Although the AVMA House of Delegates at its regular session July 19 in New Orleans voted against a resolution that would have created a Student Affairs Division within the Association, delegates approved a measure directing the AVMA to increase its involvement with veterinary students.
Additionally, delegates overwhelmingly disapproved a resolution calling for the elimination of the AVMA vice presidency. The vice president is one of the Association's liaisons to the Student AVMA and student chapters and is a voting member of the Executive Board.
Of the three resolutions concerning veterinary students considered by the HOD, the proposal to eliminate the vice presidency was by far the most controversial. "I know you're thinking, 'What is the California VMA thinking?'" acknowledged California delegate Dr. George Bishop, whose state submitted the resolution.
"This is not a personal issue. It's an issue to review the governance of the AVMA," Dr. Bishop said. Resolution 1 was meant to encourage the Association to consider whether there are more effective ways of interacting with veterinary students, he explained.
Toward that end, the California VMA also submitted Resolution 5, which would have established an AVMA Student Affairs Division. The measure was later voted down without comment.
It should be noted that within the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division is a student affairs department that works with the SAVMA and the student chapters of the AVMA on a daily basis. In addition, the AVMA vice president and senior MFS division student affairs staff coordinate visits and presentations to occur at least annually at all veterinary schools and colleges with representation in the SAVMA House of Delegates.
Student AVMA alternate delegate Rebecca Steers spoke strongly against the proposal to dissolve the AVMA vice presidency, saying students hold the office in high regard. "Having the vice president of the AVMA be the voice of students to the Executive Board carries a lot weight with students," said Steers, a third-year student at Tufts University and president-elect of the SAVMA.
Delegates did pass Resolution 4, submitted by the House Advisory Committee, which called for the AVMA to interact more with veterinary students and in its background statement suggested a number of ways of accomplishing this goal. The recommendation also listed current interactions with and support of students by the AVMA. For instance, the Association provides $75,000 in support of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience and $15,000 for student externships in public health, research, and food supply veterinary medicine.
Included in the HAC recommendation were such suggestions as having AVMA staff and officers speak at veterinary medical schools and colleges, increasing the number of externships at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., and expanding financial support of the SAVMA Educational Symposium.
The costs of implementing all of the proposals were estimated at around $420,000 a year, but the resolution did not commit the AVMA to any financial obligations. In addition, each proposal would have to be submitted to the Executive Board for consideration.