Every student group is slightly different, so there's no such thing as a generic constitution to govern them all. However, there are a lot of similarities. Some ideas help, while others tend to hurt. The following sample constitution is a combination of ideas from the constitutions of many different SSA affiliates and other organizations, and includes some of the best suggestions. Please feel free to use it for your SSA affiliate group and to modify it as suits your needs.
If you do find our sample constitution helpful, please let us know. Please also let us know what you decided to change. Thanks!
Article I: Name and Purpose
This organization shall be known as [NAME OF GROUP HERE], also known as [ACRONYM OF GROUP HERE], and referred to as "the organization" within this document.
The purposes of the organization shall be to 1) promote and practice the open, rational, and scientific examination of the universe and our place in it, 2) and that ethics and morality can be meaningfully based on rational and humanistic ideals and values, 3) promote skeptical inquiry, 4) provide community for atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, naturalists and other freethinkers, 5) organize activities, such as forums for discussion, guest speakers, and debates that educate the [SCHOOL NAME] and surrounding community, 6) foster acceptance of freethinkers, and 7) advocate for the separation between church and state.
Article II: Membership
Membership shall be open to all [SCHOOL NAME] students, faculty, and staff, and community members. Only students may be voting members. All may be non-voting members.
To become a member, one need only inform the Secretary. Membership runs from the day of informing the Secretary to the day after the end of the Spring academic term. At any time during the Spring academic term a standing member may express their desire to renew their membership for the following year.
Membership ends upon 1) end of the normal membership cycle without a prior request to renew, 2) the member's request, 3) the member no longer being a student, faculty, staff or community member, 4) majority vote of the membership at a properly announced meeting with quorum to revoke that person's membership. Voting membership becomes non-voting membership when a voting member is no longer a student at [SCHOOL NAME].
Members who are removed by a vote may not join the organization again until the next academic year. Members who are removed lose any officer positions they may have held within the organization.
In certain cases, honorary membership can be granted to those who cannot qualify as members. Honorary membership is a symbolic way to show affiliation with the organization for interested parties and to give organizational acknowledgment for the honorary member's support for the organization. Honorary members do not have the privilege of voting. Honorary membership may be extended to anyone via a majority vote of the elected officers.
Alumni membership can be granted to members of the group that have graduated from [SCHOOL NAME]. Graduates will be given the option to be Alumni members at their discretion. Students that transfer out but do not graduate cannot be Alumni members but can still be honorary members. Alumni members do not have the privilege of voting.
The organization has the power to levy annual dues against the membership. The dues must be approved by a majority vote of the membership at a normal business meeting.
Article III: Officers
The elected offices of this organization shall be Chair, Events Coordinator, and Treasurer. These elected officers will appoint via majority vote additional officer positions as necessary. These include, but are not limited to the secretary, public relations director, development officer, and webmaster. Additional positions may be created via a majority vote of the elected officers.
Officers shall be elected at least a month before the end of each Spring term. Members shall be notified of a pending election at least one month in advance. The elected officers shall appoint a nominating committee to recruit a slate of officers before the election, though nominations can also be taken from the floor. Only voting members that plan to remain voting members during the next year are eligible to run. Election shall occur by secret ballot of voting members at a meeting with quorum. The candidate with the most votes wins; uncontested candidates win by default. Terms shall begin at the general meeting following the election, and shall last until the terms of the next officers begin. There is no limit on the number of terms an individual may hold office.
If for any reason an officer is unable or unwilling to fulfill their commitments, they may resign and the remaining elected officers may appoint, via majority vote, replacement(s) who will serve until the next election period.
The Chair shall 1) organize and preside over meetings, activities and events, 2) be the official representative for the organization, 3) maintain contact with related outside organizations, 4) ensure this Constitution is followed, 5) have the final word in all decisions where a vote is not specifically called for in this document, 6) break any tie vote.
The events coordinator shall 1) plan, organize, and coordinate events for the organization, 2) be responsible for reserving appropriate spaces for events, 3) thank all presenters.
The Treasurer shall 1) be responsible for all financial matters, 2) be responsible for keeping records and possession (on behalf of the group) of all merchandise, 3) keep the organization current with all paper work that needs to be filed with the [SCHOOL NAME], 4) prepare a budget for the following academic term by the last meeting of the current academic term 5) if there is not an appointed secretary, the Treasurer shall take on the roles of processing membership requests and keeping a current roster of all members.
The Secretary shall 1) record the results of all votes taken, 2) record briefly what occurred at each meeting, 3) collect attendance at each meeting, 4) process membership requests, 5) keep a current roster of all members.
The public relations director shall 1) coordinate the advertising and publicity of the group and its events, 2) maintain contact with local media outlets, 3) create and maintain a list of students who have expressed interest in the organization
The development officer shall 1) keep records of all organizations and individuals who have given money to the organization, 2) periodically solicit those who have given money to the organization before for additional funds, 3) identify and pursue potential new sources of funding.
The webmaster shall 1) maintain website for the organization, 2) coordinate with other officers to make sure that information on the website is up to date, 3) moderate all listservs for the organization.
An appointed officer may be removed by a majority vote of the elected officers. Officers and members shall have the opportunity to present their sides at the meeting, before the vote. If the officer is removed, a new officer shall be appointed as quickly as possible.
An elected officer may be removed by a majority vote of the membership. Officers and members shall have the opportunity to present their sides at the meeting, before the vote. If the elected officer is removed, a new officer shall be appointed as quickly as possible by majority vote of the remaining elected officers.
Article IV: Meetings
General meetings shall occur at the discretion of the elected officers, however a schedule of meetings for an academic term must be created prior to the beginning of said term.
Business meetings shall occur at the discretion of the elected officers. Prior notice of at least one week should be given to all members.
Officers may call special meetings at any time for important matters. Prior notice should be given to all members as soon as possible.
Voting may only take place at a meeting.
A quorum is 1/10 of the voting membership. If a quorum is not present, voting shall be postponed until the next meeting. The number constituting 1/10 of the membership shall be determined by the officer in charge of keeping the membership roster.
Meeting minutes shall be posted to the web site.
Article V: Committees
Possible purposes of committees will be to 1) take care of distributing out work equally on any given issue that the committee is created to address, 2) brainstorm and create new ideas to present at the organization business meetings 3) work through different ideas and issue and focus them so that they can be presented to the general membership in order to be voted on.
Any member or officer may propose the formation of a committee. The elected officers may create, structure and dissolve committees through a majority vote.
Article VI: Amendments to the Constitution
Any member may propose a constitutional amendment. Members shall be notified at least two weeks in advance of a pending vote on an amendment. The amendment shall be read aloud and discussed on the day of the vote and at the meeting two weeks previous. An amendment can be adopted only by a two-thirds majority vote of voting membership at a meeting with quorum
Article VII: Statements of affirmation or condemnation
Statements of affirmation would be an official declaration made by the organization that they support a certain issue or action being taken by another group or individual. Statements of condemnation would be an official declaration made by the organization that they denounce or condemn a certain issue or action being taken by another group or individual.
Statements of affirmation or condemnation do not have governing power over the organization. They only serve to let future generations of leaders and the public know where the organization stands on various issues.
Any member of the organization can propose an official statement of affirmation or condemnation at a meeting. For discussion on the issue, another member of the organization member must second the statement. If there is sufficient support about the issue among the group, it will be put to a vote in the next meeting, where every member present will each be allowed up to but no more than 90 seconds to state officially why they are for or against the statement of affirmation or condemnation. The Chair shall be responsible for keeping time. After all members are giving the proper opportunity to speak, members may vote to allow another round of discussion, with discussion continuing only if a majority of members present feels it is necessary. When discussion is finally done, a general secret ballot vote among the general membership will be taken.
A statement of affirmation or condemnation can pass only by a two-thirds majority vote of voting membership at a meeting with quorum.
A statement of affirmation or condemnation can be retracted in a process identical to the process for passing one.
Article VIII: Adviser
Section 1. The advisory must be a full-time [SCHOOL NAME] faculty or administrative staff member. If the elected officers deem it so appropriate, they may appoint two full-time faculty or administrative staff members as co-advisors.
Section 2. The nature of the advisor's role shall be determined by the advisory. However, the authority of the chair and the general membership of the organization trumps the authority of the advisory.
Section 3. The advisory may be removed by a vote among the elected officers. The advisory can voluntarily remove herself or himself. Prospects for a new advisory would then be contacted and a new advisory would be decided upon by the elected officers.
Article IX: Non-Discrimination
Section 1. This organization and its members shall not discriminate against any individuals for reasons of creed or worldview, race, color, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Article X: Dissolution
Section 1. The organization may be dissolved upon a unanimous vote of members present where the vote is taken. Dissolution may only occur at a general or business meeting, not a special meeting.
Section 2. Quorum for a meeting with a dissolution vote is 3/10 of the current membership.
Section 3. The organization may not dissolve while in debt or with a balance in the bank.