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1999 Sweepstakes Rules Contain Drastic Changes!

When the many participants of the Collegiate Championship lobbied the ARRL to include our results in the official write-ups of the ARRL November Sweepstakes, we got an entire entry class, and a whole set of rules that we hadn't asked for, and that none of us had been consulted about in any way. Many schools chose not to enter in the Collegiate category in 1998, entering instead in their traditional entry category. For 1999, several rules changes promise to make the situation drastically worse. We expect very few of the active college and university clubs to enter in the School Radio Clubs entry category in 1999. So far, the ARRL Contest Branch has been very unreceptive to our complaints.


On 24 June 1999, Ken KM5FA, President of the University of Texas Amateur Radio Club discovered some disturbing rules changes in the School Radio Clubs category of the ARRL November Sweepstakes, and sent this message to several Internet reflectors:

     I would like to call everyone's attention to the following:
http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/98/rules-novss.html
     These are not, despite the "98" in the URL, the 1998 ARRL November 
Sweepstakes rules.  These are not, despite the fact that the link to the 1998 
rules on the ARRL's November 1998 contests page takes you to this URL, the 
1998 ARRL November Sweepstakes rules.  These appear to be new rules intended 
for 1999.

     There have been some DRASTIC changes made to the School Radio Clubs
category, including a rule banning faculty participation in the Collegiate
Championships, a rule allowing high school clubs into the competition,
and a rule making the simple addition of phone and CW scores (CW ops,
are you paying attention!?!!) the way to determine a "combined score."

     I don't believe anyone who operated in the 1998 School Radio Clubs
category has been asked about these changes.  I stumbled across them on
accident, trying to look up details of the 1998 rules.

     If you believe these rules are horrible, as I do, PLEASE email your
ARRL Division Director and ask him/her to forward your comments to the
ARRL Membership Services Committee as soon as possible.  This is the
protocol.  I've already sent in my comments.  You can find your Director's
email address at:
http://www.arrl.org/divisions/
     I think the entirety of the School Radio Club rules are now broken
beyond repair.  We were treated as second class entrants in the 1998
contests, and now we're even being told that some of our club members
cannot operate.  Unless some major changes are made before the 1999
Sweepstakes, it is almost a certainty that N5XU will not be submitting
as a Collegiate entry.

Ken Harker KM5FA
President, University of Texas Amateur Radio Club N5XU


David N7UE, Special Projects Coordinator for the Caltech Amateur Radio Club was one of many Collegiate Championship participants who sent comments to the ARRL Contest Branch concerning these rules changes. To our knowledge, no participant in the Collegiate Championship has ever been asked about these rules in their present form, nor has any participant written to support them.

Dear Dan and the folks at the ARRL:

We've stayed out of this until now figuring that the ARRL made a mistake,
it would recognize it and it would fix it without a lot of needless
diatribe.  Well, boy were we wrong!

I sure hope that you and your committees reconsider this matter because as
you have set it out, the Caltech Amateur Radio Club (W6UE) which has won
the CC for the last two years and various portions of it for the last 4
will not be participating this year.

While I generally applaud the work of the committees, they often appear to
work in vacuum without contacting or encouraging the input of those who are
affected by their decisions.  Without such input, it is impossible to make
good decisions.  We, for example, were never contacted or informed that a
major rules change was under consideration for the CC.  Since we've won it
two times in a row, you might think that contacting us would have been
appropriate.


The ARRL has for a long time questioned why it is that youth participation
in Amateur Radio is down -- well look no further.  Here is an excellent
opportunity to encourage such participation, it was working well and
achieving its intended purpose.  The college stations all agreed to have
the ARRL get involved so that it might be more widely recognized and even
more college stations might get involved, resulting in more youthful
contesters and hams and the growth of what we consider to be the better
part of ham radio.  So what does the ARRL do?  It breaks it -- and worse,
it sneaks around breaking it without telling anyone about it.  Don't think
that posting rules on an expired web site is not sneaking around.  You have
the various "members-only" techniques of disseminating information which
work quite well.  This was never disseminated in that fashion.


Your committees obviously have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER of how college radio
stations operate.  Ours, for example, is not capable of barring
participation by alumni, staff, faculty, grad students, post docs,
community members, and the like.  If we were to do so it would violate the
basic tenants of our club's organizational documents, the rules established
on campus, the mandates of those who fund us, and the promises that we have
made to members in order to encourage their cooperation and support in
building the station and team that has been so successful in the past in
winning this particular contest.  We've been an affiliated club since 1972
-- you have our organizational documents, please read them.  Many of the
elements in those organizational documents were suggested by the ARRL way
back when.

Quite simply, we would never break our covenant with our members.  I would
also point out that those making these rules do not and have not
participated in this contest (SS yes, CC no).  It also appears that these
contest "experts" have not bothered to communicate with a single person who
has participated in the CC.  Tea Parties have been held over smaller
matters.

So, barring a reversal from the ARRL (which we would favor, of course), we
will not participate in the SS as a "school station" and bar 75% of our
membership from the contest, but we will no doubt continue to participate
in the CC and you should expect that your sponsorship thereof will be
terminated.  If we do not hear favorably from you, we will work with the
other clubs to restart the CC under someone else's sponsorship -- perhaps
CQ magazine would be interested.  I've no doubt that we can get close to
100% of the participating schools to boycott the ARRL on this issue.  I
think you will recognize that this is true.  I'm sorry that you have caused
it to come to this.  Again, we hope that you will reconsider, however, your
attached letter leaves little room for negotiation.


Sincerely,
David B. Ritchie, N7UE
Special Projects Coordinator
Caltech Amateur Radio Club

Plans are underway to continue the Collegiate Championship in 1999 entirely separately, and with complete disregard to the School Radio Club entry category of the 1999 ARRL November Sweepstakes. We encourage your input at ka5wss@qsl.net and ask that you also send your comments to Dan N1ND at n1nd@arrl.org and to your ARRL Division Director. Please do this even if you are not a League member, or if your school chose not to enter in the Collegiate entry category in 1998.

All of the following college or university clubs have reported contacting either their ARRL Division Director, ARRL Section Manager, members of the ARRL Membership Services Committee, or the ARRL Contest Branch directly about the Collegiate Championship issue.

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Send comments to:
Ken Harker WM5R wm5r@wm5r.org
Last updated: 6 November 2011