Constitution

Referendum on Proposed Constitution

The 2019-2020 Executive Board of GAPSA, in consultation with advisors, decided to review the GAPSA Constitution (adopted in 2009; amended in 2013). After this review and after consulting governing documents from graduate student associations from similar Research I institutions, the Executive Board concluded that the GAPSA Constitution does not represent the needs of the current Mason graduate and professional student population and does not reflect current campus and organizational structures. As a result, an updated Constitution was drafted and proposed; this updated Constitution was voted on and passed by the Executive Board on April 10, 2019. The new, proposed Constitution is now referred to the general electorate to be voted on for approval.

Changes include a definition of GAPSA membership, a restructuring of the General Assembly and Executive Board, a change in advising (reflecting an organizational change in University Life in 2014), and revisions to reflect the needs of current Mason graduate and professional students.

All Mason graduate and professional students will have the opportunity to vote on the referendum for the newly proposed Constitution during GAPSA Elections, which will be held April 23-25, 2019.

Summary of Changes:

  1. Article II
    1. Section 1 includes a definition of membership and the three bodies that comprise the association.
    2. Section 5 added.
  2. Article III
    1. Articles III and IV have been combined and simplified.
    2. Structural changes made to reflect the departmental shift into the Graduate Student Life office.
    3.  Eligibility for office changed to match university standards.
  3. Article IV
    1. Represents an updated and restructured version of old Article 5 to match the current graduate and professional student climate at Mason.
  4. Articles V-VIII
    1. Represent an updated and restructured version of old Articles VI-VIII to match the current graduate and professional student climate at Mason.
  5. Articles IX, XI, and XII have been removed
  6. Article X
    1. Represents updated and restructured version of old Article 5 to match the current graduate and professional student climate at Mason.

Proposed Constitution of Graduate and Professional Student Association

Approved by GAPSA Executive Board on April 10, 2019 
Referred to the electorate by referendum during elections April 23-25, 2019

Article I: NAME and PURPOSE of ORGANIZATION

Section 1. The name of this organization shall be Graduate and Professional Student Association and the acronym for this organization shall be GAPSA.

Section 2. Purpose

  1. The purpose of the Graduate and Professional Student Association shall be to establish a forum through which George Mason University graduate and professional students are able to address issues, advocate for the greater good, grow professionally, and socialize with one another, thus, creating a stronger graduate community that promotes personal and academic success.
  2. GAPSA shall be the principal body for advocating for the needs of George Mason University graduate and professional students within the University and government bodies (the Commonwealth of Virginia Assembly and Congress).
  3. GAPSA shall act as the Student Government for the graduate and professional student body.
  4. GAPSA recognizes that enriching graduate student life at George Mason University can improve the prestige of the University. By creating a better environment for graduate students, GMU can improve graduate student recruitment and retention. Our goal is to enrich the academic and social life for all graduate and professional students thereby enriching GMU as a whole.

Article II: Membership and Structure

Section 1. The Graduate and Professional Student Association’s membership shall be composed of three bodies: general membership, the Executive Board, and the General Assembly.

  1. General membership is open to students enrolled in graduate and/or professional degree seeking programs at George Mason University.
  2. The Executive Board shall be the governing board of the association.
  3. General Assembly shall be composed of graduate representatives from the graduate and professional programs from George Mason University regional campuses: Arlington, Fairfax, and Science and Technology.

Section 2. The Graduate and Professional Student Association’s Executive Board will be the only elected body in the organization. There will be a President, Vice Presidents (one for each regional campus), and a Director of Communications.

Section 3. The General Assembly shall be composed of one voting delegate from each graduate and/or professional program.

Section 4. The President will serve as the public face and liaison to external committees or may designate a Vice President to serve in their stead. The Vice Presidents will serve as liaisons to the Graduate Student Life office or the University Life office of their campus.

Section 5. The Graduate and Professional Student Association of George Mason University shall be held as a departmental organization of the Graduate Student Life office and advised by the Director of Graduate Student Life and/or their designee.

Article III: Executive Board

Section 1. All Officers

  1. All officers must be in good academic and conduct standing with their graduate program and with the University.
  2. All officers shall be currently enrolled in a graduate and/or professional degree seeking program(s) at George Mason University.

Section 2. President

  1. The President shall be elected by the entire electorate,  and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of GAPSA.
  2. It is highly recommended that the President be based on Fairfax Campus at least part of the time due to the volume of meetings that take place on Fairfax Campus including, but not limited to, meeting with George Mason University’s Vice President of University Life, the advisers to GAPSA, all-day Board of Visitor meetings, Grad Council meetings, search committee meetings, and University committee meetings.
  3. The President shall preside over and set the agenda for all Executive Board meetings and General Assembly meetings.
  4. The President has veto power over all resolutions passed by the General Assembly. All bills must be signed or vetoed by the President. Vetoes may be overridden by a 2/3 (66.7%) majority vote of the attending General Assembly or a 2/3 (66.7%) vote of the general membership, my means of general referendum.
  5. Voting – The President shall only cast a vote in the case of a split body.
  6. The President is responsible for meeting with the executive officers and advisers to GAPSA on a regular basis.

Section 3. Vice Presidents of Each Respective Campus

  1. The Vice President of each campus shall be elected by the entire electorate of that campus.
  2. The Vice President of Fairfax Campus shall act in official capacity on behalf of the President in the absence of the President.
  3. The Vice Presidents are responsible for meeting with the advisers to GAPSA on regular bases.
  4. Voting – The Vice Presidents shall hold voting seats General Assembly meeting.
  5. The Vice President of Fairfax Campus shall act as liaison to the Student Government and Faculty Senate.
  6. The Vice President of each campus shall hold town halls each semester to ascertain the campus climate as a means to help set the agenda for the General Assembly meetings.
  7. The Vice President of each campus shall be responsible for all communication from their respective campus.

Section 4. Director of Communications

  1. The Director of Communications (hereafter called “DC”) shall be elected by the entire electorate and shall act in official capacity on behalf of the President in the absence of the President and Vice Presidents.
  2. The DC shall be responsible for recording the minutes for all Executive Board meetings, General Assembly meetings, and all GAPSA committee meetings.
  3. The DC shall be responsible for all marketing communication.
  4. The DC shall be responsible for the Association’s regular newsletter.
  5. Voting – The DC shall hold a voting seat on the General Assembly meeting.
  6. The DC shall meet regularly with the President, Vice Presidents and GAPSA advisers.

Section 5. Adviser

  1. The Director of Graduate Student Life and their designee are the primary advisers for GAPSA at all levels. The Director of Graduate Student Life may appoint a proxy to aid in the advisement of the group.

Section 6. Leave of Absence, Removal, or Vacancy of Office

  1. When two-thirds of the qualified electors (individuals with graduate or professional standing) deem it necessary, they may provide by statute replacement of officers in the case of removal, resignation, or inability, of any executive board member, declaring what officer shall then act as President, until the disability be removed, or a new President shall be elected.
  2. An officer in the Association may be removed by referendum. This process begins when at least five percent (5%) of the electorate (students with graduate or professional student standing) have signed a petition for a referendum. The petition for a referendum will be presented to either the Director of Graduate Student Life or the Graduate Professional Assistant for Graduate Student Leadership and Advising.
  3. The Association has the ability to appoint officers to fill vacancies that occur during a term except where otherwise specified in the Constitution.

Article IV: GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENT ASSEMBLY

Section 1. Composition and Duties

  1. The General Assembly is composed of one representative from each graduate and professional degree seeking programs at George Mason University.
  2. Graduate Registered Student Organizations (GRSO) may send a representative to attend the General Assembly as an observing/non-voting member.
  3. While all General Assembly meetings shall be open to all graduate and professional students, only representatives may have a vote.

Section 2. Representatives.

  1. Prior to the first General Assembly meeting of the academic year, the Executive Board shall invite one voting representative from all graduate and professional programs at George Mason University.
  2. The Executive Board may also invite representatives from each GRSO.
  3. Each voting representative shall receive one vote on all matters that come before the assembly for a vote.
  4. In the case that a representative will be absent from an assembly meeting, the representative shall have the power to choose a member in their program to act as a proxy for that meeting.

Article V: Election

Section 1.

  1. GAPSA Elections shall take place between mid-March and the end of April and last no longer than three days.
  2. All candidates shall be currently enrolled in a graduate and/or professional degree seeking program(s) at George Mason University.
  3. Any student attending George Mason University with a graduate and/or professional student standing may make a nomination.
  4. All candidates shall complete an election packet and submit it to the Office of Graduate Student Life. Voting shall be conducted online line/digital ballot.
    1. In the event of a tie, the current officers of the Association shall immediately choose by ballot, the respective position.
  5. A mandatory transition meeting shall be held before the end of the Spring Semester.

Section 2. Term

  1. All elected offices shall have a one (1) year term, to begin July 1st and conclude June 30th.
  2. No officer can hold an office for more than two terms.
  3. Graduate students appointed to fill a vacancy during a term may only seek election once.

Article VI: MEETINGS

Section 1. Executive Board

  1. Shall meet twice per month.
  2. Half (3) of the members of the Executive Board shall constitute a quorum. The President counts toward the quorum requirement.
  3. Special meetings may be called by the President or shall be called upon the written request of two members of the Executive Board.
  4. At least five days written notice shall be given of the meeting.
  5. Robert’s Rules of Order shall be used.

Section 2. Assembly

  1. There shall be one general meeting per month for the General Assembly.
  2. A simple majority of the members of the Assembly shall constitute a quorum for voting matters.
  3. Robert’s Rules of Order should be used.

Article VII: FINANCE

Section 1. Budget

  1. All budgetary items must be submitted to the President and approved by the Executive Board members.
  2. The Association must create a budget every school year at the beginning of the Fall semester.

Article VIII: AMENDMENTS

Section 1. Four ways to amend this Constitution

  1. Amendments shall be made during general Assembly meetings and two-thirds (66.7%) of the present body agrees that the amendment is binding.
  2. Amendments shall be made when two-thirds (66.7%) of the qualified electors (individuals enrolled in a graduate and/or professional degree seeking programs at George Mason University) deem it necessary to make an amendment to the constitution, they may call a convention and make the proposed amendments.

Section 2. Whichever mechanism is used to propose an amendment, the said amendment may only be ratified by two-thirds of the qualified electorate voting through a referendum. Special elections may be called by the Association if deemed necessary to pass Amendments.

Article IX: SUFFRAGE

Section 1. Any student attending George Mason University enrolled in a graduate and/or professional degree seeking program at George Mason University shall be eligible to vote. Membership in this organization will not be restricted on the basis of race, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, or age.


Constitution of the Graduate and Professional Student Association

Drafted on: January 12, 2009

Updates Passed by Amendment #2: March 7, 2013

Article I: NAME and PURPOSE of ORGANIZATION

Section 1. The name of this organization shall be Graduate and Professional Student Association and the acronym for this organization shall be GAPSA.

Section 2. Purpose

  1. The purpose of the Graduate and Professional Student Association shall be to establish a forum through which George Mason University graduate and professional students are able to address issues, advocate for the greater good, grow professionally, and socialize with one another, thus, creating a stronger graduate community that promotes personal and academic success.
  2. GAPSA shall be the principal body for advocating for the needs of George Mason University graduate and professional students within the University and government bodies (The Commonwealth of Virginia Assembly and Congress).
  3. GAPSA shall act as the Student Government for the graduate and professional student body.
  4. GAPSA recognizes that enriching graduate student life at George Mason University can improve the prestige of the University. By creating a better environment for graduate students, GMU can improve graduate student recruitment and retention. Our goal is to enrich the academic and social life for all graduate and professional students thereby enriching GMU as a whole.

Article II: STRUCTURE

Section 1. The Graduate and Professional Student Association shall be comprised of one governing body, known as the Association, and four (4) advisory assemblies, one to represent each campus: Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun.

Section 2. The Graduate and Professional Student Association’s governing body, the Association, will be the only elected body in the organization. There will be a President, four (4) Vice-Presidents for each respective campus, and a Director of Communications as outlined in Article IV below. There is also a need for these positions to be paid in some way to be spelled out in the By-Laws.

Section 3. Each Graduate and Professional Student Assembly shall be comprised of At-Large Delegates from programs housed at that respective campus and Graduate Student Organization Liaisons from student organizations that are housed on that particular campus.

Section 4. The Vice-Presidents and Chair and Vice-Chair of the Assemblies for each campus will serve as liaisons to the Office of Graduate (University) Life on that given campus.

Article III: OFFICERS

Section 1. All officers must be in good Academic standing with their graduate program and with the University.

Section 2. When two-thirds of the qualified electors (individuals with graduate/professional standing) deem it necessary, they may provide by statute replacement of officers in the case of removal, resignation, or inability, of the President and any or all of the Vice Presidents, declaring what officer shall then act as President, until the disability be removed, or a new President shall be elected.

Section 3. Removal

  1. An officer in the Association may be removed by referendum. This process begins when at least five percent (5%) of the electorate (students with graduate student standing) have signed a petition for a referendum. The Rules and Ethics Committee will review the merits of the petition. If the Rules and Ethics Committee deems the charges in the petition valid, the petition will be submitted to the Assistant Director of Student Governance. A referendum will be held two (2) weeks after the petition is submitted to the Associate Director of Student Involvement.
  2. Provisions to remove Delegates will be provided for by the local Assembly’s By-Laws.
  3. Chairs and Vice Chairs can have their positions taken away by a vote of no-confidence by their respective Assembly. A vote of no-confidence will be constituted by a two-thirds (66.7%) majority vote. The procedures for a vote of no-confidence will be defined by the local Assemblies’ By-Laws.

Section 4. The Association has the ability to appoint officers to fill vacancies that occur during a term except where otherwise specified in the Constitution.

Article IV: GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENT ASSOCIATION

Section 1. President

  1. The President shall be elected by the entire electorate and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of GAPSA.
  2. It is highly recommended that the President be based on Fairfax Campus at least part of the time due to the volume of meetings that take place on Fairfax Campus including all-day Board of Visitor meetings, Search Committee meetings, University committee meetings and many more.
  3. The President shall preside over and set the agenda for all Association meetings.
  4.  The President has veto power over all resolutions passed by the campus Assemblies. All bills must be signed or vetoed by the President within ten (10) University work days. Any bill neither signed nor vetoed by the President will be referred to the Association as a whole for approval. Vetoes may be overridden by a 2/3 (66.7%) majority vote of the respective Assembly and 2/3 (66.7%) of the Association.
  5. The President shall nominate and appoint non-elected members of GAPSA with the consent of the Association on a majority vote.
  6. Voting – During Association meetings, may only vote in the case of a tie. The President serves as an Ex-officio member of all four (4) Graduate and Professional Student Assemblies.
  7. The President is responsible for meeting with the Vice Presidents, Director of Communications, and Associate Director of Student Involvement on a regular basis.
  8. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Section 2. Vice Presidents of Each Respective Campus

  1. The Vice President of each respective campus shall be elected by the entire electorate of that campus. The Vice-President of Fairfax Campus shall act in official capacity on behalf of the President in the absence of the President.
  2. The Vice Presidents are responsible for meeting with the Associate Director of Student Involvement and the Chair of their respective campus’s Assembly on regular bases.
  3. Voting – The Vice Presidents shall hold voting seats on the Association and serve as Ex-officio members of their respective campus’s Graduate and Professional Student Assemblies.
  4. The Vice President of Fairfax Campus shall act as liaison to the Student Government and Faculty Senate
  5. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.
  6. The Vice-Presidents of each campus shall be responsible for appointing members to their campus’s respective Assemblies in conjunction with the other Association members.
  7. The Vice-President of each campus shall serve as liaison from that campus’ assembly to the Association and as such, represent the views of that campus to the Association.
  8. The Vice-President of each campus shall be responsible for all communication from their respective Assembly to the Association.

Section 3. Director of Communications

  1.  The Director of Communications (hereafter called “DC”) shall be elected by the entire electorate and shall act in official capacity on behalf of the President in the absence of the President and Vice Presidents.
  2. The DC shall be responsible for recording the minutes for all Association meetings.
  3. The DC shall be responsible for all communication from the Association to the Assemblies.
  4. The DC shall be responsible for the Association’s regular newsletter.
  5. Voting – The DC shall hold a voting seat on the Association.
  6. The DC shall meet regularly with the President, Vice-Presidents and the Associate Director of Student Involvement.
  7. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Section 4. Advisor

  1. The Associate Director for Student Involvement is the primary Advisory for GAPSA at all levels. He or she may appoint a proxy to aid in the advisement of the group at the Assembly level.

Article V: GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENT ASSEMBLIES

Section 1. Chair

  1. The Chair shall be elected by the campus Assembly it represents and shall preside over and set the agenda for all Assembly meetings. The Chair shall oversee all aspects of the Assembly.
  2. Voting – The Chair shall vote in Assembly meetings only in the case of a tie.
  3. The Chair shall meet with the Vice Chair, Vice-President (for that respective campus), and the Director of Graduate Life on their respective campus on a regular basis.
  4. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Section 2. Vice Chair

  1. The Vice Chair shall be elected by the campus assembly it represents and shall act in official capacity in the absence of the Chair.
  2. Voting – The Vice Chair shall hold a voting seat on the respective Assembly.
  3. The Vice Chair shall be responsible for recording the minutes for all Assembly meetings for that specific campus. The Vice Chair holds the power to appoint a Clerk of Minutes if necessary.
  4. The Vice Chair shall meet with the Director of Graduate Life on their respective campus on a regular basis.
  5. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Section 3. Graduate Student Organization Liaison

  1. The Graduate Student Organization Liaison shall be appointed by the graduate student organization’s President and shall serve as a representative for the organization in which they belong.
  2. Voting – The Liaison shall hold a voting seat on the respective Assembly.
  3. The Liaison shall attend all Assembly meetings for their respective campus.
  4. The Graduate Student Organization must be recognized by Student Activities to have a Liaison.
  5. The Association will create a mechanism for determining what organizations get representation in their Assembly.
  6. The Liaison must serve on at least one Committee.
  7. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Section 4. At-Large Delegate

  1. At-Large Delegates shall be appointed by the Vice-President of their respective campus and shall serve as a general representative of graduate and professional students on their campus and also as a representative for the academic program in which they belong on their respective campus.
  2. Voting – The Delegate shall hold a voting seat on the respective Assembly.
  3. The Delegate shall attend all Assembly meetings. The Delegate must serve on at least one Committee.
  4. Other duties and responsibilities shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Article VI: ELECTIONS

Section 1.

  1. Association Elections shall take place between mid-March and the end of April and last no longer than three days. Any student attending George Mason University with a graduate and/or professional student standing may make a nomination. All nominations shall be submitted to the Associate Director of Student Involvement. Voting shall be conducted by secret ballot. In the event of a tie, the current officers of the Association shall immediately, choose by ballot, the respective position. A mandatory transition meeting shall be held before the end of the Spring Semester.
  2. At-Large Delegates must be appointed no later than the beginning of the Fall semester. The first meeting of each Assembly will take place within one (1) week after the start of the Fall Semester. The Chair and Vice-Chair must be picked no later than the second meeting of each Assembly.

Section 2. All elected offices are for a one (1) year term.

Section 3. Term Limits

  1. No graduate student may be elected to the same office more than twice
  2. Graduate students appointed to fill a vacancy during a term may only seek election once.
  3. Graduate Student Organization Liaisons shall not be term limited.

Article VII: MEETINGS

Section 1. Association

  1. There shall be one general meeting per month with the meeting place rotating between campuses (Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, and Loudoun when a campus has been built). Meetings may happen online or by phone although at least one meeting per semester should be in person.
  2. Half (3) of the members of the Executive Board shall constitute a quorum. The President does count toward the quorum requirement.
  3. Special meetings may be called by the President or shall be called upon the written request of two members of the Executive Board.
  4. At least five days written notice shall be given of the meeting.
  5. Robert’s Rules of Order should be used.

Section 2. Assembly

  1. There shall be one general meeting per month for each Assembly.
  2. A majority of the members of each Assembly shall constitute a quorum.
  3. Special meetings may be called by the Chair of each respective Assembly with the consent of the respective Vice Chair or the Vice-President.
  4. At least five days written notice shall be given of the meeting.
  5. Robert’s Rules of Order should be used.

Article VIII: FINANCE

Section 1. Budget

  1. All budgetary items must be submitted to the President and approved by the Association members.
  2. The Association must create a budget every school year at the beginning of the Fall.
  3. Any graduate student fees must be approved by Amendment.
  4. All other permanent budgetary items shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Article IX: AMENDMENTS

Section 1. Four ways to amend this Constitution

  1. Amendments shall be made during general summit meetings and two-thirds (66.7%) of the present body agrees that the amendment is binding.
  2. Amendments shall be made when two-thirds (66.7%) of the qualified electors (individuals with graduate and professional standing) deem it necessary to make an amendment to the constitution, they may call a convention and make the proposed amendments.
  3. Amendments shall be proposed in an Assembly. Upon a three-fourths (75%) majority vote in three of the four Assemblies, the Amendment will be referred to the Association for approval. If approved by a two-thirds (66.7%) vote of the Association, the Amendment will be referred to the Electorate by Referendum.
  4. Amendments can be created by a unanimous vote by the Association. The Amendment will then be referred to the electorate by referendum.

Section 2. Whichever mechanism is used to propose an amendment, the said amendment may only be ratified by two-thirds of the qualified electorate voting through a referendum. Special elections may be called by the Association if deemed necessary to pass Amendments.

Article X: SUFFRAGE

Section 1. Any student attending George Mason University with graduate and/or professional student standing shall be eligible to vote. Membership in this organization will not be restricted on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, sex or age.

Article XI: COMMITTEES

Section 1. Committees can be created by the Association or the respective campus Assemblies and must be approved by a 2/3 (66.7%) vote of the Association.

Section 2. Standing Committees shall be defined in the By-Laws.

Article XII: BY-LAWS

Section 1. The Association and the campus Assemblies shall create By-Laws as they deem necessary for the functioning of GAPSA. All By-Laws must be in accordance with this Constitution.

Section 2. Association By-Laws shall be adopted upon a two-thirds (66.7%) majority vote of members of the Association.

AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1: “Assembly Elections for delegates shall take place at any time from the beginning of the Fall Semester through the time when Associate Elections are held in late-March or April. Delegates will be expected to serve an entire year’s term, which will entail participation over the summer months.”

Amendment 1 was repealed by Amendment 2 (below) because Assembly Delegates will no longer be elected but appointed.

Amendment 2: This Referendum (#2) is put forth to all George Mason graduate and professional students to pass or reject a sweeping amendment (officially called “Amendment 2”) to change the GAPSA Constitution significantly and thoroughly.

Extra Information for Referendum #2: The changes as voted on through Amendment #2 are summarized in the (1) “Executive Summary of Proposed GAPSA Constitutional Changes” and detailed in the (2) “GAPSA Constitutional Changes Proposed by Amendment 2,” which show the current Constitutional language next to the proposed changes. Also available for viewing is the (3) GAPSA President’s original Proposal of these changes.

Procedure for passage of Amendment #2: Amendment #2 was put forth by a 2/3 vote of a GAPSA Summit meeting on February 11, 2013 as allowed under Article IX, Section 1.1.

RESULTS = 4 FOR, 0 AGAINST, 2 ABSTAIN (66.7%)

Amendment #2 was passed by a Referendum (#2) on March 7, 2013. The Amendment required a 2/3 vote for passage as outlined in Article IX, Section 2.

RESULTS = 22 FOR, 4 AGAINST (84.6%)