CONSTITUTION
of the
GRADUATE STUDENT ASSOCIATION
of the
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

Ratified April 2019

The below document represents a comprehensive revision of the Constitution that reflects the elements of Proposed Restructuring that received positive student feedback, as well as changes recommended by graduate students regarding the issue of a “previous service” requirement for elected officers. In addition, the proposed “Administrate Assistant” position has been modified, becoming the Director of Internal Operations - an elected position.

You can also view a Word version of this document with markups, highlighting the changes from our current Constitution.

 
 

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 all graduate departments and programs, as well as University-recognized graduate student organizations, serve as a formal representative body at the GSA Council meetings. GSA representatives and Officer Team members 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 full-time, fee-paying graduate and professional students at the University of Georgia who are registered as post-baccalaureate degree-seeking students.

Section 2. Representation and voting

Each department with a graduate degree program, and each University-recognized graduate organization, can send one representative to serve on the GSA Council. GSA Council Representatives should be elected or appointed by departmental- or program-level graduate organizations; should no such organization exist, the Program Coordinator for a graduate program will be asked to appoint a GSA Council Representative.

GSA Council meetings are open, and all graduate students are welcome to attend. For decisions and initiatives affecting the entire graduate student body (such as the election of Officers) all graduate students are considered voting members., 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 Council Representatives

GSA Council Representatives are expected to serve as conduits of information between the GSA and students in their respective departments and student organizations. GSA Council 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 Officer Team of GSA shall consist of a President, Vice President, Graduate University Representative, Representative-at-Large, and Director of Internal Operations. Officers 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. Candidates for President, Vice President, and Graduate University Representative will be asked to demonstrate one year of relevant university involvement or leadership experience as part of their election platform; this experience can be constituted by, but is not limited to, serving as a representative to the GSA Council. Candidates for Director of Internal Operations will be asked to demonstrate relevant organizational, logistical, and/or event planning experience as part of their election platform. The Representative-at-Large will be chosen from the GSA Council after the start of the academic year.

If, during the academic year, the President should be unable to continue in their post, the Vice President will assume the duties of the President, and the President’s committee memberships will be distributed among the remaining Officers. If any other Officer post is vacated during the academic year, the President is empowered to appoint a replacement from among the GSA Council Representatives, with approval by the GSA Council.

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 members of the Officer Team are not required to run together on a ticket. Each Officer Team member must be elected by a 50% plus 1 majority of votes cast. If no candidate receives that percentage, a run-off will be held as soon as possible between the two candidates with the highest number of votes. The mode of voting will be through the UGA Involvement Network website.

Section 2. Duties of the President

The President of the GSA is the primary spokesperson for the GSA when working with the University administration and the community at large.

The President’s duties and appointments include the following:

  • running regularly scheduled GSA Council meetings according to Roberts Rules of Order;

  • overseeing the organization of GSA events and initiatives as directed by the GSA Council;

  • overseeing the organization of Fall Orientation events;

  • overseeing the development of the annual GSA budget, with the approval of the GSA Council, and presenting the GSA budget at the annual All-Campus Allocations meeting;

  • serving on the following University committees:

    • University Council

    • Executive Committee of the University Council,

    • Graduate Council

    • Leaders Committee,

    • Educational Affairs Committee

    • All-Campus Allocations Committee

  • submitting reports at the GSA Council meetings on committee developments pertaining to graduate student life at the University;

  • representing GSA’s stance on any issue, as directed by the GSA Council;

  • disseminating information of relevance to the local and state graduate body;

  • liaising between the GSA and the undergraduate Student Government Association; and

  • working with the subsequent year’s elected Officers to craft and submit a budget in the student fee allocations process and to otherwise make the leadership transition as smooth as possible.

The President will receive a stipend for the academic year.

Section 3. Duties of the Vice President and Graduate University Representative

The Vice President and Graduate Student Representative are 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 also assume the duties of the President at GSA Council meetings should the President be unable to attend.

The Vice President and Graduate University Representative together will occupy GSA’s second and third seats on the University Council. The Vice President and Graduate University Representative will also divide between them memberships on the following University committees:  

  • Curriculum Committee

  • Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics

  • University Libraries Committee

  • Committee on Facilities

  • Strategic Planning Committee

  • Committee on Student Life

The Vice President and Graduate University Representative will attend all regularly scheduled GSA Council meetings to present reports on committee developments pertaining to graduate student life at the University.

The Vice President and Graduate University Representative will receive stipends for the academic year.

Section 4. Duties of the Representative-at-Large

The Representative-at-Large is expected to attend GSA Council meetings and is the designated alternate at any meeting for which the other Officers cannot be in attendance. The Representative-at-Large also sits, along with the President, on the All-Campus Allocations Committee, which meets each Spring semester.

Section 5. Duties of the Director of Internal Operations

The Director of Internal Operations, as a Graduate Assistant funded by the University, works 18 hours per week on behalf of GSA. The Director of Internal Operations is responsible for the institutional memory of the GSA by maintaining clear, complete, and coherent records. The duties of the Director of Internal Operations include:

  • maintaining records of all meetings and committee updates;

  • taking the minutes of all GSA Council meetings and ensuring their accessibility online and in hardcopy in the GSA office;

  • securing purchasing approvals and maintaining financial documentation through the Center for Student Activities and Involvement;

  • retaining all directives given to GSA from various University offices, including but not limited to those sent by the Allocations Committee at the end of each academic year;

  • logistical planning and support (e.g., space reservations, transportation arrangements, catering arrangements, technical support) for all GSA functions including, but not limited to orientation, workshops, conferences, special guest speakers, and collaborative events;

  • maintaining and updating the GSA website and social media accounts;

  • maintaining both a public calendar of GSA events and an Officer calendar that cross-lists all committee meetings;

  • maintaining and updating the GSA listserv;

  • developing and maintaining a master calendar for GSA processes and procedures, including those specific to the Officer positions;

  • sending out announcements, polls, and voting procedures through the GSA listserv;

  • requesting that the Graduate School send out election notifications and calls for Graduate Council Representatives; and

  • ensuring that the GSA office is open to the public for a minimum of eight (8) hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters.

The Director of Internal Operations receives a Graduate Assistantship, including a tuition waiver, through the University. 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 GSA Director of Internal Operations must be enrolled in a program that falls under the jurisdiction of the UGA Graduate School. The assistantship is governed by all rules of the University regarding standard teaching and research assistantships, including credit hour enrollment.

Section 6. Impeachment of Officers

In the case of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance of the duties of office, the impeachment and removal from office of any Officer Team member 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 Council Representatives, who are required to provide at least 14 days’ written notice to all GSA Council 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 Council Representatives in good standing, to be voted either in person at the GSA meeting or via e-mail.

 

Article IV. Meetings

Section 1. Schedule

The GSA Council will meet a minimum of four (4) times each semester and may be called 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 Council 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 8,700 graduate and professional students enrolled at the University.  Therefore, for the purpose of voting on GSA-wide initiatives, elections, and changes in governance, quorum is set at 1% of the entire graduate and professional student body; i.e., at least eighty-seven 87 members must vote for an initiative, election, or change in governance to be valid.

The GSA Council is to be made of elected representatives from any and all departments with graduate programs, plus representatives from officially-recognized graduate student groups on campus. GSA cannot, however, require any department, program, or graduate student group to supply a representative. Therefore, quorum for GSA Council meetings for each academic year shall be set at 50% of those representatives whose names have been officially submitted to the GSA Director of Internal Operations.

 

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.