Graduate Student Council

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Constitution of the Graduate Student Council

Article I. Purpose

The Graduate Student Council of Vanderbilt University is a representative body consisting of one representative from each graduate department of the University. Its purpose is to coordinate academic, social, and other activities significant to the graduate community and to serve as a means by which graduate students’ opinions may be ascertained and communicated to the University administration and other groups or individuals. This body, or committees thereof, serves as a source of mediation between graduate students, University administration, and faculty and is available to members of the administration and faculty for consultation regarding matters that concern the Graduate School and the graduate student body. The Council may, in its own name, express opinions, take policy positions, and pass resolutions on matters of public and University concern.

The Graduate Student Council encourages all graduate students to attend and participate in GSC meetings and will make every attempt to publicize meetings so that all graduate students are aware of and provided the opportunity to attend Council meetings.

Article II. Membership

Section 1. All graduate students at Vanderbilt University are non-voting members of the Graduate Student Council. Voting Members of the Council will be elected by the graduate students of each department or program recognized by the Graduate School. Prior to the beginning of each fall semester, the President of the Council will send a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies of each graduate department asking that an election be held by the students of that department. These elections are to be held within the first two weeks of the fall semester. If the students from a department or program are not interested in holding an election, then the DGS is to appoint a student who is interested and involved in graduate concerns.

Section 2. The elected representatives will remain in office for one year, except that:

  1. A representative may resign by submitting a letter of resignation to the Council;
  2. A representative may be replaced through the submission to the Council of a petition signed by the majority of the students of the department he or she represents;
  3. If a representative becomes conspicuous by absence from meetings and other activities of the Council, the President will, upon majority recommendation of the Council, request that the members of that department elect a new representative;
  4. Representatives may succeed themselves.

Section 3. If the term of a representative lapses, and the department fails to elect another representative, the Dean of the Graduate School will be asked to request that the Chair of that department call a meeting of the graduate students in the department for the purpose of filling the vacancy by electing a new representative.

Section 4. In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 [1], The GSC does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the GSC does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation [2], gender identity[3], or gender expression [4] consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.

  1. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination in health coverage and in employment based on genetic information.
  2. Sexual orientation refers to a person’s self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or uncertain.
  3. Gender identity is generally defined as a person’s own sense of identification as male, female, both, or neither as distinguished from actual biological sex, i.e. it is one’s psychological sense of self.
  4. Gender expression is everything we do that communicates our sense of identification to others.

Article III. Officers

Section 1. The elective officers of the Council will consist of a President of the Graduate Student Body, a Vice President of Academic Affairs, a Vice President of Community Affairs, two Vice Presidents of Social Affairs, a Secretary, a Treasurer, President of the Graduate Honor Council, and a Webmaster. The Council will elect these officers from any Graduate School student from the designated graduate programs with representation on the GSC who is nominated by a member of the GSC.

Section 2. The President will be the executive officer of the Council and will call and preside at meetings.

Section 3. The Vice President of Academic Affairs will preside at meetings and otherwise act as President in the absence of the President. When not actively serving as the President’s alternate, the Vice President of Academic Affairs will perform such duties as are delegated to him or her by the President and will actively seek ways in which to be involved in the university in a manner that will serve the academic interests of the graduate student body. In particular, the Vice President of Academic Affairs will coordinate the annual Graduate Student Research Day, serve as the chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Graduate Student Council, and serve on the Advisory Board for the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (CFT).

Section 4. The Vice President of Community Affairs will be responsible for developing, planning, implementing, and budgeting of all Graduate Student Council sponsored community service and legislative activities. The Vice President of Community Affairs will also serve as the primary contact between the Graduate Student Council and the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) and will be responsible for disseminating information from the NAPGS to graduate students as well as attending NAGPS regional and/or national meetings if the GSC elects to send a delegate. The Vice President of Community Affairs will perform such duties as are delegated to him or her by the President and will actively seek ways in which to be involved in the community in a manner that will serve the philanthropic and legislative interests of the graduate student body. In particular, the Vice President of Community Affairs will serve as chair of the Community Outreach Committee of the Graduate Student Council and serve on the Vanderbilt University Traffic and Parking committee.

Section 5. The two Vice Presidents of Social Affairs will be responsible for developing, planning, implementing, and budgeting the fall and spring Graduate Student Council parties as well as all other Graduate Student Council sponsored social activities. Each Vice President of Social Affairs will perform such duties as are delegated to him or her by the President and will actively seek ways in which to be involved in the university in a manner that will serve the social interests of the graduate student body. In particular, each Vice President of Social Affairs will serve as a co-chair of the Social Committee of the Graduate Student Council.

Section 6.The Treasurer will be responsible for planning the budget, paying all charges, collecting all receipts, maintaining a balanced account, and presenting financial information to the Council at least once every semester. The Treasurer will perform such duties as are delegated to him or her by the President. In particular, the Treasurer shall serve as the official liaison between the Graduate Student Council and the Student Finance Committee of Vanderbilt University (also known as the Activity Fee Committee).

Section 7. The Secretary will be responsible for keeping the minutes of all meetings (Graduate Student Council and Executive Committee meetings) and for disseminating copies of the minutes and notices to representatives. The Secretary will be responsible for making all room reservations and will perform such duties as are delegated to him or her by the President. The Secretary will also serve as the Editor of the Graduate Student Council and will be in charge of creating, updating, and distributing publications, including the Graduate Student Survival Guide, to all graduate students according to Council direction. If necessary, the Secretary may appoint an Assistant Editor to aid in the production and distribution of any and all publications with approval of the Graduate Student Council.

Section 8. The President of the Graduate Honor Council will ensure that all students and faculty members under the jurisdiction of the Graduate Honor Council are informed of its function and their responsibilities under the Honor Code. He or she will conduct all business of the Graduate Honor Council in accordance with the Rules Governing the Graduate Honor Council.

Section 9. The Webmaster will be responsible for correcting, maintaining, and updating the Graduate Student Council’s Internet site (http://studentorgs.vanderbilt.edu/gsc/) as well as developing appropriate tools for use with the website as needed and requested by the President of the Graduate Student Council.

Section 10. Any officer may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the Council members at a meeting which follows the presentation of a petition signed by a majority of the voting membership of the Council, provided that the meeting will not take place within two weeks of the presentation of the petition.

Article IV. Ex-Officio Members

Section 1.

  1. Any graduate student may become a member-at-large by petition and with the approval of a majority of the members at a regular Council meeting. These memberships must be renewed each year.
  2. Any graduate program not belonging to a department recognized by the Graduate School or any program within a recognized department that does not consider itself adequately represented by the department representative may become a special constituency by petition and with the approval of a majority of the members at a regular Council meeting. This status must be renewed each year. The graduate students of a special constituency may elect a representative.
  3. Members-at-large and representatives for special constituencies will have all the privileges and responsibilities of elected department representatives. They may attend all Council meetings, serve on Council committees, and will have the right to vote at Council meetings.

Section 2. The Dean of the Graduate School or a designate will be asked to serve as an ex-officio member of the Council and can serve on Council committees but will not have the right to vote. The Dean or the designate can attend meetings upon request at the discretion of the GSC President.

Section 3. Other persons, such as invited speakers, faculty, and administrators, may attend meetings with the approval of the Council.

Article V. Amendments and By-laws

Section 1. This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the Council at a meeting, which will follow the presentation of a petition containing the proposed amendment by at least two members of the Council.

Section 2. By-laws may be approved by a majority vote of the Council at any meeting.

Article VI. Ratification

If the present Council members have been elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Council will be considered duly constituted, and this Constitution will go into effect upon ratification by two-thirds vote of the Graduate Council.

Adopted March 5, 1963

Amended Spring 1965; Amended Spring 1967; Amended Spring 1970; Amended Fall 1987; Amended Spring 1989; Amended Spring 1990; Amended Fall 1998; Amended Spring 2003; Amended Fall 2004; Amended Spring 2007; Amended Fall 2011; Amended Spring 2014.

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