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Constitution of the Graduate Student Organization
The Graduate Student Organization, (GSO), representing the graduate student body of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is hereby created in order to render assistance to graduate students in their pursuit of academic achievement and excellence.
The Graduate Student Organization, (GSO) shall not be a separate governing or disciplinary entity over the graduate student body. It is a representative organization and shall strive to maintain open communication between the administration and the student body. It shall inform the administration of the special needs of the graduate students and inform the student body of administration policies and decisions.
In matters relevant to the entire student body, the GSO shall coordinate its efforts through the Graduate School Senators elected to the Student Government Association (SGA) by the graduate school student body.
This organization will adhere to all policies and regulations of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Louisiana System. Activities that result in undue physical stress or any subtle or covert technique that will impair, make captive, or destroy an individual’s freedom or thought will not be tolerated.
Article One: Membership and Dues
Every student enrolled in the graduate school is considered a member of the Graduate Student Organization. Membership shall not be denied on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual identity, or disability. Organization dues have been voted into place by the entire graduate student body and are paid by each graduate student in fees assessed upon enrollment.
Article Two: Legislative Branch
The GSO shall function under a formal proxy Council, composed of representatives from each academic department having a graduate program. Each representative shall be a graduate student chosen by a majority of the graduate students in that academic department.
All legislative powers of the GSO shall be vested in this Council. Each representative on the Council shall exercise one vote on legislative matters.
Matters requiring a vote of the Council shall be considered approved or rejected by a simple majority vote of the membership present, with the President of the Council voting in the event of a tie.
The Council shall have the right to override any veto exercised by the Council President. Said veto may be overridden only by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council members present.
Article Three: Executive Branch
All executive powers of the GSO shall be vested in the Executive Branch of the Council, which shall be composed as follows:
A. President is elected by a majority vote of the Council membership.
B. Vice President is elected by a majority vote of the Council membership and will fulfill the duties of the President in the event of absence or resignation.
C. Secretary-Treasurer is elected by a majority vote of the Council membership.
The Executive Branch shall be charged with the following responsibilities:
A. Orderly conduct of all meetings of the Council
B. Exercising guidelines set forth in the Bylaws
C. Proper disposition of legislative matters
D. Upholding the terms of the Constitution
Executive officers of the Council shall not hold more than one executive position within the Council at any one time. These officers may be recalled for reasons of misconduct with a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Council membership (See Bylaws). Any vacant position shall be filled by a majority vote of the Council membership.
Graduate School Senators (SGA) shall not be considered part of the Executive Branch of the Council, unless they hold an elective office within the Council.
Executive officers shall retain their positions as representatives of their departments and exercise the same voting power. The graduate students in the department of the President shall select another representative to replace the President. The President may exercise a vote in the event of a tie vote by the Council.
The President of the Council shall have veto power over legislative matters enacted by the Legislative Branch. This Executive veto power shall be overridden only by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council membership.
The GSO shall have the right to create and fill any other executive offices that may be considered necessary, according to the appropriate Bylaws.
All powers not directly treated in this Constitution shall be treated and governed under the Organization's Bylaws
Article Four: Meeting of the Council
The Council of the Graduate Student Organization shall conduct at least one general business meeting per month during the Fall and Spring semesters. Provisions shall be made to address any Summer semester business by the Council.
The President may call a special meeting when he/she deems it necessary or when requested to do so by at least one third (1/3) of the Council membership.
All meetings under the auspices of the GSO shall be conducted under conventional use of order. Meetings are open to all interested graduate students and observers.
All fund raising activities shall be carried out in accordance with the rules and policies of the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership.
Article Five: Reserve Clause
The GSO Council reserves all powers not specifically detailed within this Constitution. Rules governing the procedures for enactment shall lie within the purview of the GSO Bylaws. The Bylaws shall remain in effect until amended or changed by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Council membership.
Article Six: Bylaws
The Graduate Student Council shall have the right to enact Bylaws for the governance of the Council and Organization. Said Bylaws shall be enacted by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Council membership and shall be amended only by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Council membership.
All powers not directly treated in this Constitution, shall be treated and governed under the Organization's Bylaws.
Article Seven: Constitutional Amendment
The GSO Constitution may be amended upon proposal approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the Council membership and by a simple majority of the graduate student body in regular or special election. Any major amendments shall be submitted to the UL Lafayette Organizations Committee for final approval.
Bylaws to the Constitution of the Graduate Student Organization
Section One: Membership of the Council
Department representatives elected to the Council shall be encouraged to attend all general meetings. Excessive absences (more than two per semester) by a representative shall be reported to the department which the individual represents. After such notification, the Council may expel the representative by a majority vote. Selection of a new representative shall be made by the standard election procedure within the department. The specific penalties which shall be in force in the event of a representative's absence are: Upon failure to attend a meeting, no applications for funds from that representative's department will be considered during that meeting.
Any member or executive officer of the Council who is found to be in violation of the University Code of Conduct, placed on disciplinary or academic probation, or censured by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council for improper conduct, shall be recalled and replaced by normal procedures of election.
Any and all vacancies among the department representatives shall be filled by a vote of the majority of graduate students within that department, or by appointment by the department head or graduate coordinator. All vacancies shall be announced and open to all qualified individuals without discrimination.
Section Two: Officers
The duties of the executive officers of the Council, in addition to those specified in the Constitution, shall be:
A. President: Shall ensure that the GSO records are properly maintained. The President shall be in a position to discuss GSO activities, make recommendations to the University Administration, and serve on and make appointments to any University committees affecting graduate student affairs. The GSO President shall forward all communications and requests approved by the GSO to the Director of the Graduate School, or through appropriate University channels, as needed.
B. Vice President: Shall serve in the absence of the President and assist the President with assigned responsibilities.
C. Secretary-Treasurer: Shall take and record the minutes of the Council meetings and maintain the file of approved minutes; shall report on the status of the GSO account at each meeting of the Council.
The requirements for eligibility for service on the Executive Council shall be:
A. In order to be eligible for election to the Executive Council, an individual must have a history of at least one semester (excluding summer semesters) of service experience on the General Council of the GSO.
B. In order to be eligible for election to the position of President of the Executive Council, an individual must have a history of one semester’s service experience on the Executive Council. In the event that no member of the Executive Council intends to run for President, or if only one member chooses to run, Representatives with a minimum of two semesters of service on the General Council (excluding summer semesters) will then be included in those eligible for the position.
C. In order to be eligible candidate for the executive council, a member must be in good standing according to the Graduate School guidelines and carry a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Section Three: Council Meetings
Direct guidelines for all Council meetings are set forth in the Constitution of the Graduate Student Organization.
For purposes of meetings, a "Quorum" shall be defined as a minimum of 51% of the current number of representatives, plus a minimum of one (1) member of the Executive Branch presiding.
The Council shall meet three times during the fall and spring semesters and once during the summer semester to consider funding requests.
Council meetings shall be held in an order and location determined by the Council President.
Section Four: Appropriations
I. Graduate students may request financial support from the Graduate Student Organization. Council-determined funding limits should be in line with the anticipated budget for that semester. A graduate student is allotted a $400.00 maximum limit in funding per semester enrolled ($500.00 if traveling to a Tier IV city). This limit may be used for travel or split between travel and research.
II. Funding Requests:
A. All requests shall be properly completed by the student(s) on the appropriate, approved form for that type of request. Requests for assistance with transportation-associated fees (airfare, car rental/travel) shall be made on the standard Request for Official Travel form, per University/State regulation. Other requests shall be made on the GSO's Application for Financial Support form. Each request must be accompanied by an itemized list of expected expenses.
B. All requests must be accompanied by the following:
1. A cover letter from the student to the GSO verifying the request. If the request is for research support, this letter should briefly explain the nature of the student's research project, how it applies toward their graduation requirement, and an itemized list with the expenses involved. If the request involves attending a conference or convention, the letter should verify that event as a valid professional function in the student's field. If the student will be presenting an original work at a conference, the letter should verify this.
2. A letter of support from the student's project director, advisor, or department head. This letter should be on University letterhead (not a photocopy), should state why the request for GSO funding is supported, and should verify that event as a valid profession function in the student's field.
3. A funding request for participation in a conference or for presentation of original work at a conference must also be accompanied by a letter from a conference official specifying that the applicant will have duties or that the applicant’s original work has been accepted for presentation. The funding request will not be released by the President of the GSO to the proper funding channels until the confirmation is received. Confirmation may be in the form of a letter or copy of the meeting schedule showing the date and time of presentation. The confirmation must be received in the semester of travel or the application will be deemed void.
C. Funding requests will be referred to individual Department Representative and subsequently submitted to the Council President by the designated deadline set by the Council President prior to each meeting.
D. Incomplete applications will only be conditionally approved at the third meeting or the summer meeting, and the applicant will have two weeks to get the missing materials to the GSO President. Any incomplete applications submitted to the first or second meeting will be returned to the student and must be completed and resubmitted to the following meeting to be eligible for funding. If you feel you have extenuating circumstances for a conditional approval, you must contact the GSO President at least eight (8) days before the funding meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org
III. Funding up to $400.00 will be considered for the following ($500.00 for traveling to a Tier IV city).
A. Expenses incurred while attending a professional conference or workshop at which a student is presenting or participating in a research paper or an original work, or at which a student is receiving an award for their scholarship.
B. Expenses incurred while attending a conference or workshop at which a student is participating in a capacity deemed by the Executive Council as an academic duty followed by a majority vote of the General Council. It is left to the discretion of the Executive Council to consider the academic activities of all graduate departments as they are made known, with an optional appeal to the General Council. It is the responsibility of the department representative to bring individual cases to the attention of the Council.
C. Original works with multiple authors presented at a conference will only have one author funded with academic duties and the remaining authors shall be funded as travel without academic duties. Co-Authors and Co-Presenters can be considered on a case-by-case basis with the understanding that funding one presenter will still enhance the research of the graduate students and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
IV. Funding up to $160.00 will be considered for the following:
A. Expenses directly related to thesis or dissertation research.
B. Expenses directly related to comprehensive exam preparation. This is to include testing fees and the purchase of texts for exam preparation, provided a letter of faculty support is included, specifying that these fees/texts are necessary, and are not required for general coursework (including independent study). When applying for funding to offset the cost of text resources, the applicant must also provide a document providing proof that the library does not carry these materials in any form (print or electronic).
C. Project expenses incurred by those students in non-thesis degrees. Expenses must be related to a project that is a requirement for graduation. The term does not include research papers for courses (including independent study).
D. Funding for interlibrary loan requests limited to information needed for classes in a particular discipline. Funding is limited to interlibrary loan costs that have been incurred by the student and for which receipts (in compliance with university policies) for such costs are included with the application. These requests will not be considered until the second meeting of a semester (should the meeting take place in the summer semester, these requests will be heard after research and travel request by individuals with scheduled academic duties).
V. Funding requests up to $100.00 will be considered for reimbursement of expenses incurred in physically producing a thesis, dissertation, or graduation project. This funding will only be considered for approval after funding applications falling under categories III and IV are considered for approval. These are one-time grants that will not be considered for funding prior to the second meeting of a semester (or, after all travel and research funding has been heard at a summer meeting). This grant will be allowed only once during a student’s tenure in said program.
VI. Funding requests up to $100.00 will be considered for reimbursement of expenses associated with attending conferences without academic duties, or co-authors that are not listed as first authors/presenters. The council considers these types of funding request as a last priority.
A. Volunteering at a conference is considered attendance without duties as a student is representing the conference and not the university.
VII. The GSO shall have the right to sponsor or co-sponsor various programs it deems necessary. These programs should benefit graduate students in their pursuit of academic achievement and excellence and should be accessible to all graduate students. Upon application by any departmental representative, and approval by a simple majority of the Council representatives, programs may be funded up to an amount of $500.00.
VIII. Funding will not be considered for the following:
Basic supplies and equipment which should be provided by the University academic department for students' use (such as pencils, printer ink, furniture, standard computer hardware and computer software, etc.). This is ultimately left up to the discretion of the Executive Council.
IX. Travel Funding -Detailed:
A. Tiers I-IV will be established by the most recent publishing of Louisiana’s Policy and Procedure Memoranda (PPM):
a. Travel with academic duties to locations in Tier I shall be funded up to $200.
b. Travel with academic duties to locations in Tier II shall be funded up to $300.
c. Travel with academic duties to locations in Tier III shall be funded up to $400.
d. Travel with academic duties to locations in Tier IV shall be funded up to $500. A. Transportation costs by public carrier.
B. Mileage at the University's standard rates for travel by personal or rental vehicle, provided that the student provides a photocopy of a valid driver's license and proof of insurance with their application.
C. Lodging costs at the rates for a stay of reasonable duration.
D. Registration fees.
E. Expenses related to visa applications, provided a visa is essential for travel to the conference.
F. Cost of meals associated with attending a conference only, up to a maximum of $30.00 per day without receipts.
X. Procedures for Requests for Funds:
A. Requests from students whose departments do not have representatives on the GSO Council shall not be funded until a departmental representative is elected. The Council shall not consider any request for funding unless the department is represented at the Council Meeting.
B. Graduate students not enrolled during the summer semester are not eligible to receive funds at a summer meeting. These applications may be heard in the subsequent fall semester and treated as a regular fall application. All funds received in the fall, regardless of the semester (FA or SU) in which the receipts were generated, will count toward the student's Council Determined Funding Limit of $400 ($500 if international). Any funds remaining at the end of the summer semester will be rolled into the following fall's budget. Students enrolled in the summer should continue to submit applications for summer funding at the summer meeting. Extenuating circumstances because of extended leave and difficulty of obtaining materials or proxy will be considered. Student must email GSO President or have their department rep email president a minimum of eight (8) days before the minimum.
C. The student making a request for funding must make every effort to be present at the Council Meeting. If the student cannot be present, he or she must arrange for a proxy to act as a representative before the Council, and fill out a "Register an Applicant Proxy" form on the GSO website at least 24 hours before the meeting.
D. Prior to the Council Meeting, the student making a request for funds shall deliver the written request to his or her departmental representative for initial review. The departmental representative shall review the application/request for funds and assure that all required letters, signatures and information necessary are present. The representative forwards the application/ request to the President for review and scheduling on the Council agenda.
E. The Council will examine each application/request for funding. The decision of the Council will be reached by a simple majority of the membership, with the President voting only in the event of a tie vote of the membership.
F. Requests may be denied if it is determined to be unreasonable by the Council or by the University Administration. Students are encouraged to accurately and reasonably estimate the expenses that will be incurred.
G. The President, with specifying grounds, may veto a specific application/request that has been approved by the Council.
H. By notification to the President, the student whose request for funds has been denied by the Council may appeal the Council's decision to the GSO Council. The President shall affix that appeal on the agenda of the next scheduled GSO Council meeting, or call an additional meeting, whichever is deemed necessary or appropriate by the President. The veto may be overturned by a vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the Council membership.
I. GSO appropriations are subject to approval by the GSO appropriate University officials, including (but not limited to) the GSO faculty advisor, the Dean of the Graduate School, and the Vice President for Student Affairs.
XI. Requesting Check:
A. When GSO applications are returned to students, student must fill out attached Check Request Form.
B. Any and all receipts required for purchase or expenditures shall be the sole responsibility of the students requesting funds, and shall be turned in to the office of the Dean of Graduate School. Receipts (accompanied by a Check Request form) shall be turned in to the Dean of Graduate School no later than the second week of the semester after funds were approved. (If the council approved funds for the Spring semester, the receipts must be turned in by the second week of the Summer semester.). A request for funds from any student who has previously failed to turn in receipts in a timely manner may be rejected. Any unused amounts of any appropriation shall be repaid to the GSO account.
C. Student will submit Check Request Form, receipts, and copy of GSO application to Dean of the Graduate School in Martin Hall.
D. In the case of any appropriation or expenditure of funds, it shall be the responsibility of the student requesting funds to be aware of and comply with GSO regulations.
Section Five: Budget
Budgeting for the Council shall be determined on the basis of graduate student enrollment. The GSO Council shall budget a discretionary fund to cover the costs of the operation of the organization as well as for general programs or events approved by the GSO Council. This fund will cover incidental operating expenses incurred by the GSO Council, such as document copying and printing costs, postage and mailings, brochures, etc. Records and/or receipts for such expenditures shall be recorded and maintained by the Secretary-Treasurer.
After the pre-determined amount has been deposited toward the discretionary fund, the remainder of a given semester’s budget will be divided into travel funding and research funding, with the Council-determined allocation being 70/30, respectively.
Section Six: Records
Minutes shall be taken at each GSO meeting by the Secretary-Treasurer. A file of said minutes shall be kept for each academic year. Minutes will be posted to the GSO website for information and archive purposes. To this file shall be added all reports from Council Committees, pertinent correspondence, expenditure receipts and copies of all requests for funds which have been denied or otherwise not funded.
Separate files may be kept each academic year, with the preceding years files being sent to the office of the GSO Advisor for retention for a period of a minimum of one years. All records of the Council proceedings shall be open for review and inspection by concerned individuals.
Any and all equipment paid for by GSO funds, and not consumed by the specific project, shall remain the property of the GSO. Said equipment or items shall be inventoried annually and records of it shall be maintained by the Secretary-Treasurer of the GSO.
A roster of departmental representatives shall be maintained and updated each semester. It shall include pertinent information (name, address, telephone/office, and telephone/home) of each representative to GSO.
Section Seven: Dissolution
Should the GSO ever dissolve, all surplus funds and physical assets belonging to the GSO shall be turned over to the University Graduate School for the benefit of existing programs for graduate students and the maintenance of any GSO projects which may require supervision.
Section Eight: Bylaw Amendments
Bylaws of the GSO may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council.
Updated in March of 2015 by Jane Heels, GSO President