Rice University, School of the Humanities
Humanities Graduate Student Association (HGSA) Constitution
[updated March 2014]
I) Mission and purpose
The mission of the HGSA is twofold: (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; and (2) to foster an academic and professional community among the graduate student population and faculty of 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 sponsor.
There shall be three classes of members: General Member, Alumni Member, and Voting Member.
- 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.
- An Alumni Member shall be any graduated Voting Member from either a terminal Masters or PhD program in the School of Humanities who served as a Voting Member of the HGSA for at least one academic year.
- A Voting Member shall be any General Member who has been accepted into the School of the Humanities, who has not requested a refund of their annual dues (see V.2), 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).
- 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, Internal Vice President, External Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.
- Officer duties/responsibilities:
- 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) Is to attend internal meetings of each Humanities Graduate Council (at least once per semester or as requested by each individual department council); 4) Is responsible for the continual operations and growth of the HGSA.
- The office of the Internal 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) Conducting officer elections; 4) Is to serve in the office of the President should the President be temporarily unable to fulfill their duties.
- The office of the External Vice President shall be responsible for: 1) Arranging one or more academic event per semester; 2) Arranging a reception for humanities graduate students once a year; 3) Is to serve in the office of the Internal Vice President should the Internal Vice President be temporarily unable to fulfill their duties.
- The office of the Treasurer shall be responsible for: 1) All financial considerations of the HGSA; 2) Is to serve in the office of the External Vice President should the External Vice President be temporarily unable to fulfill their duties; 3) Is to serve as a liaison to the Programs and Departments Coordinator of the Office of Student Activities; 4) Will complete all necessary financial training as stipulated by the Office of Student Activities.
- The office of the Secretary shall be responsible for: 1) Recording minutes of all meetings and votes and ensuring their timely distribution to members of HGSA; 2) Composing regular correspondence from the HGSA to the General Members of the School of Humanities; 3) Maintaining the HGSA calendar, website, and other forms of digital communication; 4) Maintaining a contact lists for all current Members and Alumni Members.
- Selection process:
Prior to the meeting:
- 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.
- Ballots shall be made by the Internal Vice President containing the current nominations and blank spaces available for write-ins.
- Ballots shall be a stapled packet containing 1 ballot for each office to prevent double voting.
- Ballots shall be handed out by an Executive Board member as Voting Members sign in.
During the meeting:
- Voting Members shall sign in as they enter to obtain a count of the number present.
- The officer positions shall be voted on in the following order to allow for waterfall-style voting: President, Internal Vice President, External Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary.
- Before the voting for each office occurs, the Internal Vice President 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.
- Only current Executive Board members shall be allowed to collect and count ballots.
- 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 Board will vote by secret ballot to choose the winner.
- If one of the nominees is on the Executive Board, they will be excluded from the decision-making process.
- 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 Advisor
1) The Faculty Advisor shall be any member of the Faculty or Adjunct Faculty of the School of the Humanities chosen by the Executive Board.
2) The purpose of the faculty advisor shall be as follows:
- To give advice and guidance to the organization
- To provide consistency by facilitating the transition of officers from year to year.
1) Meetings are to be held no less than once per month during the school year.
IV) Voting and Elections
1) General guidelines
- Only Voting Members shall be allowed to vote.
- Quorum for a vote shall consist of no less than seven members (including the Executive Board).
- A passing vote on general matters shall be a simple majority of members present at the General Meeting.
- 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.
- Constitutional amendments shall be presented at the Executive Board meetings as specified in Article VII (below).
- Elections for all offices in the Executive Board shall be held each spring semester at least 3 weeks prior to the last day of exams.
- Elected officers shall assume office three weeks after the election, allowing for a transition period.
V) Financial Procedures:
1) Concerning Dues
- A blanket tax of $2.50 per semester will be collected from all General Members and added to the HGSA general fund.
- 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.
- Any student who opts out of paying their dues is ineligible to vote.
2) Budget processes and approvals
- 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
- 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, sex, creed, color, religion, sexual preference or orientation, disability, 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.
- 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 Members present at the meeting to be ratified.
4) GSA Affiliation
- 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