The Constitution of the French Graduate Student Association
of Columbia University (FGSA)
We, the graduate students of the Department of French and Romance Philology of Columbia University, in order to establish ourselves as a viable and autonomous association within the University’s community at large, and in order to secure and protect the rights and interests of the Department’s graduate students, do hereby establish this Constitution.
Article I : Name and Purpose
The name of this association shall be the French Graduate Student Association of Columbia University (hereby referred to as “FGSA” or “the Association”). The purpose of the FGSA is to represent the graduate students of the Department of French and Romance Philology of Columbia University (hereby referred to as “Department”) under a unified organization. It shall seek to provide graduate students with a forum to discuss issues pertinent to the Department’s graduate programs, and to encourage communication and social interaction among graduate students. It shall organize an annual graduate student conference and at least one general meeting per year, open to all graduate students of the Department. It shall be responsible for the allocation of the Association’s budget.
Article II : Membership
1. All current graduate students in the Department, full-time and part-time, are members of the FGSA.
2. The membership of the FGSA shall at all times be composed of at least 10 Department graduate students.
3. In accordance with Columbia University's Nondiscrimination Statement, the FGSA shall not discriminate based on race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
4. The FGSA does not charge monetary dues. If monetary dues are charged in future, exceptions will be made for students that cannot afford them.
Article III : Officers
1. For the purposes of this document, elected representatives of the FGSA shall be referred to as officers.
2. This FGSA shall have at minimum three (3) and at most five (5) officers: President, Financial Director and Vice President; in the event more than three (3) officers are elected, the additional officers shall be Activities Officer and/or Communications Officer, as defined in paragraph 6 below.
3. The FGSA President shall be the official representative of the Association to any other organization, including the Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC), and to Columbia University. The President shall chair all FGSA meetings and shall schedule regular meetings of the FGSA officers. The President shall regularly attend GSAC meetings, as well as all meetings of the Department’s Executive Committee. The President is responsible, in conjunction with the other officers, for determining when general meetings are held and publicizing this to the members of the Association. The President shall also call special meetings of the FGSA when he/she deems this necessary.
4. The Financial Director shall be responsible for the finances of the FGSA and shall establish the Association’s yearly budget in conjunction with the other officers. The Financial Director is required to collect receipts from the various FGSA events and see that people are appropriately reimbursed; to request funding, in conjunction with the President, for all FGSA functions, including the annual graduate student conference; and to keep meticulous records of all expenditures. The Financial Director shall also ensure that the budget is adhered to by all function organizers and/or participants, and shall report to the other FGSA officers on a monthly basis.
5. The Vice President shall be responsible for keeping the Minutes of the FGSA general meetings and FGSA representative meetings; attending all meetings of the Department’s Executive Committee with the President; and organizing the Association’s yearly elections. The Vice President shall be prepared to perform all of the President's duties in the event the President resigns or is unable to perform a particular duty.
6. In the event more than three (3) officers are elected, the officers in addition to those outlined above shall be: Activities Officer (coordinates the FGSA’s functions, social events, and other FGSA-sponsored activates, except the annual conference), and/or Communications Officer (drafts replies to inquiries, as well as all outgoing FGSA communications, and obtains approval of the other officers before sending out such communications).
7. All officers of the FGSA must be distinct persons and graduate students of the Department.
8. Elections of FGSA officers shall occur yearly in April for the following academic year and shall be announced by the current year’s officers at least two (2) weeks before they occur.
9. Following the election, the successfully elected FGSA officers shall decide amongst themselves, by vote, who will fill each position (President, Treasurer, Vice President, Activities Officer and Communications Officer).
10. The newly elected officers may, at their discretion, choose to operate in the form of a council, whereby most decisions are made communally, or may choose to follow a clear division of tasks.
11. Any member of the FGSA, except exchange students and students who will be residing abroad during the upcoming academic year, is eligible to run for office.
12. Quorum for elections is 40% of the Association.
13. Ranked ballots shall be used, whereby voters shall vote for a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of five (5) candidates, ranking each candidate in order of preference.
14. Any member is elected if he/she wins a majority of the voting members and is among the five (5) candidates with the highest number of votes, except in the cases indicated below.
15. If more than five (5) candidates win a majority of votes, then preferential voting is used, whereby the five (5) the candidates with the highest number of first-place rankings win the election.
16. In the unlikely event that there is a tie for fifth place (based on the number of first-place rankings, as described above), the fifth officer shall be determined by fair lottery.
17. If no one wins a majority, then the person with the lowest number of votes is dropped from the ballot and the votes are recast.
18. Ballots shall be tallied by the Department’s Academic Assistant and results shall be announced without divulging the identities of the voters. If instant run-off voting (as described in paragraph 15) and/or a lottery (as described in paragraph 16) are needed, these shall be carried out by the Academic Assistant.
19. The term of office runs from June 1st until May 31st.
20. Officers may be removed by a 51% vote of all the Association members.
Article IV : Meetings
1. Meetings among the FGSA officers shall be held at least every month, but not during academic vacations or University holidays.
2. General meetings shall be open to all FGSA members and shall be held at least yearly.
3. All meetings shall be presided over by the President, unless he/she is absent, in which case the Vice President shall preside.
4. Quorum for a general meeting at which any voting takes place shall be 20% of the membership.
5. All decisions, unless otherwise indicated in this Constitution, shall be made by a 51% vote of all members present.
Article V : Amendments
1. Amendments shall be presented by any member of the FGSA at a general meeting.
2. Amendments shall be passed by a 75% vote of the members present.
3. Quorum for amending this constitution shall be 51% of all members of the Association.
This Constitution was written in October, 2006 and ratified by the FGSA in November, 2006.