Constitution of La Causa

Submitted by LeShonne W. Segura

Purpose
The purpose and goals of La Causa, the official Latino student group of Amherst College, shall be…

…Encourage a support network and comfortable environment within the Amherst College community for our members and to instill a cultural unity and a cultural exchange between students of different Latino backgrounds without the exclusion of non-Latino students.

…Educate and express the wider campus population to the rich and diverse culture of Latin American and Hispanic Americans, and to the issues effecting Latin Americans and Latino Americans.

…Provide our members with a political identity, in order to help students recognize and assert their own specific cultural identity, and to work for improved conditions on campus for Latino students. La Causa strives to represent the interests of its members and the Amherst College Latino community on the campus.

The Executive Board of La Causa
Core Officers
Co-Chairs

The Co-Chairs are the leaders and spokespeople for La Causa. Their responsibilities include:

1. Accurately representing the opinions of the group to the College and to the community;

2. To coordinate and schedule all events that promote and develop the social, political, cultural, and intellectual awareness and/or needs of the group;

3. To facilitate and be present at all meetings of both the Executive Board and the general membership.

The term of each Chair is one year. One Chair should be elected near the end of fall semester, and the other near the end of spring semester. This is to ensure a continuous leadership cycle be put in place, to break up the time consuming tasks of a chair, as well as to safeguard against an irresponsible leader.

While both Chairs are equally powerful, precedence should be given to the Chair that is in the second semester of his/her present term. Each Co-Chair is responsible for reporting progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Treasurer
The Treasurer is responsible for the financial record and up keep of La Causa. This officer’s responsibilities include:

1. Administering money at the discretion of the Executive Board;

2. Submitting a budget to the necessary Student Finance Committee (SFC) subcommittees at the appropriate times;

3. Defending the budget;

4. Continuing relations with the subcommittees;

5. Managing the group’s bank account;

6. Reporting on the group’s financial situation;

7. Handling all finances thereof.

The Treasurer should report the group’s financial situation to the Executive Board.

Publicity
The Publicity officer is responsible for creating and publicizing information pertaining to La Causa’s events. The responsibilities of the Publicity officer vary, but include:

1. Create, reproduce, and distribute propaganda for all events sponsored by La Causa;

2. Being in charge of reservations and coordination of social places for events and entertainment (parties, group, dinners, study breaks, etc.)

The Publicity officer should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Secretary
The Secretary is responsible for recording relevant information at meetings and making it available to the general membership. The responsibilities of the secretary officer vary, but include:

1. Keeping the general membership informed of meetings, events, and important data, primarily through frequent mailings (via-email);

2. Keeping minutes of all Executive Board and general membership meetings and distributing this to the general membership;

3. Keep updated lists of all active and current members of La Causa including necessary information;

4. Maintaining La Causa’s files for the elected year (i.e. the necessary documents from every officer);

5. Distribute copies of the Constitution to the general membership.

The Secretary should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Five-College Representative
The Five-College Representative’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1. Working to maintain and improve relations with Five-College Latino groups;

2. To represent La Causa in any coalition or networks of college Latino groups, as well as extra-local Latino organizations that the members of La Causa determine to be beneficial for our organization, such as ECCSF;

3. Organizing our participation in events sponsored by said organizations/

The Five-College Representative should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Appointed Officers
Admissions Liaison
The Admission’s Liaison is responsible for representing Amherst College and La Causa to prospective students, with the goal in mind of increasing the number of Latino students at the College. Responsibilities include acting as coordinator of recruitment programs (such as Student of Color Weekend) and:

1. Working closely with the admissions office, advising the student of color dean and student of color interns, green deans, and provide e-mail and phone numbers of the officers and leaders of La Causa to these individuals;

2. Work with the student of color dean and interns to provide hosts to incoming students and planning events during open houses and student of color weekends;

3. Organizing such means as necessary for La Causa members to communicate with prospective students in the Fall, during recruitment, and during the Spring, when accepted students are deciding whether or not to attend Amherst;

4. Reporting all information relevant to Latino recruitment, including but not limited to, localities where Amherst recruits, admission rates on Latino, statistics on Latino students, attrition rates, and geographic distribution of accepted Latino students. Also responsible for acquiring the list of accepted Latino students and maintaining summer mailing lists and contacts between members and incoming students;

5. Provide list of members willing to contact incoming Latino students to Green Deans.

The Admissions Liaison should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Alumni Representative
The Alumni Representative is the liaison between La Causa and the alumni. Responsibilities of the Alumni Representative include:

1. Keeping and updating an Alumni Directory;

2. Creating an informative newsletter that should be sent out once a semester to the Alumni.

The Alumni Representative should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Community Service Liaison
This officer should work to organize and promote La Causa’s involvement in the community service efforts pertaining to and benefiting the Latino community, especially those in Amherst and the surrounding community. Responsibilities include:

1. Surveying and encouraging the group’s political, activist, and other volunteer interests;

2. Coordinating and participating in both long and short term projects;

3. Gathering information for the general membership and presenting it for discussion.

Although two individuals may share this position as an effort to encourage full participation and involvement, it will be given only one executive board vote.

The Community Service Liaison should report progress and activities to the Executive Board.

Cultural Policy Representative
The Cultural Policy Representative’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1. Attending the monthly Student Policy Committee (SPC) meetings to actively represent La Causa constituency and the Latino Community at Amherst College;

2. Attending SGO-affinity group meetings to increase student government and affinity group cooperation on campus;

3. Work to maintain and improve relations with other cultural groups at Amherst College.

The Cultural Policy Representative should report back to the La Causa general membership and the Executive Board on any SPC or Cross-Cultural issues of relative importance.

Responsibilities Of All Officers
Attendance:

Core Officers and Appointed Officers are required to attend all Executive Board, as well as general La Causa meetings. Inability to attend 3 Executive Board meetings per semester without prior notice can result in the officer being placed on probation or lead to recall.

Decision Making:

All decisions should be arrived at by consensus of the entire Executive Board. In the event that consensus cannot be reached, a majority vote would be needed, with at least 60% of the votes present.

Other officers may and should be created and be added to this list, as an appointed position by a majority vote. These officers could come about in order to represent a Latino group, such as Latina organization, a political advocacy groups that works on Latin American issues, or an anti-racism organization. Another reason for addition of officers could be positions for the leaders of various projects, such as a Latino Heritage Week or a drive to increase the number of Latino professors.

Many of the officers have awesome responsibilities and, therefore are encouraged to delegate their responsibilities to other and/or form a committee to spread the tasks. But the final responsibility of completion comes down to the officer.

Elections

In the interest of maintaining a continuous group of leaders, the elections for the Executive Board members will be split during the school year. At the end of the Fall semester, the calendar year Co-Chair, along with the Publicity Chair, Secretary, and Alumni Representative will be elected/appointed. At the end of the Spring semester, the school year Co-Chair, Treasurer, Five-College Representative, Admissions Liaison, and Community Outreach Liaison will be elected/appointed.

Election Procedures For Core Officers
A notice announcing the beginning of the election process of La Causa should be sent to all members, along with description of available positions and elections procedures, as detailed in the Constitution. No less than a week after that notice is sent, candidates’ statements, which should be presented on a piece of paper, are due. No one person may run for two elected positions at the same time. A peer nominating process may be conducted in the meeting held between the notice’s release and the due date for the election statements.

The Executive Board is responsible for the organization of the elections. Statements of candidates for elected and appointed positions should be available to the general membership at least 48 hours before the next general meeting of La Causa, when the elections are to be held. During the election meeting, members will have an opportunity to question candidates as well.

Balloting should be done during the meeting, in a way to safeguard against any member voting twice. During this time, any member may challenge the election, in which s/he will have to present his challenge in front of the Executive Board, who shall rule whether the election must be redone. If no challenge has been given, the votes shall be tabulated, and the winners announced.


Election Procedures For Appointed Officers
Candidates for appointed positions shall also submit statements at the same time as those candidates for elected positions. The Executive Board should call in all candidates for appointed positions in order to question them. The entire incumbent Executive Board will elect appointed officers during a special meeting.

Balloting should be done during the meeting, in a way to safeguard against any member voting twice. During this time, any member may challenge the election, in which s/he will have to present his challenge in front of the Executive Board, who shall rule whether the election must be redone. If no challenge has been give, the votes shall be tabulated, and the winners announced.


After elections have been held, and first-round appointments made, then unfilled appointed and elected positions will become second-round appointed positions, open to everyone excluding members with other positions, to go through the same process as the first-round appointments. The remaining positions will be filled by appointment at the beginning of the next semester.

Impeachment and Recalling Procedures

The Executive Board maintains the sole right to evaluate and take disciplinary action against any Executive Board member. Such power must be taken very seriously and not abused by the Executive Board. The Executive Board must consider the facts in every case presented before it and it must do so objectively, no matter the circumstances, during the duration of each phase.

Each case will be evaluated individually by the Executive Board and will be considered in the following manner:

The Impeachment Phase
Should any general or Executive Board member feel that any Executive Board member is not completing his/her duties, as stated above, they have the right to impeach this member by bringing up their grievances at an Executive Board meeting in the presence of the accused. A proper time limit should be given to the accuser for such a discussion and he/she should not be pressured due to time constraints.

The accused is then given 24 hours to respond to the charges presented by the accuser. After 24 hours a second Executive Board meeting shall be held, at which the entire Executive Board, the accuser, and the accused must all be present. A proper time limit, as determined by the Executive Board, should be given to the accused for such a discussion and he/she should not be pressured due to time constraints.

After the accused has responded to the charges, the entire Executive Board (minus the accused and accuser, if he/she is an Executive Board member) must decide by a simple majority vote whether or not to place the accused on probation. The Executive Board may also have the right to make any recommendations to assist the accused in the correction of his/her grievances if placed on probation.

The Probation Phase
Probation will last for a period of 21 days after the Executive Board’s decision. During which time, the accused must make every effort to properly complete his/her duties as an Executive Board member and address any of the Executive Board’s recommendations. Any actions during this 21-day period may be used against or in favor of the accused during the Recall Phase.

The entire Executive Board, the accuser and the accused will reconvene exactly 21 days after the Executive Board’s decision of probation, or a time within three days of that date. During this meeting, the Executive Board will reevaluate the performance of the accused over the past 21 days. New accusations may be introduced, assuming they occurred during the probation period. However, no new accusations will be accepted that are dated prior to the initial impeachment meeting and were not introduced at such meeting. A proper time limit should be given as deemed fit by the Executive Board, for such a discussion.

At the conclusion of the Executive Board’s reevaluation meeting, the entire Executive Board (minus the accused and accuser, if he/she is an Executive Board member) will decide by a simple majority vote whether or not to proceed on the Recall Phase. If the Executive Board decides to proceed on to the Recall Phase, then the general membership must be informed immediately of the impending Recall vote and general meetings to discuss the matter.

The Recall Phase
Recalling procedures will proceed for a time period of 7 days after the Executive Board’s decision to continue on to the Recall Phase. At the end of which time, the accused may be recalled because the grievances presented by the accuser are proven factually correct.

During this 7-day period, the Executive Board must hold at least but not limited to two general meetings to discuss the matter. At such meetings, the entire Executive Board must be present along with the accuser and the accused. The general membership may also be present to express their opinions on the grievances presented by the accuser. At each meeting, a proper time limit should be given as seemed fit by the Executive Board for such discussion.

The entire Executive Board will reconvene exactly 7 days after the Executive Board’s decision to continue on to the Recall Phase, or a time within three days of that date. During this meeting, the entire Executive Board (minus the accused and accuser, if he/she is an Executive Board member) will discuss the grievances presented by the accuser, the actions of the accused and response to the accuser’s grievances and may take into account the opinion of the general membership. A proper time limit should be given as deemed fit by the Executive Board, for such a discussion.

At the conclusion of such a discussion, the entire Executive Board (minus the accused and accuser, if he/she is an Executive Board member) will decide by a ¾ majority vote whether or not to recall the accused. If recalled the accused must immediately relinquish his/her position.

Changes To The Recall Decision
Only an Executive Board member with the exception of the accused and the accuser (if he/she is an Executive Board member) may make a motion to challenge the final vote once it has been made. The challenge must be brought forth immediately following the vote (i.e. at the same meeting). Any Executive Board member may challenge a vote if he/she deems it necessary. The Executive Board shall rule via a simple majority, whether the vote must be redone. Only the final vote may be challenged, a maximum of one at a time, and not any phase leading up to the Executive Board’s final vote.

Modification

This Constitution may be modified by a ¾ vote of the Executive Board. It is suggested that the Executive Board first try to reach a consensus, and also have a general vote to measure the membership opinion through a general membership poll.

Ratification

This Constitution was passed by consensus in March 1991 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1990-91 academic years.

Modified by consensus in December 1991 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1991-92 academic year.

Modified by consensus in April 1992 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1992-93 academic year.

Modified by consensus in April 1997 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1997-98 academic year.

Modified by consensus in May 1998 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1990-99 academic year.

Modified by consensus in April 1999 by the Executive Board of La Causa for the 1999-2000 academic year.