Our Constitution

Preamble: Name

The name of this organization will be the Geographer’s Graduate Society at Western – The University of Western Ontario (herein referred to as the GeoGrad).

Article I: Objectives

The GeoGrad is a not-for-profit student organization with the objectives of: Promoting greater graduate student cohesion and communication and welcoming new graduate students into the Department of Geography. Representing geography graduate students’ academic, professional, and social interests to the Department of Geography, Society of Graduate Students, and University of Western Ontario administration. Coordinating social and academic functions that provide for social gathering, academic exchange, and stress relief amongst its members. Fostering opportunities for leadership, academic advancement, and professional development in the field of geography.

Article II: Membership

Any and all full-time and part-time Masters and Doctoral students, as well as Postdoctoral fellows (exchange students are welcome to join as honorary members and will be exempt from membership fees, but will be without voting privilages), registered with the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Department of Geography at the University of Western Ontario will be eligible for membership in the GeoGrad.

Membership levy will be 10 dollars collected by the office staff and given to the sitting co-presidents during September. Students wishing to opt out of the GeoGrad society may do so within the month of September. Students that have opted out will be refunded their $10 levy and asked not to participate in any GeoGrad funded or organized events throughout academic year.

Article III: Government Executive

The Executive of the GeoGrad, whose duties are outlined below, will consist of: (a) Two Co-Presidents (b) Secretary (c) Financial Officer (d) Two International Student Liaisons (e) Three Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) Representatives, representing each of the Masters and Doctoral programs (f) Two Grad Affair Councillors (GAC), who serve two year terms representing each of the Masters and Doctoral programs who have completed at least one year in the program (ie first year Masters and Doctoral students are not eligible for this position). GAC members are encouraged retain title for more than one year as issues pertaining to GAC tend to overlap for several years.

The co-presidents are to be elected for alternating one year terms, staggering six months from the start of every school year (Beginning: Sept 1st) for the purpose of the dissemination of knowledge of duties. The co-presidents are to be elected directly by the Membership. Other executive members are to be elected for one year terms in accordance with the constitution or other body policy (SOGS & GTA). Executive members must be in second year of study and preferably would have sat on the committee in question in their first year. (g) Graduate Teaching Assistants’ (GTA) Union Representative, elected from the GTA Union members in the Department of Geography in accordance with current union regulations (h) Appointments Committee (i) Website Committee (j) Speaker Series (k) Social Committee (l) Orientation (m) Christmas Orals (n) Research Coordinators (o) Sustainability Officer (p) Space Allocation

All of the above members of the Executive are to be elected directly by the Membership for a term of one year, as outlined in Article IV.

Duties: Co-Presidents: are the Chief Executive of the GeoGrad and are responsible, inprinciple, for overseeing the activities of the committees which comprise the GeoGrad Society . The Co-Presidents chair Executive and Membership Meetings (mandatory semi-annual meetings), and set the agenda for future Meetings. The Co-Presidents will submit to the incoming Executive, at the end of their term of office a Report outlining the activities and accomplishments of the GeoGrad and recommendations for future goals. The current president is responsible for mentoring the new in-coming president with current affairs, duties and responsibilities.

Secretary: is responsible for disseminating relevant information to the General Membership, and notifying the Executive members of Meeting times and agendas, by email. The Secretary will take the minutes of all Executive and Membership Meetings and will post all minutes on the GeoGrad website as soon as possible. The Secretary, unless the Membership determine otherwise, will also serve as Elections Officer; soliciting, collecting, and counting ballots for the election of the incoming Executive, as outlined in Article IV.

Financial Officer: is a financial signatory on all cheques issued by the GeoGrad. The Financial Officer is responsible for maintaining account books, and recording budget requests approved by the Executive. The Financial Officer will compose a planning budget at the beginning of the academic year (September), and a financial statement at the end of the academic year (May). The financial statement will be made available to the Membership. Financial Officer can remain in position for an indefinite period of time at the discretion of co-presidents as long as they are fulfilling their duties as mentioned above, and no other member has expressed interest in running for the position. Candidates are only encouraged to apply for this position if they have financial experience.

International Student Liaisons: are responsible for attending Executive Meetings both onsite (2-3 per year) and via teleconferencing (when applicable). The ISL represents the concerns of the international student members and those domestic students residing outside of the London area on issues of special interest or concern, and will be responsible for relaying absentee votes for ISL members who are unable to attend Meetings and elections.

Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) Representatives: are responsible for, in addition to representing the Membership at SOGS meetings, reporting to and consulting the Executive and Membership on current issues and decisions by the SOGS. SOGS Representatives are expected to represent the Membership, and will solicit membership input on paramount issues (ex. Health Plan, paid membership in organizations outside of UWO, etc.) via widely circulated emails or most effective means of communication, to ascertain the overall student position. SOGS representatives will not allow their personal opinion to influence their vote when their opinion does not reflect the position of the Membership majority. A single, alternative SOGS Representatives must be appointed by each elected SOGS Representatives, at the time of their election, from within GeoGrad membership as a substitute for the SOGS Representative, should they be unable to attend a SOGS meeting.

Graduate Affairs Council: are responsible for, in addition to representing the Membership at departmental meetings, reporting to and consulting the Executive and Membership on current issues and decisions by the Department of Geography. GAC are expected to represent the Membership, and will solicit Membership input via Meetings or widely circulated emails, to ascertain the overall student position on any given issue. GAC will not allow their personal opinion to influence their representation when their opinion does not reflect the position of the Membership majority. GAC who are unable to attend a scheduled departmental meeting must inform the GeoGrad executive immediately so that a substitute representative can be sent. ADDITION (2013): Graduate Affairs Representatives are available for consultation and support for any GeoGrad having difficulties with any aspect of their program of study. Representatives will direct GeoGrads to appropriate resources available.”

Graduate Teaching Assistants’ (GTA) Union Representative: are responsible for: assisting fellow TAs in attaining a level playing field with TA supervisors and the school administration in general; approaching workplace issues in a way that avoids divisions within the membership; developing a written knowledge of unfair labour practices; and representing fellow TAs during meetings and ensuring effective dissemination of information. In addition to their GTA Union duties, representatives will be responsible for reporting to the Executive and Membership on current issues and decisions by the GTA Union.

Appointments Committee: are responsible for representing the needs and issues of the General Membership in regards to the departmental process of faculty/staff appointments. Representatives will be responsible for reporting to the Executive and Membership on current issues and decisions made by the department. Will not allow their personal opinion to influence their representation when their opinion does not reflect the position of the Membership majority. Since AC are expected to represent the Membership, they will solicit Membership input via Meetings or widely circulated emails, to ascertain the overall student position on important issues.

Website: are responsible for maintaining the GeoGrad website, ensuring it is error free, up-to-date and represents the GeoGrads and the department in a positive manner to the public at-large.

The Speaker Series: committee is responsible for organizing and presenting the Geography Department’s weekly speaker and representing our department in a positive light to other members of the UWO community. The executive members work in tandem with the faculty representative in order to create and distribute information posters regarding the speaker, organize volunteer members and allocate funds towards the purchasing of beverages and refreshments for the talk. The committee members are responsible for preparing fair-trade coffee and tea for every talk, as well as purchasing, cleaning, cutting and setting out food before hand. Finally, committee members ensure that speakers are familiar with the equipment, the room is set up properly before hand and that the room is cleaned at the end of every talk.

Social Committee: ensure the Objectives of the Society are met (such as promoting greater graduate student cohesion, communication and welcoming all graduate students into the Department of Geography). The social committee is responsible for putting together various social events at different times in the year (usually monthly social events). Two mandatory events include: pub-crawl at the beginning of the academic year (September – usually held during orientation week) and end of year event (usually held in April/early May).

Orientation Committee: is responsible for welcoming all new graduate students into the department. Mandatory activities include: distribution of orientation e-mail (template available from previous year – must be e-mailed before start of orientation activities at UWO); department and campus tour; and one social event (such as a BBQ), which focuses on introducing the new GeoGrads to the rest of the department.

Christmas Orals: is responsible for organizing the departmental trivia night that happens before the end of the Winter term. Duties include: determining the location and food served at the event. Prior to the event, providing estimates of the costs to the Co-presidents and Financial Officer. Hosting the Event (ensuring there is enough food; fair trivia play, etc).

Research Committee: ensure the Objectives of the Society are met (such as facilitating that geography graduate students’ academic and professional needs are maximized). Research Committee is responsible for recognizing the needs of the Membership with regards to research (both within the department and in the larger academic community). The committee is expected to represent the Membership, and will solicit Membership input via Meetings or widely circulated emails to ascertain the overall student position on important issues. ADDITION (2013) Research committee is responsible for organizing regular PIPP (Posters, Ideas, Papers and Presentations) nights for the GeoGrads – in consultation with other executive heads to provide an open forum for discussion

Sustainability Officer: are responsible for representing the needs of all the Membership in regards to Sustainability issues within the department and in the UWO community. Since the Sustainabilty Officer is expected to represent the Membership, she/he will solicit Membership input via Meetings or widely circulated emails, to ascertain the overall student position on important issues.

Space Committee: is responsible for representing the needs of all the Membership in regards to space allocation issues (such as office space allocation; use of current or future space; ‘environmental’ issues such as over-crowding/temperature/noise levels; etc.) within the department and in the UWO community. The committee is expected to represent the Membership and will solicit Membership input via Meetings or widely circulated emails to ascertain the overall student position on important issues.

Wellness Committee: is responsible for promotion of a holistic definition of wellness amongst the geograds. This may include but is not limited to wellness information sessions, local activities, sporting events/leagues, and ‘breakfast days’. Those on the committee are encouraged to work closely with the social committee and any other committee they see fit.

General Responsibilities: The Executive should act as fairly as possible as a whole, with responsibility to the Membership. The Executive should take the responsibility to act rationally and therefore not force proceedings into a rigid framework. However, if the Co-Presidents, or acting Meeting chair, judge that conditions make it necessary, they may enforce the newest version of Robert’s Rules of Order. Apart from serving as geography graduate representatives, the role of the Executive will also be to promote the exchange of information between the GeoGrad membership and other associations or organizations.

Article IV: Elections

(a) Executive elections will be held annually to fill the positions of the Executive for a period of one year, or until a special election is held to replace them for the remainder of their term.

(b) Only current GeoGrad members may run for office, and candidacy is open to any GeoGrad member., preference is given to current committee members

(c) Nominations will begin in March and will be open for at least two weeks prior to the election.

(d) During the nomination period, the nominees may address the Membership in written statements of no more than 300 words, submitted to the Secretary and disseminated by email by the Secretary.

(e) Elections will be held in April for the Executive beginning its term in the fall semester of the following academic year.

(f) Elections will be overseen by the current Co-Presidents during the spring semester (March/April).

(g) Voting will proceed by most effective means at the discretion of the Elections Officer or Co-presidents and will occur over the course of at least two days in a place accessible to all members.

(h.) All votes must be cast within two weeks of being requested to do so. Any failure to vote in due time will be considered a technical abstention (rather than a formal abstention). Majority rules will apply to the votes that have been cast in due time, including formal abstentions, rather than to the total number of members eligible to vote.

(i) If there is only one nomination for an Executive Position, the nominee will be awarded the position by acclamation.

(j) The candidate receiving the greatest number of votes shall occupy the office for which she or he has run.

(k) In the event of a tie, a second vote is held immediately. After two attempts to break a tie (i.e. after the third vote) the Co-Presidents will cast the deciding vote.

(l) At least one thirds of the GeoGrad Membership will be required to vote in order to elect a new Executive

(m) Replacing Executive members or other positions will be given to the runner up during the election period or to the discretion of the co-presidents.

Article V: Committees

(a) The Executive retains the right to form standing and ad-hoc Committees to study matters of interest to the GEOGRADS, as these matters occur, and to serve needs not assigned directly to the Executive.

(b) Such committees will be staffed by members of the GEOGRADS, can be elected at an Executive or General Meeting, and governed by the Constitution of the GEOGRADS.

(c) Committees will be responsible to report at the Executive Meetings on their progress.

Article VI: Meetings

(a) A minimum of two General Meetings will be held each academic year, one in Autumn (September/October) and one in Winter (Jan/Feb).

(b) Meeting times will be publicized at least one weeks in advance.

(c) Additional General Meetings may be called by the Executive or by a Petition of 10 Members of the GEOGRADS. This Petition must be presented to the Executive who will call a meeting giving the Membership two weeks notice.

(d) All decisions of the Membership will be by majority vote except for Constitutional matters such as Amendments and By-laws (see Articles VIII and IX).

(e) If a motion is raised in the General Meeting that voting should be by secret ballot, and if this is approved by the majority of Members present, then this shall be put into effect during that meeting.

(f) The Membership Meeting quorum will consist of 15 members of the GEOGRADS Executive

(g) The Executive of the GEOGRADS must meet at the minimum of once a term between September-April, in advance of general meetings.

(h) Additional Meetings will be called at the discretion of the Co-Presidents, or, by the Executive as a whole.

(i) Meeting times will be publicized at least a week in advance.

(j) Each member of the Executive will have one vote in the Meetings of the Executive. After two attempts to break a tie (i.e. after the third vote) the Co-Presidents will cast the deciding vote. In the event that the Co-Presidents are unable to come to a decision the issue will be discussed again.

(k) Quorum for Executive Meetings will consist of 5 members.

Article VII: Finance

(a) The responsibility of maintaining account books rests with the Financial Officer. Accounts must be kept in an appropriate manner so that transference of responsibilities will be facilitated.

(b) All funds received by the GEOGRADS, from any source, are to be held at either a registered financial institution or in the departments internal accounts structure (whichever is the request of the financial officer and supported by the Co-Presidents.

(c) All decisions concerning Finances that will amount to less than half of the current holdings will be at the discression of the Co-Presidents.

(d) All fundraising activities associated with the GeoGrad society name and for its sole benefit must receive excecutive approval from the Co-Presidents and preferably the support of executive council.

(e) All cheques issued by the GEOGRADS are to be signed by either the Financial Officer or the Co-Presidents, and only these members. Appropriate documentation must be included in this process.

(f) Notice of spending is available to any Member of the GEOGRADS on request to the Financial Officer.

Article VIII: Amendments

(a) Amendments to this Constitution will require a majority vote of the Membership (50% plus one) of the GEOGRADS either present at a General or by electronic ballot.

(b) Written notice of any proposed Amendment will be prepared and copies distributed to all GEOGRADS members at least two weeks in advance of such a Meeting.

(c) The reception by the Executive of such an Amendment is sufficient cause for them to call a General Meeting of the GEOGRADS. (d) For constitutional Amendments, fifteen Members will constitute a quorum. If electronic ballot is used, quorum for response must be greater than 50% plus one of GEOGRAD society current membership, with a minimum threshold being 20 (membership status determined by payment of levy).

Article IX: By-laws

(a) New By-laws and Amendments to existing By-laws may be proposed during Meetings and may be passed by majority vote.

(b) Specific duties of officers, rules, regulations, and procedures may be instituted through By-laws to this Constitution, approved by a majority vote at a General Meeting.

(c) All decisions of the Membership, that will be intended as having the force of law within the GEOGRADS, will be enacted and recorded as By-laws.

(d) Any By-law may be challenged by a Petition with more than fifteen signatures of the Membership.

(e) Enactment and Amendment of By-Laws will require ten members to constitute a quorum.

Article X: Censure (current)

(a) Any Member holding office on the Executive of the GEOGRADS will resign if censured by either the Executive or the Membership. (b) Censure of a Member of the Executive will require a fifty plus one percent (50% plus one) vote. (c) A quorum of ten Members will be required to censure a Member of the Executive. (d) Any Member so censured is eligible to run for office in future elections.

Article X: Censure (proposed changes)

(a)  Should any member of the executive be found lacking in their elected duties, the membership or the executive may officially rebuke said member with a motion of censure.

  1. A motion of censure passes on a simple majority of members voting
  1. Quorum for a motion of censure is 10 members, or 7 members of the executive
  2. A person who is censured may continue with their duties, and must acknowledge the reprimand

(b)  Should any member of the executive be found in flagrant dereliction of their elected duties, the membership or the executive may officially remove said member from office by declaring the chair vacant

  1. A motion to declare the chair vacant may be initiated by a simple majority of the executive, or by a petition of no less than ten (10) members of the membership.
  2. A motion to declare the chair vacant is presented before a special general meeting of the membership called for the sole purpose of the motion, or is the first order of business of an annual general meeting if it is received within two weeks (14 days) of a general meeting of the membership
  1. The motion passes on a super-majority of members voting (2/3+1)
  1. Quorum for a motion to declare a chair vacant is 15 members,
  2. A person whose chair has been declared vacant is not barred from seeking re-election to their former post.

Article XI

All cases not covered by the current constitution falls under the guidance of the most current version of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised. Furthermore, the constitution and all by-laws as well as the collective of the society supersede Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s