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MESA Membership Passes Bylaw Amendment Removing 'Non-Political' Clause and Affirming 501(c)3 Status

[Geometric arabesque tiling on the underside of the dome of Hafiz Shirazi's tomb in Shiraz. Image by Pontecelo via Wikipedia] [Geometric arabesque tiling on the underside of the dome of Hafiz Shirazi's tomb in Shiraz. Image by Pontecelo via Wikipedia]

The general membership of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has approved (with 81% of voters supporting) a bylaw amendment that does two things: first, it removes term "non-political" from its self-description; second, it reaffirms the committment to operating in accordance with its 501(c)3 status.

The amendment was introduced by a diverse array of MESA members during the business meeting of the 2016 Annual Meeting. It was then that those in attendance voted 247-57 in favor of putting the amendment up to a general membership vote, which was held between 1 February and 15 March 2017. According to the organization's bylaws, the amendment needed to be supported by a two-thirds majority of votes cast.

Since the business meeting, the debate around the bylaw amendment featured genuine discussion, questions, and concerns around the nature and future of MESA as an academic association. However, the voting period  also featured the odd intervention of first-time MESA member Carry Nelson. A number of long-time MESA members spoke out in favor of the resolution to convince their colleagues who were either unsure or skeptical of the resultion:

At approximately 4:15pm on Friday 17 March 2017, the Secretariate of MESA emailed all members indicating that the bylaw amendment passed, with 81% of votes in favor of the amendment.

Syrian Population Regression

Population: ~ 17,583,863 (2017 est.)

2011:  5,800+ (killed)

2012:  60,000+ (killed) and 500,000+ (external refugees), 3+ million (internally displaced)

2013:  100,000+ (killed), 2,000,000+ (external refugees), and 8 million+ (internally displaced)

2014: 200,000+ (killed), 3.5+ million (external refugees), 7.6+ million (internally displaced)

2015: 250,000+ (killed), 4.4 million (external refugees), 6.6+ million (internally displaced)

2016: 400,000+ (killed), 4.9+ million (external refugees), 6.3+ million (internally displaced)

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Syria Map and Stats

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Population: 17,185,170 (July 2016 est.)
GDP: $24.6 billion (2014 est.); $50.28 billion purchasing power parity (2015 est.)
Unemployment: 50% (2016 est.); Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): total: 35.8% (male: 26.6%; female: 71.1% [2011 est.])
Internet Users: 5.116 million - 30%/pop. (July 2015 est.)
Exchange Rate: ~ 497.8 Syrian pounds per US dollar (2016 est.)
GDP Growth Rate: -9.9% (2015 est.)
Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (World Rank: 10) (2011 est.)
Health Expenditures: 2.9% of GDP (World Rank: 180) (2011 est.)
Population Growth Rate: 1.56% (2016 est.)
Age Structure: 0-14 years: 31.95% (male 2,815,140/female 2,675,166); 15-24 years: 19.65% (male 1,711,847/female 1,664,814); 25-54 years: 39.03% (male 3,342,264/female 3,364,406); 55-64 years: 5.26% (male 447,205/female 457,525); 65 years and over: 4.11% (male 318,691/female 388,112) (2016 est.)
Literacy: 86.4% (male: 91.7%; female: 81% [2015 est.])
Religious Demographics: Sunni Muslim 74%; other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%; Christian (various denominations) 10%
Ethnic Demographics: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%