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The Constitution of the Student Congress

The current constitutuion of the Student Congress was ratified in April 2017. The document declares the structure, defines the responsibilities and explains the procedures of the congress. 

Preamble
Student Congress is the representative body of students whose purpose is to promote the welfare of the Student Body of Hope College. Its purpose is to deliberate and initiate policy in any area of student concern or improvement, including academics, administrative relations, and the quality of student life, while adhering to the mission statement of the college. Student Congress functions within the campus governance structure by providing representation on campus-wide boards and committees, and to the Board of Trustees. Student Congress is the official liaison between the student body and the administration. Student Congress is responsible for recommending and administering the budget for student activities and groups.
Article 1: Membership

1.1  The Student Congress will consist of a President, Vice-President, Controller, Controller- elect, Secretary, Parliamentarian, and a body of elected representatives from the classes and representative districts defined in Appendix A.

1.2  The President, Vice-President, Controller and Controller-elect will be desigated as the Executive Board.  

1.3  The Class Representatives will be designated as the Cabinet.

1.4  The Vice-President, Controller, Controller-elect, Class Representatives, Secretary, Parliamentarian (as per article 8.6), and the District Representatives will comprise the voting membership of the Student Congress.

Article II: The President

2.1 The President will be the chief representative of the student body.

2.2 The President will be the chief officer of the Student Congress.

2.3 The President has the power to refer an issue or policy for further examination to a task force appointed by the President and chaired by a Cabinet member appointed by the President.

2.4 The President will have the power to call, with proper notification, emergency meetings whenever necessary; provided the Congress meets weekly as per Article 9.9.

2.5 The President will be responsible for preparing the weekly agenda and ensuring that the agenda and all relevant information—including but not limited to proposals—are disseminated to the Congress at least twelve hours prior to the next meeting.

2.6 The President must preside over sessions of Congress when present.

2.7 The President will only vote in the case of a tie.

Article III: The Vice-President

3.1  The Vice-President will be responsible for all Student Congress elections with the assistance of the Parliamentarian.

3.2  The Vice-President will oversee the selection of the Secretary and Controller positions.

3.3  The Vice-President will give proper notification of all Congress meetings to the Representatives, the Cabinet, and the Student Congress Advisor.

3.4  The Vice-President, with the aid of the Secretary, will be responsible for overseeing all Student Congress records, including but not limited to attendance and voting, and submitting those records to the Joint Archives of Holland.

3.5  In the absence of the President, the Vice-President will preside over Congress sessions.

3.6  The Vice-President is a voting member of Congress unless presiding.

Article IV: The Controller

4.1  The Controller will be the chief financial officer of the Student Activities Fund and all of its allocations.

4.2  The Controller will serve as the chairperson of the Student Congress Appropriations Committee. As such, the controller will have all rights and duties designated by the Student Congress Appropriations Constitution.  

4.3  The Controller will keep records of the monthly expenditures and income of every organization funded by Student Congress and will review these records for signs of fiscal abuse.  

4.4  The Controller will be responsible for the upkeep and availability of yearly budget expenditure records.  

4.5  The Controller will be a voting member of Congress.

4.6  The Controller will give a financial report to Congress at the beginning of every semester.

4.7  The position of Controller will be decided by an application and interview process, under the direction of the Vice-President, unless the Vice-President is applying for the position of Controller, in which case it is under the direction of the Parliamentarian.

4.8  Applications to the Controller position will be open to any Hope College Student who is not seeking another position within Student Congress.  

4.9  There will be a committee to oversee the application process. The responsibilities of this committee will be to review the applications, to conduct interviews with candidates, and to select the most qualified candidate to be the Controller.  

4.10  The committee will consist of:

  1. The Student Congress Advisor and the Student Congress Appropriations Advisor, who will act as advisors to the committee, without voting power.
  2. Up to three members of the Student Congress Appropriations Committee, as decided by the Student Congress Appropriations Committee. Appropriations Committee members will not be eligible for committee membership if they are candidates for the Controller positions. Provided the Controller is not a candidate, the Controller is eligible for committee membership.
  3. Four members of Student Congress, not including Appropriations Committee members. The Executive Board and Cabinet jointly will solicit interest from Student Congress, and randomly select four individuals from the pool of interested candidates. Provided that the present Controller is not a candidate, the President and Vice-President are eligible for committee membership.
Article V: The Executive Board

5.1  The President, Vice-President, and Controller will each serve at least four office hours each week in the Bultman Student Center.

5.2  These office hours will be posted each semester, so that Representatives and the students are aware of the hours.

5.3  Notification will be given of the Executive Board member’s whereabouts if not in the Bultman Student Center during these hours.

5.4 The Executive Board will hold an official meeting with the Cabinet no less than every other week. If needed, the Executive Board has the power to call an emergency meeting.

Article VI: The Cabinet

 6.1  The Cabinet will be the chief advising committee to the Executive Board and will consist of the Class Representatives, Secretary, Parliamentarian, and Webmaster.

6.2  The Cabinet will assist in fall elections upon the request of the Vice President.

6.3  The Cabinet will attend a meeting with the Executive Board no less than once, every other week.

6.4  Every Cabinet member will chair or co-chair at least one task force during the course of the year, and those designated chairs will report the status of task forces at the Cabinet and Executive Board meeting and at Congress meetings at the discretion of the President.

6.5  Each Class Representative will serve at least one office hour each week in the Bultman Student Center.

Article VII: The Secretary

7.1  The Secretary will be selected from applicants within Student Congress by the Executive Board, to perform all necessary clerical functions.  

7.2  The Secretary, under the supervision of the Vice-President, will take and distribute all minutes and other necessary materials.

7.3  The Secretary will be a voting member of Congress.

7.4  In absence of a Secretary, the Vice-President will be responsible for Secretarial duties.

Article VIII: The Parlamentarian

 8.1  The Parliamentarian will be chosen by the Executive Board and Cabinet from a pool of candidates within Congress. The Congress will either accept or reject the joint selection by a majority vote.

8.2  The Parliamentarian will be responsible for the following of the Student Congress Constitution by all members of Congress, including but not limited to the Executive Board Members and the Advisor.

8.3  The Parliamentarian will be responsible for ensuring that all meetings of Student Congress follow parliamentary procedure guidelines found in the most recently published edition of Robert’s Rules of Order to a degree deemed necessary by the Parliamentarian, with the consultation of the Advisor.

8.4  In the absence of the President and the Vice-President, the Parliamentarian shall preside over Student Congress meetings.

 8.5  The Parliamentarian is responsible for the constitutionality and integrity of all proposals. Repetitious proposals will not be considered until adequate time has lapsed, at the discretion of the Parliamentarian.

 8.6  The Parliamentarian will only be a voting member if already an elected member of Student Congress when chosen.

 8.7  The Parliamentarian manages election-process for Controller in the case of a Vice- President who is running for the position of controller.

Article IX: The Congress

 9.1  The members of Congress will be responsible for representing the Student Body on all matters of student concern.

9.2  The Congress will be elected as per Article 12.

 9.3  A quorum must consist of two-thirds of the total Student Congress membership and is needed to vote on any matter.

 9.4  The Congress will be responsible for approving, by majority vote, any allocation of the Student Activities Fee as recommended by the Student Congress Appropriations Committee.

9.5  The Congress will be responsible for approving, by majority vote, any allocation of student funds recommended by the Student Congress Appropriations Committee, which exceeds $500.00.

9.6  The Congress will be responsible for recommending to the Board of Trustees the setting of the Student Activity Fee. This recommendation, if deemed necessary, will occur before the end of the first semester.

 9.7  Any meeting of Student Congress will be open to the public unless the President determines that a session shall be closed due to the nature of the business being discussed. A closed meeting shall be called an Executive Session and all matters discussed therein shall be strictly confidential.

 9.8  A visitor can speak at a meeting of Congress only if recognized by the chair.

 9.9  Student Congress will meet weekly, barring any extenuating circumstances.

 9.10  Any member of Congress may present policy to the President and the Congress.

 9.11  Any member of Congress will be responsible for serving as a representative on a campus governance committee.

Article X: Board and Committee Appointments

10.1  The President shall appoint each of the Executive Board and Cabinet members to one of the three campus governance boards (Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs, and Campus Life). Returning Student Congress representatives will have preference to return to their previous committees if desired.

10.2  The President will, with the consultation of the Executive Board and Cabinet, appoint student members to the appropriate campus governance committees. The student representatives to the Board of Trustees will be approved separately from the appointments to the other boards and committees as per Article 11.

10.3  If a member of Student Congress can no longer fill a board or committee position, the President will appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy.

10.4  All appointments will be completed before or during the second meeting of Congress. Returning Student Congress representatives will have preference to return to their previous committees if desired.

10.5  An appointment may be appealed in writing by any member of Congress, first to the Executive Board and Cabinet, and second to Congress as a whole if necessary. If proper justification for appointment is not provided by the Executive Board and Cabinet, the appellate may appeal to the Congress wherein the issue will be decided on the basis of a two-thirds majority vote.

10.6 The Executive Board and Cabinet will represent the Student Body on appropriate boards and committees when the full Congress is not in session prior to the fall elections.

10.7  The Vice President will be responsible for monitoring Congress members’ attendance of board and committee meetings. Upon three unexcused absences, the member will be subject to a mandatory review by an Attendance Review Committee in a timely manner as per Article 13.5.

Article XI: The Board of Trustees

 11.1  Position openings shall be determined by the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. Student Congress representatives will be made aware of these openings concurrently with openings on the general Boards and Committees.

11.2  The student liaison members to the Board of Trustees’ committee will consist of the President, Vice-President, Controller, and selected members of Student Congress as determined by the Student Congress President, Vice President, and Student Congress Advisor – who will be members ex officio.

Article XII: Elections

12.1  The elections shall be run by the Vice-President and Parliamentarian unless either is running for a position on Student Congress. If this occurs, a Student Congress member is to be nominated by Congress and approved by a two-thirds majority votes to fill the position. The overseer of the election is not permitted to give any advice on candidates, how to vote (referring to candidates), or any indication as to the outcome of the election.

12.2  The positions of President and Vice-President will be elected by an all campus ballot during the Spring Semester. The Controller will be elected as per Article 4.  

12.4  In the case of a tie for the position of either President or Vice-President, a campus-wide election will be held within one week. The runoff will include only those candidates who received tie votes in the original election.  

12.5  The Class Representatives’ (Sophomore, Junior, Senior) election will take place subsequent to the election of the President and Vice-President.

12.6  Freshman Class Representative elections will take place in mid-November, following the same procedures for candidacy as other Class Representatives. This will allow active Freshman District Representatives the potential to advance to Class Representatives. However, the election will also be open to those interested within the general Freshman class. Two Freshman Class Representatives will be chosen, starting their terms at the beginning of the spring semester.

12.7  In the case of a tie in a Class Representative election, a new class election will be held within one week. The runoff will include only those candidates who received tie votes in the original election.

12.8  Campus representation will be in the form of districts which will be based on the population of housing units as per Appendix A. 

12.9  District Representatives will be elected in early September as dictated by Appendix A.

12.10  A voter in any election shall be allowed to vote once for his/her district and once for his/her class representative.

12.11  In order for a candidate’s name to be put on the ballot, the candidate must file a petition at least one week before Election Day. 

  1. Candidates for President and Vice-President must obtain one hundred signatures from students in any district. 
  2. Candidates for Class Representative must obtain fifty signatures from students in their respective cohort. 
  3. Candidates for District Representative must obtain twenty-five signatures from students in their respective district.
  4. Candidates for all positions are subject to academic, judicial, and financial reviews, conducted by Student Development, in order to confirm that the student is in good standing with the college. A minimum GPA requirement of 2.5 or higher is required in order to run for any Student Congress position.

12.12  The names will be listed on the ballot in the order that the petitions were filed.

12.13  Write-in candidates will be allowed.

12.14  All the results of the election are to be saved no less than one year.

12.15  No digital signage or signs will be allowed in the dining halls.

12.16  Verifiable proof that election rules were violated will result in eviction from the election and judicial action.

12.17  All candidates for congress positions must maintain the utmost integrity when campaigning. Violations of this policy include, but are not limited to, any probable voter coercion, bullying, exceptional inducements, unethical campaigning, including but not limited to compensating individuals’ votes with US currency or other soft currency, or any other behavior that would not be representative of an honorable leader or behaviors in violation of the student handbook policy. In the event of a reported/alleged violation of this policy, an 8-person group appointed by the Vice President (or Parliamentarian) will follow the judicial process outlined by the Greek Judicial Board to decide whether or not to evict the results of the election or the individual from the election. See article 14.2 for more details on decision thresholds.

12.18  Campaigning of any kind is not allowed in the computer labs.

12.19  Student Congress will not endorse any candidate or sponsor any election material.

12.20  In the case of an opening on Student Congress, refer to Article 15.1.

Article XIII: Attendance

 13.1  Representatives must have at least three days notification, written if possible, of meeting time and place if the meeting is taking place outside of the normal meeting time.

13.2  Each member is allowed two unexcused absences per academic year. In addition to these two unexcused absences, each member is apportioned two excused absences, and an indefinite number of absences permitted by the 50/50 policy. The 50/50 policy states that a Congress member may attend another conflicting function, but only with the stipulation that he or she forgoes the next conflicting event for a Congress function.

13.3  If a member of Congress is unable to regularly attend meetings, including but not limited to class schedule conflicts, athletic practices, etc., the member will be relieved from their position and it will be filled under the discretion of the Executive Board.

13.4  An excused absence shall be given at the Vice-President’s discretion.

13.5  A member of Congress must be present at the meeting for the full duration of the meeting unless excused by the Vice-President.

13.6  If a member is absent without excuse three times, the member will be subject to a mandatory review by an Attendance Review Committee in a timely manner. The member under review will have the opportunity to state the circumstances of the absences. Then, the Attendance Review Committee will meet in Executive Sessions to discuss the issue of whether or not removal from office is in order. A simple majority vote of the Attendance Review Committee will constitute removal of the member from office. The Vice-President will vote only in the case of a tie.

13.7  The Attendance Review Committee will be chaired by the Vice-President and consist of four additional members. A random drawing from a pool of persons who are currently Student Congress Representatives will make up these four additional members. These names are to remain anonymous.

13.8  The Vice-President will be responsible for notifying the member under review of the committee’s decision and rationale. If the member has been removed, the Vice-President will also be responsible for notification of Congress of the committee’s decision with rationale at the next Congress meeting.

13.9  If the person under review wishes to dispute the decision, the issue will be brought to Congress. The appellate will then be allowed to make rebuttals to the rationale to the Congress as a whole. The Congress, Cabinet included, will decide the issue on the basis of a three-fourths majority vote needed for expulsion, with executive board abstaining. Cabinet should not make an exclusive recommendation. The appellate will not be present for either discussion or voting.

13.10  Any member who is reviewed because of absences and allowed to remain on Congress will be allowed one more unexcused absence. Any member who misses two meetings unexcused after being reviewed will automatically be removed from office.

Article XIV: Accountability 

14.1  The Executive Board and Cabinet will have the power to recommend jointly the removal of any representative of Student Congress. The removal of a representative must be approved by a three-fourths majority of Congress.

14.2  The Congress will have the power to remove an Executive Board member by a three- fourths majority. In this event, the vacancy will be filled per Article 15.

14.3  The students in a district may petition to remove their representative from Congress with a minimum of thirty-five signatures from the population within that district. Congress will then consider the removal of the member. A three-fourths majority vote will be required.

14.4  The students of any class level may petition to remove their representative from Congress with a minimum of thirty-five signatures from the population within that class. Congress will then consider the removal of the member. A three-fourths majority vote will be required.

14.5  The Congress will have the power to remove any member of a board or committee with a three-fourths majority vote. The President will appoint a replacement, subject to approval as per Article 10.2

Article XV: Succession

15.1 In case of a resignation by a representative or the dismissal of a representative, the candidate who received the next highest number of votes in the departing candidate’s district/class shall replace that person in Congress and in committee assignments. In the case of a tie of candidates who were on the ballot, a runoff election will be held. If there are no remaining candidates, then the representative will be chosen via an interview process of interested parties in the district/class, recommended jointly by a majority vote of the Executive Board and Cabinet, and subject to Congress approval by a majority vote.

15.2  If the President can no longer fulfill the duties of the office, the Vice-President will become the President.

15.3  If the Vice-President, Secretary, or Parliamentarian can no longer fulfill the duties of his or her respective office, the Student Congress will elect a member of Congress to fill the position by a majority vote.

15.4  If the Controller can no longer fulfill the duties of the office, the Controller-elect of Congress will fill the position. In the absence of a Controller-elect, the position will be filled by a majority vote, following the recommendation of the Student Congress Appropriations Committee.

15.5  The term of office for all Student Congress members will end the Monday following annual Commencement ceremonies. 

15.6  The term for the President-elect, Vice President-elect, Controller-elect, and Class Representatives-elect will begin on the Monday following annual Commencement ceremonies.

Article VI: Appropriations

16.1  The stipends of the President, Vice-President, Controller, Controller-elect, Class Representatives, Webmaster and the Secretary shall be set by the Student Congress Appropriations Committee with the approval of Congress.

16.2  There will be a minimum of $10,000 to be frozen in the Student Congress Appropriations account to provide for emergency funding. It will be the responsibility of the Controller to make sure that at least $10,000 is in the Appropriations account when school is adjourned in May. If less than $10,000 is available at that time, then it will be replenished at the beginning of the following academic year.

16.3  The amount of $3,000 will be set aside in the annual Student Activities Budget for the graduating Senior class. This money will be used for a Senior class gift or an event to be held in the Spring.

16.4  If the Student Congress Appropriations Budget ends a fiscal year with a surplus, the surplus will be deposited to a special account, labeled the “Rollover Fund.” The surplus funds can be used to adjust current budgets, for special projects, or retained in the account for protections against possible deficits. The dollar amount of this account will be included in each financial report issued to Congress by the Controller.

16.5  Allocations of the Rollover Fund will be made upon the recommendation of the Executive Board and Cabinet, with majority approval of Student Congress.

16.6  Necessary summer allocations of the Rollover Fund will be made upon the recommendation of the Executive Board, with the majority approval of the Cabinet. The full Student Congress will receive a detailed report of all such allocations at the first meeting following the fall election.

16.7  The Student Congress Appropriations Committee is a sub-committee of Student Congress and:

  1. Shall be composed of the Controller and six Student Congress Representatives chosen by the Controller and the Student Congress Appropriations Advisor after application. 
  2. Shall be responsible for the maintenance of the current Student Activities’ Budget, additional financial allocation as the need arises, and organizational funding for the following academic year.
  3. Shall maintain a contingency fund as specified in the Student Congress Appropriations Constitution.
  4. Shall operate and act under the functions, procedures and rules outlined in the Student Congress Constitution.

16.8  Appropriate tier-level funding will be determined by the Student Congress Appropriations Constitution, as per the Student Stipend Guidelines.

16.9  The Student Congress Appropriations Constitution is subject to review and revision no less than every two years.

16.10  All allocations of the Student Activity Fund, under the discretion of the Student Congress Appropriation Committee, must abide by all guidelines set forth in the Student Congress Appropriations Constitution.

Article XVII: Constituional Revision

17.1  The Constitution will be subject to review and revision every two years or more frequently if deemed necessary. The President will be responsible for organizing a Constitutional Review Committee.

17.2  The Constitutional Review Committee cannot be chaired by the President, Vice- President, nor the Controller.

17.3  The Parliamentarian must sit on the Constitutional Review Committee.

17.4  Any proposed Constitutional revisions must be approved by three-fourths majority of the Student Congress.

Article XVIII: Webmaster 

 18.1  The Webmaster will be responsible for caretaking and maintaining the Student Congress website, social media presence, and all subsidiary webpages.

18.2  The Webmaster will submit the Student Congress minutes to the Joint Archives of Holland after each meeting.

Appendix A: Campus Representation

Seats are to be allocated as follows:

Cook (2), Durfee (1), Dykstra (3), Gilmore (1), Kollen (3), Off-Campus (2), Phelps (2), Scott (1), Wyckoff (1), Voorhees (1), Lichty (1), Van Vleck (1), Neighborhood Representatives (9), Campus Representatives (no more than 5).