A Guide to the Order
- Legal Stuff
- The Order's Administration
- Expectations of a White Scarf
- Joining The Order
- Traditions of The Order
- More Information
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. - Niccolo Machiavelli (The Prince)
When the Order was formed, the 2 poor souls who were the first members didn't have a clue what happens next. As a result, we decided at the first meeting to put together some information for new candidates. Don Greybeard wrote the Constitution for the Order, whilst this guide was mostly put together by Adib ibn Jelal.
Some of the stuff is taken from other sites written by White Scarves in other Kingdoms. I'm lazy, so why should I reinvent the wheel? I have modified it to suit the needs of the Order in Lochac. This guide is primarily designed for new members to the Order, but since this also covers the usual questions people have about the Order we also make it freely available for those interested in what it means to be a White Scarf in Lochac.
I'd like to thank Don Tivar for premission to reuse his article on the history of the White Scarves, and the members of Midrealm's Company of the Bronze Ring for their permission to reuse some of their material on candidate qualities.
Laws are like sausages, it's better to not see them being made. - Otto von Bismarck
The Order of the White Scarf of Lochac is defined by two things. The first is the Laws of the Kingdom, and the second is our own Constitiution.
The Order as defined by Lochac Law
I remember when legal used to mean lawful, now its some kind of loophole. - Leo Kessler
There shall be created the Order of the White Scarf of Lochac. The members thereof shall have demonstrated high achievement and service to the Kingdom in civilian (rapier) combat. Further, they shall have demonstrated chivalry, courtesy and those aspects of courtly behaviour and accomplishment expected of any Peer of Lochac.
The duties of the members of this Order are to promote and encourage their art within the Kingdom of Lochac. They are to advise the Earl Marshal and the Marshall Rapier on all aspects of the art of rapier combat including, but not limited to: safety, tactics, marshalling, training, period research, qualification and competition.
The selection of members of the Order will be at the pleasure of the Crown after consultation with the existing members of the Order.
Membership in this Order shall carry a Grant of Arms, which will take precedence before simple Grants of Arms. The precedence of the Order shall be combined with that of the Lochac Company of Archers.
All other matters shall be defined in the governing constitution of the Order, as maintained by the Principals of the Order.
The Order As Defined By Our Constitiution
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that balances are correct. - Princess Irulan (The Manual of Maud'Dib)
1. Establishment of the Order
1.1. There shall exist in Lochac an Order unto which the Crown shall select persons who have demonstrated all of the following qualities:
1.1.1. Exceptional skill and chivalry in combat with the weapons of civilian combat (Rapier);
1.1.2. Service to Lochac and its people;
1.1.3. Knowledge of the courtly graces; and
1.1.4. Obedience to the laws and ideals of Lochac and of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
1.2. This Order shall be known as the Order of the White Scarf of Lochac, hereinafter referred to as the Order.
1.3. Companions of the Order shall be entitled to place after their names the letters "OWL" to designate their membership in the Order, and shall be styled and announced in procession as "Companion of the White Scarf of Lochac."
1.4. Companions of the White Scarf may style themselves "Don" or "Doña". While this title is not unique to them, it is the traditional honorific for Companions of the Order.
2. Arms and Precedence
2.1. The Order shall carry with it, at the pleasure of the Crown, a Grant of Arms. Companions of the Order shall take precedence after all Nobility and Peerage, but before simple Grants of Arms. The precedence of the White Scarf shall be combined with that of the King's Company of Archers.
2.2. If the Order is given to a person who is already higher in precedence than stated above, then his/her precedence shall remain unchanged.
2.3. If the Order is given to a person who does not hold higher precedence, then his/her precedence shall date from his/her elevation to the Order.
3. Investiture in the Order
3.1. The selection of a member to the Order shall be publicly proclaimed by the Crown at an official event of the SCA, after consultation with the members of the Order.
3.2. Persons being selected must be present to receive the Order.
4. Membership in the Order
4.1. The number of members in the Order shall not be limited.
4.2. Companions of the Order shall retain their membership in the Order despite any later changes in residence.
4.3. Companions of the Order shall have the duty to advise the Crown on the advancement of candidates for membership
4.4. Companions of the Order shall have the duty to promote and encourage their art within the Kingdom of Lochac.
4.5. Companions of the Order shall advise the Earl Marshal and the Knight Marshal Rapier on, and do research into, all aspects of the art of civilian combat.
5. Principals of the Order
5.1. The King and Queen of Lochac shall be the Principals of the Order of the White Scarf, for the duration of Their reign.
5.2. Principals of the Order shall share all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of membership in the Order.
6. Insignia of the Order
6.1. The badge of the Order shall be determined in consultation with the Kingdom Herald.
6.2. Companions of the Order shall be entitled to wear a white scarf about the left shoulder or tied above the left elbow.
The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was. - Walt West
Since we can't expect the Crown to run the Order, one of the members of the Order takes on the job of Secretary for the Order. It's usually the one member who can't dodge quickly enough, or has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Be nice to the Secretary, and ply them copious amounts of alcohol or chocolate or coffee, depending on their preference! (The first Secretary of the Order wrote this, so he thought it was a damn good idea, considering he didn't dodge quickly enough!)
The Secretary is the Order's secretary, and intermediary between the Order and the Crown, and the Order and the populace. They are responsible for maintaining contact lists of Order members, taking the minutes of the meetings, and circulating the agenda for the next meeting. Copies of all received recommendations should be sent to the Secretary, and information regarding any items you wish to be placed on the agenda. The current Secretary is Don Aylwin Greymane.
Fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens as you have before you day by day, fall in love with her, and when you feel her great, remember that this greatness was won by men of courage, with knowledge of their duty, and with a sense of honour in action. - Thucydides
The Order of the White Scarf of Lochac builds on a long and glorious history first established in Ansteorra. To understand our history is to also make some understanding of our place in the Society.
The History of the Order across the Society prior to the OWL
by Don Tivar Moondragon
The Order of the White Scarf was originally created as an award in the Principality of Ansteorra in March of A.S. XIII (1979). It was intended to provide recognition for excellence in the growing population of rapier fighters in the principality. When Ansteorra became a kingdom in May of A.S. XIV, the order was released from the parent kingdom of Atenveldt to Ansteorra for its continued use. At that time there were some 40 or 50 rapier fighters in Ansteorra, and a few handfuls scattered throughout the rest of the Known World.
In the Renaissance a white scarf was worn as a badge of military rank. The only picture I've ever seen shows it worn as a baldric, left shoulder to right hip. Obviously this would be unacceptable in an SCA context, so a much smaller version, worn only about the shoulder, was designed. (Cyrano de Bergerac was the source of the original idea.) There is also a picture of Sir Walter Raleigh wearing a white scarf tied just above his left elbow (see below). I'm not sure if this was also a military badge, or if it is a lady's favor, but the style of wearing White Scarves in this fashion is becoming more common.
Sir Walter Raleigh wearing the White Scarf
The Order continued to add new members as the rapier community in Ansteorra grew. It became traditional for the Crown to hold meetings with the Order to discuss potential new members, as well as issues of general interest to the rapier community, such as rules changes or inter-kingdom events. The Crown is not required to hold these meetings, or to take any action based on the opinions expressed there, but they generally do. (The Ansteorran Crown has granted their Order of the White Scarf the Right of Consultation, which requires the Crown to consult with the order, but it is still not obligated to take any action based on that consultation). It is also traditional for the White Scarves in particular, and the rapier community as a whole, to look to the Queen much more than to the King. This is based partly on the fact that several prominent members of the White Scarves have Elizabethan personas, and partly on a "Three Musketeers" flavor from the days when the general belief was that the SCA's time period extended to 1650. The Queen's Champion in Ansteorra is traditionally decided by a rapier list; most of the other kingdoms that have rapier combat also have a Queen's Rapier Champion, or something similar.
In October of A.S. XXI (1987), the kingdom of the Outlands signed a treaty with Ansteorra to create their own Order of the White Scarf. Since that time, there have been some 30 or 40 members added.
In June of A.S. XXVII (1992), the Kingdom of Trimaris signed a treaty with Ansteorra and the Outlands to become the third kingdom in the Known World to have an Order of the White Scarf. At about the same time, the Kingdom of the East debated creating their own White Scarf, but decided against it.
In the Spring of A.S. XXVII (1994), Atenveldt and An Tir also joined the White Scarf treaty. Their addition to the treaty was done entirely by mail; previously, the groundwork had been done by mail, but the actual signing was done at an interkingdom event. In this case, there wasn't an interkingdom event conveniently available (Estrella war having just passed, and Pennsic being several months away), so it was decided not to wait.
In January of AS XXX (1996), Atlantia joined the White Scarf Treaty, followed by Caid in November AS XXXI (1996). In October of AS XXXII (1997) the new kingdom of Æthelmearc joined the White Scarf Treaty and in January of AS XXXII (1998) the new kingdom of Artemisia joined the White Scarf Treaty, bringing the total to nine.
The East Kingdom has the Order of the Golden Rapier, which was briefly allied with the White Scarves, but the treaty was abrogated by their Crown in October of 1996.
Most of the Orders carry a Grant of Arms, and it is customary in most kingdoms that holders of the White Scarf are addressed by the title "Don" or "Dona" There was a major discussion in the Heralds' Office in A.S. XXVI (1991) about the use of that title. In 1980, a decision had been made at the Laurel level that the title "Don" was reserved for knights. This decision was never disseminated to the general populace and, as far as I know, only two knights ever used it. The result of the 1991 discussion was that "Don" could be used by anyone with an AoA or above, which is more in keeping with historical practice. (Just to complicate matters, there has been a group of rapier fighters in the East Kingdom using the title "Don" as part of their ranking structure, the "gold cords." This group is based upon the English Masters of Defence, but has no "official" status within the East Kingdom.)
The History of the Order of the White Scarf of Lochac
Lochac joined the White Scarf Treaty in July of AS XXXVII (2002), when Lochac became a Kingdom in it's own right. The Premier members of the Order were elevated at the first Lochac Coronation.
Successive members have been elevated to the Order by subsequent Crowns. You can see the history for each member at The Order page.
So deserving of praise that his very enemies were always obliged to praise him. - Baldesar Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier)
One of the first questions we ask ourselves when we receive the scarf is what am I expected to do now? There aren't many, and those expectations are in the areas of Dress, Behaviour and Fighting Skill.
That thing on your shoulder is a target, pure and simple. It says "Aim Here". - Cadet Jeremy James Scurlock
This may seem like a funny topic to discuss, but none the less is important. Dons are considered to be one of the elite within the Society. As such we are expected to demonstrate the ideals of the Society, and that includes giving the appearance of someone wearing pre-1600 clothing.
Just because you fence, you don't have to wear clothing of the Renaissance or Elizabethan England. You just have to meet the requirements of pre-1600 clothing. The Society baseline is defined as "an attempt", but this baseline should not be acceptable to any member of the Order. Some Kingdoms use clothing as a measure of acceptability, and whilst it is not one of our main requirements, we do believe we should be setting a good example of what it means to be wearing clothing of the period. Unfortunately we no longer have the luxury of being able to slum it in T-tunic and jeans; we must always be an example to the populace.
The only real dress requirement that members of the Order should consider is to wear their scarf. It is the symbol of the Order, and should be one of the essential parts of your dress. Get used to wearing it and fencing with it on. The populace expects it of us.
Let him do all that other do, yet never depart from comely conduct, but behave himself with that good judgement which will not allow him to engage in any folly; let him laugh, jest, banter, frolic, and dance, yet in such a manner as to show always that he is genial and discreet; and let him be full of grace in all that he says or does. - Baldesar Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier)
A Don is above all else a Gentleman. The above quote from Castiglione says it all. If we can all live up to this ideal, the respect the Order receives from the populace will be justified.
An interesting conundrum is that whilst you are only a single member of the Order, to those you interact with YOU ARE THE ORDER! Everything you say and do reflects on the honour and perception of the Order. We are no longer individuals; we are representatives of the ideals of the Society. It's the hardest thing to remember at those times when we are hip deep in crocodiles!
I judge it to be his first duty to know how to handle every kind of weapon, both on foot and on horse, and to know the advantages of each kind. - Baldesar Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier)
The biggest expectation of any fencer is that a White Scarf opponent will give them a tough fight. This expectation will never change, falter or waver. Thus we all have a duty to not neglect our own training in the course of teaching others. Sometimes it is more important that those we teach fence against the toughest opponents. We must provide those opponents ourselves. By keeping our fighting skills at their peak, we teach just as much as we would during a formal lesson.
This of course does not mean we should humiliate our opponents during the bout. Consider matching the weapons form if it's a novice, or using your weaker hand. There are many other ways to handicap yourself, so those novice opponents have a chance to extend and develop themselves.
Rank does not confer privilege or give power, It imposes responsibility. - Peter F. Drucker
Any person of rank receives certain duties as a part of accepting the rank, and the Order is no exception. Our duties are simple, we must promote the art, we must provide our advice to the Crown and the Kingdom's Rapier Marshallate, and we must evaluate candidates for the Order.
Promoting the Art
A new fighter works to improve himself. A cadet works to improve himself, his friends and his Don. A Don works to improve the Kingdom. - Don Robin of Gilwell
One of our main duties is to promote the art. There are many ways we can do that.
One way is to be involved with the activities of the Royal Guild of Defence. For some people, this would be considered the working class approach. For Lochac's first Dons, it's not so much working class, as what they've been doing as Guildmasters. They've been performing as fencing teachers, running an open school with students of differing levels. The students gauge their progress via playing prizes etc, and learn within that school environment how to become teachers themselves. It's a formal educational style of promoting the art.
Future Dons may decide to promote the art more as a roving instructor, Knight Errant sort of person. A bit like Kane, they walk the Earth and do stuff when they see something needs doing. They may decide to become mentors to individuals, which follows the principle of a strong student / teacher relationship. It's a more formal individual arrangement, and much more personal to the people involved.
Whether a Don decides to be a teacher or mentor is a choice they make for themselves. Both achieve the same purpose, just in different ways.
Regardless of our choice of teaching method, the best way of promoting our art is to make it fun, and to show that we are having fun whilst fencing. For some people the fun is in the fighting, others it's the research, and still others it's pushing their physical and mental abilities to the limit. Regardless of how anyone approaches fencing, it should be fun. Make it fun and people will play and fence. This doesn't mean that all tourneys should be a silly novelty form, as this will lose the serious fencers. Sometimes it's as simple as just thanking your opponent or even making a joke after a particularly good attack by your opponent. Just remember to have fun, and the rest should take care of itself.
Advising the Crown and the Rapier Marshallate
You ought to obey your lord in all things profitable or honourable to him, not in those that will bring him harm and shame. Thus, if he should command you to do some deed of treachery, not only are you bound not to do it, but you are bound not to do it - both for your own sake and in order not to minister to the shame of your lord. - Baldesar Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier)
Now that you have reached this exalted position, people now think your opinions and thoughts may be useful! Lofty ideals but don't let it go to your head. (We actually are only required to provide advice in a limited area, so this duty is not as onerous as it could be.)
Firstly, we have a duty to advise the Crown on the advancement of candidates for membership. This is done formally through our Secretary after a poll of the Order. The only other duty we have associated with this is that we should be watching those around us and nominating candidates if we feel they may be close to meeting the requirements. We should also be watching the individuals on our candidate lists so that we can provide an accurate assessment during future meetings.
Secondly, we have a duty to advise the Earl Marshal and the Kingdom Rapier Marshal on, and do research into, all aspects of the art of civilian combat. This is simply a requirement to respond to questions posed by the marshallate. If the KRM wants commentary on rules changes, we should provide that commentary. Request for commentary rarely results in more than a handful of comments, and usually mostly by novices. As a member of the Order you theoretically have more experience than most, and should be able to provide useful commentary on the direction of civilian combat within Lochac. Make your experience count!
But because such a complete perfection as this is very rarely, and perhaps never, found in human nature, a man who feels himself wanting in some particular ought not to lose confidence in himself or the hope of reaching a high mark, even though he cannot attain to that perfect and highest excellence to which he aspires. For in every area there are many ranks besides the highest that are praiseworthy, and he who aims at the summit will seldom fail to mount more than half way. - Baldesar Castiglione (The Book of the Courtier)
Ask any Don what it means to be a Don, and you'll get many different answers. The best answers invariably sound like they are the least helpful, and to a great extent this is because being a Don isn't about checking off lines of a to-do list.
A White Scarf is someone you can point to or look to as inspiration. Gentleman, scholar, fencer, teacher and leader all embodied within one person. The first paragraph of Lochac Law defining the Order sums it up nicely:
"... The members thereof shall have demonstrated high achievement and service to the Kingdom in civilian (rapier) combat. Further, they shall have demonstrated chivalry, courtesy and those aspects of courtly behaviour and accomplishment expected of any Peer of Lochac."
I believe that last phrase was quite deliberate. The populace of Lochac accords the same respect to the White Scarf as they do to the Peerage orders. It's appropriate that WS candidates meet the same requirements.
So obvious that we only notice its absence is honour. No amount of success can hide lack of honour. Closely allied to this is the general belief that they must comport themselves as befits a Peer. This is the requirements of the Law and the populace of Lochac in general. Since the populace believes we are like Peers, and many treat us as such, we must at all times behave as if we are Peers. Once we become members of the Order, anything we do reflects back on the Order as a whole. Hardest to define, but vital, is the character of the candidate, their bearing, justified self-confidence, courtesy, leadership abilities, and so on. These are just some of the elements of what we collectively refer to as "Peerage Qualities".
Following that, a Don should be a leader in the rapier community. Their absence should leave a noticeable void, and their presence should be recognised both on and off the field. They should be passionate about rapier combat and the community of fencers. If you can not point to some thing the person has done to improve or "raise the bar" for rapier combat in the Kingdom or their local group, maybe they just are not a Don yet. Alternatively, they should be the person others look to for inspiration, or are pointed out as suitable role models by the general community.
What is required is, in a word, passion. It is the one thing we all have in common. Passion for rapier combat (or just combat in general; fighting is fighting), passion for teaching, passion for LEARNING. Passion.
Beyond that, there are some broad categories and general ideals that we hope to see in ourselves and in our future members. These qualities cannot be completely defined, but here we can take a stab at it:
We want them to be an outstanding fencer, but winning tournaments isn't the only way to show it. They should be a good fight, and should maintain a consistently high standard. As a whole, a candidate must fight on a level at least up to our average.
This is not something easily recognized by many. It is probably easier for the general person to recognize mastery of skill. Miyamoto Musashi best described it in his Book of Five Rings. "What a master does seems to be done with ease and without any loss of timing. Anything which is performed by someone who has experience does not look busy." This is not a foreign concept to our European forebears, and Castiglione gives us the Italian term for the concept in his Book of the Courtier - sprezzatura.
We want the person to serve and teach, but we can't say what type of service or how much they should teach. Teaching in large classes is good. Teaching individuals is good. Running tournaments is good. Being a local marshal is good. Other things are good too.
We want the person to participate, but we can't define how much participation is enough. However, a recommendation for a candidate should not be the first time we have heard of the candidate. Participation in rapier includes not just fighting, but teaching, fostering rapier in new groups, marshalling and so on. Active participation in the rapier community, and to some degree in other activities in the SCA is looked for. We want to see someone who is an active participant of the SCA community, not just the rapier community.
We want them to be a leader, but that doesn't necessarily mean leading in a melee, nor functioning well in a rapier-related office. In essence, they must already have the character of nobility, which inspires respect in others.
Candidates may be stronger in some areas, and weaker in others, but on the whole we'd be looking for a balanced individual, who is respected by the members of the fencing community, and by the populace of Lochac.
If you can convince him you are a gentleman of stature, he will ask you to join his circle - Don Diego de la Vega, (The Mask of Zorro)
Quite simply, you don't get to join the Order until such time as the Crown decides you can join. Typically, this will happen after the Order recommends you to the Crown. Usually the Crown will ask you to join the Order, and you will negotiate with the Crown when you would like to have your elevation. One of the few hard and fast rules is that you must be present to be inducted into the Order. The Crown may also delegate the delivery of the invitation to another member of the Order.
Oh and one small point should be made here, just because someone is asked to join the Order, does not mean they will necessarily accept the award. For one reason or another, an individual may not feel capable or willing to be a member of the Order. The Order respects the choice of the individual.
Because I have known the torment of thirst, I would build a well where others may drink. - Ernest Thompson Seton
In some other Kingdoms, the Dons have a tradition of taking personal students, and calling them Cadets. Usually the Cadet will be given a red scarf as a symbol of this tie to a Don, similar to the way a Knight gives a red belt to his Squires.
The Order of the White Scarf of Lochac neither endorses nor discourages the practice of taking cadets. That is an issue for each Don within Lochac to decide individually for themselves. For some it has value, and for others it is seen as a discouraging practice.
The Order of the White Scarf of Lochac STRONGLY DISCOURAGES the practice of using red scarves to mark cadets. If you wish to publicly demonstrate the taking of a cadet, please use your own personal badge or arms, not a red scarf. This way you do not foster the belief that cadet is a rank or award. Cadets are personal students, and any outward sign of this fosterage should indicate this.
One of our duties is to teach. It is not necessary to take cadets, or run a school to provide that teaching. Continue as you have done till now, then decide if you wish to change anything. Just teach! How you do that is irrelevant.
...and grant me the strength to endure my blessings. - Ziggy
Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil for us to achieve our goals. This is an outline of how we try to handle this task.
Face to Face Meetings
The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. - James Baldwin
We have tried in the past to have regular meeting, but with members spread across two countries this has proved to be impossible to achieve on a regular basis. At present, the only face to face meetings with Crown that occur on a regular basis are at the Kingdom's 2 largest camping event, that being Canterbury Fair in Christchurch, New Zealand and Rowany Festival in Sydney, Australia. Other meetings may occur throughout the year, but this is by formal request from the Crown.
Only members of the Order may attend the face to face meetings of the Order. However, if an individual is a member of a White Scarf order in another Kingdom, they are also welcome to attend the meeting, and voice their opinion. This of course is one of the fundamental underlying principles of the White Scarf Treaty, ie mutual recognition.
If a member of the Order is unable to attend, they may send a formal proxy with another member of the Order. The proxy should be in writing (letter or email), and should stipulate how their proxy vote is to be used. Any member attending by proxy should also notify the Secretary that they are taking this step.
The Heirs to the Kingdom of Lochac may also attend the meeting, upon invitation by the Crown. One of the duties of the Secretary of the Order is to ask the Crown if they wish the Heirs to attend the meeting.
There may also be other situations that will require guests to attend the meeting, and this invitation will always come from the Crown. The Crown as the Premiers of the Order retains this right unto themselves. If the Order would like to request a guest, the Secretary is usually charged with petitioning the Crown for leave for the guest's attendance.
Lastly, if you are a new member, introduce yourself to everybody, not all of us may know who you are. Your input is valued, but don't feel you have to make a comment on any business item. If you're more comfortable just sitting quietly getting the feel of things, do so. The only time you will need to say anything is during a vote on a candidate, and then you have to choice between yes, support, no or abstain.
Meetings are usually pretty informal, but generally run as follows:
- Review of any previous business
- General Business
- Discussion of Candidates
Any member of the order may raise agenda items under general business. Please contact the Secretary of the Order at least 2 weeks before the meeting to get an item placed on the agenda.
One thing to remember with respect to meetings. We want them quick, we want to be productive, and we don't want them to go on and on forever, and more importantly we don't want to waste the Crown's precious time. After all they are at the event to have fun as well. All members should come to the meeting prepared. The Secretary of the Order will try to get the agenda out 2 weeks before the meeting, including copies of any recommendations etc. This is so you can prepare for the meeting. Take the time to prepare, and we won't have to organise a Brute Squad to deal with you!
What this means in reality is that each member should have an understanding of the items on the agenda, and be prepared to either raise questions they have concerning candidates, or to place their vote concerning the candidate. Thus far, all members hate meetings with a passion, and the less time spent in meetings, the more time we have to fence and enjoy fine wine. Now, don't you want to join us in a fine wine instead of in a meeting???
If you don't have anything to say, you won't be called upon to repeat it. - Calvin Coolidge
The Dons List is our main tool for discussing business since this is the only way to discuss anything as an Order in a timely manner. One of the things we ensure happens after your elevation is that you get subscribed to the List. The volume is low, and we don't archive anything so feel free to be as brutally honest as you want. Typically volumes are pretty low, unless we happen to be discussing a candidate in detail. The list has a digest option, so feel free to make use of it if required. Contact ibn Jelal who administers the list if you haven't heard about subscription, or you can do it yourself through the Dons list web page.
Topics For Discussion
Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. - Harlan Ellison
The topics discussed on the list are the same one listed for face to face meetings.
General business can cover any other business not related to problems, or candidates. Typically this is just general discussion about whatever takes our fancy, but pretty much it's bouncing ideas around about kit, events or things we want to do.
Problems are problems specifically related to rapier combat, or the Order.
Candidate discussions ar probably one of the main topics of conversation. Typically they'll happen when one of us brings someone up for discussion after an event. This can be as simple as noting someone gave you a tough fight and maybe we should add them to the Watch List, or more in depth discussion of someone on the Discuss List.
The best index to a person's character is a) how he treats people who can't do him any good and b) how he treats people who can't fight back. - Abigail Van Buren
Candidate lists are used for facilitating the discussion of candidates. The Order uses 2 lists, which are labelled "Discuss" and "Watch". It is our practice to also list the main area of concern that we believe prevents the candidate from being acceptable to the Order for elevation. This is usually a 1-sentence summary such as "Candidates fencing ability unknown to most members of the Order".
Candidates on the Discuss List, are people the Order believes could satisfy the requirements for elevation within the next 6-12 months. In general, we will keep a candidate on the Discuss list if they only have one or 2 minor areas that need further work before the candidate becomes acceptable.
Candidates on the Watch list are people the Order believes could satisfy the requirements for elevation within the next 12 - 24 months. Any member of the Order may nominate someone for inclusion on the Watch list. In general candidates on the Watch List have 1 or 2 major areas that need work or evaluation.
In all discussions regarding candidates, each member should attempt to leave aside their personal feelings, and only deal with the candidate using a factual not emotive basis. Information regarding candidates should be something we can verify.
Candidate discussion are pretty fluid, and are initiated by one of our members starting the conversation online, or when we receive a recommendation from a member of the populace. It will frequently start with a listing of positives, and maybe any deficiencies they've noticed. The discussions normally resolve themselves fairly quickly, and typically a decision on which list a candidate should be on will make itself known.
Sometimes during the coversation, it will become obvious that the candidate has satisfied the requirements for elevation, and at this point we would vote on whether we should recommend the candidate to Crown. The vote must be formally called for by one of the members to make it clear that this is a formal vote, not a discussion. If the vote is a successful, the Secretary will then write a recommendation letter on behalf of the Order, detailing the reasons we believe the candidate meets the requirements. If the vote for the candidate is not successful, the Order shall make a resolution for further follow -up required (Eg we may decide to get some more information about the candidate), and whether the candidate should remain on the Discuss list, or be put down on the Watch list etc.
Whenever a candidate is placed on a list, the date they first appeared on that list is also included. Roughly every 12 months, the Secretary will post the lists to refresh memories, and also open the floor for discussion of any of the names on the lists. This is so that the Order may formally review the progress of the candidate. A part of this discussion will include which list is appropriate for this candidate. The purpose of the review is to ensure that candidates don't just sit on a list without being evaluated on a regular basis. For candidates on the Discuss list, if they stay on that list for 24 months, they will be flagged for critical evaluation. The questions we should be asking ourselves at this point are "why are we delaying on this candidate?" and "what can we do to help this candidate?" It may even be decided that the candidate is better placed on the Watch list, rather than being continually discussed by the Order. Another part of the discussion may also involve brainstorming what the Order needs to do to help the candidate and to make plans for getting some time with them.
If you don't vote the wrong lizard might get in! - Ford Prefect
Due to the rare number of times we have a face to face meeting, voting within The Order is typically conducted online. The Order uses a consensus voting system, which requires an acceptance score that must be met before we recommend a candidate to Crown.
The consensus acceptance score is calculated as follows:
((Number of Dons)/2)-1.
So, for 17 Dons, the consensus score is 7.5.
A member of The Order must formally call for a vote on a candidate. Once accepted by The Order's Secretary, polling takes place for the next 14 days, after which the Secretary will call the poll to a close and tally the result. Votes are made either via a post to the Dons list, or via an email direct to The Order's Secretary.
During a poll, the votes are tallied as follows:
Yes = +1
Support = +0.5
No = -1
Abstain or failure to vote = 0
A support vote is a qualified yes i.e. when we have no objections to the candidate but don't know them well enough to vote yes. This frequently occurs when we haven't fenced the candidate in a long time, or never met them. After all we are spread across 6 time zones from Perth to Christchurch.
There is not a qualified No vote. A No vote is always counted at full value. So if someone says, "I don't support this candidate", it is tallied as a No.
If at the end of the poll the vote tally is equal to or exceeds the consensus score, the vote is deemed successful and The Order's Secretary will then write a recommendation letter to Crown stating that The Order believe the candidate is worthy of admission to The Order.
If at the end of the poll the vote tally is less than the consensus score, then the vote is deemed unsuccessful. In this case a 3 month moratorium is imposed for calling a vote for that particular candidate. It is also a chance for us to discuss in detail over the coming months what we perceive to be the issue, and what we feel can be done to support the candidate, and to help them progress.
So why do we use this system? Basically it requires the support of more than 2/3 of The Order for a candidate to be acceptable, or more specifically less than 1/3 of The Order voting against the candidate. Since the polls frequently don't have a 100% return, this is the fairest way of deciding the poll, which also takes into account the reserved yes votes we sometimes feel is necessary. It delivers what we require, a consensus opinion regarding a candidate.
I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is the obvious thing to most people, but we'll point it out, as it's important. EVERYTHING discussed in a White Scarf meeting or online is confidential. We do not discuss candidate evaluations, nor do we show the minutes or agenda to anyone outside the Order. Not our spouses, not our students, nor the Peers. Everything stays within the confines of the Order.
It is most important that candidates not know they are being discussed. Some people will fall apart knowing they are under scrutiny, some will become disheartened if they know they've been held over. Then there are the ones that become insufferable egotists. It is far better all round to leave candidates in the dark about what we discuss, and who we discuss.
Lastly, we do not disclose the minutes of previous meetings to new members. Once someone is elevated, they ARE a White Scarf. We accept them and their opinion as freely as we accept the opinion of all our current members. They don't need to see what we said about them, it provides no useful information for them, and is counter productive to their acceptance. New members will receive an update of what we are dicsussing and our candidate lists when they join the mailing list. This should provide all the information needed for them to hit the ground running.
Once is the thing itself, twice is the way we've always done it, three times is tradition. - West Kingdom adage
Whilst we haven't been around as long as some of the White Scarf orders, we have developed some of our own traditions.
The most important tradition we have is that every new member is given a scarf by a current member. You can see this reflected in the history of the order on the OWL home page. This is done as we believe it engenders a sense of belonging in the new member, letting them feel connected to history of the Order in some small way.
The second tradition we have is that use of WOL's. (Gratuitous Pooh reference if you don't get it.) We have taken to using the Owl as a badge for the order, due to it's abbreviation as OWL. Many of us have small badges or tokens in owl form. One of the ways we have taken to encouraging good fencing wherever we see it is to give out these badges / tokens as personal encouragement tokens. To receive a WOL has come to be seen as the highest form of praise from a Don, and something to be valued. So as an OWL, consider sourcing a bunch of small owl tokens you can use to encourage the good work you see, and other ways you can use the Owl badge to show your membership in the Order.
These are the links where some of the information used to help write this guide was found.
"Qualities of a Warder"
"Students/Wards/Cadets - What they are and why "
"Ten Questions for Prospective Cadets"
"What is a Don?"
"What is the Order of the White Scarf"
"History of the Order of the White Scarf"