Constitutional Changes

Former Constitution

Formally changed March 2007

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DEMOCRATS

The Columbia University College Democrats is a political organization and member of the Earl Hall Student Governing Board chartered with the objective of providing a forum for discussions, debate, and activism reflecting the broad principles of the Democratic Party. At all times, the club will work to further the goals and interests of the Democratic Party, its duly nominated candidates, and the people of the United States.

Article I.

Section 1. The General Body of the College Democrats consists of all members of the organization. All members may participate in College Democrats events, may vote on motions before the General Body, and may vote in the election of officers. Any member of the General Body shall be eligible to run to be an officer of the organization or a member of the Activist Council, except as otherwise noted in this Constitution. Twenty-five persons shall constitute a quorum for business. Except where otherwise noted, all General Body decisions are made by a majority vote. In the case of a tie, the Executive Board shall decide.

Section 2. Membership shall be open to all members of the Columbia University community who are undergraduate students in Barnard College, Columbia College, the School of General Studies, or the School of Engineering and Applied Science and who express an interest in becoming College Democrats general body members. Interest in the College Democrats is expressed through signing up for the College Democrats e-mail or the e-mail list of a recognized Umbrella Group. All Columbia University affiliates will have access to events, yet access may be denied to non-members by the Executive Board.

Section 3. Membership may be revoked based upon a violation of the laws of the United States of America, the laws of the State of New York, the laws of the City of New York, the rules of Columbia University, or the tenets of the Democratic Party. Also, egregious disruptive conduct at a College Democrats sponsored event or acts directly contrary to the interests of College Democrats may be grounds for revocation of membership privileges.

Section 4. A motion to revoke membership must specifically name the member and the offense committed and can only be raised by a member of the Executive Board. If the motion is supported by a two thirds majority vote of the General Body, membership is immediately revoked. If it is necessary to revoke membership in an expedited manner, the Executive Board may temporarily revoke membership until the end of the next body meeting by a two thirds majority vote. At the end of the next body meeting, membership status is returned unless the General Body votes to revoke membership according to the established procedure. Once membership has been revoked by the General Body, it can only be regained by a three quarters majority vote of the General Body.

Section 5. Meetings of the General Body shall be biweekly during the academic year, subject to cancellation by a majority vote of the Executive Board. The President or any three other members of the Executive Board shall have the power to call a meeting if able to secure a meeting space. All General Body Meetings must be announced in an e-mail sent to the entire General Body e-mail list. This email is to be sent at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. The General Body can only conduct official business at a properly announced General Body Meeting.

Article II.

Section 1. The Officers of the Columbia University College Democrats are the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the five Members-at-Large, the two Freshman Representatives, and the Webmaster. Together, they shall jointly be called the Executive Board of the Columbia University College Democrats.

Section 2. The Executive Board shall function as the institutional voice of the College Democrats and is the sole and supreme interpreter of this Constitution. It is the responsibility of the Executive Board to advance the mission of the College Democrats and the Democratic Party. To achieve this, the Executive Board has exclusive authority to work with the Earl Hall Student Governing Board, to co-sponsor events with other organizations, and to run the day to day business of the organization. The Executive Board shall maintain public relations to inform its members and the Columbia community of its policy positions and upcoming College Democrats sponsored events.

Section 3. Except as noted otherwise in this Constitution, all questions pertaining to College Democrats policies and procedures will be resolved as follows: the Executive Board shall vote on a recommendation for action on the issue. At the next General Body Meeting, the Executive Board shall present its recommendation to the General Body. The General Body may then debate the issue and vote to follow or not follow the recommendations of the Executive Board. The decision of the General Body is final, unless by the same process the decision is reversed. If the issue must be acted on in an expedited manner, the Executive Board may temporarily enact its recommendation until the end of the next General Body Meeting by a two thirds vote. At the next General Body Meeting, the recommendation shall be debated and decided in the usual manner. Where the Executive Board is given exclusive authority, the decision of the Executive Board is final.

Section 4. The Executive Board shall meet at least once a week during the academic year at a time and place it will decide, unless the Executive Board votes to cancel the meeting for that week. Executive Board Meetings are open to the public, but a motion can be made to remove all non-officers, except former Presidents, for the remainder of the meeting, when debate requires privacy. Such a motion requires only a one third vote in the affirmative to pass. By a majority vote of the Executive Board, an officer who has a personal interest in an issue under debate may be removed until after the issue has been decided. Attendance at the weekly meetings and all events organized by the College Democrats is mandatory for all officers. If an officer cannot attend s/he must inform the President of the fact and why before the meeting or event. Two thirds of all current officers shall constitute a quorum for business. Except as otherwise noted, all decisions of the Executive Board are made by a majority vote.

Section 5. The President is the chief executive of the College Democrats. The President is in charge of running Executive Board meetings, monitoring attendance at Executive Board meetings, and ensuring that all officers are fulfilling their duties. Unless the Executive Board decides otherwise, the President is the public face and spokesperson for the College Democrats. The President is also responsible for the advancement of the interests of the College Democrats and its mission. The President may appoint a Sergeant-at-Arms to enforce proper conduct at College Democrats meetings and events.

Section 6. The Vice-President’s primary duty is to assist the President in her/his duties. In addition, the Vice-President is the main liaison with the Columbia University administration. The Vice-President must foster ties with administration officials and work with the administration to plan events when necessary. The Vice-President is an ex-officio member of the Activist Council and is the Coordinator of the Activist Council.

Section 7. The Secretary shall maintain and update an e-mail list for the purpose of General Body E-mails. The Secretary shall write and send General Body E-mails as the Executive Board requires. The Secretary is responsible for making room reservations for all events sponsored by the College Democrats and shall assist the Vice-President as a liaison to the administration. The Secretary must take and publish minutes for all Executive Board and General Body meetings.

Section 8. The Treasurer shall be responsible for ensuring that all funds allocated by the Executive Board are dispensed in a timely manner. This shall include the provision of vouchers, reimbursements, and other forms of funding to those who require them for College Democrats business. The Treasurer is responsible for provision of all food and supplies at College Democrats sponsored events unless the Executive Board decides otherwise. The Treasurer shall give financial advice to co-sponsoring groups or Umbrella Groups and shall ensure that funds promised from other groups are properly provided. The Treasurer is an automatic representative to the Earl Hall Student Governing Board. If s/he is unable to perform this duty or the Executive Board wills it so, the Executive Board shall choose a replacement. At the end of each year, the Treasurer shall prepare a budget for the coming year and shall submit the budget to the Earl Hall Student Governing Board.

Section 9. Once the new Executive Board has taken office in the spring, the new President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer shall jointly assign each of the five Members-at-Large a specific position. Each Member-at-Large may request a specific position, but the decision of the aforementioned officers is final. The specific positions a Member-at-Large can be assigned to be are Public Affairs Director, Membership Director, Outreach Director, Speakers Coordinator, and Political Affairs Director.

  • The Public Affairs Director shall be responsible for all advertising and shall organize the distribution of advertisements. The Public Affairs Director is also responsible for helping all co-sponsoring and Umbrella Groups with their advertising and their distribution of advertisements. The Public Affairs Director shall work with the Political Affairs Director to disseminate information about the College Democrats’ policies and events in campus, local, and national media.
  • The Membership Director is responsible for the oversight and aid of Umbrella Groups. The Membership Director is also the Master of Ceremonies for all General Body Meetings, unless the Executive Board decides otherwise for specific meetings. Before each General Body Meeting, the Membership Director shall create an agenda which s/he will enforce during the meeting.
  • The Outreach Director is the primary liaison between the College Democrats and other campus groups and is responsible for planning community service events for the College Democrats. The Outreach Director shall work with the Treasurer to coordinate co-sponsorships with other groups and will aid in the execution of any co-sponsored event. The Outreach Director is an ex-officio member of the Activist Council.
  • The Speakers Coordinator is responsible for providing speakers at all General Body Meetings which require speakers, providing speakers at all College Democrats sponsored events which require speakers, and aiding all co-sponsoring groups and Umbrella Groups that require speakers.
  • The Political Affairs Director is the primary liaison between the College Democrats and active political campaigns or off campus political organizations. The Political Affairs Director shall work with the Public Affairs Director to disseminate information about the College Democrats’ policies and events in campus, local, and national media and is an ex-officio member of the Activist Council.

Section 10. The two First-Year Representatives shall aid all other officers as the need arises.

Section 11. The Webmaster shall maintain and regularly update the website of the College Democrats. The Webmaster will be responsible for adding content and features that the Executive Board decides to be necessary and shall aid all co-sponsoring and Umbrella Groups as the need arises.

Section 12. None of the duties of any officer shall be construed to limit the freedom of that officer. Any officer may work on any project or event as long as it does not conflict with her/his required duties. No person may hold multiple offices on the Executive Board.

Article III.

Section 1. The Activist Council of the Columbia University College Democrats is a committee consisting of four Lead Activists, an indefinite number of Associate Activists, the Vice-President, the Outreach Director, and the Political Affairs Director. The Activist Council is a part of the College Democrats and shall not be portrayed or construed to be an independent organization. In official documents, which shall include posters, and in statements to the media or the public, the Activist Council shall be called the Activist Council of the Columbia University College Democrats.

Section 2. The Activist Council shall encourage progressive and left-minded activism while promoting unity and connection with other progressive organizations on the Columbia campus. The Activist Council shall seek out and organize political or activist events that reflect a progressive message and reach out to other organizations to participate.

Section 3. In the course of the calendar year, the Activist Council is responsible for four projects: one
project to better the Columbia community; one project to improve the local, national, or global community; one lobby trip for the College Democrats; and one campaign trip for the College Democrats.
None of the responsibilities listed in this section shall be construed to limit the scope of the mandate of the Activist Council as stated in Section 2 of this article. The Activist Council may work on any project or event that it interprets as a part of its mandate except as otherwise noted in this Constitution and as long as it does not conflict with its other responsibilities. The supreme duty of the Activist Council is the advancement of the interests of the College Democrats and the Democratic Party.

Section 4. The Coordinator of the Activist Council is in charge of monitoring attendance at Activist Council meetings and ensuring that all members of the Activist Council are fulfilling their duties. Unless the Executive Board decides otherwise, the Coordinator of the Activist Council is the public face and spokesperson for the Activist Council.

Section 5. The four Lead Activists shall take turns as the Moderator of the Activist Council, rotating each week. The Moderator of the Activist Council is responsible for moderating meetings, setting meeting agendas, and e-mailing a notice of meetings beforehand. If the Coordinator of the Activist Council is unable to perform her/his duties or if the Coordinator of the Activist Council resigns or is removed, the Moderator of the Activist Council shall assume the duties of the Coordinator of the Activist Council until the Coordinator returns or a new Coordinator is chosen. The meeting before it is a Lead Activist’s turn to be Moderator that Lead Activist shall serve as Secretary and must take and publish minutes for the meeting. If the Moderator is not present, the Secretary shall become Moderator and the next person in line to become Moderator shall become the Secretary. In a vote of the Activist Council, all members of the Activist Council have an equal vote.

Section 6. The Activist Council shall make all decisions by consensus. If an issue proves controversial, the Coordinator of the Activist Council shall either call it to a vote of the Activist Council or bring it before the Executive Board. Such decisions are final unless reversed by the same process or by the Executive Board.

Section 7. If a member of the General Body feels the Activist Council is taking an action that is not in the interest of the College Democrats or its mission, s/he may bring the complaint before the Executive Board, which shall vote on whether or not the Activist Council may take the offending action. The Executive Board may instruct the Activist Council to take certain actions.

Section 8. The Lead Activists shall serve approximately one year terms beginning on the first day of spring semester and ending on the last day of winter break. In the fall semester, the Executive Board shall publicly disseminate an application to be on the Activist Council for the coming year. The Executive Board shall make public all returned applications and on the basis of these applications and other outside knowledge shall appoint the four Lead Activists. Only members of the College Democrats are eligible to serve on the Activist Council. No one shall serve simultaneously on the Executive Board and as an Associate Activist or as a Lead Activist.
If the Executive Board is unable to choose the four Lead Activists by the first day of spring semester, the Coordinator of the Activist Council shall choose four Associate Activists to serve as Lead Activists until the Executive Board can come to a decision. If a Lead Activist resigns or is removed, the Coordinator of the Activist Council shall choose an Associate Activists to serve as a Lead Activist for the remainder of the term.
The Coordinator of the Activist Council shall appoint Associate Activists for terms of varying lengths, all ending on the last day of winter break.

Section 9. The Activist Council shall meet at least once a week during the academic year at a time and place it will decide, unless the Activist Council decides to cancel the meeting for that week. Activist Council Meetings are open to the public, but a motion can be made to remove all non-officers and non-activists, except former Presidents, for the remainder of the meeting, when debate requires privacy. Such a motion requires only a one third vote in the affirmative to pass. By the procedures established in Section 6 of this article, an activist who has a personal interest in an issue under debate may be removed until after the issue has been decided. Attendance at the weekly meetings, at all Executive Board Meetings, and at all General Body is mandatory for all activists. If an activist cannot attend s/he must inform the Coordinator of the Activist Council of that fact and why before the meeting or event. Two thirds of the sum of the Lead Activists and the Executive Board members on the Activist Council shall constitute a quorum for business.

Section 10. If a member of the Activist Council has been found to be in violation of her/his duties or this Constitution the Executive Board may remove this Activist by a two thirds majority vote.

Article IV.

Section 1. Umbrella Groups are organizations operating under the College Democrats with the purpose of furthering the interests of the College Democrats and the Democratic Party. Umbrella Groups shall be given all the financial backing, publicity, help with room-reservations, general aid, and general advice by the College Democrats that the Executive Board finds fitting. All Umbrella Groups remain a part of the College Democrats and shall not be portrayed or construed as separate or independent organizations. In official documents, which shall include posters, and in statements to the media or the public, Umbrella Groups shall be identified as Umbrella Groups of the Columbia University College Democrats. On posters, it shall suffice to include the Umbrella Group Seal, a logo which the Executive Board shall select and make publicly available that identifies organizations as Umbrella Groups.

Section 2. At the beginning of each academic year, the Executive Board shall publicly disseminate an application to form Umbrella Groups for the coming year. Only members of the General Body may file applications to form Umbrella Groups. The Executive Board shall make public all returned applications and in the manner described by Article II, Section 3 shall accept or reject prospective Umbrella Groups. All Umbrella Groups cease to be at the end of the academic year; those that wish to continue must reapply each year.

Section 3. At the beginning of each academic year, the Executive Board shall publicly disseminate a semester budget form for Umbrella Groups. Once an Umbrella Group has been accepted it shall submit the completed form to the Executive Board. Umbrella Groups formed in the fall wishing it continue into the spring shall file another budget form for the spring semester at the end of the fall semester. The Treasurer and the Membership Director shall oversee the budget allocations and the Executive Board shall approve all semester budgets. If an Umbrella Group does not submit a budget for the coming semester it shall cease to be.

Section 4. To become a member of an Umbrella Group a person must express interest in the Umbrella Group by e-mailing its founder or by attending a meeting organized by the Umbrella Group. The leadership of an Umbrella Groups shall be decided by a consensus of its members. If a consensus cannot be reached, the Executive Board shall decide.
Section 5. If a member of the General Body feels an Umbrella Group is taking an action that is not in the interest of the College Democrats or its mission, s/he may bring the complaint before the Executive Board, which shall vote on whether or not the Umbrella Group may take the offending action. The Executive Board may instruct Umbrella Groups to take certain actions.

Section 6. If an Umbrella Group does not follow the duly issued instructions of the Executive Board or misuses its duly allocated funds, it may lose its Umbrella Group status in the manner described by Article II, Section 3.

Article V.

Section 1. Two elections shall be held each year, one within the first three weeks of fall semester and one before the end of spring semester. The Executive Board shall determine specific dates of these elections. In the fall election, two First-Year Representatives shall be elected. In the spring election, all officers except the First-Year Representatives and the Webmaster shall be elected. All ballots shall be secret and improperly filled ballots shall be invalid.
In all elections, campaign materials and nominations are prohibited. One month before the spring election, the Executive Board shall publicly disseminate a questionnaire for all candidates. The Executive Board shall make public all returned questionnaires.

Section 2. Unless s/he is running in the election for any office, the President shall preside over the election. If the President is running for an office, the Vice-President shall preside. If both are running for an office, the Executive Board shall appoint a person who is not seeking election to preside. The person presiding over the election shall be responsible for counting all ballots, enforcing time limits, and running the election in an efficient manner. All valid ballots shall be counted and the winner shall be announced in each race before the next race begins. No candidate for office may participate in the counting of her/his own ballots. A call of the ballots shall be made at the request of any General Body Member.

Section 3. Only first-year students may run for the position of First-Year Representative. At the election, each candidate for First-Year Representative shall deliver a speech one minute before the voting begins. Each ballot may have up to two names, but it is permissible to have fewer. The two candidates receiving the most votes shall be elected. A majority is not required, only a plurality. If more than two people have the two highest vote counts because of a tie there shall be a second round of voting, but only those tied candidates shall be eligible. This shall continue until the tie is broken.

Section 4. In the spring election the order of the elections and the time allowed for the candidates’ speeches shall be as follows: President, with five minutes; Vice-President, with three minutes; Secretary, with two minutes; Treasurer, with two minutes; Members-at-Large, with one minute. A person who has run in an election and lost may run again in a subsequent election. A candidate may yield the rest of her/his time for questions or to the person presiding over the election. If the candidate chooses to answer questions, the presiding officer shall choose who shall ask questions until the time is up.

Section 5. In elections for the Members-at-Large each ballot may have up to five names, but it is permissible to have fewer. The five candidates receiving the most votes shall be elected. A majority is not required, only a plurality. If there is a tie, causing more than five people to receive the five highest vote totals, there shall be a second round of voting. Only candidates who received the five highest vote totals shall be eligible for the second round. This shall continue until the tie is broken.

Section 6. Except where otherwise noted in this Constitution, all elections shall require a majority vote. If no candidate receives a majority, there shall be a second round of voting, but only the two candidates with the highest votes shall be eligible. If two or more candidates tie with the second highest number of votes and no one has won a majority, the tied candidates, as well as the candidate with the highest number of votes, shall be eligible for a second round of voting. This shall continue until the tie is broken.

Section 7. The terms of all officers shall begin at the end of their respective elections and shall end at the end of the first spring election following their election to office.

Section 8. Before the beginning of fall semester, the Executive Board shall publicly disseminate an application for the officer of Webmaster. The Executive Board shall make public all returned applications and on the basis of these applications and other outside knowledge shall appoint the Webmaster.

Article VI.

Section 1. If the President is removed, resigns, or can no longer fulfill her/his duties, the Vice-President shall become President. In case of vacancy of other Executive Board positions, except for the Webmaster, the remaining Executive Board Members shall choose a replacement in the manner described by Article II, Section 3 of this Constitution. If the General Body does not accept the recommendation, the Executive Board shall begin the process again until a replacement is found. If the position of Webmaster becomes vacant, the Executive Board shall appoint a new Webmaster. If the position of First-Year Representative becomes vacant, the position will be replaced by a Representative-at-Large. The Representative-at-Large shall not need to be a first-year.

Section 2. If a member of Executive Board has been found to be in violation of her/his duties or this Constitution the Executive Board may recommend her/his removal by a two thirds majority vote. At the next General Body Meeting, the Executive Board shall present its recommendation to the General Body. The General Body may then debate the issue and vote to follow or not follow the recommendations of the Executive Board. If the General Body votes with a two thirds majority to remove, the officer is removed for the remainder of the term. If the issue must be acted on in an expedited manner, the Executive Board may temporarily enact its recommendation until the end of the next General Body Meeting by a three quarters vote. At the next General Body Meeting, the recommendation shall be debated and decided in the usual manner.

Article VII.

The President shall maintain a handbook containing documents of historical significance to the College Democrats, advice from current Executive Board Members or Activists to future generations, and other information which the President deems necessary. Each year, the outgoing President shall deliver the handbook to the incoming President.
If the handbook is lost or destroyed, the President shall create a new handbook to replace to old one.

Article VIII.

This document must be ratified by two-thirds of the Executive Board and two thirds of the General Body. Amendments must be proposed by an Executive Board member or a group of five general body members. All amendments must be ratified by two-thirds of the Executive Board and two thirds of the General Body.

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