members of the Executive and Governing Councils, the issues that truly matter to the youth and college students have fallen on deaf ears. We finally realize that although promoting and encouraging young dancers is the number one priority in the list of USABDA's National Goals, the current USABDA leadership does not understand what this important constituent group wants and needs.
As a result, we tender our resignations from the YCN Council of USABDA.
However, one attribute of the YCN Council members that has not been lost is our enthusiastic spirit. Therefore, we look forward to promoting partner dancing and providing assistance to the student dance organizations from outside of the formal structure of USABDA in the near future and beyond.
If there are any members from the YCN across the US, please feel free to share any news or updates about this latest development.
quote: Originally posted by DanceScape:
Hi Laura & Joe, Thanks very much for your feedback.
Do you think that the negative remarks/criticism is then very much a "localized" issue, rather than reflective of the YCN and the entire organization's efforts? Is this a situation where there may be a smaller group that may be in the minority (as you mentioned, the Boston group) but perhaps who are more vocal and may not be accurately conveying the positive work of the entire organization's efforts?
Many thanks for your assistance in learning more about this, as well as your continued dialogue to set the record straight. As always, please continue to share your initiatives with the YCN in the west coast!
quote:Originally posted by Laura:
quote:Originally posted by Joe: I'm wondering if the whole YCN thing is going to go the way of the Boston kids, i.e. loose regional confederations--a Balkanization of YCN, if you will.
I kind of thought it was that way anyway. After all, the bitching and complaining I heard about YCN here on DanceScape from the Boston "kids" bore no resemblance to the Collegiate scene out here in California (and the Bay Area in particular).
First off, YCN still exists. Obviously it's changing a bit. I've already mentioned the new Vice President, Shawn Fisher. Someone mentioned before that he was "hired," and that's a bit of a mis-statement. He's a volunteer within USABDA just like everyone else.
Secondly, the thing about the 10 pages of YCN-related content is actually underway. I'm pretty amazed that it's actually getting off the ground. It's being done by a bunch of people are working as interns at the college where Fisher teaches. (I assume that this internship is part of some kind of dance or perhaps even journalism program at their school, but am not sure at all.) We should see the results in the next "Amateur Dancer." They will also keep the YCN competition calendar and web site up to date.
The YCN management structure is being revised to reduce the number of volunteer officials and committees at national level. I've noticed that a number of official slots had been vacant for a while, so it looks like they're consolidating and streamlining. They're also looking to get the various college team coaches involved so that there's more continuity from year to year. In the past YCN has relied on student volunteers, which was good except for the fact that people graduating or quitting dancing would disrupt things somewhat. Like, the YCN contact would graduate and it would take a while to either find a new one or to get the new one up to speed. With the coaches more involved this should be smoothed out a lot more.
My position as a Regional Rep is to keep the lines of communication flowing (or get them flowing, as the case may be) and help the College and Youth clubs in my area in any way I can.
But wait, there's more:
USABDA's Chapter Support Office has been expanded to include a College Support function. Paid staff will provide immediate response and follow-up on YCN matters and will carry out an aggressive program of helping start dance programs in a large number of additional colleges.
Increased efforts will be made to get chapters to support college and youth programs in their service areas. The Regional Coordinating Councils will be more active in encouraging chapters to support the YCN. (I must add that we're already starting this in the SF Bay Area, with very heartening response due to the efforts of the UC Berkeley team and also the Stanford team.)
High priority will be given to forming leagues of affiliate clubs and to conducting league and state collegiate championships. In some areas I can see this as just being a continuation or formalization of what is already going on, but other places can definitely learn from the successes of others.
All YCN guidance in the Purple Book, Display Library and web site will be reviewed and updated or revised to make it more useful and available to participants in the program.
Now, as for the USABDA Executive Committee and Governing Council's take on the resignation later....first of all, I am told that this actually took place a few months ago, even though the letter turned up here on DanceScape just this week. Most importantly, the EC and GC claim to be very supportive of YCN despite the complaints voiced by the unnamed people (well, unnamed except for Mark Herschberg) in the preceding letter. I've not been in the middle of this so this is all word against word, but I've learned in my day that the truth usually lies somewhere between each groups' stance. I'm well aware of some of the problems that the group that got frustrated and resigned were trying to get solved, and I must say that I'm certainly not going to sweep them under the rug. In fact, I'd already been talking to our Region's VP about some of them -- I think that's why she asked me to become our Region's YCN person .
Things have been rough in the past, but the view I'm taking on this -- which is shared by several other people in USABDA and YCN whom I've talked to -- is that I'm joining a new team that is taking a fresh look at all YCN activities in an effort to give the program new life. I'm glad to be getting involved and am hoping that people here won't just write off YCN. You know I'm not the kind of person to just give up on something, that I'm optimistic about solving problems and finding win-win solutions for people. I reallly don't care about politics, I care about what is good for dancing. So if you've got things to say, please let me know -- even if I'm not the point person for your Region (although of course it would be better to go through you own Region's representative).
So I hope I've cleared some things up, or at least shown that YCN is not dead and gone and not "taken over by BYU." It will be interesting to see what happens next, especially with regards to the National Collegiate Championships, which unfortunately I have absolutely no information on right now.
I've always been under the impression that the Boston schools just want to go their own way, without "interference" from YCN National. I suspect they feel they've already achieved a critical mass and no longer need YCN ties.
This is a very interesting and insightful discussion. The only two Boston schools that we are aware of are Harvard and MIT. Are there others which are part of this group in Massachusetts?
Our understanding is the BYU is probably the most successful collegiate program as well as club, which makes sense since they do have a formal degree in Dance/Sport, so it is very exciting that someone from BYU will at least be providing new input to grow dancing in the youth and collegiate age groups. The initiatives that Laura describes with the youth-related focus of articles (and shere volume anticipated) will hopefully start to address the criticisms of Amateur Magazine which many dancers over the years have expressed.
In your opinions, do you think there really is a lot of discontent from the actual student membership of the Boston Dance clubs and schools, or is the discontent from a much smaller but more "vocal" group?
At any rate, thank you very much for providing all of us here with a more balanced view of this issue. Hopefully, Mark and Eli can also provide more feedback.
Our understanding is the BYU is probably the most successful collegiate program as well as club, which makes sense since they do have a formal degree in Dance/Sport, so it is very exciting that someone from BYU will at least be providing new input to grow dancing in the youth and collegiate age groups.
I thought successful would be measured by lots of couples in competitions and lots of couples winning events. Apart from their formation team I can't recall BYU winning or even competing in anything.
There's BYU-Provo (Lee Wakefield) and then there's BYU-Idaho (Shawn Fisher). It was Shawn Fisher who volunteered to take on YCN, not Lee Wakefield. I'll leave any conclusions that can be drawn from this as an exercise for the reader.