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“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
˜ Winnie the Pooh
SAMPLE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWSThe attached constitution is a sample and can be revised to fit your organization’s specific needs. Changes may be made, but are not limited to the following areas:
Dues: Your organization doesn’t have to collect dues if you don’t want to.
Committees: You can list and add committees and corresponding chair positions.
Membership: You can create or remove stipulations on membership.
Executive Board: Add/change positions.
The above are only some examples of what you may change. If you have any questions feel free to contact the Student Senate Office at 755-2099.
The following packet has been prepared by the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Student Senate, to assist you and your organization in the drafting/revision of your Constitution/Bylaws.
If a new organization is being formed, a committee to draw up the proposed constitution can be appointed at the first organizational meeting. For existing organizations that are undergoing revision, a committee to draw up the proposed revision can be appointed at any regular meeting, or can be dealt with by the full membership in a regular meeting. This committee should include the most judicious persons available.
In legal documents of any kind, every punctuation mark may have an important effect, and what is omitted may carry as much significance as what is included. Indisputableness of meaning and application is a more important consideration than “readability”, and the latter must be sacrificed when both cannot be achieved. Attached you will find the general content and format of Constitutions/Bylaws, along with the requirements of the Student Senate.
After the proposed document has been approved by the committee, the report is presented to the full organization and is considered seriatim – article by article, section by section. In presenting the report, the committee chairperson should explain each section and – in the case of a proposed revision – make clear what is new about each provision or how it differs from the existing provision.
After the entire document has been approved by the organization, three (3) quality copies, along with the name and phone number of a contact person, should be forwarded to University Constitution Committee in the Student Senate Office. The committee will closely review this document. If all is in order, the Legislative Affairs Committee will present the document to the full Senate for approval. This will normally take three (3) weeks. Should the Legislative Affairs Committee, after reviewing the proposed document, find that it needs further work/editing, the document will be returned to the organization for further refinement.
CONTENT OF CONSTITUTION/BYLAWS
Article I: Name
The full, exact, and properly punctuated name of the organization should be given.
Article II: Purpose/Object
The Purpose of the organization should be concisely expressed.
Article III: Membership
Usually the article on membership consists of several sections:
1. Classes of membership, if any, are defined (examples: “Active”, “Inactive”, “Honor”, “Associate”, etc.).
2. Qualification or eligibility for membership with application and acceptance procedures, including the method of reviewing and voting on applicants.
3. The required fees/dues and when payable are outlined. A clause for the disbursement of funds, should the organization go inactive or dissolve MUST also be included.
4. Any attendance/participation requirements.
5. Non-discrimination policy: No person shall be discriminated against with regards to race, sex, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, and sexual orientation.
NOTE: Seventy-five (75) percent of the membership must be BSU students.
Article IV: Offices
Every organization should specify in this article the officers it requires, and how they shall be elected/appointed. The officers rank in order listed, so the president should be named first, the vice-president next and so forth. In cases where the duties of officers are numerous, a separate article titled “Duties of Officers” may follow this article, and treat the duties for each office in a separate section. The length of the terms of office should be prescribed; and unless the times are to begin at the time the chair declares each office elected, the time when they are to begin should be specified. The method of filling vacancies should also be provided.
NOTE: At least one Constitutional Officer must be a BSU student.
NOTE: Duties must be specified. It can not say “The duties of this/these office(s) being those commonly endowed upon this/these position(s)”.
Article V: Meetings
The minimum number of regular meetings of the organization should be defined, and what type of notice is required, as well as a section authorizing the calling of special meetings. The quorum for all meetings should be established in a section of this article.
Article VI: Executive Board
If an organization finds it advisable to establish a board entrusted with the administrative authority and responsibility to a degree which varies with the organization, sections of this article should:
…specify the board’s composition
…delineate the powers of the board
…set forth any special rules by which the board is to conduct business
Article VII: Committees
The article on committees should provide for the establishment of the standing committees which it is known will be required. A section devoted to each of these committees should give its name, composition, manner of responsibilities and duties. If this article names certain standing committees, not other standing committees can be named without amending this document, unless a provision is included permitting the establishment of such other standing committees as are deemed necessary to carry out the business of the organization.
Article VIII: Resignation/Removal of Procedures
This article should include the following sections:
1. Resignation Procedures
2. Removal Procedures
Article IX: Parliamentary Authority
The parliamentary authority – through the adaptation of which the organization establishes its rules of order – should be prescribed in a one sentence article. The BSU Student Senate recommends the use of Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
Article X: Advisor
This article should state the methods for choosing an advisor along with any duties the advisor may have.
NOTE: Every organization must have at least one (1) advisor. At least one (1) advisor MUST be a BSU faculty or staff member.
Article XI: Amendments/Adoption
The procedure for amendments of this document should be specified. Remember that upon ratification by the organization, final approval must be given by the full Student Senate before the document becomes binding. (Upon the approval of the Student Senate, this document must be approved by the Associate Director and is then forwarded to the President of BSU or his designee for approval and then this document takes immediate effect, replacing and superseding all other documents unless a grandfather clause has been made, specifying a later time for implementation.)