SARI Governing Body (revised 2021)

The Governing Body of the South Asian Religions Unit is comprised of three committees: the Administrative Committee, the Steering Committee, and the Advisory Committee. The two SARI Co-Chairs sit on the Administrative Committee, chair the Steering Committee, and consult and serve as a liaison between the Advisory Committee and the two other committees. 

1. The SARI Co-Chairs are elected for three- to five-year terms with the first year being a training year as a member of the Steering Committee unless elected from within the Steering Committee in which case the term is two to four years. At least one Co-Chair position is required to be filled by a senior scholar and the second position is open but we encourage a diversity of rank (i.e., a junior or mid-career scholar). The two Co-Chairs are elected off-cycle from one another to ensure continuity of administrative knowledge and procedures. To that end, Co-Chairs are required to keep careful and meticulous documentation of communication with the AAR, SARI-Listserv (SARI-L), list subscribers, the three governing committees. The Co-Chairs are responsible for coordinating communication and work between the Administrative and Steering Committees and to consult the Advisory Committee when circumstances require further guidance. 

The Co-Chairs sit on the SARI-L Administrative Committee and are involved in the day-to-day oversight of the listserv. The Co-Chairs also chair the Steering Committee in the solicitation, selection, and implementation of the SARI Unit panels at the AAR. This requires putting together and sharing the call for papers, sending out paper reminders and AAR deadlines to SARI-L before the Annual Meeting. Co-Chairs guide the Steering Committee through the selection of paper proposals and, based on the feedback from the Steering Committee, finalize and schedule the panel offerings, including organizing co-sponsorships with other Units where appropriate. To facilitate this process, the Co-Chairs are expected to maintain collegial and supportive relationships with related units, such as Hinduism, North American Hinduism, Jain Studies, and Sikh Studies, among others. 

At the Annual Meeting, the Co-Chairs’ responsibilities include attending all SARI panels (either separately or together), recording attendance at all SARI panels, scheduling and facilitating the agendas for the Business Meeting and Steering Committee Meeting. Per the AAR’s guidelines, they are also responsible for yearly reporting to the AAR following the Annual Meeting. Additionally, every five years, when units undergo regular cyclical review, the Co-Chairs are responsible for creating and submitting the five-year report required by the AAR, and liaising with the AAR to implement any recommendations, as required. At the time of the five-year review, the Co-Chairs should also instigate and oversee a review of SARI-L rules, policies, and Governing Body by the Administrative and Steering Committees.

The Co-Chairs oversee the election of the Steering Committee by keeping track of members’ terms, scheduling elections, and soliciting self-nominations. The Co-Chairs are responsible for putting together a slate of Steering Committee nominees, which includes soliciting at least two candidates per open spot and attending to issues of representation on the Steering Committee. Ideally, the Steering Committee includes scholars working on a multiplicity of South Asian religious traditions—including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism—as well as from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The Steering Committee should also be representative of scholars at different career stages. As this balance is included as part of the Unit’s review process, the Co-Chairs are responsible for reaching out to and encouraging scholars in under-represented areas to run as well as scholars at the junior, mid, and senior career levels. In addition, the Co-Chairs are responsible for keeping track of the membership terms of the Advisory Committee and recruiting senior scholars to volunteer to serve. 

2. The Administrative Committee is composed of two volunteer administrators (historically, individuals involved in founding/hosting the listserv and/or former Co-Chairs) and the current Co-Chairs. All four members act as list administrators (admins). There is no term limit for volunteer administrators. The role of the SARI-L Administrative Committee is to oversee the SARI-Listserv and to administer the list rules and administrative policies. While list subscribers, including Steering Committee subscribers, can notify the Administrative Committee if a post appears to break a rule, the final decision regarding a response to any such complaint lies with the Administrative Committee. The Administrative Committee is also responsible for responding to all member queries about SARI-L. Since many issues related to the listserv tend to be time-sensitive, the Administrative Committee has authority over whether to put an individual on moderated status for breaking rules or to put a thread on filtered status (see policies section). The Administrative Committee requires a vote from the Steering Committee to formally suspend a subscriber from the list. This requires that the Administrative Committee keep clear records and documentation of individual infractions. 

Beyond the day-to-day administration of the SARI-L, the Administrative Committee is also responsible for maintaining the online structure for the SARI community. This means making sure that the SARI website, archives, and bibliographies are up to date and are maintained on the appropriate platform. The Administrative Committee also works with the Steering Committee to review and update the list rules and policies every five years alongside the AAR’s unit review. 

3. The Steering Committee is composed of seven elected members from a diverse set of fields, methodological approaches, and academic rank plus the two Co-Chairs. Steering Committee members are elected for 3-5 year terms. The primary role of Steering Committee members is to evaluate proposals for the AAR Annual Meeting, which takes place (usually) in March of each year. In addition to adding rankings to proposals and panels, Steering Committee members should contribute prompt and substantive comments in reviewing paper and panel proposals. Members of the Steering Committee are expected to attend the AAR Annual Meeting whenever possible while serving on the Steering Committee. At the Annual Meeting, members are expected to attend the SARI Business Meeting, the SARI Steering Committee Meeting, and to publicize and attend SARI panels. 

Members of the Steering Committee do not serve on the Administrative Committee and, therefore, are neither listserv administrators nor are they involved in the day-to-day running of SARI-L. The Steering Committee does participate in administering some long-term aspects of SARI-L, such as those around list rules and subscription. For example, suspension of a SARI-L subscriber requires a majority vote from the Steering Committee to be called by the Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs may request additional input from the Steering Committee regarding SARI-L as they see fit, but on a limited basis and in a timely manner. 

4. The Advisory Committee is composed of five senior scholars who have previously served as RISA/SARI Co-Chairs or on the Steering Committee. The Advisory Committee members serve in a volunteer capacity to advise the current Co-Chairs and Steering Committee for a term of three to five years. The Steering Committee may seek the guidance of the Advisory Committee in such circumstances where the longer history of the Unit and the listserv or previous experience would be helpful in the decision-making process. The Advisory Committee serves in a consulting role; they are expected to provide guidance on a consensus model or through a range of individual perspectives but do not have voting privileges regarding SARI matters. 

 SARI Governing Policies: 


Procedures for Bringing the Steering Committee to a Vote:

The Co-Chairs are responsible for keeping the Steering Committee up to date on SARI-L matters and bringing the Steering Committee to a vote when necessary. The Steering Committee can be brought to an in-person vote during the AAR via anonymous paper ballot to be tallied by the Co-Chairs or via a virtual poll during a Zoom meeting. To bring the Steering Committee to a virtual vote via email requires the Co-Chairs to circulate an electronic ballot for a short and clearly designated period of voting (e.g., 24 hours) as issues in this context are typically time-sensitive. A simple majority is required for a motion to pass and the Co-Chairs are required to report the results to the Steering Committee within 24-hours of the completion of a vote. 

Procedures for Impeachment:

  • One or both Co-Chairs can be impeached upon a simple majority no-confidence vote of the Steering Committee. In such a scenario, the Steering Committee will nominate a Co-Chair replacement from within the Steering Committee until the next election the following November.  
  • If the Co-Chairs or Steering Committee becomes aware that one or both of the volunteers who sit on the Administrative Committee are not properly administering the SARI-L rules and policies or are abusing their power, they can be impeached upon a simple majority no-confidence vote of the Steering Committee. The Co-Chairs are responsible for finding a qualified replacement. 
  • If three members of the Steering Committee believe that another member is acting with negligence and/or bias with regard to their duties, they can call for a no-confidence vote by the Steering Committee. 
  • In the case of complaints about previous Co-Chairs, Steering Committees, and Administrative Committees, the governing body is not responsible for investigating past actions or decisions nor for condemning or condoning any such actions. 
  • In the case of the impeachment of a Co-Chair or Steering Committee member, all committee business will proceed with one less member until the next election. In the event that, in this scenario, a Steering Committee vote is tied (as there will be only 8 members) then the Administrative Committee will come to a consensus to determine the outcome. 

SARI Elections: 


SARI Steering Committee elections are held between October and November when there is an upcoming vacancy on the Steering Committee. Newly elected members are invited to attend the SARI Steering Committee Meeting at the AAR in November before their term begins in January. Candidates for all positions should self-nominate. SARI does not accept outside nominations because of the time it would take to verify that each nominee would like to stand for election. Scholars in the field can serve on the Steering Committee and then directly be elected Co-Chair or can serve up to two non-contiguous terms on the Steering Committee.


For the Co-Chair Position: 

Co-Chairs are elected for three to five-year terms with the first year being a training year on the Steering Committee unless elected from within the Steering Committee. Starting with the 2022 election cycle, candidates will self-nominate directly for the Co-Chair position rather than being elected through a system of the most votes. In addition, one of the Co-Chair positions must be held by a senior scholar in the field while the second Co-Chair position can be either junior or senior. Current and former Steering Committee members are especially encouraged to apply for the Co-Chair position, in which case, their term would be two to four years and would not include the one-year training period on the Steering Committee.


In order to stand for election, a Co-Chair candidate should self-nominate, hold a Ph.D., and be a current member of the AAR. Each candidate is asked to submit a brief statement about their research, professional background, history with SARI, and interest in and professional experience relevant to the Co-Chair position. SARI members should consider the ways in which a particular candidate will chair the Steering Committee, help administer SARI-L, and best represent members’ interests and commitments.


For a Steering Committee Member: 

Steering Committee members are elected for 3-5 years. Steering Committee members self-nominate to run for election and/or are recruited by the Co-Chairs to stand for election. To stand for election, the candidate should hold a Ph.D., and be a current member of the AAR. Each candidate is asked to submit a brief statement about their research, professional background, history with SARI, and interest in serving on the Steering Committee. SARI members should consider how a particular candidate will represent their interests and commitments on the Steering Committee when voting.

SARI-L Administrative Policies 


Moderated Status:

The SARI-L listserv is an unmoderated listserv, meaning that any subscriber in good standing can freely post to the list from the email ID linked to their subscription. However, SARI-L subscribers who do not respect list rules may be put on moderated status on a case-by-case basis. SARI-L subscribers who have been determined to have violated list rules are given one warning via email from the Administrative Committee before being put on moderated status for the first time. If the subscriber continues to break the list rules, the Administrative Committee will email a second time notifying the member that they are on moderated status and stating which rule has been broken. Once a subscriber is on moderated status, any of their posts will be held for approval by the administrators before being posted. List subscribers on moderated status are eligible to be removed from moderated status after one year of not breaking any list rules; at that time, they should write to the list administrators ( requesting removal from moderated status and agreeing to abide by list rules. A list subscriber previously on moderated status who breaks the rules again after being reinstated will be put directly on moderated status without prior warning but will be notified by administrators of their status change and which rule was broken. List subscribers can be put on moderated status twice without affecting their SARI-L subscription. The Administrative Committee is responsible for keeping detailed and up-to-date notes on subscribers’ moderated status history.


Suspension from SARI-L:

If a subscriber has to be put on moderated status for a third time, the Steering Committee will be asked to vote on a permanent suspension for that member (following voting procedures given under the Co-Chair section). Refusal to remove published quotations or citations of list material will trigger an immediate suspension vote by the Steering Committee (see rule #10).


Filter of SARI-L Topic:

In situations where multiple subscribers break the list rules on a single thread, the topic of the thread will be filtered, meaning that no member can post on that topic going forward without the approval of list administrators. The removal of the filter is at the discretion of the Administrative Committee who may seek the input of the Advisory Committee or Steering Committee if they feel it is necessary. Subscribers’ conduct on a thread is the only basis for a filter; administrators are not allowed to filter on the basis of subject matter as long as it relates to the subject of South Asian religions. 


Message Queue:

Subscribers who are on moderated status will have their messages held in queue for release by an administrator. Similarly, emails sent from a non-subscription email address will not be automatically released until approved by an administrator. In both instances, subscribers will notice a delay in the release of their messages.