I haven't said much on the reflector recently, and have been on the air even less. Work has been busy, with lots of travel (none with a radio), and it's been hard to just keep up with emails. But with all the discussion on these topics, I think it's probably time for one of the old-timers to chime in.
1. First of all, I'm generally in favor of opening up contests to non-members. I think this may require some rules changes in some cases. St Patrick's Day would be pretty easy--just skip the member number for the exchange. For TDW, though, it would be more complicated--maybe keep a members-only category and also allow a non-members category, and tell non-members to use member number 0 (zero) in the exchange and just count it as a QSO point.
1a. Note that it's not necessary to refuse a non-member contact during a contest. I find it easier (and faster) to just make the contact, give him/her my exchange, and then exclude it from my score. Takes less time to do that than to explain that "it's member-only so I don't want to waste my time making a QSO that won't count for my score" and then potentially alienate a prospective member.
2. Regarding the 50-QSO requirement for membership, I personally think it should be kept. The original intent of that requirement was to ensure that members were active PSKers. There are lots of clubs that don't require any proof of operation to get a member number, and I see lots of brag files where the other op will list four, five, ten club membership numbers. Aside from some that just aren't relevant (like the 10-10 or 30MDG numbers that are given on a 40m QSO or Feld Hell number on PSK), I wonder whether the other operator really is interested in all these various bands and modes when there are so many, or is he just collecting numbers for a brag file. That's especially true of EPC--just click a web page and you get a number! 070 (like 10-10) requires applicants to demonstrate their interest in the subject of the club by active participation before membership. I think that's relevant and appropriate.
3. Others have pointed out that it may be more difficult today than it was a few years ago. Maybe that's true. But others have pointed out that it's not really that hard--you can easily make 50 contacts during a contest, and you can usually get a few contacts a day and reach the goal within a month or so. I made my 50 contacts mostly during December 2000, back when there were comparatively few PSK stations at all. I had typically 2-4 contacts per day, maybe twice that on a weekend day. But I had 50 contacts by December 16th, and had my submission to the club approved on Christmas eve (during the era of manual review of membership apps). Yes, sunspots were on the upswing then, but I was only using an attic dipole (still my 20m antenna) and a PSK20 (so I was limited to one band--20m--and only three watts out). This isn't meant to be either a "if I can do it then anyone can", or even worse a "since I had to do it, I don't want anyone else to get in cheaply". But I think there's more value placed on the club membership if you have to work a little more to earn it rather than just "click the web site."
4. Some of you may also remember when the club offered a separate endorsement path for working more than 50 different stations. QSO-level stickers were issued in 50-QSO increments up to 300 different callsigns worked. Maybe that was more significant in the early days of PSK31--looks like I got to 300 some time in April of 2001. I'm not suggesting we re-establish that, but just mentioning it because it shows that the club has always had a focus on encouraging active members, not just the quantity of members.