Rice University, School of the Humanities
Humanities Graduate Student Association (HGSA) Constitution
[updated August 2018]
I) Mission and Purpose
The mission of the HGSA is threefold: (1) to facilitate open and honest communication between the Humanities graduate students and the staff, faculty, and Dean of Humanities regarding issues related to the School of Humanities; (2) to advocate for Humanities graduate student interests and wellbeing; and (3) to foster an inclusive community among the graduate student population of the Humanities.
II) Organizational Structure
The group shall have a body consisting of graduate students in the School of the Humanities, an elected executive board, and a faculty and staff sponsor.
There shall be three classes of members: General Member, Alumni Member, and Voting Member.
a. A General Member shall be any current graduate student (enrolled in a post bachelor graduate program) at Rice University in the School of the Humanities.
b. An Alumni Member shall be any graduated General Member from either a terminal Masters or PhD program in the School of Humanities.
c. A Voting Member shall be any General Member who has been accepted into the School of the Humanities or is advised by a professor in the School of the Humanities, who has not requested a refund of their annual dues (see V.i.b), and who has not passed their oral thesis defense. A Voting Member is distinguished from a General Member by the payment of annual dues to HGSA (As outlined in Section V).
d. Removal process: Should a member of the organization act in a manner unbecoming of the organization (i.e., in violation of the codes of student conduct as outlined by the university) the member may be called before the officers and sponsor of the organization, and allowed the opportunity to present their account of events. Following this, the officers and sponsors may vote to remove the member. A majority vote and support of the sponsor are required for removal. The member will be notified of their removal either in writing or by phone within 48 hours of the decision.
2. Executive Board of Officers
The Executive Board shall consist of the following elected positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Communications Chair.
a. Officer duties/responsibilities
i. The office of the President shall be responsible for: 1) Facilitating HGSA Meetings; 2) Serving as a liaison between students, staff, faculty, and Office of the Dean; 3) Attending meetings of the Humanities Graduate Council (at least once per semester); 4) Attending to the continual operations and growth of the HGSA.
ii. The office of the Vice President shall be responsible for: 1) Serving as a liaison between the HGSA and other organized Student Organizations on campus (i.e., GSA, individual Humanities Departments, etc.); 2) Serving as a liaison between the HGSA and Alumni Members; 3) Filling the office of the President should the President be temporarily unable to fulfill their duties.
iii. Should Co-Presidents be elected, the role and responsibilities of Vice President shall fall to the Co-Presidents; thus, unless the Executive Board decides otherwise, Co-Presidents will attend to all duties of the office of the President and the Vice President.
iv. The office of the Treasurer shall be responsible for: 1) Attending to all financial considerations of the HGSA, including maintaining HGSA financial records; 2) Serving in the office of the Vice President, or Co-President, should they be temporarily unable to fulfill their duties; 3) Serving as a liaison to the Office of Student Activities; 4) Completing all necessary financial training as stipulated by the Office of Student Activities; 5) Offering necessary budgeting and accounting advice to project leaders or organizers.
v. The Communications Chair shall be responsible for: 1) Recording minutes of all meetings and votes, and ensuring their timely distribution to members of HGSA; 2) Conducting officer elections; 3) Composing regular correspondence from the HGSA to the General Members of the School of Humanities; 4) Maintaining a contact lists for all current Members and Alumni Members; 5) Maintaining accounts and passwords for HGSA social media outlets; distributing account information to HGSA Executive Board; serving as point of contact for issues that arise around social media content, including monitoring and moderating online community issues.
vi. In addition to the above mentioned positions, the executive board shall comprise general executive board members whose positions should be discussed, proposed, and established at the election of each new Executive Board, as necessitated by the priorities of the HGSA. For example, the Executive Board may decide to establish a Programming Chair or a Resources Officer.
b. Selection process:
Prior to the Meeting
i. Nominations for positions are to be reported (via email or otherwise) to the existing executive board (as well as the faculty sponsor) no later than one week prior to elections.
ii. Proxy voting via email will be allowed until a time decided by the Executive Board.
iii. Ballots shall be made by the Communications Chair containing the current nominations and blank spaces available for write-ins.
iv. Ballots shall be a stapled packet containing 1 ballot for each office to prevent double voting.
v. Ballots shall be handed out by Executive Board members as Voting Members sign in.
During the meeting
vi. Voting Members shall sign in as they enter to obtain a count of the number present (plus proxy votes).
vii. The officer positions shall be voted on in the following order to allow for waterfall-style voting: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Communications Chair, Executive Board members.
viii. Before the voting for each office occurs, the Communications Chair shall: 1) Read the officer duties from the Constitution. 2) Ask for more nominations (and waterfall nominees). 3) Allow the nominees to give a speech of no more than 3 minutes. 4) Allow the audience to ask questions of the nominees for no more than 5 minutes.
ix. Nominees shall be kept out of the room while voting and counting occurs.
x. Only current Executive Board members shall be allowed to collect and count ballots.
xi. In the event of a tie: 1) Nominees shall be allowed to give a speech of no more than 1 minute. 2) The audience will be allowed to ask questions of the nominees for no more than 3 minutes. 3) Repeat voting and counting (see items 4 & 5). 4) In the event of a second tie, the top three ranking officers in the outgoing Executive Committee will vote by secret ballot to choose the winner.
xii. If one of the positions held by two people (for example, Co-President) is needed in the tie breaking vote, the officer with seniority in the HGSA will vote. If both officers have the same level of experience in the HGSA, then the voter will be decided by a coin flip.
xiii. If one of the nominees is on the Executive Board, they will be excluded from the decision-making process.
c. Removal process: Should an officer of the organization act in a manner unbecoming of the organization (See: II.1.d) or fail to uphold their duties as outlined by this constitution, the officer in question may be called before the officers and sponsor of the organization, and allowed the opportunity to present their account of events. Following this the officers and sponsors may vote to remove the officer. A 2/3 vote and support of the sponsor are required for removal. The officer will be notified of their removal either in writing or by phone within 48 hours of the decision.
3. Faculty and Staff Advisor
a. The Faculty Advisor shall be any member of the Faculty or Adjunct Faculty of the School of the Humanities approved by the Executive Board with ⅔ vote.
b. The Staff Advisor shall be any staff member of the School of the Humanities, or any Rice University Center that works in relation to the School of Humanities or Humanities graduate students, approved by the Executive Board with ⅔ vote.
c. The purpose of the faculty and staff advisors shall be as follows:
i. To give advice and guidance to the organization
ii. To provide consistency by facilitating the transition of officers from year to year.
1. Executive Board meetings are to be held no less than once per month during the year.
2. Open HGSA meetings are to be held at least once per Fall and Spring semester term.
3. The office of the President will facilitate HGSA meetings with the aid of the Vice President and Communications Chair.
IV) Voting and Elections
1. General guidelines
a. Only Voting Members shall be allowed to vote.
b. Quorum for a vote shall consist of no less than ten members (including the Executive Board).
c. A passing vote on general matters shall be a simple majority of members present at the General Meeting (early voting shall be permitted by e-mailing or other official notification before meeting).
d. Voting on higher level decisions (elections, amendments to the constitution, etc.) shall take place at a time determined by the Executive Board, but no less than seven days after notifying the general membership at large.
e. Constitutional amendments shall be presented at the Executive Board meetings as specified in Article VII (below).
a. Elections for all offices in the Executive Committee shall be held each spring semester at least 3 weeks prior to the last day of exams.
b. Elected officers shall assume office three weeks after the election, allowing for a transition period.
3. Concerning Alumni
a. Alumni Members are to be notified of voting matters by the Communications Chair in the same manner as Voting Members, and are to be allowed to participate in the discussion and process of deliberation (short of voting).
V) Financial Procedures
1. Concerning Dues
a. An annual due of $5 per student is to be collected by the treasurer at the beginning of the academic year (or a time otherwise specified by the GSA and the Office of the Dean) to be added to the HGSA general fund.
b. Any student may have their dues for that academic year refunded if such request is submitted to the board in writing before the beginning of the spring semester.
c. Any student who opts out of paying their dues is ineligible to vote (i.e. will no longer be a Voting Member).
2. Budget processes and approvals
a. Budget processes and approvals are to adhere to the guidelines set out for all student organizations and by the GSA.
3. Other processes related to organization funds
a. Clause related to deposits: All funds should be deposited in 24 hours or one business day of receipt
VI) Non-discrimination and Anti-hazing policy:
1. The HGSA organization shall not discriminate on the basis of, but not limited to: race, gender, creed, color, religion, class, sexual preference or orientation, ability, or national origin.
2. The HGSA will not tolerate any form of hazing activities to members or potential members. Hazing activities are defined as, “Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off university premises to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”
VII) Amendment Procedures
1. Amendments to this constitution shall be submitted to the Executive Board no less than one meeting prior to being put to a vote.
a. Proposed amendments must gain the approval of the Executive Board (2/3 majority) and the Faculty Advisor before being put to a general vote.
2. Members are to be notified of proposed amendments no later than one week before they are to be brought to a vote.
3. Amendments must require a 2/3 majority of the voting population to be ratified.
4. GSA Affiliation:
a. Proposed amendments to this constitution should be reviewed by the Graduate Student Association Vice President of Internal Affairs. Amendments to the organization’s constitution can only be adopted by a 3/4 vote with prior notice having been given at the previous meeting. Before going into effect, the amendment must be approved by the Graduate Student Association Vice President of Internal Affairs and ratified by the Graduate Student Association Council. The Date of Last Revision on the title page of this constitution shall be updated to reflect the date of the Senate’s ratification.
VIII) Concerning the Primacy of the Graduate Student Association
1. The HGSA recognizes the primacy of the Graduate Student Association Council and ultimately the Graduate Student Association.
2. The HGSA shall follow the Graduate Student Association Constitution and By-Laws and any associated rules and regulations.
3. This constitution is subordinate to the Graduate Student Association Constitution and By-Laws.