Residential Life

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 Latino cultures. Inherent in this promotion and expression is an understanding that the history of Latinos 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 are 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 both on and off campus. Individuals are responsible for fulling the community service requirement. The House must also do at least one community service outreach project per semester as a group. Community service is seen as an integral part of the goals of the house.

House Policy Concerning Alcohol:

In the interest of maintaining the tradition of a dry house, all common spaces (Bathrooms, Halls, Basement, TV Room, and 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 should be those where a house member (or resident of Moore) assumes full responsibility for the event, and should refer to school policy regarding alcohol use. As a general rule, the all campus events will be dry, but if the organizers of the event believe an exception to be in order, they may petition the house, and the house residents and La Casa members will decide together by a majority vote. Because publicized Five-College events, specifically dances, bring in large crowds of people, they will remain dry.

Organizational Aspects Of La Casa:

I. Faculty Advisor
II. Chair
III. Treasurer
IV. Secretary

With the exception of the Faculty Advisor, these position 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.

Election Procedure:

The election process of the above mentioned positions (Chair, Treasurer and Secretary) will go as follows:
The election is administered by the current Chair with the House’s best interest in mind. The election will be announced as soon as the new House members are selected A meeting of new House members must take place at least two weeks before the elections are to take place. It is at this meeting that all nominations for each positions must be made. The nomination must be seconded by another House member and accepted by the nominee. 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 Chair (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 Chair 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 his challenge to the current Chair and it is the current Chair’s duty to pass judgement 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.

Responsibilities:

Responsibilities of the Chair:

(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 facilitate community service options for individual members and 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. Reimbursements, House account balance, 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 chair in drafting the annual house report.
(c) To maintain a file on individual and group community service activities and options.
(d) To assist the House in the publicity of House events.

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 Chair 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 participate in the organization and presentation of one Café con Leche, the House’s bi-weekly event. This requirement can be done in groups of no more than three house members. The group will be responsible for the setting up and cleaning up. Also, the group is responsible for devising minor entertainment for the night.
(c) Each House member is required to complete one house event per semester which embodies the purpose of La Casa aside from the participation in Café con Leche. The organizational aspect of this requirement is to be completed by the middle of a given semester. This requirement can also be accomplished as a group of no more that three House members.
(d) Community service with Latino community in the Five-College Area (i.e. Pioneer Valley). Required community service is to be completed by the last day of classes in a given semester. Therefore, service must be fulfilled before the exam period begins.
Community service is defined as follows: service without compensation. Under this definition, work study positions at non-profit organization do not qualify. Assistance at Holyoke High School is also exempt when it is done in conjunction with a class since a student receives a grade upon completion of the course and the service. However, these situations can be accommodated only when the House member can prove that he/she is putting in additional uncompensated time. For example, an exception can be made it the House member can prove the he/she works an hour(s) without compensation.
All community service projects will be evaluated by House members at pre-determined House meetings in accordance with the above definition. At such meetings, each House member is required to give the House a presentation of his/her community service project and update the House in subsequent meetings. All House members are required to make a presentation at every meeting called for this purpose.
Each House member is required to participate in House community service activities as organized by the Chair. Most importantly, even though community service is a requirement to live in La Casa, it should be seen more as a personal outreach than fulfillment of a House requirement.

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(e) Required to attend all House meetings.
(f) Fostering a sense of community within the house and affirming the house as a safe space for the Latino 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 house (i.e. Cleanliness, presentation, property).
(I) One week of kitchen patrol

Role Of The Faculty Advisors:

(a) To provide house members with external advice and assistance, serving as a link to the Amherst College faculty and administration
(b) To receive complaints about the conduct of the Chair, and to mediate the impeachment process, if it so arises.
(c) To actively promote the purposes of La Casa, attending house meetings or events whenever possible.
(d) To act as an objective, mediating source when conflict arises within the House.

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 Moore 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 Chair of La Casa.

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.

La Casa residents involved in the admissions process (the Chair and two other residents as elected by the House) 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 Latino 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 Chair, 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 Chair and up to three other members elected by the House. The evaluation process is agreed upon by the elected committee 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 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