05.24.04 Five-Year Anniversary
Five years ago today, one intern in New Orleans sent out an email to 200 friends and colleagues, not sure if any of them would respond. A month later, he sent out another email, and the next month another email. In the 60 months since that email, there have alost exactly 200 issues of what eventually became ArchVoices. Today’s issue is a reprint of that first text-only email with a brief commentary below, and later this week, we plan a short issue on the story of how this one email became what ArchVoices is today.
As you read the original 1999 email below remember that while it represents a great deal of frustration with the existing system, the frustration is of someone who had spent a number of years working within that system, and who continues to do so.
May 24, 1999
“To be a revolutionary, there must first be a revolution.”
–Che Guevara, 1960
“Struggle is the essential condition of freedom.”
–Lebbeus Woods, 1994
“No taxation without representation.”
–James Otis, 1764
NCARB derives 50% of its revenue from interns (IDP and exam fees).
Associate members account for 15% of AIA’s membership, and are the AIA’s fastest growing membership category.
Young (at heart) people working towards licensure are not represented anywhere within those organizations’ national leadership.
I personally am a member of the AIA’s Intern/Associate Committee, appointed by the President–and while it’s a nice honor, that’s not what I mean by “representation.”
I currently have 200 email addresses and would like to have 10,000. My primary goal is to create a listserve whereby information regarding pending NCARB and AIA decisions can be disseminated directly to interns–roughly, once a month. You can take what I sent simply as FYI, or respond either positively or negatively directly to the people making those decisions, whose email addresses I will include.
If you’ve received this directly from me, you’re obviously one of the 200. Please forward this message on to friends of yours who might be interested in being one of the 10,000, and ask them to just forward the message back to me.
Your response to me will not indicate support of any of the ideas implied by the quotes above, but will simply be a means through which you can be more informed about decisions made in your name.
Casius Pealer, Assoc. AIA
May 24, 2004
The original email mentions a lofty goal of 10,000 subscribers, which seemed entirely unrealistic at the time. Again, this was one intern with a laptop computer, who was sending this email out precisely because well-funded national organizations had been unable to communicate effectively with interns.
Today, ArchVoices has over 16,000 subscribers and a number of enthusiastic young people who write the issues, all on a volunteer basis, outside of our real jobs. And in addition we continue to participate within the AIA locally and nationally.
The original 1999 email also mentions the percentage of Associate members in the AIA, and the percentage of NCARB’s budget contributed by interns. Associate members comprise almost 20% (13,000) of the total AIA membership (70,000) and contribute over $1.2 million annually in national dues. While this is a good sign for the AIA, we believe it is also a reflection of the fact that fewer interns, even in traditional practices, are completing licensure and moving beyond “Associate” status. Regardless, the justification for genuine Associate representation in the AIA is even stronger today than in 1999.
Regarding the contributions of interns to NCARB, the most recent NCARB Pre-Annual Meeting Report (2003), reported $2 million in exam fees and at least $1.4 million in new IDP enrollment fees (this figure does not include various administrative fees paid by many of the roughly 9,000 continuing IDP record holders). The conservative total of $3.4 million paid by interns to NCARB, represents just over 40% of NCARB’s total reported budget of $8.3 million.
These numbers are not here to imply that the costs are too high, but rather to demonstrate that interns pay a significant amount of money for NCARB services. And given that NCARB has a monopoly on these services, the justification for intern representation is even stronger.
As noted above, the five members of the AIA’s Intern/Associate Committee (now the National Associates Committee), were appointed by the AIA President. In 2000, the committee was restructured to have representatives elected by Associate members directly in each of the AIA’s 18 regions. In practice, however, these representatives are often selected most often by boards composed primarily of professionals or by the region’s directors on the AIA National Board.
The 2003 ArchVoices/AIA Internship & Career Survey showed that only 6% of Associate AIA members had more than minimal communication from their regional representatives, and 25% indicated no awareness of the entire representational structure at all. We believe this is largely because the actual committee structure is based on state or regional appointments rather than genuine Associate member representation. However, the AIA National Associates Committee is still relatively new, and we have no reason to believe that they are not working diligently to realize a truly representational structure.
Regarding NCARB, there is reasonable disagreement about whether NCARB should even strive to include representation beyond professional members of state licensing boards. NCARB is, after all, an association of state licensing boards. However, it is not a legal or regulatory impossibility to have broader representation, as the National Board of Medical Examiners does. Nor is it impossible to think of other creative solutions to achieve a measure of formal representation, as the National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying does. So while the other four collateral organizations share at least one board member (AIAS shares two), NCARB has stuck with a rational but not inevitable policy choice not to share any.
We want to be clear that ArchVoices does not purport to “represent” interns in any sense, nor to do we aspire to be a “sixth collateral,” for those of you who know that that means. We provide information and analysis, in an effort to increase the quality and quantity of discussions regarding internship and the profession. We also try to create a platform on which individual interns can represent themselves, such as the annual ArchVoices Essay Competition and the Internship & Career Survey.
Five years ago, we sent out a single email with optimism about the untapped energy in the profession. Today we continue to be optimistic about that same potential.
Believe in the future.
As always, we welcome your thoughts by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ArchVoices is an independent, nonprofit organization and think tank on architecture education and internship…
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