Samuel's Proposal to Regulate Commanders' Authority

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Samuel's Proposal to Regulate Commanders' Authority was an attempt by Samuel Baltz in the last months of 2010-11 to create an objective list of what Spacesim Commanders cannot do. Since Spacesim has no charter, the only restrictions on commanders' authority was that they could not circumvent Doctor Magwood or the school board. This was functional, but led to dozens of different interpretations regarding which decisions should be subject to votes and which should be concealed in back rooms. Therefore, a formulation was drawn up and published as a proposal. It was never authorized, rather serving as a strong word of advice, but could be officially ratified by the club membership on a year-by-year basis.

Proposal to Regulate Commanders' Authority


This document is a proposal to all future commanders. I do not have the authority to create rules that extend beyond 2010-11, so this really is a proposal; if it ever takes effect, it will be because a pair of commanders or the club in general decided to adopt it for that year. This document suggests very modest means of limiting commander power, so that Spacesim commanders will know what they can and cannot do, and so that the general members of the club will have a legitimate claim to make certain very important decisions.

Proposed Limitations

The following rules are listed in decreasing order of precedence. It is better to break one of the latter rules.

  • A Spacesim Commander cannot order a member to do anything against common sense or school board rules. This one seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Example: When a commander orders someone on top of the hab, the commander cannot condone that member going up without a ladder (this is a situation that breaks both common sense and school board rules).
  • A Spacesim Commander cannot make a drastic change to how the club will function the following year without a general vote by the members. In order for the change to succeed, the members must vote for the change with a two-thirds majority (two thirds of the members must agree). Members must be informed that a vote will take place at least half a day prior to that vote occurring. Example: When a commander proposes a changed hierarchy for the following year, there must be a general vote at a lunch meeting, and that vote cannot take place unless an announcement was made over the PA System that morning or to members sometime earlier.
  • A Spacesim Commander cannot add a position to the hierarchy or remove a position from the hierarchy above the rank of Director (that is, the ranks of Commander and Subcommander are untouchable). No member vote can do this, either.
  • A Spacesim Commander cannot intentionally undo or drastically alter a very significant amount of past work without direct consultation with alumni. At least 3 alumni must be consulted in total, including at minimum 2 past commanders and including at least one member from more than two years before. They don't necessarily have to give their consent, as alumni should have no official power in the club, but their advice really should be followed. Example: When we were deciding to go to another solar system for Dragan 2011, which we realized would be a major departure from what is expected in Beta Reality, we consulted half a dozen alumni, including 4 former commanders and including one member from more than 2 years before. Note that undoing "a significant amount of work" does not mean something like taking apart the Planetary Surface; although that does represent a lot of work, the permanent surface has only been around for two years and should be within the rights of any commander to take down. I mean something like drastically altering the Beta Reality, which has been around for 20 years and been the subject of a good deal of Spacesim's focus historically.


This document is pretty much just a permanent suggestion. Each commander should lead the way that they want to lead, and this list is by no means a definitive list of how commanders should act. But it provides a consistent guideline, and if it or some form of it is ratified then it will ensure that past work is not undone, that the one right of previous commanders to choose the next commander group is never circumvented, and most importantly it provides a protocol for remaking the hierarchy, which has become a regular phenomenon and needs regular guidelines. And, at the very least, even if this document is never ratified, I hope that it helps future commanders and informs future policy.