Constitution

The Purpose Of La Casa Is As Follows:

 

La Casa was founded to provide a residential environment and base for the promotion and expression of Latinx cultures. Inherent in this promotion and expression is an understanding that the history of Latinxs is a complex issue that unites and separates various groups of people in the United States.

To provide a safe space for such expression and promotion as well as bring together those students who have a demonstrated interest in celebrating and enhancing the awareness of Latino cultures through various activities within the college community.

La Casa was founded with the strong belief that such awareness and celebration is not confined solely within the boundaries of Amherst College. With this in mind, it requires that its participants organize community projects. Cultivating a welcoming and inclusive community is seen as an integral part of the goals of the house.

 

House Policy Concerning Alcohol at Parties:

 

The basement common room may contain alcohol at the discretion of Newport residents, and parties may be planned there by any Newport resident. If a non-Newport resident wishes to host a party in the basement common room (with or without alcohol), they must first coordinate with the RC to check space availability. If the space is available, then they must find a “sponsor” who resides in Newport who will take responsibility for the party in all regards including, but not limited to, noise, alcohol, and cleanup. The first floor common room should remain alcohol free, except in the event of a function that is deemed appropriate by a majority vote. Parties that are deemed appropriate are those where a house member (or resident of Newport) assumes full responsibility for the event, and follow school policy regarding alcohol use. As a general rule all school sanctioned campus events will be dry, but the organizers of the event can request an exception, approval of which will be decided by a majority vote by all house residents.

 

Newport Classroom Policy

 

The classroom may be used by any Newport resident, and will be accessible through their ID cards. It is only to be used for purposes such as: studying, film screenings, house meetings;  and only used during hours when classes are not scheduled. Parties or large gatherings are strictly prohibited. Consumption of food and beverages (with the exception of water) is not allowed. Respect of the space is expected: clean up after yourself and leave the room in good condition. If the classroom is not respected all resident’s privilege to use this room may be revoked by Office of Student Affairs.

 

Organizational Aspects Of La Casa:

 

I. Faculty Advisor

II. (Co-)President(s)

III. Treasurer

IV. Secretary

V. House Relations Officer

VI. Resident Counselor

VII. Role of House Members

 

With the exception of the Faculty Advisor, these positions are to be elected for the entire academic year during the first meeting of all House members. It is our belief that this meeting should be held once the application and admittance process is completed in the spring semester. At the very latest, it should not be held after the first week of the fall semester. In case of study abroad/other departure, new elections will take place at the end of fall semester for the spring.

 

Election Procedure:

 

The election process of the above mentioned positions (Co-Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary) will go as follows:

The election is administered by the current (Co-)President(s) with the House’s best interest in mind. The election will be announced as soon as the new House members are selected. A week after selection, a meeting will take place to hold Room Draw and elections. Nominations should be submitted by email to the current Secretary before this meeting place by the nominee. It is at this meeting that all nominations for each positions must be made. Since the House members of La Casa are a small but dedicated group, all returning members must vote and not abstain from voting. However, the current (Co-)President(s) (i.e. Incumbent) does not vote, if he/she will be returning in the fall. Therefore, all House members that will return for the fall semester are required to be present during House elections. The day of the election, each nominee must come to the meeting prepared with a written statement in which he/she expresses his/her purpose for running for the nominated position (responsibilities of each position is outlined in the next section). No one House member may hold more than one of the positions outlined above. A House member may be nominated for more than one position, but may only run for one.

After all statements have been read by the nominees for each elected position, elections will be held. No “write-in” nominees are allowed because they fail to comply with the election procedures outlined above. Each House member votes once for each position with each House member’s vote carrying equal weight. House member ballots are then tabulated and the nominees with the majority vote for each position wins their respective election. In the event that no majority is gained by the nominees (i.e. tie vote) for a given position, the current (Co-)President(s) breaks the tie with his/her vote (if and only if he/she will not be a returning House member). In the event that any of the above procedures are broken, it is the right of any candidate to challenge the election. He/She may bring up their challenge to the current (Co-)President(s) and it is the current (Co-)President(s)’s duty to pass judgment on the challenge to the election. If any procedure is broken during the actual election (i.e. abstaining vote, write-in vote, no vote, etc.), the election is to be redone until all House members vote.

 

Emergency Elections:

In case a member of the House Executive Board has to resign from their position, emergency elections will be held within the closest Café con Leche date. If a member from the house Executive Board decides to apply for the vacant position, they must resign from their current position and run for the vacant one. If two or more members of the Executive Board decide to “swap” positions, they must also each resign from their current positions and run for one of the other positions. During the emergency elections, standard election procedures will be followed (see previous “Election Procedure” clause).

 

Responsibilities:

 

Role of the Faculty Advisor(s):

 

(a) To provide house members with external advice and assistance, serving as a link to the Amherst College faculty and administration.

(b) To communicate with Amherst College faculty and administration on behalf of La Casa, when deemed necessary.

(c) To receive complaints about the conduct of the (Co)-President(s), and to mediate the impeachment process, if it so arises.

(d) To actively promote the purposes of La Casa, attending house meetings or events whenever possible.

(e) To act as an objective, mediating source when conflict arises within the House.

(f) To assist House with the securing of funds and event promotions.

 

Responsibilities of the (Co-)President(s):

 

(a) To act as a representative of La Casa on campus and off-campus as necessary.

(b) To facilitate and coordinate meetings.

(c) To maintain close contact with the Faculty advisor.

(d) To create opportunities for group activism.

(e) To monitor progress of the House and its members as established in the constitution.

(f) Responsible for the annual house report.

(g) Participation in the selection of House applicants.

(h) Responsible for the care and proper storage of House property.

(i) Responsible for ensuring that every House member receives a copy of the House’s constitution and fully understand its meaning.

 

Responsibilities of the Treasurer:

 

(a) To handle administrative aspects of house funds (i.e. House account balance, program funding, etc.).

(b) To keep a written record of all financial transactions.

(c) To draft budget proposals and assist in any additional fundraising.

 

Responsibilities of the Secretary:

 

(a) To record all house meetings, take note of attendance at all house meetings and document house activities.

(b) To assist (Co-)President(s) in drafting the annual house report.

(c) To maintain a file on group collaborations with other (campus) organizations.

(d) To assist the House in the publicity of House events.

 

Responsibilities of the House Relations Officer:

(a) Organize information about house events (i.e. via posters, Facebook events/posts).

(b) Promotion and  advertisements for House events.

(c) Keep a record of House Member suggestions and input on external/internal event ideas.

(d) Fulfill E-board responsibilities as needed.

 

Role of the Resident Counselor:

 

(a) To actively understand, and promote the purposes of La Casa, as founded in the constitution.

(b) To maintain communications with the physical plant, custodial staff, etc., to ensure that the physical aspects of the house are upheld.

(c) To bridge the gap between La Casa members and the other residents of Newport Dormitory (holding communal house events, establishing sense of community).

(d) To keep the members of the house informed with relevant Amherst College residential life programs and assistance (Health Services, contact names and telephone numbers: Security, Eating Disorders, etc.)

(e) To maintain constant communications with the E-board of La Casa.

(f) To attend any important House Meetings, as designated by the (Co-)President(s) of La Casa.

 

Responsibilities of House Members:

 

House members will be evaluated based upon their abilities to fulfill these responsibilities. House members agree to the evaluation process at time of application. In order for House members to understand their responsibilities, it is their right to obtain a copy of the constitution from the (Co-)President(s) of the House and gain it’s full understanding.

(a) Participation in and organization of house activities. All House members are expected to offer input into the process of organizing events, both to ensure that their interests are represented and to share the weight of House duties.

(b) Each House member is required to attend at least five Café con Leches by semester, the House’s bi-weekly event. While the event is organized by E-board, house members can email suggestions about the topic of the week.

(c) Each House member is required to complete one house project per academic year, which embodies the purpose of La Casa aside from the participation in Café con Leche. The goal of a house project is to build community within the house by celebrating and bringing attention to Latinx culture. To satisfy this requirement, a House member can choose to lead organization of one of La Casa’s annual events or a larger school-wide event in collaboration with the E-board. A sign-up sheet will be passed around at the beginning of the year. This requirement can also be accomplished as a group of no more than three House members. Each House member is required to attend/participate in at least three house projects per semester.

(d) Each House member will be expected to lead a “Casa talk.” These “Casa talks” will occur during Café con Leches or on their own as needed. A Casa talk aims to bring together the Casa community in order to discuss various aspects of Latinx identity. These talks can range from serious issues to celebrations of culture, pertaining to the Amherst community and beyond. Leading a conversation would entail: preparing the topic of discussion, facilitating discussion, and doing any necessary research.Casa talks may be lead by individuals and/or groups.

(e) Required to attend all House meetings (unless advanced and acceptable reason is provided).

(f) Fostering a sense of community within the house and affirming the house as a safe space for the Latinx community.

(g) Respect for other House members (i.e. Peaceful resolution of conflicts, respect for the opinions of others, noise control, etc.).

(h) Respect for the house (i.e. Cleanliness, presentation, property).

 

Selection Process:

 

All students who can demonstrate a strong interest in the ideals and practices of this theme house are encouraged to apply. The application process entails:

 

Completing an application.

An interview, if necessary.

 

La Casa residents involved in the admissions process (the Executive Board) should keep the following considerations in mind when assessing prospective candidates (these questions are intended as guidelines and not limitations for the selection of residents):

 

What is the applicant’s understanding of the goals of the House? (History of the House, importance of the House in the Amherst College and local communities, etc.).

How has the candidate demonstrated an interest in Latinx cultures?

What contributions can the applicant offer the House?

 

Evaluation of House Members:

 

The evaluation process is aimed at ensuring that all House members uphold their responsibilities and maintain the goals of the House. Evaluations are to be held toward the middle of the first semester and the middle of the second semester. This process will be discussed in more detail during the first house meeting. House members who have failed to fulfill La Casa’s requirements will be issued a written warning from the (Co-)President(s), Faculty advisor, and the Dean of Housing. The member will also be asked to reassess their commitment to the House within a stated period of time. Members who do not actively attempt to remedy this failure after the stated period of time (as determined by a second “follow-up” evaluation) will be asked to leave. In order to ensure the objectivity of the evaluation process, evaluations should be handled by the Executive Board. The evaluation process is agreed upon by the Board mentioned above. The evaluation process may include individually written self-evaluations and interviews, if necessary. All House members are reminded that their contributions in maintaining the goals of the House will be reviewed by the college yearly.

 

Selection of Rooms:

 

Selection of rooms should take place one week after the acceptance list is completed. Members will select rooms according to two criteria: class seniority and prior experience living in the House. Selection is made first by members of the E-board. Then to those who have both class seniority and prior experience living in the House. Thus, seniors, juniors and sophomores that currently live in the House will choose rooms first. However, those with more living experience in the House will choose before those that have less living experience. This is to be followed by incoming seniors, juniors and sophomores that have not had prior living experience in the House. All members that have equal standing (same class and house seniority) will choose based on a lottery system.

 

Amendments to the Constitution:

 

This constitution can be amended as necessary. Any member may propose to amend this constitution. The proposal must be debated. Upon the completion of the debate, any member can make a motion to vote on the proposal, with any modifications. The motion must be seconded and passed with a majority vote in order to be added to the constitution.

 

Ratification:

 

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on February 7th, 1997 by the members of La Casa of 1996-1997.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on May 6th, 1998 by the members of La Casa of 1997-1998.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on January 30th, 2015 by the members of La Casa of 2014-2015.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on October 4th, 2015 by the members of La Casa of 2015-2016.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on February 28, 2016 by the members of La Casa of 2015-2016.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on September 18th, 2016 by the members of La Casa of 2016-2017.

This constitution has been amended by a consensus on December 10th, 2016 by the members of La Casa of 2016-2017.