CONSTITUTION OF THE MODERN LANGUAGES AND CULTURAL STUDIES GRADUATE STUDENT COUNCIL
The Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Graduate Student Council is founded on the tenet that graduates are indeed essential constituents of their respective departments. It is, thus, a means to further reinforce the bonds between the department’s graduate students, providing both representation and support regardless of academic and research interests. As a whole, this Council is committed to integrating the needs and concerns of all MLCS graduate students. Precisely, the diversity of our department allows for an ongoing dialogue that spans disciplines such as Comparative Literature, Translation Studies, Applied Linguistics and Cultural Studies. To that end, this Council encourages the active participation of the student body, stimulating discussion and responsibility for the program’s trajectory among graduate students, as well as establishing a constructive communication with faculty on key issues. Moreover, this Council will seek to enhance the graduate experience of its members by planning annual academic and social events geared towards offering a variety of opportunities for involvement and professional development.
ARTICLE I.I: NAME
This graduate student association will henceforth be named the MLCS Graduate Student Council and may be referred to by its abbreviation as MLCS GSC.
ARTICLE I.II: COMPLIANCE
The MLCS Graduate Student Council operates at the University of Alberta, subject to University of Alberta policies and procedures. The MLCS Graduate Student Council will also comply with all local, provincial, and federal laws and procedures. Furthermore, the MLCS GSC is also subject to the University of Alberta Student Union’s bylaws and policies and the University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association’s bylaws and policies.
ARTICLE I.III: OBJECTIVES AND GOALS
As stated in the preamble, the MLCS GSC was founded to offer graduate students in MLCS the opportunity to actively participate as responsible constituents in their department. In addition, the group shall operate for the purpose of:
a. Creating and maintaining a sense of community among the graduate students enrolled at the Department of Modern Language and Cultural Studies.
b. Organising social and academic events focused on professional and personal development of the student body. Of notable mention are the annual conferences planned in both the Comparative Literature and Modern Languages and Cultural Studies field.
c. Offering all graduate students enrolled at MLCS assistance and help with all business relevant to their graduate studies. This may include the organization of workshops pertaining graduate student life on topics such as candidacy exams, abstract writing, and conference presentation. The assistance provided by the MLCS GSC does not include financial aid.
ARTICLE II.I: MEMBERSHIP
a. Membership in the MLCS GSC is open to all graduate students enrolled at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies.
b. The classes of membership in the MLCS GSC are as follows.
i. General Members: A General Member of the MLCS GSC is defined as any student that is enrolled in the department and is in good standing.
ii. Executive Members: An Executive Member of the MLCS GSC is defined as any member who is elected to an executive position or who is appointed to temporarily assume duties of a vacant executive position, while that individual is in that role. There are seven executive positions in the MLCS GSC: the president, vice-president, GSA councillor, Conference Organizer, Treasurer, Department Council Representative I, and Council Representative II. Executive members are able to vote in all group activities.
iii. Associate Members: An Associate Member is defined as an individual who is unable to join the group due to time commitment, University of Alberta status, or other affiliation, but still wants to participate in group activities. Associate Members do not have voting rights but are invited to sit on committees and/or attend all group events.
c. The conditions of membership in the MLCS GSC are as follows.
i. To remain in good standing, a member must have manifested a commitment to the Council by attending regular meetings, participating in the organization of events, or maintaining an open communication with executive members. In case the member is not able to commit actively to the Council, she or he will still be considered in good standing if and when they make explicit their inability to participate with executive members.
ii. A member in bad standing is defined as any member who has not manifested any commitment to the Council, notified expressly to executive members their inability to engage with the Council, or has clearly and purposefully worked against the group’s stated purpose and objectives.
iii. All members in bad standing, as defined above, will be given written notice of this fact by the executive committee, and will be given three months from the receipt of this notice to either attend a group event or meeting, to plan a group event, or to propose an alternate measure to amend the member’s participation. If a member in bad standing fails to communicate with the executive committee within that time, their membership privileges will be revoked until the next academic year.
ARTICLE II.II: MEMBERSHIP DUES
The MLCS Graduate Student Council will not charge for membership duties.
ARTICLE III.I: ELECTION ELIGIBILITY
In order to be eligible to run and hold office, a member must be in good standing. Moreover, all graduate students at MLCS in good standing with the Council are eligible to vote in an election, whether they are General Members or Executive Members. A member is not allowed to vote for a candidacy in which they themselves are campaigning.
ARTICLE III.II: ELECTION SUPERVISION
Elections will be monitored by an impartial Elections Supervisor from the General Members who volunteers to promote and supervise the election process as below. If there is no volunteer, such Supervisor will be appointed by the President. The Elections Supervisor will provide candidates and voting members with information on the elections, campaigning, and all associated procedures, four to six weeks prior to the elections held in April.
ARTICLE III.III: ELECTION PROCEDURES
Elections are held annually in April as close as possible to the final weeks of the winter semester. The Elections Supervisor sends out a call for nominations by email four to six weeks prior and runs the elections. Faculty members may not be present during elections. Members of the graduate student body will declare their candidacy via email to the Elections Supervisor prior to a special candidacy meeting or during that meeting. All eligible members will be given an opportunity to vote by secret ballot. The voting logistics will be determined by the Elections Supervisor and will be communicated via email to all members on the nomination deadline. Candidates will be given two weeks to campaign prior to voting. A candidate must receive a simple majority to be elected.
ARTICLE III.IV: ELECTION APPEALS AND BY-ELECTIONS
a. A candidate or General Member may appeal elections results within one week of the Elections Supervisor announcing them. If the complaint is decided valid by the Elections Supervisor, an announcement will be made in a special meeting and the matter will be discussed and a solution voted by all General Members.
b. Should an executive position not be filled or become vacant partway through the year, the President will, with 2/3 executive support, appoint a member to that position. Should an executive member be unable to attend one meeting or attend to one task for any reason, he/she should contact a General Member to find a replacement for that meeting or that task only.
ARTICLE IV.I: EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND DUTIES
The Executive Committee will be comprised of seven members as follows:
a. President: She or he is responsible for promoting the general strategic direction of the group and is the Chair of the Executive Committee. The President acts as main point of contact for all external organizations and the departmental administration, possesses signing authority on the group bank account, and is the primary media contact. The President is responsible to update the group’s website and to ensure that Student Group Services has the most up-to-date group information and activity plans. It is the President´s duty to attend the welcoming event for new graduate students, as well as other events organized by graduate students throughout the year in order to ensure the continued visibility of the Council. She or he is also responsible for organizing the Council’s General Meeting and elections in April.
b. Vice-President: He or she supports and assists the President with decisions to be made and preparations of the meetings. It is his or her duty to also guarantee the visibility and accessibility of the Council to graduate students, attending events organized by students and maintaining communication with administration as well. The Vice-President also takes the responsibilities of the President if he or she is absent for any reason. The Vice-President also has signing authority on the group bank account. The Vice-President is also responsible for planning any professional development events, creating and distributing posters and media for the Council’s activities.
c. Graduate Councillor: She or he is responsible for attending the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Councils once a month, as well as helping both the President and Vice-President in the decisions and preparations of meetings. Moreover, as a graduate representative at the GSA, she or he must maintain a fluid communication with the rest of the graduate student body in MLCS, sending out emails or organizing informative sessions on issues of pressing concern.
d. Conference Organizer: She or he is responsible for deciding on the conference theme and keynote speaker, creating a budget and applying for funding, booking venues, managing fundraising events, organizing conference catering, planning conference events, reading and selecting abstracts, organizing volunteers, and creating the schedule for the conference.
e. Treasurer: She or he is responsible for the GSC’s bank account and will work closely both with the administration of the MLCS department and the Conference Organizer to streamline funding of the conference, as well as other events organized by the association. She or he has signing power over the bank account.
f. Social Committee Chair: She or he is responsible for maintaining communication channels between the GSC and graduate students in the department, organizing events geared towards professional development or social events throughout the year. She or he is an administrator of the MLCS graduate students’s facebook page.
ARTICLE IV.II: IMPEACHMENT / REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT OF OFFICERS AND MEMBERS
a. Members considered to be in bad standing might be removed from the group in compliance with article II.I.c.iii (Membership). Members considered to be in bad standing will be given the opportunity to appeal their case during a group meeting. All members in good standing present during that meeting will vote on the impeachment/removal.
b. If an Executive Member fails to fulfil the duties of their position, any General or Executive Member may petition for their impeachment. The petition must be presented at a Council meeting, whereas the vote must take place at a follow-up meeting a week later, so as to give sufficient time for reflection by all Council members. The impeachment will pass with a 2/3 vote. What constitutes impeachment include: being absent at meetings without contacting the President or another Executive Member, preventing an activity or an event organized by the group by failing to fulfill crucial duties for that activity or event.
ARTICLE V.I: COMMITTEES
The Executive Committee Members may suggest to form additional committees as required. Additional committees are, but are not limited to, as follows:
a.Conference Organizing Committee: Members of this committee will be responsible for the organization and execution of the annual graduate student conference. These responsibilities and duties include, but are not limited to, the preparation of a call for papers, the review of abstracts, selection of presentations, organization of panels, promotion of the conference, selection and invitation of key note speakers, and the organization of food for the conference. All members of the MLCS GSC are eligible to participate in this committee and will express their intention of participation during a group meeting. Moreover, members of this committee will be held accountable to their duties by a set of guidelines drafted by the Council to that very purpose.
b. Social committee: Members of this committee will be responsible for the organization and promotion of weekly social meetings with the purpose of creating and maintaining the sense of graduate student community within the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies.
ARTICLE VI.I: ANNUAL MEETING
An annual general meeting is held in April of each year, as close as possible to the last weeks of the winter semester. The date of the meeting is announced by email no later than the first week of classes of the winter term. Elections are held at the same time as the annual general meeting.
ARTICLE VI.II: MEETINGS
a. All meetings will run in accordance with Robert’s Rule of Order.
b. Regular Meetings: Regular meetings will be open to all members and held at least twice a semester and according to the need for planification of events and activities. Notice of meeting will be sent by email one week prior.
c. Executive Committee Meetings: Executive Committee meetings are held according to the need to prepare Regular Meetings and the group’s activities. Executive Committee meetings will be open to only Executive Members and occasionally General Members duly invited. The President or the Vice-President has the responsibility to call a meeting. Notice of meeting will be directly communicated to executives up to one week prior to the meeting date.
d. Specific committees detailed in V.I will hold meetings according to the activity planning’s needs and will be open to specific committee members. It is up to the committee members to notify the others of the meeting within a week prior.
e. Special meetings open to all members can be called by General Members by presenting a request to the President. If the President judges the topic valid, he/she will call a special meeting. Elections meetings are considered special meetings and they will be called by the President and the Elections Supervisor.
ARTICLE VI.III: QUORUM
Quorum for regular meetings is 2/3 of all members. Quorum for executive meetings is 2/3 of the Executive Committee. In the situation that the Executive Committee is reduced to two members, consensus has to be reached.
ARTICLE VII.I FISCAL TIMELINES
a. The MLCS Student Council’s fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30.
b. The Treasurer will be responsible to make deposits as soon as cash is received..
c. Bank statements and other financial documents are to be kept in a secure location for 1 year before being shredded.
ARTICLE VII.II BUDGETS
The Treasurer is responsible for keeping track of all financial transactions. The Treasurer is responsible to present all previous transaction at the first General Meeting of the year and the financial situation of the group for the up-coming year. Budgets will be prepared according to the events planned during General and Special meetings and will require a 2/3 vote to pass.
ARTICLE VII.III EXPENSES AND REIMBURSEMENT
a. The Treasurer and President must approve all expenses under MLCS GSC’s name prior to any funds changing hands.
b. Members may be reimbursed for approved expenses as long as their reimbursement requests are made, with original receipts, within three weeks after the transaction.
ARTICLE VIII.I AMENDMENTS
Amendments to the constitution can be proposed by any General or Executive Member at a regular meeting. 3/4 of the members present must vote in favour of the amendment for it to be passed. If possible, all amendments should be voted upon at the annual general meeting. If this cannot occur, an election must be held. Any proposed amendment must be presented and distributed one week prior to the regular meeting in which the members must vote. Once amended, constitutions should be re-filed with Student Group Services.
ARTICLE IX DISSOLUTION
The group may be dissolved by a 2/3 majority vote at a Special General Meeting convened for this purpose. However, a formal petition for dissolution must be presented at a prior meeting in which the members must motion the petition for dissolution by a 1/2 majority vote. The group is automatically dissolved upon membership dropping below 5 members. Upon dissolution, the Executive Committee is responsible for ensuring that any remaining financial resources are donated to the University of Alberta Food Bank and the bank account is closed down. Any resources or group assets will be donated to University of Alberta Food Bank where appropriate but will not be distributed to individual members.