Constitution of the Southwestern University Student Congress
Article I: Name
Section 1. The name of this organization shall be the Southwestern Student Congress, herein referred to as the Student Congress.
Article II: Organization and Purpose
Section 1. The Student Congress shall be the recognized governing entity of the student body of Southwestern University and its officers shall be the officers of the student body.
Section 2. The Student Congress shall be composed of an appropriate number of members providing representation for all students as outlined in Article 3, Subsection 2 of this Constitution.
Section 3. The Student Congress will be responsible for slating students to fill representative seats for all of the University’s Governing Committees, where applicable.
Section 4. In fulfilling this function, Student Congress members will meet weekly to share information from various Committees, to formulate student responses to Committee actions, discuss issues of student concern and develop solutions with the appropriate areas of the University in order to improve campus life.
Section 5. The Student Congress holds Student Body Forums (monthly) and other open forums for students to voice concerns.
Section 6. The Student Congress administers a survey to students every year to ensure that Congress is meeting the needs of its constituents and furthering the development of the Southwestern Experience.
a. The Executive Council has discretion over who chairs this task.
b. The survey can be administered during the Fall or Spring.
Section 7. The purpose of the Executive Council of the Student Congress is to oversee the activities of the Congress regarding issues, information, and policies of the University that are relevant to student life. The Executive Council shall meet weekly to organize the activities of the Student Congress.
Article III: Membership
Section 1. Membership of Student Congress is composed of student representatives for various constituencies.
Section 2. The Student Congress shall be composed as follows:
a. The Executive Council: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations, Parliamentarian, and External Affairs.
b. The General Assembly: (4) First-Years Representatives, (2) Sophomores Representatives, (2) Junior Representatives, (2) Senior Representatives, (1) East-Side Housing Representative, (4) West-Side Housing Representatives, (2) Off-Campus Housing Representatives as well as (14) Organization Representatives.
c. The Student Life Advisory Board members serve ex-officio as non-voting members of Congress and is composed of the Vice-President of Student Life, the Dean of Students, (2) faculty members, and (2) staff members.
Section 3. Membership of the Executive Council shall be composed of seven members, selected as follows:
a. President, who is nominated internally and elected by a student body vote, as outlined Article XI, Section 3
I. Official nominations for President must be passed through Student Congress
by a 2/3 vote.
b. Candidates not selected for each position can be nominated for Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer or appointed by the President to another position.
c. Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, who are to be internally elected by Student Congress.
d. A Parliamentarian, External Affairs Chair, and Public Relations Chair, who will be appointed by the President with the consent of the majority of the Student Congress members.
e. All Executive Council Members have voting privileges except the President who votes in case of a tie.
Section 4. The General Assembly membership shall be filled as follows:
a. Class Year and Housing Representatives are elected by their respective constituents.
a. In the case that class year and credit hours differ, the individual candidate has the opportunity to choose which position to run for (but is limited to choosing only one.) b. Organization Representatives are nominated by their organization before submitting an application to fill one (1) of the 14 seats available.
c. Any remaining seats unfilled after the first election process will be reopened at the beginning of the subsequent semester.
d. Organization Representatives are for 1-year terms.
e. The following organizations will be given preference for seats during the first election process; Student Foundation, Honor Code Council, Student Philanthropy Council, and Student Athletic Advisory Council.
Article IV: Membership Requirements
Section 1. Student Congress members must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the University at the time of election and service.
Section 2. Attendance policy for Student Body Forums and Student Congress Meetings.
a. Student Congress members shall be required to notify the Elections Chair of any potential absence to a Student Congress or Student Body Forum at least one hour before the meeting begins.
b. Excused. Student Congress members will be allowed a maximum of four excused absences per year (two per semester) due to illness, school-sponsored events, tests and other extenuating circumstances.
c. Unexcused. After two unexcused absences, the said member will be contacted by the Elections Chair and put on probation for the rest of the year. After the third unexcused absence, the member will be contacted and removed from Student Congress.
Section 3. Attendance policy for University Committees
a. Student Congress members serving on a University Committee will be allowed one absence to a Committee meeting(s) per semester. If the member must miss more than one meeting, the Vice President must be contacted before the absence.
b. After one absence, the member shall be contacted by the Vice President and put on probation for the rest of the semester. After the second absence, the member will be contacted and removed from that Committee.
c. Members of the Executive Council must attend ALL EC Meetings. After two unexcused absences, the officer will face dismissal by a vote of the regularly elected members of the Student Congress.
Section 4. Vacancies. The Parliamentarian is responsible for ensuring that all vacancies are filled.
a. Any Housing, Class Year or Organization Representative vacancies remaining after the first election will be reopened at the beginning of the Spring semester.
b. Executive Council Members. When an EC member has been removed from office, the following shall occur:
1. President. In the event that the office of the President is vacant, the Vice- President will assume the office of the President for the remainder of the term with confirmation of a 2/3 vote by the members of Student Congress.
2. Vice-President. In the event that the office of the Vice-President is vacant, the Secretary will assume the office of the Vice-President temporarily until an election is held internally to elect a new Vice-President to fulfill the role for the remainder of the term with consent of the majority by members of Student Congress.
3. Secretary. In the event that the office of Secretary is vacant, the Treasurer will assume the office of the Secretary temporarily until an election is held internally to elect a new Secretary to fulfill the role for the remainder of the term with consent of majority by members of Student Congress.
4. Treasurer. In the event that the Treasurer is incapable of fulfilling his/her office, the Parliamentarian will solicit nominations from the Student Congress and organize an election within the Student Congress to fill that position. In the meantime, the External Affairs Chair will assume the duties of the Treasurer in addition to his/her own.
5. If the Parliamentarian, External Affairs Chair, or Public Relations Chair should vacate his/her office, the President will appoint a replacement during a
regular meeting of the Student Congress with the consent of a majority of the
Student Congress members present.
c. Committee Members. If a student representative to a Committee is unable to fulfill his/her duties, the Vice-President will solicit interest in the vacant Committee seat from within Student Congress.
Article V: Student Congress Meetings
Section 1. Quorum. A simple majority of Student Congress members in good standing will be required in order to conduct business.
Section 2. Final decisions of the Student Congress are made by a majority vote of students present at Student Congress meetings. Decisions made in subsidiary committees of Student Congress are subject to review and discussion by Student Congress at large.
Section 3. Decisions made in Student Congress meetings will be considered the official position of the student body.
Section 4. All Student Congress meetings operate under Roberts Rules of Order.
Section 5. When positions elected under the auspices of the congress are left unfilled after a student body election, the congress shall have the right to fill those vacancies by a majority vote in an internal election.
Section 6. Legislation. The Secretary must receive legislation no later than 24 hours prior to the meeting in which the legislation will be discussed. The Secretary must send a copy of the legislation to all members of congress no later than 24 hours prior to the meeting in which the legislation will be discussed.
Article VI: Congress Councils
Section 1. Quorum. A simple majority of Student Congress members in good standing will be required in order to conduct business.
Section 2. Congress members will be equally distributed amongst the two Councils.
Section 3. All Executive Council members will be responsible for chairing at least one of the two Councils.
Section 4. The President will serve ex-officio on both Councils.
Section 5. Decisions made by the Congress Councils must be affirmed by the Congress at large during the Congress meeting immediately following the Council in which action was taken.
Article VII: Student Body Forums
Section 1. Student Body Forums shall be the official meetings of the student body in which all students present shall be able to discuss issues brought forth by any member of the campus community.
Section 2. Priority One Event. Student Body Forums shall be held monthly at a time and place designated by the Student Congress. These events shall be acknowledged as Priority One events as defined by University policy and no student shall be prohibited from attending because of other scheduled events.
Section 3. Topics of discussion not listed on the agenda may be submitted to any Student Congress member for consideration as an agenda item prior to the Student Body Forum. Section 4. Non-agenda items shall not be discussed without recognition by the President. Section 5. All Student Body Forums shall operate in an organized open discussion format. Section 6. Student Congress reserves the right to designate a theme or topic for the Student Body Forums, in order to bring in relevant speakers and respond to student interest.
Article VIII: Executive Offices
Section 1. Executive officers shall be selected as outlined in Article III, Section 3 of this Constitution.
Section 2. The Executive Council shall meet weekly to organize activities of the Student Congress.
Section 3. President
a. Presides over Student Congress, Executive Council and Student Body Forums, and acts as a liaison between the Student Congress and University administration and faculty, as well as other University organizations.
b. Leads discussions in setting Student Body Forum agendas, coordinates scheduling of regular Student Congress and Executive Council meetings, calls special meetings,
and is a representative to the General Faculty meetings and meetings of the Alumni Association.
c. The President shall have the right to serve on committees ex-officio.
d. Attendance at the General Faculty Meetings is mandatory for the President.
Section 4. Vice President
a. The Vice-President assists the President in fulfilling his or her duties. In the absence of the President, the Vice-President presides over Student Congress, Executive Council, Congress Councils and Student Body Forums.
b. Upon the resignation of the President, the Vice-President assumes the Presidency of the Student Congress with confirmation of a 2/3 vote by the members of Student Congress. A new Vice-President will be selected as stated in Article IV, Section 4, Clause C, Paragraph 1.
c. Serves as a manager of the Committees by maintaining contact with all Committee members and chairs in order to facilitate the legislative activities of the Student Congress.
d. Ensures that Student Congress members fulfill their duties as Committee members as defined in Article III, Section 4, of this Constitution.
Section 5. Secretary.
a. Keeps an official record of all Student Congress Meetings. He or She distributes official information and memoranda to all members of the Student Congress.
b. Provides access to the minutes and agenda to the members of Student Congress before regularly scheduled meetings.
Section 6. Treasurer
a. Is responsible for overseeing all expenses of Student Congress.
b. Will manage and appropriate all necessary funds for all Student Congress activities.
Section 7. External Affairs Chair
a. Serves as a liaison between Student Congress and all entities external to Southwestern University, including the Georgetown community as well as other student government associations.
b. Will represent Congress and student interest on councils and committees eternal to the University and University Governance Structure, including but not limited to College Town Committee.
c. Will work with the President to coordinate Congress efforts external to Southwestern University.
d. Shall assist the Public Relations Chair in the promotion of the Student Congress
events to the general community and vice-versa. Section 8. Parliamentarian
a. Ensures that Student Congress maintains full representation as outlined in Article IV.
b. Will keep records of all those who have run for Student Congress positions.
c. Will oversee all regular and called elections, as outlined in Article IX of this Constitution.
d. Maintains records of attendance concerning all members of Student Congress and Executive Council and provides notification of excessive absences to the Executive Council and the member in question under Article IV.
Section 9: Public Relations Chair
a. Ensures all Student Congress activities are well publicized and accessible to the general student body.
b. Communicates regularly with the campus community regarding all Student Congress activities.
c. Will assist the other Executive Officers in publicizing Student Congress activities related to the duties of the Executive Officers.
d. Responsible for official correspondence between Student Congress and any other organization.
e. Responsible for updating Student Congress social media pages on a timely basis
and the official website, as necessary.
Section 10: Removal of Executive Officers
a. Grounds for removal are as follows:
1. Any membership violations as defined by Article IV.
2. Failure to remain in good academic or disciplinary standing with the University.
3. Failure to perform the duties of his/her office as defined within this Article.
b. Procedure for Removal:
1. Any member of the Student Congress may initiate removal proceedings against an executive officer under the conditions set forth in Section 10a of this Article.
2. The accusing member will present the nature of the alleged violations committed by the officer in question, who will then be allowed to respond to the charges made against him or her, at a Student Congress meeting.
3. After deliberation of the charges, the Student Congress may remove an Executive Officer from his/her position upon a 2/3 vote of members present.
Article IX: Student Congress Representatives
Section 1. All members that fall under General Assembly per Article III, Section 4, are to communicate regularly with their constituencies on the work of Congress, while soliciting feedback, concerns, and ideas for Congress to develop and propose solutions or address matters regarding student life on campus.
Article X: Committee Structure
Section 1. University Committees
a. Student Congress is responsible for filling all student representative seats designated as such by the University’s Governance Structure.
b. In the event of a vacancy, Congress is responsible for finding a replacement.
Section 2. Internal Committees
a. Congress is responsible for convening the following committees as needed and ensuring there is adequate representation for each.
1. Traffic Appeals
a. This committee is composed of student, staff and faculty members. Its function is to set policies pertaining to violations of traffic regulations and to hear appeal cases.
b. The committee shall make a report to the Student Congress once a semester regarding activities, decisions, and recommendations for encouraging and improving student support for traffic safety on campus.
2. Student Fees and Allocations Committee
a. This committee is composed of student and staff members.
b. This committee is responsible for distributing University funds allocated for student organizations. Student organizations receive funding based on an evaluation of their financial needs as submitted by an application to the committee.
c. The committee shall make a report to the Student Congress regarding the disbursement of funds to student organizations at the first Student Congress meeting following the allocations. Moreover, the committee must report any formal complaints it receives concerning its activities to Student Congress at the first meeting following the lodging of the complaint.
3. Student Organizations Committee
a. This committee is composed of students, staff and faculty members. b. The Student Organizations Committee considers all proposals for new student organizations and recommends approval or disapproval. c. The five members of the Student Organizations Committee, two faculty/staff members, Director of Student Activities, and a designated representative from the University Committee on Discipline (who chairs the hearing), form the Student Organizations Disciplinary Committee. This committee hears all charges brought against a student organization when it violates University policy in its organizational capacity.
4. Elections Committee
a. This committee is composed of students only. Three students shall serve.
b. This committee shall be comprised of students that are note candidates.
c. This committee is responsible for the execution and enforcement of all provisions of the Student Congress during elections.
d. Parliamentarian shall serve as Chair of this committee.
e. If the Parliamentarian is running in the election, the President will name a replacement chair.
Section 3. Ad Hoc Committees
a. These committees shall be created by the Student Congress to conduct business of a pressing, short-term nature, or to facilitate the efficient functioning of the student body.
b. A simple majority of the Student Congress is required for the establishment of such committee, which may also be terminated by the Student Congress by a simple majority vote.
Article XI: General Elections
Section 1. The Elections Committee.
a. The Elections Committee shall preside over all elections.
b. The President shall convene this committee and the Parliamentarian will chair it. c. No person who is running for office is eligible to partake in the Elections Committee.
Section 2. Eligibility for Office.
a. President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. A candidate must have served on Student Congress for at least one year.
b. General Membership. Any current Southwestern student is eligible.
Section 3. Election of President.
a. Official nominations for President must be passed through Student Congress for confirmation by a 2/3 vote.
b. The vote shall be open to all current Southwestern Students except those in their last semester.
c. The winner is the candidate that receives the most votes.
d. Candidates must adhere to the Campaign Rules outlined in Article XI, Section 6 of the Student Congress Constitution.
e. Candidates not elected may be nominated for the position of Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer or may be appointed by the President to another position through an application process.
Section 4. Election of Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer
a. Official nominations for Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer must be passed through Student Congress for ratification with a 2/3 vote of approval to be on the ballot.
b. The winner is the candidate that receives a majority of the votes. See Article XI, Section 10, Sub-Section G of the Student Congress Constitution.
c. Candidates must adhere to the Campaign Rules outlined in Article XI, Section 6 of the Student Congress Constitution.
d. Candidates not elected may be appointed to another position by the President through an application process.
Section 5. Publicity and Petitions
a. Elections must be announced at least two weeks before Election Day through appropriate means of communication.
b. Valid petitions will be accepted for the Board of Trustees and Class Delegate position from the time elections are announced, until 12pm (noon), five school days prior to the election. A valid petition must contain:
1. The full name of the candidate,
2. The office that the student is seeking,
3. 50 signatures from the Senior Class,
4. The signature of the candidate under “duty” statement, and 5. Additional materials as required for the position sought.
c. No earlier than 5 days prior to Election Day, a school-wide “Meet the Candidates Forum” will be held to introduce the candidates to the student body and to allow informal questions and answers for Presidential, Board of Trustees and Class Delegate candidates.
d. This forum will conclude with a debate between the candidates for Student Congress President, moderated by the Parliamentarian, not to exceed one (1) hour in duration.
Section 6. Campaigns
a. Campaign publicity must be in accordance with the publicity policy as stated in the Student Handbook of Southwestern University.
b. Campaigning may begin at 8:00am the day after candidates are ratified and ends at 8:00am the day of Elections.
c. Prior to ratification of the ballot, any nominated candidate may form a campaign team.
1. The campaign team may consist of members of Student Congress, excluding current Executive Officers, and non-members of Student Congress. 2. No campaigning may be done outside of this group until the candidate is ratified for the ballot and the campaigning period officially begins.
d. No candidate may send official, campus-wide, voice or electronic mail.
e. No opponent’s name shall appear on any campaign materials or in speeches.
f. No campaigning or campaign materials are allowed in the area, as dictated by the Parliamentarian, where elections are taking place on Election Day.
g. Any destruction of opponent’s materials could result in disqualification of the voter’s candidacy. The Elections Committee will review the case and present discussion to the Executive Committee where a final decision will be made by a majority (50% + 1) vote.
h. Candidates may schedule campaign appearances prior to the campaign period officially beginning but all scheduled meetings must fall within the Elections Campaign period.
Section 7. Polls
a. Polling places for each election shall be set by the Elections Committee. b Polling hours are from 8:00am until 5:00pm for all student elections.
c. The guidelines for polling are as follows:
1. Polling volunteers will be selected by the Elections Committee.
2. Polling will take place either through physical ballots, electronic polling or a combination of both to be determined by the Executive Council.
3. All polling volunteers must be aware of the election procedures and report infractions to the Elections Committee.
4. At least one polling volunteer will be present at a physical polling location at all times during the election.
5. No candidate may serve as a polling volunteer.
Section 8. Ballots
a. Balloting will be done either through online or paper ballots. All paper ballots are to be printed with the authority of the Parliamentarian.
b. The ballots shall list the candidates by office in alphabetical order.
c. Paper ballots shall contain the following information:
1. Designation as “Official Student Ballot.” 2. Appropriate balloting instruction.
3. Name as written by the candidate.
d. Ballots shall only be valid when balloting instructions are as followed. IN case of
incorrect balloting, only those sections of the ballot correctly marked will be counted.
Section 9. Voting Procedures
a. Voters must present a photo I.D. to be verified as a valid, current Southwestern University student prior to receiving a ballot.
b. All current students are eligible to vote including students studying abroad. The procedure for a physical ballot or poll are is follows:
1. The polling volunteer will check the voter’s name on a student roll, marking the roll in such a way to indicate that the student has voted. The pooling volunteer will then hand the student a ballot.
2. Each student may only vote once (1).
3. The voter may not leave the polls while voting.
4. The voter must place the complete ballot into the official ballot box in the presence of the polling volunteer.
5. In the event that the ballot box is full, only the Elections Committee may empty the votes.
d. The procedures for an electronic ballot or poll are as follows:
1. The voter will log into the designated polling site, as chosen and/or created by the Elections Committee.
2. The voter will follow the instructions listed at the top of every page throughout the voting process.
Section 10. Post-Election Procedures
a. No ballot box shall be opened until the polls have closed and the Election Committee convenes for the purpose of counting the ballots except in the case outlined in Section 9, sub-section c, part 5 of this Article. Additional assistants will be chosen by the Parliamentarian following the guidelines defined under Section 1 of this Article.
b. The ballots shall be counted in privacy. No candidates shall be present.
c. In the case of online voting, only the Parliamentarian and a Student Congress Advisor is to have access to the election results.
d. The election results are only to be opened and reviewed by the Parliamentarian in the presence of both the Student Congress President and the Dean of Students and/or Vice President of Student Life.
e. The winner shall be the candidate who receives the majority of votes cast.
f. If no clear majority is found, the pool of candidates will be reduced, at the discretion of the Elections Committee, and will move to a run-off election between the two (2) candidates with the highest number of votes.
g. A plurality never elects anyone to office, outside of the position of the Student Congress President.
Section 11. Run-Off Elections.
a. Run-off elections shall be held no later than one (1) week after the elections at the discretion of the Parliamentarian.
b. The winner shall be the candidate who receives the majority of votes cast.
Section 12. Protests
a. Official protests of elections procedures must be filed in writing with the Elections Committee no later than twenty-four (24) hours following the posting of the results. Election Results will be considered unofficial until the protest period is over.
b. The Elections Committee must rule on the validity of the protest within seventy- two (72) hours and make one of the following recommendations to Student Congress.
1. Turn the protest down. 2. Call a new election.
3. Disqualify a candidate.
Section 13. Announcements
a. Official results after the protest period must be in in the subsequent edition of the appropriate University publications.
b. Results, subject to protest, will be posted within twenty-four (24) hours following the tallying of the votes.
Article XII: Constitutional Amendments
Section 1. Amendments
a. Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed within a Student Congress meeting.
1. Proposed amendments must be published and posted for at least two (2) days prior to a Student Congress Meeting.
2. If ratified by 2/3 of the members present at a Student Congress meeting, then the amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution.
3. The Constitution must be updated to reflect changes made by ratifications and the date of ratification added to Article XIII of the Constitution.
4. An updated copy of the Constitution must be made available for Congress members, the Vice-President of Student Life, the Dean of Students, The Director of Student Activities and the Student Life Advisory Board.
Article XIII: Ratification
1. This constitution shall be ratified by the affirmative vote of 2/3 of those voting in called election and shall take effect in the Fall Semester, 2006.
2. This constitution shall be ratified by the affirmative vote of 2/3 of those voting in a called election and shall take effect immediately, March 11, 2008.
3. This constitution was ratified by an affirmative 2/3 vote of Student Congress members present at the meeting and will take effect immediately on December 2nd, 2014.