Changes to AAS Student Memberships
This post is the second in a three-part series about the changes to our membership classes now being implemented in response to the recommendations of the AAS Governance Task Force. The first post provided a summary of all the updates and included details about Full and Associate membership. This installment concerns student memberships.
Here’s the AAS version of what’s in and what’s out for student memberships:
IN: High schoolers OUT: “Junior” membership
IN: Reduced dues OUT: Admission by nomination
The “Junior” designation may have been cool in 1960 when the Society first opened its membership to students, but it no longer serves our community’s needs. Starting this summer, the Junior membership class will be split into two: one for Graduate Student Members (who may vote in AAS elections) and one for High School/Undergraduate Affiliates (who may not vote in AAS elections). This split allows us to better serve young people at different formative stages in their studies. For new student members, we wanted to remove administrative barriers (i.e., finding two current Full Members to endorse your application), making it easier to join. Lastly, we’ve done away with age limits and set dues rates for both classes lower than the current $84 for Junior membership.
We know that graduate students committed to a particular realm of the astronomical sciences are busy earning their advanced degrees and refining the skill sets necessary for their next career steps. The Governance Task Force believes it is important to add “maintaining a strong link to their professional society” to the mix. To affirm that those who are working toward becoming integral members of the astronomical community should see AAS membership as an important part of their identity, Graduate Student Members will be able to weave themselves into the fabric of Society governance by serving on AAS committees. For 2019, annual dues will be reduced from $84 to $68.
Meanwhile, high-school students and undergraduates are keen to explore science options and career pathways across the astronomical spectrum. The Society is tasked with providing an engaging introduction to scientific meetings and resources for success in career planning for this cohort. Dues for High School/Undergraduate Affiliates will be $39 for 2019.
Implementation of the Junior class split begins this month and will follow a verification process similar to what was used in previous years. Current Junior Members can expect an emailed request to verify year of study, highest degree earned/degree working toward, and expected graduation year. We’ll continue to check in with students each summer before the membership renewal campaign kicks off in September.
If you’re a student thinking about joining or returning to the Society, there’s more good news: nominations are no longer required. Most student members will simply need to complete an application; identify their advisor, department chair, or mentor; and remit dues. In a change to prior practice, and in light of the lower dues for students, the Society will no longer offer two years of membership for the price of one to new student applicants.
In all, we hope these changes will foster a welcoming environment to the AAS community!
NEXT IN THE SERIES: New affiliate classes for amateur astronomers and AAS alumni.
Director of Membership Services