8.1 CUNY School of Law Student Government Constitution
We, the students of the CUNY School of Law, affirm that we have power to effect change within our community. Our history of struggle reveals that individual, group, and class concerns impact us all and thus ought to be the concern of all; therefore, we shall create an environment that supports, respects, and thrives on the differences among us. We also affirm that the protection of our rights and freedoms as students requires an organized, active, and unified Student Government; therefore, we charge our Government with the duty to provide an inclusive forum to actively address students’ needs and concerns and with the duty to maintain an engaged, informed, and supportive law student community, which will, by its example, reverberate throughout the larger legal community.
ARTICLE I | NAME
The name of this organization shall be the Student Government of the CUNY School of Law, hereinafter referred to as the SG.
ARTICLE II | PURPOSE
The purposes of the SG shall be:
To provide a forum for discussion of matters affecting the student body as a whole;
To be an independent mechanism for unified student action and unified student voice in areas of academics, government, and political and social concerns; and
To coordinate and facilitate the process for selection of student representatives in the CUNY School of Law’s governance system.
ARTICLE III | PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY
A. Enforcement and Legislation
The SG shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, including SG Bylaws, Rules, and Resolutions, the provisions of this Constitution.
Creation of Committees, Offices, and Other Entities
B. The SG may create Standing Committees, Ad Hoc Committees, Offices, or other subordinate entities, in order to facilitate the commencement and/or continuation of activities which are in accordance with the purposes of the SG, including activities of investigation and activities intended to further policies adopted by the SG.
C. Appearance Requests
The SG may hold hearings and issue requests for individuals to appear at any of its sessions or hearings for the purpose of obtaining information or performing oversight functions relevant to its purposes
ARTICLE IV | MEMBERSHIP
A. Standing for Membership
Any matriculated student, registered at the CUNY School of Law, is eligible to run for a seat on the SG as a Member of the SG.
B. Number of Members
Eight members from each full-time class and two members from each part-time class shall be elected from the student body at large during the annual General Election.
C. Voting Power of Members
1. Each member shall have the power to cast one vote for each vote called during any and all sessions at which they are present, unless that member is either chairing the session or is the subject of a current impeachment proceeding
2. The presiding officer of any session shall refrain from voting, except in the event of a tie among the other members present at that session.
D. Responsibilities of Members
Each member shall attend all General Sessions and Special Sessions and shall make good faith efforts to attend any Emergency Sessions.
Each member shall serve either as an officer, a member of one of the internal standing committees, or as a student representative on one of the external standing committees.
To the extent necessary to enable the officers to perform their required functions adequately, each member shall make himself or herself available to the officers by providing both a phone number and an email address by which the officers may reliably contact that member. The phone number and preferred email address shall be accessible only to the SG officers and shall be shared with others, only upon the express consent of the member in question.
In the event that a member reasonably anticipates not attending any General or Special Session, that member shall notify the Whip as soon as possible of his or her anticipated absence, providing an explanation for the anticipated absence that is sufficiently detailed such that the Whip will be able to determine whether the absence should be deemed excused or unexcused.
In the event that a member fails to attend any General or Special Session, that member shall, on his or her own initiative, contact the Whip within one (1) day following the absence. If he or she has not already done so, the member shall provide the Whip with an explanation for the absence that is sufficiently detailed, such that the Whip will be able to determine whether the absence should be deemed excused or unexcused.
E. Filling Member Vacancies
1. If at any time a member resigns or is removed, that member’s seat shall be declared vacant and shall be offered to the candidate who in the most recent SG General Election, received the most votes from among the remaining candidates of that member’s class. If such candidate declines to fill the vacant seat, the seat shall then be offered to the candidate with the second most votes from among the remaining candidates of that class, and so on in descending order, until either the vacant position has been filled by an acceptance or the list of the remaining candidates has been exhausted.
In the event that the list of the remaining candidates has been exhausted, the SG shall hold a Special Election in order to fill the vacant seat. The Special Election shall be put to the student body at large and governed by the same rules as the General Election held by the Office of Student Affairs. Any student from the class of the member whose seat has been vacated may run for the vacated seat. The winner of the Special Election shall be entitled to hold the vacant position for the rest of the academic year.
ARTICLE V | OFFICERSTypes
There shall be four Officers who altogether shall comprise the Executive Membership of the SG:
the Vice President;
the Secretary; and
All Officers shall be duly elected Members of the SG.
All Student Government officers and representatives shall carry out their duties in accordance with FERPA and section 478 of the New York Judiciary Law.
In the event of an Officer’s resignation or removal, the remaining Officers of SG shall call a Special Election within two weeks of the representative’s resignation or removal by impeachment. The Special Election shall then be held during the Session immediately following the call for a Special Election.
a. Within two weeks after his or her election, the President shall propose and, upon majority approval by the other members of the Steering Committee, schedule at least six (6) General Sessions for each semester of the academic year.
b. Agenda. The President, in consultation with the members of the Steering Committee, shall set the Agenda for every session.
c. Sessions. The President shall preside at all sessions, unless either absent, subject to a current impeachment proceeding, or otherwise disabled from presiding. In presiding over the sessions, the President shall strive to ensure constructive deliberation, the efficient use of time, and effective decision-making among the members.
d. Oversight of all SG functions. The President shall be the individual primarily responsible for the oversight and coordination of all of the standing activities of the SG.
e. Student Liaison to Administration and other entities. The President shall be responsible for acting as the chief liaison of the student body to the administration, faculty, staff, and relevant individuals and organizations outside the Law School community, and to that end shall be responsible at all times for making good faith efforts to be both informed about and representative of students’ interests, positions, and concerns.
f. Deans’ Forums. The President shall preside at and set the agenda for all Deans’ Forums.
g. To the extent necessary to discharge all of his or her responsibilities, the President may delegate a lesser portion of the responsibilities of the Office of the President to the Vice President, provided, however, that such delegation does not impede the Vice President from discharging the responsibilities of the Office of the Vice President.
h. Advice. If requested by the incoming President, the outgoing President shall provide instruction and other advice to the incoming President on the responsibilities of the Office for a reasonable period of time.
The Vice President
a. The Vice President shall attend and stand ready to preside at all properly convened meetings, including, but not limited to, General Sessions, Special Sessions, Emergency Sessions, and Deans’ Forums.
b. The Vice President shall assume the responsibilities of the President should that office become vacant or in the President’s absence.
c. Committees point person. The Vice President shall be responsible for informing the SG General Body of the activities of both the internal committees and the external committees.
d. In the event that the Secretary is not present at a properly convened meeting, the Vice President shall prepare minutes for that meeting, provided, however, that if the Vice President is presiding at the meeting in question, then the Whip shall be held responsible for preparing the minutes.
e. Appointment of replacement Chairs. In the event that a Chair fails to submit two reports to the Whip in accordance with the requirements of Article III, the Vice President shall appoint another member of that Committee to be Chair.
f. If requested by the incoming Vice President, the outgoing Vice President shall provide instruction and other advice to the incoming Vice President on the responsibilities of the Office for a reasonable period of time.
a. Agenda. The Secretary shall distribute the Agenda for each Session to all Members by email no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to that Session.
b. Minutes. The Secretary shall attend and prepare minutes for all properly convened meetings, including, but not limited to, General Sessions, Special Sessions, Emergency Sessions, and Deans’ Forums.
c. Compilation of records. The Secretary shall be responsible for compiling in orderly fashion all minutes, agendas, legislative documents, official SG communications, and other similar documents, which were either created or modified during the Secretary’s term. All documents shall be promptly archived and released as required by the Office and Records Management Committee and by the Communications Committee, respectively.
d. If requested by the incoming Secretary, the outgoing Secretary shall provide instruction and other advice to the incoming Secretary on the responsibilities of the Office for a reasonable period of time.
e. The Secretary shall temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Vice President should the Office become vacant or in the Vice President’s absence.
a. Attendance. The Whip shall be responsible for taking attendance at each Session.
b. Session reminders. The Whip shall email to all Members of the SG reminders of each upcoming General or Special Session two (2) days before that Session is to take place.
c. Follow-up on absences. The Whip shall contact, by phone and/or email, any and all members who were absent at the most recent session within two (2) days of the absence. The Whip shall ask any and all such members to give a reason for his or her absence for the purpose of determining whether the absence was excused or unexcused. The Whip shall record the reason(s) given by such member(s) and submit such records to the Secretary.
d. Excused and unexcused absences. The Whip shall be authorized to determine whether the absence of any member at any and all General and Special Sessions is an excused absence or an unexcused absence. The Whip shall be the sole member authorized to determine whether a given absence falls within one of the following categories of excused absences:
(1) Emergency illness;
(2) Conflict due to work or class;
(3) Conflict due to attendance at an external Committee meeting; or
(4) Religious holiday or personal emergency.
e. Compiling reports of Chairs. The Whip shall compile the status reports from the Chairs of all SG Standing Committees and present them to the President and Vice President within one (1) day following the receipt of the reports from the Chairs. In the event that a Chair fails to provide a report to the Whip in accordance with the requirements of Article III, the Whip shall contact the Chair and remind that Chair to submit a report immediately.
The Student Director of Disability Issues
(a) The Student Director of Disability Issues shall attend and prepare an update on disability issues at the Law School for all convened meetings, including but not limited to General Sessions, Special Sessions, Emergency Sessions, Deans’ Forums, Student Forums, and Student Union Meetings.
(b) Availability as Liaison. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall be accessible to students for the purpose of improving life for students with disabilities. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall attend all meetings, and be available in person and by email.
(c) Privacy of Students. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall protect the privacy of all students with disabilities and may not disclose information about any student without that student’s consent.
(d) Consent of Students. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall work with any student with a disability but only with that student’s continuing consent. The Student Director of Disability Issues may not act contrary to the will of those students that the Student Director of Disability Issues may otherwise represent.
(e) Representation. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall represent, assist, and/or accompany any student with a disability in meetings with Law School administrators, staff, faculty, students, and/or others about disability issues. This provision and the following subsections are subject to the requirements of provisions (c) and (d).
(i) The Student Director of Disability Issues shall attend meetings regarding disability issues between the student with a disability and administrators, staff, faculty, students, and/or others.
(ii) Should a student with a disability want student representation, assistance, or accompaniment in meetings with administrators or others about disability issues, but does not want the Student Director of Disability Issues to represent, assist, or accompany the student, the Student Director of Disability Issues shall arrange for another student to represent, assist, or accompany the student with a disability provided this substitute representative meets the qualifications and requirements of provisions (c) and (d).
(iii) Should a student with a disability want the Student Director of Disability Issues to assist or accompany a student with a disability in a meeting with administrators or others about disability issues, but the Student Director of Disability Issues cannot attend, the Student Director of Disability Issues shall arrange for another student to assist or accompany the student with a disability, provided that this substitute representative meets the qualifications and requirements of provisions (c) and (d).
(iv) Nothing in this provision shall limit the right of a student with a disability to find individual representation without the involvement of the Student Director of Disability Issues.
(f) Knowledge. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall know CUNY Law’s procedures relating to disability issues and shall have an elementary understanding of federal, state, and local laws relating to disability issues. The Student Director of Disability Issues shall also be capable of organizing students around disability issues.
(g) Advice. The outgoing Student Director of Disability Issues shall provide instruction and other advice to the incoming Student Director of Disability Issues on the responsibilities of the office for a reasonable period of time. This shall include, but is not limited to, writing a brief memorandum to the incoming Student Director of Disability Issues and the incoming President regarding the disability-related issues addressed during the outgoing Student Director of Disability Issues’ term and any outstanding issues. This provision is subject to the requirements of provisions (c) and (d).
ARTICLE VI | COMMITTEES
Internal Committees. For the purposes of this Constitution, “internal” committees means:
(a) all of the SG Standing Committees;
(b) the SG Steering Committee; and
(c) any Ad Hoc Committees created by the SG.
External Committees. For the purposes of this Constitution, an “external” committee means any committee in the Law School’s governance system which was not created by the SG and on which committee at least one seat is reserved for a student representative.
B. SG Standing Committees
There shall be six SG Standing Committees:
(a) The Budget and Finance Committee;
(b) The Office and Records Management Committee;
(c) The Communications Committee;
(d) The Polling Committee;
(e) The Academic Affairs Committee; and
(f) The CUNITY Committee.
Jurisdiction and Enumerated Responsibilities
a. The Budget and Finance Committee
The Budget and Finance Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such rules and other protocols on the SG’s budget and finances, as are necessary to ensure both the adequate funding of the SG and the prudent use of SG funds.
ii. Enumerated Responsibilities
The Budget and Finance Committee shall:
A. Propose an SG budget within two (2) weeks after notification of the Law School Association’s tentative budget allocations and submit the proposed budget to the SG General Body for approval by majority vote;
B. Promulgate rules governing the use of SG funds;
C. Maintain accurate and orderly records of all expenditures and receipts by the SG;
D. Be responsible for overseeing any SG fundraising initiatives; and
E. Draft the SG’s budget proposal to the LSA for the upcoming academic year.
b. The Office and Records Management Committee
The Office and Records Management Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such rules and other protocols governing the use of the SG office space, the SG bulletin boards, and the SG records, as are necessary to ensure the maintenance of an office which promotes the transparency, accessibility, efficiency, and overall effectiveness of SG.
ii. Enumerated Responsibilities The Office and Records Management Committee shall:
A. Promulgate rules governing the use and maintenance of the SG office space, the SG bulletin boards, and SG records;
B. Ensure the physical maintenance of an orderly SG office, and, to that end, also remind students and student organizations to remove items stored in the SG office after a period of time, in accordance with the rules, which have been promulgated by this Committee; and
C. Archive all SG documents in a prompt, orderly, and accurate fashion.
c. The Communications Committee
The Communications Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such rules and other protocols governing SG communications, as are necessary to ensure that the student body is adequately informed of the SG’s activities and goals.
ii. Enumerated Responsibilities
The Communications Committee shall:
A. Ensure timely maintenance of the website;
B. Ensure the prompt and accurate release of SG public documents to the student body at large and/or the Law School community as a whole; and
C. Lead initiatives to utilize the unique resources of the SG website and any other web-based communications.
d. The Polling Committee
The Polling Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such Rules and other protocols governing all polls conducted by the SG, as are necessary to ensure that the SG is adequately informed of the needs and interests of the student body.
ii. Enumerated responsibilities The Polling Committee shall:
A. Design, in consultation with the officers and chairs of the Standing Committees, polls which are pertinent and relevant to the student body, and which have the intent or effect of keeping the student body informed about current events and promoting collective student action on issues or events with significant impact on the community;
B. Conduct these polls in an efficient, accountable, and reliable manner; and
C. Work together with the Officers to develop protocols for releasing the results of these polls.
e. The Academic Affairs Committee
The Academic Affairs Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such Rules and other protocols governing the measures taken by the SG to address issues pertaining to the academic life of students at the Law School.
ii. Enumerated Responsibilities
The Academic Affairs Committee shall:
A. Be responsible for soliciting and recording concerns, problems, and other comments from the student body on matters of academic policy, teaching quality, curriculum, and other matters pertaining to academic life at the Law School; and
B. Recommend any measures that it believes the SG should take on particular matters within its jurisdiction.
f. The CUNITY Committee
The CUNITY Committee shall have jurisdiction over the design and implementation of such rules and other protocols, as are necessary to ensure the protection and promotion of the sense of community at the Law School, which sense is both unique among schools and essential to the fulfillment of the dual mission of the school.
ii. Enumerated responsibilities The CUNITY Committee shall:
A. Organize student forums on issues and problems significantly affecting the student body;
B. Plan and execute the end of the year party; and
C. Work with different members of the Law School community, including leaders of student organizations, faculty members, and administrators, on the resolution of conflicts within the community and organize events or actions designed to help resolve such conflicts.
i. Each Standing Committee shall be chaired by a member of the SG.
ii. The Budget and Finance Committee shall be chaired by the President.
iii. The Communications Committee shall be chaired by the Vice President.
iv. The Office and Records Management Committee shall be chaired by the Secretary.
The President shall nominate, and the SG General Body shall approve by simple majority at a session, the Chairs of the Polling, Academic Affairs, and CUNITY Committees.
i. Selection of other Committee Members. Each Chair shall be responsible for recruiting and selecting other students to serve on the Standing Committee of which he or she is Chair. The total number of members of any given Standing Committee shall be proposed by the Chair of that Committee and shall take effect unless overruled by a majority of SG members at a session. In all cases, however, the total number of members of any Standing Committee shall be large enough to ensure the fulfillment of the enumerated responsibilities of that Committee. The non-Chair members of the SG Standing Committee need not be members of the SG; however, in the event that both members of the SG and students who are not SG members are willing to serve on the Committee and the Chair must choose some individuals over others, the Chair shall give preference to members of the SG over non-SG members.
ii. Status Reports. Each Chair shall prepare concise written reports on the current status of his or her Committee’s tasks, deliberations, and actions. A report shall be due to the Whip at the beginning of each week for which classes are in session, provided, however, that if there is no status change, then the Chair may simply send the Whip a brief written message indicating the lack of change in status. The Chair’s status report should not be longer than three paragraphs and shall consist of the following:
A. a list of the specific tasks that the Committee has been charged with performing;
B. any progress made by the Committee on these tasks during the past week; and
C. what measures the Committee needs and plans to take next.
d. Dereliction of Duty
If a Chair fails to send two or more updates to the Whip as specified in Art. VI(B)(3)(b)(1), then the Chair shall lose his or her seat as Chair, and the Vice President shall appoint another member of that Committee to be Chair.
C. SG Steering Committee
Composition. The Steering Committee shall be composed of the Officers of the SG and the Chairs of the SG Standing Committees.
Time-sensitive decisions. The SG General Body may, by appropriate legislation, authorize the members of the Steering Committee to make decisions on behalf of the General Body on matters which are time-sensitive, but which also counsel deliberation among a body not solely comprised of the Executive Members.
Any Member of the SG may serve on an External Committee.
Who may Nominate. Any member of the Steering Committee may nominate a member of SG, including himself or herself, to serve as a student representative on any external Committee containing a student representative seat which is filled neither by means of election by the student body at large nor by administrative appointment.
Nomination and Approval. A valid appointment shall consist of a nomination by a member of the Steering Committee followed by simple majority approval of that nomination by the SG General Body. All such appointments shall take place by the end of the second General Session of each academic year and after the election of the Officers.
Vacancies. In the event that any student seat for any of the aforementioned external committees remains vacant by the end of the second General Session, the Officers shall be authorized to appoint students to such vacant seat(s). These appointments shall be presented to the SG General Body during the next Session, at which time the appointments may be overruled by a simple majority vote of the SG General Body at any Session, including the Session at which such appointments were presented by the Officers.
ARTICLE VII | MEETINGS
There shall be two general categories of meetings:
(a) Sessions; and
(b) meetings other than Sessions which have been convened by the SG.
(a) Types. There shall be three types of Sessions:
(ii) Special; and
(b) General Sessions
A “General” Session is any of the twelve (12) sessions scheduled by the President as required by Art. V(D)(1)(a).
(c) Special Sessions
A “Special” Session is a Session other than a General Session which has been proposed by a consensus of all of the officers and which has been scheduled and announced to the SG General Body at least one week in advance of the proposed date and time.
(d) Emergency Sessions
An “Emergency” Session is a Session other than a General or Special Session which has been proposed by a consensus of all of the officers and which has been scheduled and announced to the SG General Body less than one week in advance of the proposed date and time. Any member who is unable, despite having made good faith efforts, to attend an Emergency Session shall not be deemed in violation of Art. IV(D)(1).
SG Meetings Other than Sessions
Meetings other than sessions which have been convened by the SG shall include but are not limited to:
(a) Deans’ Forums; and
(b) Student Forums.
B. Attendance at Meetings
Attendance at Sessions
a. Member Attendance Requirements.
Each member shall attend all General Sessions and Special Sessions, and each Member shall make good faith efforts to attend any Emergency Sessions.
i. A member who has accumulated three or more unexcused absences shall be deemed to have vacated his or her seat.
ii. The following excuses shall qualify as excused absences:
(B) Conflict due to work or class schedule;
(C) Conflict due to attendance at an external Committee meeting; and
(D) Religious holiday or personal emergency.
iii. The Whip shall determine whether a given absence qualifies as excused or unexcused.
iv. The Whip shall provide written notification of all excused and unexcused absences to the Secretary, who shall then archive such records. The Whip shall compile and submit to the Secretary for archive all statements that were submitted to the Whip from members explaining an anticipated and/or actual absence.
Attendance at Non-Session SG Meetings
a. All officers shall attend all Deans’ Forums and Student Forums.
b. Any member other than an officer shall not be deemed in violation of Art. IV(D)(1) for failure to attend SG meetings other than sessions.
C. Minimum Number of General Sessions per Month
There shall be at least two General Sessions per month while fall and spring classes are in session.
D. Quorum for Sessions
A quorum shall consist of one-third of the current membership plus one and is necessary to conduct official business at any Session.
E. Additional Rules for Sessions
The presiding officer shall temporarily step down when voicing preferences regarding matters under deliberation.
All sessions shall be open to all members of the CUNY community.
All sessions may be conducted using any procedures that facilitate open debate and consensus-building for the purpose of moving business forward.
ARTICLE VIII | ELECTIONS
A. Accordance with CUNY Bylaws
SG elections shall be held in accordance with CUNY Bylaws, and pursuant to the procedures and guidelines set forth in this Article.
B. General Election
2L and 3L Members. Second- and third-year members shall be students elected at-large by their respective classes no earlier than April 20 for a one-year term of office that begins July 1.
1L Members. First-year members shall be students elected at-large by the first-year class no later than September 15 for a one-year term of office that begins October 1 and ends June 30.
Only duly enrolled students at the CUNY School of Law may vote, and each such student is entitled to cast one ballot. Each student may vote for up to eight (8) representatives from his or her graduating class.
C. Election of Officers
All Officers and Chairs shall be elected by a majority of the students at-large no earlier than April 20 for a one-year term of office that begins July 1. All second and third year elected representatives are qualified to run for officer positions.
The officer positions are as follows:
(2) Vice President;
ARTICLE IX | IMPEACHMENT
A. Who May Bring an Impeachment Charge
Any member other than the President may bring impeachment charges against any other member, including the President. An impeachment charge must be presented at a session in order to take effect.
B. Number of Votes Required for Removal
Impeachment and subsequent removal from office requires a two-thirds vote of the members present at a session.
C. Procedure for Impeachment Proceeding
Both the accusing member and the accused member shall be called upon to present their respective cases in session. The accused member shall be excluded from subsequent deliberation and voting during the remainder of the impeachment proceeding.
Deliberations and Voting
a. Recorded Vote
The presiding officer shall under all circumstances call for a recorded vote on any motion to remove by impeachment.
b. Where the Accused is an Officer
If the accused member is also an Officer, then the presiding Officer shall call a vote on whether to remove the accused member solely from his or her current office or whether to remove the accused from his or her seat entirely.
D. Standard for Removal by Impeachment
When voting on whether to remove the accused member by impeachment, each member shall vote to remove the accused member, only if that member has engaged in conduct that is in substantial violation of the provisions of the SG Constitution.
E. Closed Session
All impeachment proceedings shall take place in closed sessions of the SG, wherein only members and any testifying witnesses may be present during these proceedings.
ARTICLE X | AMENDMENTS
A. Who May Request an Amendment
Written requests to amend this document may be made by any matriculated student, regardless of whether he or she is a Member of the SG.
B. Procedure for Ratification of Amendments
The procedure by which a proposed Amendment to the SG Constitution shall be ratified is as follows:
The proposed Amendment shall be sponsored by at least one member and co-sponsored by at least two (2) other members.
The proposed Amendment shall be presented to the whole student body, by both paper and electronic means, a minimum of one (1) week prior to the date on which the vote on the proposed Amendment is scheduled.
The proposed Amendment shall be deemed ratified by either one of two methods:
a. Ratification by Membership
A proposed Amendment may be ratified by the SG membership, if carried by a two-thirds majority of the membership present at the session for which the vote is scheduled.
b. Ratification by Referendum
A proposed Amendment may be ratified by the student body at large, if both of the following conditions have been met:
(i.) More than half the currently matriculated student body at large votes in the referendum; and
(ii) At least two-thirds of the students who voted in the referendum have voted in favor of the proposed Amendment.
Adopted by Student Government Spring 2009, updated April 25, 2013.