CORNELL COLLEGE STUDENT SENATE
C O N S T I T U T I O N
February 1999

Preamble

The Student Senate of Cornell College is the primary means for students’ participation in the governance of the Cornell community.

Article I. The Student Senate

Section A. Membership

There shall be a maximum of nineteen (19) members of Student Senate:

- six (6) members of the Executive Council: President of the Student Body, Vice President of the Student Body, Chair of Appropriations, Chair of Student Organizations, Chair of Student Life and the Chair of Academic Affairs;   - thirteen (13) members of the General Assembly: one (1) representative from each residence hall (Rood House, Pauley/Rorem, Pfeiffer, Bowman-Carter, Dows, Tarr, Merner, and Olin),

one (1) representative for students residing in other college-owned living units including the 8th Avenue Apartments, Harlan House, and the 10th Avenue Apartments,

one (1) representative from each class (first year, second year, third year, fourth year)

The Executive Council shall be elected by the student body, while members of the General Assembly shall be elected by their respective eligible constituencies outlined above.

Section B. Duties and Powers

1. To serve as the official representative of the student body to the faculty and administration of Cornell College.

2. To consider student concerns and communicate student opinion on institutional policy to the Faculty, Administration, and Trustees of Cornell College.

3. To allocate the Student Activities Fee to recognized student organizations.

4. To consider for approval constitutions and amendments to constitutions of student organizations petitioning for official status and to revoke official recognition from groups which have ceased to function regularly or effectively.

5. To create such committees and procedures as are necessary for the Senate to carry out its functions efficiently and responsibly.

6. To approve nominations of candidates to College committees and vacant Student Senate positions.

7. To remove from office any members who fail to fulfill the assigned duties and responsibilities described in the Constitution of the Student Senate.

Section C. The Secretary of Student Senate

1. The President of Student Senate shall appoint a Secretary to assist with the administrative duties of Senate.

a. The Secretary shall be responsible for recording the agenda and minutes of each meeting of the Student Senate.

b. The Secretary shall be responsible for keeping a complete file of copies of past agenda and minutes for the previous five (5) years.

c. The Secretary shall maintain attendance records and notify members of the accumulation of three (3) unexcused absences.

Article II. The Executive Council

Section A. Membership

Membership in the Executive Council shall be composed of the President of the Student Body, the Vice President of the Student Body, Chair of Appropriations, Chair of Student Organizations, Chair of Student Life, and the Chair of Academic Affairs. The Dean of Students and the Assistant Dean of Students shall be non-voting members of the Executive Council.

Section B. Duties and Powers of the Executive Council

1. To compile the draft agenda for each meeting of the Student Senate, subject to the amendment and/or approval by majority vote of the Student Senate.

2. To monitor and be accountable for the Student Senate administrative budget as approved by Student Senate.

3. To confer with, and receive recommendations from, the Dean of Students regarding College business and matters pertaining to student life.

4. To provide reports to the General Assembly on all matters which come before the Executive Council.

5. To nominate members of Student Senate to standing committees, subject to the approval by simple majority vote of the Student Senate.

Section C. Duties and Powers of Officers

1. President of the Student Body

a. To serve as a liaison between Student Senate and the Administration and Faculty.

b. To serve as an official representative of the student body with speaking privileges at faculty meetings.

c. To call and preside over regularly scheduled meetings of the Executive Council voting only in case of a tie.

d. To call and preside over special meetings of the Executive Council without voting privileges.

e. To call regularly scheduled and special meetings of Student Senate.

f. To provide reports to the Executive Council and the General Assembly on all matters that come before the President.

g. To nominate candidates for any vacant office of Student Senate. All appointments are subject to the approval of Student Senate.

h. To appoint a secretary, subject to the approval of Student Senate, to perform administrative duties for Student Senate.

i. To nominate students to campus committees as warranted. All appointments are subject to the approval of the Student Senate.

2. Vice President of the Student Body

a. To fill a vacancy in the office of the President of the Student Body.

b. To preside over meetings of the Executive Council in the absence of the President of the Student Body.

c. To represent the Student Senate at official college functions in the absence of the President of the Student Body.

d. To preside over regularly scheduled and special meetings of the Student Senate, voting only in case of a tie.

e. To serve as chair of the Elections Committee.

f. To serve as an ex officio member of standing committees and ad hoc committees of Student Senate.

g. To coordinate special projects as requested by the Executive Council of Student Senate.

h. To represent the Student Senate at regularly scheduled meetings of the Residence Hall

Association.

3. Chair of Appropriations

a. To serve as Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

b. To report on activities of the Appropriations Committee at each meeting of Student Senate. c. To issue reports and recommendations to the Student Senate on the use of the Student Activities Fee by student organizations.

d. To review annually the amount of the Student Activity Fee, in consultation with the Appropriations Committee and the Vice President for Business Affairs of the

College.

e. To provide reports to the Executive Council and the General Assembly on all matters which come before the Chair and Appropriations Committee.

f. To provide Student Senate with a weekly balance of the Student Senate account.

 

4. Chair of Student Organizations

a. To serve as Chair of the Student Organizations Committee.

b. To report recommendations of the Student Organizations Committee to Student Senate for action.

c. To provide reports to the Executive Council and the General Assembly on all matters that come before the Chair and the Committee.

d. To advise recognized student organizations on Student Senate policies and programs.

e. To serve as the official interpreter of the Constitution of Student Senate, and to advise the Student Senate, recognized student organizations, and individuals on matters of constitutional interpretation and implementation.

5. Chair of Student Life

a. To serve as Chair of the Student Life Committee.

b. To serve as the chief student representative to the faculty Student Life Committee, and to nominate two (2) additional student representatives to the faculty committee, subject to the approval by majority vote of the Student Senate.

c. To provide the Student Senate with pertinent information regarding faculty activities, particularly those related to aspects of student life.

d. To provide reports to the Executive Council and the General Assembly on all matters which come before the Chair and the committees.

6. Chair of Academic Affairs

a. To serve as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

b. To serve as the chief student representative to the faculty Committee on Academic Affairs, and to nominate two (2) additional student representatives to the faculty committee, subject to the approval by majority vote of the Student Senate.

c. To provide the Student Senate with pertinent information regarding faculty activities, particularly those related to academic affairs.

d. To serve as an official representative of the student body with speaking privileges at faculty meetings.

e. To provide reports to the Executive Council and the General Assembly on all matters which come before the Chair and the committees.

Article III. The General Assembly

1. Members of the General Assembly shall be responsible for providing reports on the current activity in their respective constituencies at each regular meeting of the Student Senate.

2. Members of the General Assembly may call a meeting of the Student Senate upon presentation to the Vice President of a written request signed by at least seven (7) members of the General Assembly. Such a meeting will be called within four (4) days of the presentation of the request, excluding block breaks and weekends.

3. Members of the General Assembly shall maintain regular contact with their constituents on all matters which come before the Student Senate.

4. Members of the General Assembly shall serve on at least one (1) standing committee.

 

Article IV. Committees

Section A. Standing Committees

The Student Senate shall establish and maintain the following standing committees whose members shall be nominated by the respective committee chairs: Appropriations Committee, Student Life Committee, Academic Affairs Committee, Student Organizations Committee, and Elections Committee. Any student may serve on a standing committee. Standing committees (with the exception of the Elections Committee) shall meet at least once during each of the first three weeks of each term, and shall report to Student Senate on any action undertaken during or as a result of those meetings. Any motions defeated in a standing committee do not require action by Student Senate.

Section B. Membership of Standing Committee

1. The Appropriations Committee is composed of the Chair of Appropriations and a minimum of four (4) additional members.

2. The Student Organizations Committee is composed of the Chair of Student Organizations and a minimum of four (4) additional members.

3. The Student Life Committee is composed of the Chair of Student Life and a minimum of six (6) additional members.

4. The Academic Affairs committee is composed of the Chair of Academic Affairs and a minimum of six (6) additional members.

5. The Elections Committee is composed of the Vice President, who serves as Chair and a minimum of five (5) additional members . No candidate for elective office of Student Senate is eligible to serve as a member of the Elections Committee. If more than two (2) members of the Elections Committee are candidates for office, the Vice President will appoint temporary committee members to serve for the duration of that election.

 

Section C. Duties and Powers of Standing Committees

1. The Appropriations Committee

a. To prepare the annual budget for approval by Student Senate.

b. To evaluate requests from recognized student organizations seeking Student Senate funding and to make recommendations for funding to Student Senate.

c. To maintain records of every transaction involving the Student Activities Fee Account.

d. To monitor the finances of recognized student organizations that receive direct budget allocations from Student Senate.

e. To monitor the Senate funds of any activity sponsored by a group that does not receive a direct budget from Student Senate.

f. To freeze temporarily the funding, with the advice and consent of the Student Senate, of any recognized student organization which, in the judgment of the Student Senate, has ceased to function effectively. A suspension of funding may only be maintained for two (2) weeks without further action from the Student Senate.

g. To review annually established appropriations guidelines and to recommend necessary changes or amendments to the Student Senate for approval.

h. To assist the Chair of Appropriations in preparing reports on the use of the Student Activity Fee.

i. To review annually the amount of the Student Activity Fee and to recommend any changes, subject to the approval of the Student Senate.

j. To review annually the budget process and to recommend any changes, subject to the approval of the Student Senate.

k. To establish procedures and guidelines as necessary to accomplish assigned duties.

2. The Student Organizations Committee

a. To review annually the Constitution of the Student Senate and to suggest any necessary changes or amendments.

b. To review the constitutions and operations of all student organizations at least once every academic year.

c. To review the constitutions of groups petitioning Student Senate for official recognition and to recommend Student Senate recognition when appropriate.

d. To review the official standing of any recognized student organization receiving Student Senate funding and to recommend changes when appropriate.

e. To establish procedures and guidelines as necessary to accomplish assigned duties.

3. The Student Life Committee

a. To recommend to the Student Senate, faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees, changes in or evaluations of existing policies or programs in the area of student life.

b. To receive business from the student body, the Senate Committee on Student Life, the Administration, and the Board of Trustees on issues related to student life; and to issue opinions on behalf of the student body.

c. To provide the Student Senate with pertinent information regarding faculty activities, particularly those related to aspects of student life.

d. To establish procedures and guidelines as necessary to accomplish assigned duties.

4. The Academic Affairs Committee

a. To recommend to the Student Senate, faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees, changes in or evaluations of existing academic policies or programs.

b. To provide the Student Senate with pertinent information regarding faculty activities, particularly those related to academic affairs.

c. To receive business from the student body, the Senate committee on Academic Affairs, the Administration, and the Board of Trustees on issues related to the academic affairs of the College; and to issue opinions on behalf of the student body.

d. To establish procedures and guidelines as necessary to accomplish assigned duties.

5. The Elections Committee

a. To oversee all regular elections for Student Senate, Media Board, and PAAC Chair.

b. To count and record, with the advice and assistance of the Dean of Students or his/her designee, all ballots cast in Senate sponsored elections within twenty-four (24) hours after the polls close.

c. To post and publicize the results of all elections it oversees within twenty-four (24) hours after the polls close.

d. To establish procedures and guidelines as necessary to accomplish assigned duties.

Section D. Ad-Hoc Committees

1. Ad hoc committees may be created for the purpose of conducting business that is not clearly within the duties and powers of any existing committee.

2. An ad hoc committee will be appointed following the selection of a committee chair, which must be confirmed by a majority vote of Student Senate.

3. Members of ad hoc committees shall be nominated by either the President of Student Senate or the Chair of the respective standing committee, and confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate.

4. The Vice President of the Student Senate shall monitor the business conducted by ad hoc committees.

 

Article V. Meeting, Quorum, and Attendance

Section A. Procedure

1. Robert's Rule of Order will be used to govern all parliamentary matters not addressed in this Constitution or in the by-laws of Student Senate. Student Senate may change or set aside any rule of procedure set forth in Robert's Rules of Order by two-thirds (2/3) vote of Student Senate. Such changes in procedure must be documented by an addition to the by-laws of Student Senate before the change in procedure can be implemented.

2. The meetings of any and all bodies of Student Senate shall be open to all students. Closed or secret meetings by any members or body of Student Senate for the purpose of conducting Senate business are prohibited. Any decision made or actions taken as a result of a closed or secret meeting will be considered null and void by Student Senate.

Section B. Meetings and Attendance

1. Meetings of Student Senate shall be publicly advertised. Business conducted at meetings not advertised shall be considered null and void. Student Senate must convene once in each of the first three weeks of the block. The Executive Council shall meet once in each of the first three weeks of the block. Meetings other than those scheduled are considered special meetings.

2. Student Senate shall not restrict the use of electronic recording devices at any meeting. Any such device must be acknowledged and placed in public view prior to and during use.

3. A meeting of Student Senate shall require a quorum of two-thirds (2/3) of the voting members and the secretary or a substitute to conduct business.

4. A meeting of an ad hoc committee requires two-thirds (2/3) of the members to be present to conduct business.

5. Attendance is required of members at all meetings of Student Senate and of the Student Senate committees of which a student is a member.

a. An absence shall be considered excused when prior approval has been secured from either the President of the Student Body or Vice President of the Student Body (in case of meetings of Student Senate or the Executive Council) or the Chair of the standing or ad hoc committee in question. An absence shall be considered unexcused if prior approval has not been secured from the appropriate Chair.

b. The accumulation of three (3) excused absences from meetings of any body of Student Senate shall be counted as one (1) unexcused absence in a Student Senator's attendance record.

c. The accumulation of three (3) unexcused absences from meetings of any body of Student Senate shall be grounds for immediate removal from membership in that body and may result in removal from Student Senate.

d. A Student Senator on a vacation term or participating in an off-campus program shall be considered excused from attendance provisions for the duration of the vacation term or off-campus program.

Article VI. Advisors

1. The Dean of Students and the Assistant Dean of Students shall be non-voting members of Student Senate, and shall be considered the official advisors of Student Senate.

2. The Student Organizations Committee shall interpret the Constitution of the Student Senate. Any student may ask the Student Organizations Committee for an interpretation of any provision of this Constitution. In case of a dispute over a Constitutional principle as articulated by the Student Organizations Committee, an official request for interpretation of the questionable portion of the text may be made by the President of the Student Body, by a majority of Student Senate, or by a petition bearing the signatures of one hundred (100) or more students. Upon official request, the Executive Council will make the interpretation with the advice of the Dean of Students.

Article VII. The Student Activity Fee

1. The amount of the student activity fee shall be reviewed annually by the Chair of Appropriations in consultation with the Appropriations Committee and the Vice President for Business Affairs of the College. Any recommendation made to the Board of Trustees to change the amount of the student activity fee shall be subject to the approval of a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Student Senate. This process shall be completed no later than the end of the second week of the fourth block of the academic year, to become effective the following academic year.

2. Annual budget allocations to student organizations for the following academic year shall be approved by a majority vote of the Student Senate before the end of the Spring semester.

3. Variances from approved budgets by organizations or activities shall be considered mismanagement of funds, and may result in the revocation of remaining funds or assets by Student Senate.

4. All receipts and moneys shall be deposited with the Business Office of the College in the student activities fee account. All disbursements from the student activities fee shall be made by check through this account.

5. All checks drawn from the student activities fee account must be signed by the Chair of Appropriations, and either the Dean of Students, the Assistant Dean for Student Life, or their designee.

6. If significant evidence exists to suggest the misuse, misappropriation and/or theft of Student Senate assets by one or more individuals, activities, or organizations, the Dean of Students shall follow Cornell Judicial procedures and seek full reimbursement from the individual(s), activities, or organizations involved.

7. Student Senate may request an investigation and audit of the General Budget of Student Senate by the Vice President for Business Affairs of the College. Such a request must be approved by a majority vote of Student Senate, less the Chair of Appropriations.

 

Article VIII. Elections and Nominations

Section A. Petitions

Information about elections shall be announced and publicized by the Vice President of the Student Body and the Elections Committee. Candidates for an Executive Council position or class representative shall file a petition for candidacy signed by at least ten percent (10%) of the eligible voters in that election. Official petition forms, election information, and election rules will be made available at least one (1) week before petitions are due to the Vice President of the Student Body, or earlier upon request. All enrolled students who will continue to be enrolled the semester following an election are eligible to run for a Student Senate office.

Section B. Procedure

1. All elections shall be conducted within one (1) week after the deadline for petitions for candidacy.

2. All enrolled students are eligible to vote in the elections for Executive Council positions. Only enrolled members of each class are eligible to vote for their respective class representative.

3. A general election ballot shall include no more than three (3) candidates for each contested office. A space for write-in candidates will be provided for all offices.

4. When there are more than three (3) candidates running for any one (1) office, a primary election shall be conducted within two days prior to the regular election to select the two (2) top candidates. A primary election ballot shall include all eligible candidates for any contested Student Senate office for which there are more than three (3) candidates. There shall be no write-in candidates allowed on the primary ballot.

5. An absentee ballot shall be provided on request to eligible voters unable to vote at the designated polling place. Requests for absentee ballots must be directed to the Chair of Elections no later than two days prior to either a primary or final election.

6. Election acts including, but not limited to, campaigning in view of the polling place and coercion or buying of votes are prohibited by this Constitution. Official complaints of violations shall be reviewed by the Executive Council for possible action.

7. If there is no balloted candidate for a contested office in a final election, and no write-in candidate receives votes equaling at least ten percent (10%) of the total votes cast, the President of the Student Body shall fill the contested office by appointment, subject to approval by two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Senate.

8. Election results shall be publicly posted on the upper and lower level of the Commons building within twenty-four (24) hours following the closing of the polls. Results of a recount will be posted within five (5) days of the official request.

9. A recount may be requested by any candidate for any position in an election. The request must be made in writing to the Chair of the Elections Committee within twenty-four (24) hours after the posting of election results. The Elections Committee will conduct a recount for only the office that is contested. Only one (1) recount will be conducted for each contested office by the Elections Committee.

 

Section C. Election Dates and Terms of Office

1. Members of the General Assembly shall be elected by the second Wednesday of the first term of the new academic year. At -Large Representatives to Media Board and PAAC Chair shall be elected under procedures outlined in their respective constitutions. If the respective constituencies do not hold elections within the allotted time, the President of the Student Body shall either grant an extension to the constituency in order to complete an election, or appoint a person from the constituency to fill the office.

2. Members of the Executive Council shall be elected no later than the third Friday of the sixth term of the academic year.

3. The term of office for members of the General Assembly extends from the date of election until noon on the last Wednesday of the ninth term. The term of office for members of the Executive Council extends from noon on the fourth Wednesday of sixth term until noon on the fourth Wednesday of the sixth term the following academic year.

 

Section D. Vacancies

1. The President of the Student Body shall nominate candidates to fill a vacancy in the Executive Council and At-Large Representatives to Media Board, subject to approval by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of Student Senate.

2. In the event of a vacancy in the office of Residence Hall Representative or other living unit Representative, the President of the Student Body shall inform the constituency of the vacancy and call for the election of a new representative within ten (10) days. If the position is not filled, the President of the Student Body shall appoint a representative from appropriate constituency to fill the position, subject to the approval by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of Student Senate.

Article IX. Removal from Office

Section A. Procedure

1. An individual shall automatically be removed from office upon the accumulation of three (3) unexcused absences.

2. An individual shall automatically be removed from office when the individual is no longer a full-time student at Cornell College.

3. An individual shall be subject to removal from office when found to be in violation of any procedure or principle outlined in this Constitution. A three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of the Student Senate shall decide the guilt or innocence of any member of Student Senate charged with a constitutional violation. In this context, a charge shall be a simple motion to impeach, based on the alleged constitutional violation(s).

4. Appeals to a removal from office can be made to the Executive Council within one (1) week of the removal. The Executive Council shall investigate and render a decision within ten (10) days of the appeal. The decision of the Executive Council is final.

 

 

Article X. Initiatives

1. A petition bearing the signatures of no less than ten percent (10%) of the eligible student electorate and referring to this section shall cause the President of the Student Body to call a special meeting of the Student Senate on the issue in question. Such a meeting shall be held within ten (10) days of the presentation of the petition to the President of the Student Body.

2. A petition bearing the signatures of no less than twenty-five percent (25%) of the eligible student electorate and referring to this section shall cause the Vice President of the Student Body to hold a referendum of the student body on the issue in question. A valid petition must contain the final written form of the question to be placed on the ballot. Once one or more signatures have been placed on the petition, the written form of the question may not be altered by either the sponsor of the petition or Student Senate. Such a referendum shall be held within seven (7) days of the presentation of the petition to the Vice President of the

Student Body. A majority of those voting shall affirm or reject the issue in question.

Article XI. Access to Information

1. All documents, including (but not limited to) official contracts, minutes of meetings, and electronically stored or recorded information pertaining to Student Senate business, or the business of student organizations and activities recognized by the Senate are the sole property of the Students of Cornell College. These materials, or appropriate facsimiles thereof, shall be yielded for inspection without amendment, alteration, or deletion, on demand of any member of the student body. Student Information Requests shall be processed no later than three (3) days following the presentation of a written request specifying the desired materials to the Chair of Student Organizations. All student information requests shall be processed confidentially and the anonymity of the student making the request shall be protected at all times.

2. Obstruction or non-compliance with a Student Information Request may be reported to the Vice President of the Student Body and Appropriations Chair of Student Senate by any member of the student body. They shall investigate the charges of obstruction or non-compliance, and may suspend funding of a student organization for a period of no longer than ten (10) days, which the Senate may extend at its discretion on recommendation of the Vice President of the Student Body and the Appropriations Chair. All investigations will be conducted with the advice of the Dean of Students, with findings to be issued no less than one week later.

3. Student Senate shall be obligated to take appropriate disciplinary or corrective measures against any member or body of Student Senate, recognized student organization, activity, or individual determined by the Senate, to have obstructed or failed to comply reasonably with a Student Information Request.

4. The Cornellian and KRNL shall have the discretion to refuse to provide materials which do not pertain to the fiscal planning, financial, or business dealings of each organization.

5. Student organizations shall not be required to yield general membership lists under a Student Information Request. The names of officers of the organizations must, however, be disclosed if requested.

 

Article XII. Amendments

1. Amendments to this constitution may be formally introduced to the Student Senate by a majority vote of the Student Senate, or by the presentation of a petition bearing the signatures of ten percent (10%) of the eligible student electorate to the President of the Student Body.

2. The student body ratification vote on a proposed amendment shall be held within three (3) weeks following the formal introduction of the amendment to the Student Senate. The full and accurate text of a proposed amendment shall be on the ballot.

3. Amendments shall become effective upon approval by sixty percent (60%) of voting eligible students in a special election, approval by the faculty, and approval by the President of the College.

4. Student Senate may adopt additional by-laws pertaining to procedures for Senate operations with the approval of 2/3 of the voting Senators.

Article XIII. Ratification

1. All portions of this Constitution except those relating to election and term of office of officials shall become immediately effective upon approval by sixty percent (60%) of eligible students voting in a special election, approval by the faculty, and approval by the President of the College. The previous constitution, as well as all previous by-laws, rules of procedure, and committee guidelines, shall thenceforth be considered null and void.

2. All portions of this Constitution relating to the election and term of office of General Assembly Members shall become effective on the first Monday of the first term in the academic year following the approval described above.

3. Upon ratification, recognized student organizations shall be required to amend their constitutions and by-laws where necessary to comply with the Constitution of Student Senate. Organizations shall be required to notify the Student Organizations Committee of the adoption of such amendments within two (2) blocks following the date of constitutional ratification.

 

Ratified by Student Senate 2-2-99

Ratified by Student Body 2-12-99

Approved by the Faculty Committee on Student Life 3-18-99