Student Handbook

Student Congress Constitution

Preamble

The students of Alma College belong to the Alma College Community along with faculty, staff and administrators. In order to assist in improving the educational institution which strives for an excellent education in a rapidly changing world, the Student Congress of Alma College exists. The Student Congress shall protect individual rights and express the opinions and interests of the Alma students by serving as a means of effective and just communication between all members of the Alma community. Thus, in order to provide an organized group consisting of concerned, caring students who will address the student body, faculty, staff and administration on matter regarding campus life, this constitution is established for the Student Congress of Alma College.

Article I – Name

This organization shall be known as the Student Congress of Alma College hereinafter referred to as Student Congress or Congress.

Article II – Functions and Responsibilities

Section I—Functions

Within the context of established college policies and in coordination with the appropriate community governance committees and the Board of Trustees, the Student Congress shall make recommendations related to, but not limited to, policies and practices in all realms pertinent to student life as outlined in the current Student Life Handbook. These recommendations shall be referred to the appropriate community governance committeeand/or administrative office.

Section II—Responsibilities

Any student organization, group of students or an individual student may bring issues to the Student Congress. With or without recommendation, the Congress shall refer such an issue to the appropriate committee(s), and/or administrative office, and/or appoint a committee to investigate the matter.

Section III—Constitution

The constitutions of all campus organizations must conform to college policies. If a new organization seeks recognition, its constitution must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the voting membership present of the Student Congress (See Article VI, Section I). The constitution must them be approved by the Student Life Committee.

Article III – Membership of Student Congress

Section I—Academic Requirements

All members shall be full-time students in good standing of Alma College with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 at the start of each academic year as confirmed by the Registrar’s Office.

Section II—Executive Officers

The Executive Officers of the Student Congress shall be the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The President and the Vice President shall have at least a second-term sophomore standing. The Treasurer and Secretary shall have at least a second-term freshman standing.

Section III—Voting and Non-Voting Representatives
  1. There shall exist within Student Congress both voting and non-voting membership.
  2. Voting Representatives are as listed in the bylaws. Any organization which is officially recognized by the Student Congress as a voting member (see Article II, Section III for recognition) and receives a portion of the Student Activities Fee as distributed by the Student Budget and Finance Committee (see Article VIII, Section III for definition) shall receive full and complete voting rights.
  3. A non-voting member of Student Congress is defined as a group, organization, or house that either elects to maintain or is accorded non-voting status by Student Congress in compliance with applicable bylaws.
  4. Non-voting members of Student Congress cannot vote on action items, make motions, or receive a budget from the Student Activity Fee as distributed by the Student Budget and Finance Committee or funds from Contingency.
  5. Non-voting members retain voice in Student Congress and can discuss items during appointed business discussions.
  6. Violation of any responsibilities of a voting and non-voting representative is punishable with a 5% deduction of their organizations total remaining budget.
Section IV—Ex-Officio (non-voting) Representatives
  1. The Vice President of Student Life, who shall act as the Advisor of Student Congress.
  2. Standing Committee Chairpersons of all standing Committees of Student Congress.

Article IV – Elections and Vacancies of Members to Student Congress

Section I—Elections
  1. The President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of Student Congress shall be elected in a general election before the first week in March with the results of the election being announced at the 2nd meeting of the month. The term of office shall be one (1) academic year beginning in the August following the elections.
  2. The Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Class Officers shall be elected during the general elections in March for a term of one (1) year following the certification of election results.
  3. All other voting representatives as provided by this Constitution shall be elected by their respective constituencies within the second full week of classes of fall term. The voting representatives shall serve one (1) academic year beginning at the point of their election.
Section II—Vacancies
  1. If the office of the President is vacated, the successor shall be the Vice President subject to the approval of Congress, consisting of three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of the voting membership present. If Congress does not approve the Vice President, the successor shall be the Treasurer, subject to the approval of Congress, consisting of three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of the voting membership present. If Congress does not approve the Treasurer, the successor shall be the Secretary, subject to the approval of Congress, consisting of three-fourths (3/4) the majority vote of the voting membership present. If Congress does not approve the Secretary, the Elections Committee shall hold a general election for the office of the President within two (2) weeks of the vacancy.
  2. If the President-elect resigns, the Vice President-elect shall be acting President until the next meeting of Congress, when he/she shall become President, subject to three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of the voting membership present. A general election shall take place to elect a new Vice President-elect during the second full week of classes of the term. If no one seeks election, the President shall appoint a Vice President subject to two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the voting membership present of Congress.
  3. If any other Executive offices are vacated, the President shall appoint a successor subject to two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the voting membership present of Student Congress.
  4. If a Representative or Class Officer vacates his/her position, the respective constituents shall vote on a successor within two (2) weeks of the vacancy.

Article V – Duties of Executive Officers

Section I—The President
  1. The President shall preside over meetings of the Student Congress and Executive Council.
  2. The President shall be an ex-officio (non-voting) member of all ad-hoc Student Congress Standing Committees.
  3. The President shall serve as a Committee Member to the Board of Trustees of Alma College as defined by the Board.
  4. The President shall appoint and dismiss ad-hoc committees and chairpersons to those committees which the President and/or Congress deems necessary. All committee appointments are subject to approval of a simple majority of the voting membership of Congress present.
  5. The President shall have the authority to convene Congress at his/her discretion or when presented with a petition signed by no less than one-quarter (1/4) of the full voting membership of Congress. This authority shall comply with Article X, Section II of this Constitution.
  6. The President shall be responsible for communicating regularly with administrative, faculty and staff personnel on matters pertinent to campus life.
  7. The President shall be responsible for organization and holding Executive Council Meetings.
  8. The President shall serve as the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee.
  9. The President shall advise and oversee the duties of the Vice-President.
  10. Shall have the last deciding factor in all matters and the power to veto any decisions made within the student congress.
  11. The President shall be ultimately responsible for the duties of all Executive Council members and uphold the standards set forth by the student body.
Section II—The Vice President
  1. The Vice President shall enforce all duties as delegated by the President.
  2. The Vice President shall run the Congress meeting and take on other duties in the President’s absence.
  3. The Vice President shall enforce the Webmaster’s duties.
  4. The Vice President shall be responsible for the oversight of activities pertaining to the Constitution Committee described in Article X, Section II of this Constitution.
  5. The Vice President shall serve as the Chair of the Constitutional Review Committee.
  6. The Vice President shall advise the Treasurer in operating the Budget and Finance Committee as established by Article V, Section IV.
  7. The Vice President shall oversee the actions of the Secretary to ensure that all correspondence, including Congress minutes, letters and administration paperwork as well as the maintenance and implementation of the permanent records of Congress.
Section III—The Secretary
  1. The Secretary shall be responsible for all correspondence of Congress.
  2. The Secretary shall keep a permanent record of Congress and Executive Council meetings.
  3. The Secretary shall act as office manager of Congress.
  4. The Secretary shall serve as an ex-officio (non-voting) representative of the President on committees he/she deems necessary.
  5. The Secretary shall be responsible for confirming the eligibility of the members based on attendance as established by current attendance policy.
  6. The Secretary shall be responsible of recording the rationalization of each decision made by Congress and the Executive Council.
  7. The Secretary shall serve as the Chair of the Elections Committee.
Section IV—The Treasurer
  1. The Treasurer shall be charged with the maintenance of permanent records of financial matters of Congress.
  2. The Treasurer shall present a financial report to Congress at all regular meetings or when called upon to do so by Congress.
  3. The Treasurer shall seek the guidance of the Vice President regarding actions of the Budget and Finance Committee when necessary.
  4. The Treasurer shall serve as an ex-officio (non-voting) representative of the President on committees as he/she deems necessary.
  5. The Treasurer shall serve as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, including the Contingency Committee, of the Student Congress without vote (see Article VIII, Section III).
Section V—Officer Voting Privileges

The Executive Officers shall be non-voting members of Congress. If a tie occurs in voting, the President shall cast the deciding vote.

Section VI—Removal of Executive Officers
  1. Executive Officers shall be subject to removal for failure to perform their duties, excessive absences, and other reasons deemed inexcusable by the Executive Committee and Student Congress.
  2. Executive Officers shall be removed upon written proposal stating the reasons why the individual should be removed. Final action may not be taken until one week has passed from the original submission, in which the member in question may make one (1) appeal in defense of the individual’s actions.
  3. The proposal for removal of an Executive Officer must receive an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members present at the meeting.

Article VI – Voting Representatives

Section I—Membership

As stated in Article III, Section III, a representative from each organization recognized by the Student Congress shall receive full and complete voting rights. Voting representatives are subject to follow the attendance policy (Article IX, Section I) in order for their respective organization to receive access to their budget and/or contingency fund.

Section II—Duties and Functions

The voting representatives shall serve as the official liaison to his/her constituency. This representative may only vote on behalf of their singular respective organization. A voting representative may proxy for another voting representative.

Each voting representative is additionally responsible for serving on at least one standing committee of Student Congress (Budget and Finance, Contingency, Constitutional Review, Elections or Student Affairs).

Article VII – Executive Council

Section I—Membership

The Executive Council shall be composed of the Executive Officers of Student Congress. The President may invite other campus representatives to the Executive Council meetings at the approval of the Executive Council.

Section II—Duties and Functions

The Executive Council shall meet on a weekly basis to establish the agendas for the Student Congress meetings. The Executive Council shall advise the President on matters pertinent to campus life. The Executive Council shall have the power to act on behalf of Congress on matters require immediate action when it is impossible for the Student Congress to convene.

Article VIII – Standing Committees

Section I—Composition of Standing Committees

The following shall be standing committees of Congress: Elections Committee, Student Budget and Finance Committee, Contingency Fund Committee, Constitutional Review Committee and the Student Affairs Committee.

  1. Unless otherwise designated in this constitution, all chairpersons and members of each standing committee shall be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of Congress. This approval shall consist of a simple majority of the voting membership present.
  2. Unless otherwise designated in this constitution, the chairpersons and members of each standing committee shall organize his/her committee in a manner best suited to the approval of Congress. This approval shall consist of a simple majority of the voting membership present.
Section II—Election Committee
  1. The Secretary of the Congress and the Elections Committee shall be responsible for organizing and conducting all elections and/or polls sanctioned by the Congress.
  2. The Secretary shall appoint the Elections Committee subject to the approval of Congress, which shall consist of a simple majority vote of the voting membership present.
  3. If the Secretary is running for elections, the Secretary shall appoint a member of the Elections Committee to serve as chairperson for that particular election.
Section III—Student Budget and Finance Committee
  1. The Student Budget and Finance Committee shall present to Congress and the student body for approval the Student Activities budget for the following academic year, which will be prepared by hearing Student Activities Budgets. The Budget and Finance Committee shall have the authority to investigate and review matters pertinent to the Student Activities Budget.
  2. The Student Budget and Finance Committee shall be composed of
    1. Voting Representatives
      • The Treasurer of Student Congress shall serve as the Chairperson.
      • The Committee shall consist of eight (8) members appointed by the Chair, at least five (5) of whom are Student Congress representatives.
      • All eight (8) members shall have voting rights. The Chair shall vote in case of a tie.
    2. Non-Voting Representatives encouraged to attend:
      • The Editor in Chief and Business Manager of the Almanian.
      • b. The Editor in Chief and Business Manager of the Scot.
      • c. The President and Business Manager of the Union Board.
      • d. The General Manager and Business Manager of WQAC.
  3. All organizations receiving funds from the Student Activities Fee as distributed by the Student Congress Budget and Finance Committee shall be accountable and responsible to Student Congress. All organizations receiving funds from the Student Activities Fee shall submit written reports at the end of every term. This report shall include a detailed description of all accounts and subsidiary organization accounts, detailed spending reports, summation of events and programs sponsored by the organization, number of members, and description of planned future events.
  4. All organizations receiving funds from the Budget and Finance Committee shall, from time to time, when called upon by a voting member of Student Congress or a member of the Student Congress Executive Council, provide an oral report accounting for their organization’s performance, spending, and productivity.
Section IV—The Contingency Fund Committee
  1. The Contingency Fund Committee shall hear request for funds from organizations needing monies in addition to their own operating budget and either approve or deny such requests as long as money exists in the Contingency Fund.
  2. The Treasurer of Congress shall serve as the Chairperson to the Contingency Fund Committee.
  3. The Chairperson shall appoint four (4) member committee of whom at least two (2) must serve on Congress. These appointments shall be subject to the approval of Congress, which shall consist of a simple majority of the voting membership present. The Vice President shall serve as a non-voting member on the Contingency Fund Committee.
  4. The Contingency Fund Committee’s recommendations shall be submitted to Congress. Congress shall approve recommendations with a simple majority vote of the membership present.
Section V—The Constitutional Review Committee
  1. The Vice President shall serve as Chairperson for the committee. The committee members subject to a simple majority vote of the voting membership of Congress present.
  2. The Constitutional Review Committee shall hear constitutional requests of new organizations as well as existing organizations and make recommendations to Congress concerning said constitutions. Congress shall approve these recommendations by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the voting membership present (Article III, Section III).
Section VI—The Student Affairs Committee
  1. The President shall serve as Chairperson for the committee. The committee members are subject to a simple majority vote of the voting membership present of Congress present.
  2. The Student Affairs Committee shall discuss and take appropriate actions on issues concerning the Student Body.
Section VII—Committee Reports

All committees of Congress as stated above shall present a report to Congress when called upon to do so by any member of the Executive Council or a simple majority of the voting membership of Congress present.

Article IX – Removal of Members and Referendum

Section I—Attendance Policy
  1. The representative from any group, house or organization as stated in Article III, Section II shall be allowed only two (2) unexcused absences per term.
  2. If the representative must be absent, the representatives must send a proxy. A proxy is entitled to all powers and privileges of the representatives he/she is replacing.
  3. Notices shall be sent to the representative group after two (2) successive absences of its representative, notifying them of their absences and the penalties.
  4. Notices shall be sent to the representative group after three (3) successive absences of its representative. This then in turn will invoke a charge to the groups remaining budget of 10%.
  5. After four (4) successive absences of its representative, the group will then be removed from the student congress membership and will need to reapply for membership if they wish to rejoin.
  6. If the representative in question is expelled from Congress for unexcused absences, the group, resident hall, house and organization must fill the position within two (2) weeks of the expulsion of its representative. Failure to act within this time period shall result in the position remaining unfilled for the rest of the term.
Section II—Representation Recall/Removal
  1. A four-fifths (4/5) majority vote of the full voting membership of Congress shall result in the removal of a representative.
  2. A representative can also be recalled/removed on the basis of a petition by no fewer than twenty-five (25) of the members of the constituency who voted the representative in. Such a petition shall be placed before the total membership of the constituency for a general vote. The representative shall be removed from Congress by a majority vote of those present and voting in his/her constituency.
  3. If a member is recalled/removed by either means the constituency shall vote in an election regarding the election of a new representative to Congress within two (2) weeks of vacancy.
Section III—Referendum Vote

The decision of Congress and issues facing students are subject to a referendum vote. For a referendum to occur, a petition consisting of no less than thirty percent (30%) of the student body must be presented to the Chairperson of the Elections Committee at a regularly scheduled meeting of Congress.

Article X – Financial Matters

Section I—Financial Base

The financial base of Student Congress shall come from the Student Activities Fee.

Section II—Budget

Congress shall review and approve and/or make recommendations for change of the proposed budget to the Student Budget and Finance Committee through the Vice-President of Congress.

Section III—Restrictions

No individual or committee may make expenditures from Congress and/or Contingency Fund without the approval of Congress as set forth in Article VIII, Section IV.

Section IV—Expenditures

All expenditures involving Congress must be given to the Treasurer of Congress at the following meeting or the member may be held responsible for the debt.

Section V—Student Congress Organizations Receiving College Credit

Any student organization in which a student receives college credit for being a member of that organization falls under the jurisdiction of Student Congress, shall be limited to a fixed budget as determined by the Student Congress Executive Committee in conjunction with the Student Budget and Finance Committee.

Article XI – Standing Procedures

Section I—Open Meetings

All meetings of the Student Congress shall be open to the campus community.

Section II—Frequency of Meetings

The Student Congress shall meet no less than once a week during the academic year, excluding vacations. Special meetings may be called by the President, Executive Council, or the Representatives as set forth in Article VI, Section I.

Section III—Quorum

A quorum must be present for the Congress to conduct a business meeting. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the full voting membership of Congress.

Section IV—Procedures

The meetings of Congress shall be conducted by Parliamentary Procedures as set forth in Robert’s Rules of Order (latest edition).

Section V—Issues

Any organization, group, or individual may present any issue of campus life at a regularly scheduled meeting of Congress.

Section VI—Bylaws

“The Student Congress Constitution” shall contain a set of bylaws. The bylaws shall include the bylaw of all Student Congress committees. Amendments to the bylaws shall be approved by a simple majority of Student Congress representatives in a roll call vote.

Article XII – Amendments

Section I—Amendment Proposal

Any member of the student body may bring an amendment to this Constitution before Congress. This proposal must be in writing and submitted at a regular meeting.

Section II—Proposal Procedure

A. An amendment shall be presented one (1) full week in advance and approved by a majority vote of the full voting membership of Congress at the subsequent meeting. This amendment shall then be submitted to the student body.

B. An amendment may come directly from the student body if presented to Congress with a supporting petition signed by no less than thirty percent (30%) of the student body. This amendment shall go directly before the student body without Congressional approval.

Section III—Amendment Approval

Any amendment to this constitution shall be submitted to the student body in a referendum and must be approved by a simple majority of the student’s voting in the general election.

Revised & Approved October 2011

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