The following constitution is in final draft form. Any subsequent changes will be made only in terms of clarity and copy-editing. If there are any specific grievances please contact us.
FLORIDA STUDENT UNION CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE I NAME, PURPOSE, AND STRUCTURE
Section 1. This organization will be known as the Florida Students Union.
Section 2. The Florida Student Union is an organization of students for the purposes of struggling collectively around students’ interests, and fighting for a more just and liberatory education system and society. The Florida Students Union (FSU) constitutes a student syndicalist organization organized as a unified federation of branches at schools in Florida. Membership shall be by voluntary association of students in good standing. A copy of these bylaws shall be made available to all FSU members.
Section 3. The highest decision making body of FSU is the union branch. Branches are constituted by a minimum of 5 members in good standing within a department of a university, major of a community college, or within a single primary school, and may be constituted through the adoption of bylaws consistent with the constitution of FSU after 2 monthly meetings. Where insufficient individuals exist to form a branch, a local organizing committee may be founded of 5 individuals seeking to build branches for the purposes of organizing students collectively.
Section 3a Alongside branches, which exist for organizing the fight of students within departments, there are open general assemblies of all participating students within a school. General assemblies shall be held at least monthly and shall be open to all students in accordance with the constitution, though membership and good standing will not be required. General assemblies will serve the purpose of giving students a process of dialogue and space for collective engagement with FSU, as well as to coordinate the student fight. These occur on a regular basis and on a fixed schedule set at the general assembly. If a member is unable to attend a GA, it is that members responsibility to review the minutes that were taken (posted within 48 hours) and to assert any related grievances.
Section 3b. We work in a directly democratic manner where all active members have an equal say and vote in the action and direction of group activities. We make our best effort to reach consensus in every decision we make and when consensus cannot be reached we vote on the issue to ensure that a majority of individuals present for the vote agree to the terms of any proposed item. However, this does not mean that those who disagree will be forced to work on a project that they disagree with. If the vote is close and the minority voters feel that the time warrants more discussion, time can be given for that. In the case that there is no alternative proposal or that a resolution to an item can’t be reached, we believe in the concept of free association which means that members can enter or leave as they see fit.
Section 4. Where multiple branches exist within a single university, a local council may be chartered. Local councils will consist of elected re-callable delegates from each participating branch, and will exist to make decisions on issues that affect all branches and to coordinate organizing within the university as a whole. Delegates must act based upon the mandated instructions of the branch, and will carry the weight of votes from their branch. Any decisions made at a council meeting are liable to be sent to referenda of the entire membership if a branch votes to question the decision made.
Section 5. A regional organizing council consists of elected delegates from all local councils, with a minimal of two schools, in a defined region. Regions are set at biennial general conventions, and ratified by referenda. Regional organizing councils meet and decide upon issues concerning multiple universities within a region with direct and accountable mandates from electing locals.. Regions should be defined by the ability of participating locals to physically coordinate and be active in each others struggles.
Section 6. The Florida State Council (FSC) will consist of an elected council of delegates from each regional organizing council, and will meet to decide upon issues that affect the entire state. All decisions will follow the format and process of the other councils.
Section 7. Every two years a general convention of the organization will be held. The 2013 Convention will be held in Miami, the date and venue of subsequent conventions to be set by each Convention in session before it’s adjournment.
Section 7a. The General Convention of the FSU shall not remain in session over 10days. The Florida State Council shall cause an agenda to be issued to the delegates the day Convention convenes, or earlier, that specifies the time limit on each question. All resolutions shall be provided to the FSC at least 90 days before the opening of the General Convention and FSC shall include all resolutions in a publication that shall be mailed hard copy not less than 60 days before the General Convention is called to order to all members. No resolution not circulated in advance shall be considered by the Convention unless it is of an emergency nature and the delegates vote by a two-thirds majority to add to the agenda.
Section 7b. The General Convention of the FSU is the legislative body of the union and its enactments are of legal force. Enactments concerning any and all amendments to this Constitution which the Convention may adopt are of legal force when sustained by a referendum vote of the membership. Referenda to approve changes to the constitution shall be issued according to the provisions of the constitution.
Section 7c. The General Convention has the power to determine the policy of the union, when sustained by a referendum vote of the membership.
Section 7d. The General Convention has the power to expel any member for violation of the principles, Constitution or Bylaws of the union.
Article II. MEMBERSHIP AND DUES
Section 1. Membership in the FSU shall be open to any student with a few noted exceptions.
Section 1a. No officer or paid staff member of any political party may join.
Section 1b. Professors, TAs, school employees, and other non-students may participate if approved at a general assembly on a case-by-case basis, however will participate with voice but no vote.
Section 1c. FSU works to promote international solidarity of all people’s in struggle against oppression and exploitation. FSU may deny membership to individuals who’s employment or membership in organizations is in contradiction with the aims and principles of the organization.
Section 2. All members must be in agreement with our unity document and be committed to learning and following FSU’s collectively agreed upon principles and structure.
Section 3. Members may be removed for serious transgressions that harm the organization or it’s individuals by majority vote at a regular meeting of the branch, or submitted to referenda through the charges process.
Section 5. All members must pay a membership fee every semester to the branch treasurer by the second monthly meeting of the branch or 2nd general assembly.
Section 5a. Members who are unemployed or unwaged will pay 5$ per semester. Members who are employed or receive a salary will pay the equivalent of one hour of labor per semester.
Section 6. A person may request membership with temporary deferment of fees due to undue personal hardship with a branch treasurer, with the understanding that such is only to be used in extraordinary circumstances and not impair the functioning of the organization.
ARTICLE III BRANCH MEETINGS
Section 1. Branches shall meet at least monthly. Special meetings may be called by notifying members by face-to-face contact, phone call, or e-mail.
Section 2. Meetings shall be open to all students, though non-members can be excluded from any meeting by a majority vote of members in good standing. Voting privileges shall be reserved for FSU members in good standing.
Section 3. FSU Members attending branch meetings shall be eligible to take part in the business of the meeting if they are in good standing as defined by the Constitution. If members wish to pay dues at the meeting, they should do so before the meeting is called to order or after adjournment.
Section 4. The branch shall work to ensure congenial and principled democracy in all its meetings. Official Agendas shall be sent out to members electronically at least 1 week in advance of the meeting.
ARTICLE IV OFFICERS
Section 1. FSU branches shall elect a Secretary and Treasurer for the purposes of carrying out the collective decisions and instructions of the branch. The branch shall retain the right to combine the offices of Secretary and Treasurer into a single office.
Section 2. Secretary: Secretary: Maintains a record of meeting minutes. Keeps a record of reports. Maintains a current list of members – their member numbers, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses – and makes this contact list available to the Branch Treasurer, delegates, the editor of publications, FSU committee chairs, and any other officer of the Branch. All other FSU members who wish to obtain a FSU contact list must have the permission of the FSU at a formal business meeting. Attends monthly business meetings of the FSU or finds an alternate. Reports to the Branch Treasurer by the 15th of every month.
Section 3. Treasurer: Keeps a regular accounting of all FSU funds. Oversees financial health of the branch. Collects Secretary and Delegates reports with per capita and submits them to the Florida State Council every month. Produces a monthly Treasurer’s report. Retains the ability to sign checks and allocate funds as directed by the FSU. Attends monthly FSU business meetings whenever possible. The treasurer may make reimbursement expenditures of up to $100.00 between branch meetings at his or her discretion.
Section 4. Communications Officer: Responsible for any official communications that must be made between branch meetings such as responses to e-mails, voice mail messages, websites, and postal communication. Checks e-mail account and voice mail on at least a weekly basis. Ensures that mail is retrieved from the post office box at least once a month. Reports regularly at all FSU meetings.
Section 5. The FSU may create and elect any other officers by proposal and vote, and each additional officer shall be subject to the provisions of this article.
Section 6. General Secretary – Manages official general communication and coordination in regards to and on behalf of the FSC. Responsibilities include, but may not be limited to, all forms of general communication with regards to the FSC, the organization and coordination between branches, local councils, and regional organizing councils, maintenance of the official FSU website. The General Secretary will be elected at the General Convention and must be a member in good standing.
Section 7. All officers shall serve one-year terms to begin on January 1st. All office terms shall end at 12:00 AM on December 31st. The branch shall strive to rotate positions when possible in the spirit of creating an active and democratic culture.
Section 8. Officers may be recalled by majority vote of the membership. A recall vote may be held whenever 5 or more members of the FSU submit a petition for recall to the Branch Secretary.
Section 9. Any elected officer may resign at any time. A written statement signed by that officer and one other FSU member in good standing shall be required to constitute an official resignation. If any officer resigns or is recalled, nominations to replace that officer shall take place at the next meeting and elections will take place at the following meeting.
ARTICLE V ELECTIONS
Section 1. Eligible voters shall include all local FSU members in good standing.
Section 2. Nominations for officers shall take place one business meeting prior to the actual election. All members shall be notified of nominees by the FSU Secretary or other delegate by face to face contact, phone call, postal or e-mail at least two weeks prior to the election of any officer.
Section 3. All elections will be by secret ballot at a FSU regular or special meeting. Each member in good standing has one vote. Members can also vote in abstentia by submitting a ballot to a delegate or officer in a sealed envelope.
ARTICLE VI COMMITTEES
Section 1. The FSU may establish committees, and these committees may establish their own bylaws provided that these bylaws do not contradict the FSU bylaws or the FSU constitution.
Section 2. All official statements issued by a subordinate committee of the FSU bearing the name Florida Student Union shall be subject to the formal approval of the FSU.
Section 3. Any committee which fails to report for three consecutive branch meetings shall be subject to a motion to dissolve the committee.
ARTICLE VII FINANCES
Section 1. The Branch Treasurer shall oversee and maintain all branch funds. All other branch members who retain the ability to sign checks shall only do so in the event that the Treasurer is unavailable for signing, or if a check requires two signers.
Section 2. The Fiscal Year shall run from July 1st through June 30th of each year.
Section 3. At the April branch meeting, the FSU shall elect a Budget Committee to propose a budget for the coming Fiscal Year. The budget may be discussed and amended at the May branch meeting and formally adopted at the June meeting.
Section 4. In July the branch shall elect an Audit Committee of no less than three members. The Audit Committee must be made up of members who did not serve as either Secretary or Treasurer during the past Fiscal Year. The Audit Committee shall report their findings and recommendations no later than the September branch meeting.
ARTICLE VIII AGREEMENTS (OPTION 1)
Section 1.No FSU body will enter into any binding agreements with school administration.
Section 2. In the course of our struggle, if an FSU body does achieve victory and wishes to sign any agreement that establishes gains won in struggle, such agreements must be non-binding and must not restrict the ability of students to take collective action to remedy perceived issues in their school.
ARTICLE IX PAID POSITIONS
Section 1. Any paid position, reimbursement for official union activity, or employment of members for the purposes of the day-to-day activity of the FSU shall be on a stipend basis only.
Section 2. Should the FSU decide that a position is necessary which requires that a member substantially reduce or cease enrollment in classes, outside employment, or the position is the only source of employment for the member, the position will be temporary for a duration of 1 year or less. After 1 year, if the position is still necessary the FSU will rotate the position to another member.
ARTICLE X EXTERNAL ACTIVITY AND RELATIONS
Section 1. No member of the FSU shall represent the organization before a public body without prior authorization of the FSU, or an officially authorized subordinate body.
Section 2. FSU exists to build an organization of students to organize for our collective interests based on our principles. Union officials, political parties, non-governmental organization officials, and church officials may join in so far as they seek to contribute to building such an organization, pending branch approval. Joining for the purpose of advancing personal or group interests based on institutional position and interests distinct from building an autonomous and independent student union is explicitly barred and may be subject to expulsion.
Section 2. No member of the FSU shall be an officer or paid employee of a political party.
Section 3. Any pre-existing union or political grouping which seeks to join en masse or affiliate with the FSU will require the explicit approval of the branch decided at a special business meeting. There shall be at least 30 days notice of such a vote sent to all members by phone, email, mail, or face-to-face contact. The decision will be made based on 2/3rds majority vote.
Section 5. Members are encouraged to pursue their individual and collective education and political engagement. However in order to ensure a productive, congenial, and unified union, all outside political propaganda and activity shall be conducted outside of official union activities and business meetings.
ARTICLE XI AMENDMENTS
Section 1. These bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of eligible voters as defined in Article IV Section 1.
Section 2. Members must be given at least one month notice prior to a meeting at which a vote to amend these bylaws will be held.
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