GRADUATE STUDENT ASSOCIATION
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
Last Modified 12 November 2018
Ratified 31 October 2018
The below document represents minimal amendments made to the last fully ratified Constitution. We will be forming a committee tasked with a comprehensive, collaborative revision of the Constitution at our November 2018 open meeting, with the hope that a robust document, reflecting the priorities and positions of UGA graduate students, will be ready for open debate and ratification in Spring 2019.
Article I. Purpose
This constitution of the Graduate Student Association (GSA henceforth) of the University of Georgia sets forth the rules that will serve as the guiding principles of the organization. GSA is an advocacy organization composed of all graduate and professional students at the University of Georgia. Representatives from every department and program, as well as graduate student organizations serve as a formal representative body at the GSA Council meetings for graduate and post-baccalaureate professional students. GSA representatives exist to provide a voice for the University of Georgia’s graduate and professional student body.
Article II. Membership and Responsibilities
Section 1. Graduate Student Association Membership
The Graduate Student Association is composed of all graduate and professional students at the University of Georgia who are registered as post-baccalaureate degree-seeking students.
Section 2. Representation and voting
Departments and graduate student organizations will be allowed multiple representatives to attend the GSA Council meetings. When possible, voting will be held online so that all graduate and professional students can participate. All voting results and methods will be publicized via the GSA website to ensure fairness and the integrity of the voting process.
Section 3. Responsibilities of GSA Representatives
GSA representatives are expected to serve as conduits of information between the GSA and students in their respective departments and student organizations. Department representatives are expected to regularly attend meetings and be prepared to discuss agenda items. Representatives who miss two or more meetings without sending a proxy from their department or organization will no longer be considered representatives, and the GSA President will be at liberty to recruit a new representative from that department or organization. Representatives may also serve on GSA ad-hoc committees and represent graduate students on select university committees and working groups. The GSA representatives will also be asked to approve the annual budgets proposed by the President.
Article III. Officers
Section 1. Selection of Officers
The President and Vice President of the GSA will be elected by the full membership of the GSA in an open election to be held during the spring of each academic year, with the new officers taking office upon the beginning of the Summer Term. If the President should for some reason be unable to continue in her/his post, the Vice President would take over. If the Vice President post is vacant for any reason, the President is empowered to appoint a replacement from among the GSA representatives, with approval by the majority of the GSA members taking part in an open vote.
The Secretary of the GSA shall be elected by the voting members at the final meeting of each academic year to serve for the following year. If the Secretary post is vacant for any reason, the President is empowered to appoint a replacement from among the GSA representatives, with approval by the majority of the GSA members taking part in an open vote.
Section 2. Duties of the President
The President of the GSA is responsible for coordinating and running GSA Council meetings. S/he or her/his designee is the primary spokesperson for the GSA in working with the University administration and the community at large. The President will also be responsible for coordinating and planning GPA events throughout the year, or designating individuals to carry out these tasks and will have control of the GSA budget to that end. The President, in cooperation with the Vice President, will select graduate students for service on University committees and working groups or serve on those committees her/himself and will be responsible for recruiting members from departments and organizations not represented at GSA meetings. The President will represent graduate and professional student interests on the University Council. The President will be provided a University assistantship for her/his work for the GSA and is therefore primarily responsible for all activities of these organizations. The President will not vote at GSA meetings except in case of a tie. A full enumeration of the duties associated with this assistantship is attached in Appendix A.
Section 3. Duties of the Vice President
The Vice President is responsible for working with the President to carry out the many duties associated with coordinating GSA events and meetings. Primary duties include service on University committees and working groups, working with the President to recruit volunteers for same, and oversight of GSA expenditures. The Vice President will represent graduate and professional student interests on University Council.
Section 4. Duties of the Secretary
The Secretary of the GSA is responsible for maintaining and updating the minutes, attendance records, listserv, membership roll, and other records of the GSA.
Section 5. Impeachment of Officers
In the case of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance of the duties of office, the impeachment and removal from office of the President or Vice President may be recommended by the GSA to the Vice President for Student Affairs or another university representative to whom the leader in question is accountable. A vote to recommend removal can be initiated by any five signatory GSA representatives, who are required to provide at least 14 days’ written notice to all GSA representatives and to the officer under potential impeachment before a vote can be held. An impeachment and recommendation for removal from office will require the vote of 2/3 of all GSA representatives in good standing, to be voted either in person at the GSA meeting or via e-mail.
Article IV. Meetings
Section 1. Schedule
GSA will meet four (4) times each semester and as needed during summer term. Meetings will be at a designated place and occur during a designated day and time each month.
Section 2. Model for Meetings
GSA Council meetings will be conducted as a cross between a democratic and town council format. Most issues will be dealt with on a consensus, town council format, while contentious issues will be voted upon by the methods described in Article II, Section 2. The President of the GSA votes in the case of a tie.
Section 3. Open Meetings
All meetings of the GSA are open to all graduate and professional students. While most meetings are open to the University community at large, the GSA reserves the right to hold an executive session open only to graduate and professional students.
Section 4. Quorum
As GSA membership is open to all graduate and professional students, the membership potentially includes the entire population of the graduate and professional student body. According to University records there are approximately 8,500 graduate and professional students enrolled at the University. Therefore, quorum is set at 0.01% of the entire graduate and professional student body; i.e., at least nine members must be present in order for an official meeting to be held.
Article V. Committee Structure
In order to address ongoing and recurring matters important to graduate and professional students’ interests, the GSA may form standing committees focused on matters including, but not limited to: community relations, health insurance, the annual interdisciplinary conference, and international student affairs. The President is charged to recruit and appoint interested department representatives to serve as committee chairs for these committees. If two representatives agree to share responsibilities for a committee, the President may appoint them as co-chairs. The President is also empowered to recruit and nominate department representatives to serve as chairs for additional working groups and ad-hoc committees at any time for the purpose of addressing issues as they arise. Committee chairs are responsible for recruiting committee members to assist their efforts, and for reporting their activities at the GSA meetings. While only GSA representatives may serve as committee chairs, any graduate or professional student is eligible for membership on these committees and working groups.
Article VI. Statement of Nondiscrimination
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) does not discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of gender, ethnicity, creed, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, national origin, or veteran status. It is the policy of this organization to be open and welcoming to all graduate and professional students.
Membership and all privileges, including voting and officer positions, must be extended to all students without regard to age, ethnicity, gender, disability, color, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. However, religious student organizations will not be denied registration solely because they limit membership or leadership positions to students who share the same religious beliefs.
Membership and all privileges, including voting and officer positions, must be extended to all students as stated in the University of Georgia Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. However, religious student organizations will not be denied registration solely because they limit membership or leadership positions to students who share the same religious beliefs. Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or handicap in most educational programs and activities within the University.
Article VII. Robert’s Rules
For procedures not covered in this constitution and addressing controversial topics that cannot be resolved by consensus, Robert’s Rules of Order will be implemented. GSA Council meetings will either be held in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order or by a method approved by the GSA President.
Article VIII. Ratification and Amendments
This Constitution will be ratified by a 3/4 vote of the GSA members who participate in an open vote which has the sole purpose of ratifications to this document and may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the GSA members who participate in an open vote which has the sole purpose of amending this document. Proposed ratifications and amendments will be introduced at a regular GSA meeting, and cannot be approved until the subsequent meeting to allow time for discussion and debate.
Elections: Elections will be held yearly in March. All prospective officers must announce their candidacy to the GSA membership a minimum of two academic weeks before the election. The President and Vice President are not required to run together on a ticket. Both the President and Vice President will be elected by a 50% plus 1 majority. If no candidate receives such, a run-off will be held as soon as possible between the candidates with the highest votes. The mode of voting will be through the UGA Involvement Network website.
Appendix A: GSA President
Job Description for the Graduate Student Association President Assistantship
Within the following description, ‘local’ refers to but is not limited to The University of Georgia and Athens, Georgia; ‘state’ refers to the State of Georgia; and ‘national’ refers to but is not limited to nationwide graduate student organizations. The phrase ‘graduate student’ will be interpreted in the broadest manner to include any student pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree. ‘Graduate Student Association’ (and the abbreviation GSA) refers to the Graduate Student Association at the University of Georgia and the Graduate Student Association President is the elected leader of said body.
Who receives the Graduate Student Association President Assistantship?
The Graduate Student Association President Assistantship will be awarded to the Graduate Student Association President. The assistantship is neutral in regards to the degree program of the recipient, meaning that it does not depend upon master, doctoral, certificate, or professional degree program. However, the Graduate Student Association President must be enrolled in a program which falls under the jurisdiction of the UGA Graduate School. The assistantship is governed by all rules of the Graduate School regarding standard teaching and research assistantships, including credit hour enrollment.
Description of Responsibilities
Serve as the chair of the GSA Council meetings. The duties of the GSA chair include planning meetings, preparing agendas, recruiting representatives, and maintaining clear lines of communication with and among the GSA representatives.
Advocate for graduate student concerns at local, state, and national levels.
Represent the GSA’s stance on any issue, or appoint someone to represent the GSA.
Disseminate information of relevance to the local and state graduate body.
Participate in orientation activities aimed at graduate students.
Encourage the development of a graduate school community by planning social, academic, and professional development events and publications which create interaction among graduate students, both within UGA and beyond.
Advocate for the concerns of other University groups which have substantial graduate student membership.
Serve in one of the two graduate student seats on the University Council and occupy the seats on the Graduate Council and University Council Executive Committee reserved for a graduate student.
Serve, or appoint a representative from the GSA to serve, as a member on every committee within the University Council that has a graduate student seat.
Serve, recommend, or appoint, as appropriate, GSA representatives or other involved GSA volunteers to serve on the various organizations and committees within the University of Georgia that require student representation.
Serve on the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee.
Serve as a liaison between the GSA and the undergraduate Student Government Association.
Serve as the chief administrator of all resources, financial and/or physical, for the GSA, under the supervision of the GSA Vice President and with the voted consent of the GSA membership.
Work with the subsequent year’s elected President and Vice President to craft and submit a budget in the student fee allocations process and to otherwise make the leadership transition as smooth as possible.
How is the Graduate Student Association President selected?
Elections will be held yearly in March. All prospective officers must announce their candidacy to the GSA membership a minimum of two academic weeks before the election. The President and Vice President are not required to run together on a ticket. Both the President and Vice President will be elected by a 50% plus 1 majority. If no candidate receives such, a run-off will be held as soon as possible between the candidates with the highest votes. The mode of voting will be through the UGA Involvement Network Website.
Who provides oversight for the GSA within the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs?
In accordance with the rules governing all assistantships at UGA, the GSA President will report to a supervisor. That supervisor will be selected by the Vice-President for Student Affairs from her/his office.
How will the GSA President be evaluated?
The oversight of GSA representatives provides ongoing evaluation and feedback for the GSA President throughout the year. Formal evaluations of the GSA and the President will occur at the same time as the annual elections. GSA members will be provided a form at the same time as voting is conducted on which they can rate the actions of the President and Vice President in terms of the responsibilities described above and in terms of the goals for the GSA stated at the onset of each academic year. There will also be a space for written comments. The Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs will, likewise, evaluate the GSA President using the same measures provided to the members of the GSA. Information from these evaluations will be used by the incoming President and Vice President to establish the goals of their offices for the next academic year.
How is the GSA President compensated?
The work of the GSA President will require 18 hours a week at the very least. Due to this amount of time and the full course load that s/he is required to take, the GSA President will be unable to accept any other assistantship. Therefore, the GSA President will be compensated from the budget of the GSA with a 4/9 assistantship, with the exact amount dependent if s/he is a Master’s, PhD, or professional student. The exact amount will reflect the guidelines established by the Graduate School as to program level and compensation. Along with this will come the privileges of an assistantship, such as tuition waivers. This compensation will begin on June 1 following her/his election and will continue through May 31 the following year.