The Constitution of the Graduate Students' Association for Neuroscience (GSAN)

Integrated Program in Neuroscience

Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

October 2013


Preamble

This constitution stipulates the structure, rules, regulations and procedures directing the operations of the organization of the Graduate Student Association of Neuroscience at McGill University. The goal of this constitution is to preserve:
  1. the means for democratic control of this organization by its membership;
  2. transparency for its financing and operations; and
  3. the accountability of the organization's representatives to its Members.

  4. Article I - Name

    1. The name of the organization shall be "The Graduate Student Association of Neuroscience" hereinafter referred to as "GSAN".
    2. For the purpose of this document, internally, GSAN shall be interchangeably referred to as the "Association".
    3. For the purpose of external qualification and recognition, the name of the organization shall be spelled out in full, in each document where it first appears, at least once, and thereinafter it may be abbreviated as "GSAN".
    4. For the purpose of this document, the "GPNS" refers to the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, "the IPN" refers to the Integrated Program in Neuroscience, the "University" refers to McGill University, the "Faculty" refers to the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, the "Department" refers to the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, and the "PGSS" refers to the Post Graduate Students' Society.

    Article II - Purpose

    1. The purpose of the Association shall be:
      1. To serve as the official organization representing the Membership; graduate students enrolled in the GPNS/IPN.
      2. To develop graduate student participation in the Department and to promote the interests and welfare of its members.
      3. To provide a platform for social and educational interactions between students across all research institutes encompassed by the GPNS/IPN.
      4. To improve involvement between GSAN and the larger graduate community represented by the PGSS with regards to social and educational activities.

    Article III - The Membership

    1. The Membership of the Association shall be composed of all graduate students and postdoctoral scholars registered in the GPNS/IPN.
    2. Aside from the stipulation above, the Association shall not discriminate against any individual, in any way that is deemed either unlawful, or inappropriate:
      1. according to the PGSS Constitution; or,
      2. according to the McGill University ethics guidelines; or, iii. according to the municipal, provincial, or federal law.

    Article IV - The Executive

    1. There shall be five executive officers of the Association, hereafter referred to as the "Executive", they are:
      1. President
      2. Vice President Academic
      3. Vice President Social
      4. Vice President External
      5. Vice President Finance and Operations
    2. The Executive shall be elected annually as per the election guidelines set out in this Constitution.
    3. The Executive shall hold office from June 1st of each year until the following May 31st, inclusive.
    4. The Executive shall be jointly charged with the responsibility of:
      1. ensuring prudent fiscal management of the Association's funds;
      2. producing Committee Meeting and General Assembly agendas;
      3. producing and maintaining guides detailing procedures of individual executive functions; and
      4. providing all documents generated by their respective offices to the president;
      These responsibilities shall hereafter be referred to as the "joint responsibilities of the Executive".

    President

    1. Further to the joint responsibilities of the Executive, the President shall:
      1. be the official representative of the Association;
      2. be familiar with the content of the University's Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and in particular the Charter of Students' Rights with respect to defending the rights of the Association;
      3. be one of the two required signing officers or assign a delegate where appropriate;
      4. receive and compile meeting agendas including:
        1. reports from all other executives and committees; and
        2. previous meeting records and agenda items as approved by the Executive;
      5. conduct all of the Association's elections according to the procedures and regulations specified in this Constitution;
      6. chair Committee Meetings; and
      7. maintain and organize up to date electronic (where appropriate) and paper (where appropriate) records of all of the Association's documents including:
        1. the Association's Constitution;
        2. financial records as provided by the VP Finance and Operations;
        3. meeting records (agendas, minutes, etc.);
        4. documentation arising from the activities of the Executive;
        5. template and filled forms (e.g. Nomination Forms); and
        6. the Association's operations manuals.

    Vice President Academic

    1. Further to the joint responsibilities of the Executive, the VP Academic shall:
      1. plan and execute academic events including at least:
        1. two invited speakers or workshops;
      2. be responsible for any academic related events or activities hosted or held by GSAN;
      3. coordinate communication and establish links with internal and external institutes pertaining to Neuroscience research;
      4. ensure all events are advertised to the Membership including at least: a. email notification (at least a week before, and the day prior); and b. physical advertisement (such as posters);
      5. ensure advertisements are removed within one week following the end of the event.

    Vice President Social

    1. Further to the joint responsibilities of the Executive, the VP Social shall:
      1. plan and execute social events including at least:
        1. one orientation event;
        2. one holiday party;
        3. one end of the year party;
      2. ensure that social events follow all applicable rules and laws;
      3. ensure all events are advertised to the Membership including at least: a. email notification (at least a week before, and the day prior); and b. physical advertisement (such as posters);
      4. ensure advertisements are removed within one week following the end of the event.

    Vice President External

    1. Further to the joint responsibilities of the Executive, the VP External shall:
      1. be responsible for all official correspondence with all external entities;
      2. act as a liaison between the Committee and external bodies;
      3. compile and maintain a list of companies, institutes, and organizations that have been or will be affiliated with GSAN;
      4. produce records of all procedures and documents required for establishing and maintaining such external relationships; and
      5. oversee the regular production and distribution of a newsletter to all GSAN members.

    Vice President Finance and Operations

    1. Further to the joint responsibilities of the Executive, the VP Finance and Operations shall:
      1. be one of two required signing officers;
      2. be responsible for ensuring all financial transactions adhere to the approved Association budget;
      3. maintain official financial records for auditing purposes including: a. keeping all receipts and cheque stubs for at least five years b. keeping the Association's budget for at least five years; and c. destroying all financial records older than five years;
      4. be responsible for preparing the Association's yearly budget and final annual financial statement, as well as making these documents available on the GSAN web site for the three years following their preparation;
      5. solicit funds for the Association;
      6. maintain and transmit the records and documentation of the Association's activities required by the PGSS to the appropriate PGSS representative within the deadlines stipulated by the PGSS for a Graduate Student Association (GSA); and
      7. verify adherence by the Association to all required regulations concerning the activities of a GSA as specified by the PGSS.

    Article V - Officers of the Committee

    Officer positions that will be filled based on need and interest include, but are not limited to:
    1. Website Coordinator
    2. Recreational/Sports Coordinator(s)
    3. Advertising/Fundraising Officer(s)
    4. Social Officer(s)
    5. International Student Officer
    6. Public Relations Officer
    7. Environmental Officer
    8. Academic Officer
    1. Website Coordinator shall be responsible for:
      1. maintaining an accurate and current website that shall include information important for the membership; said information shall include, but is not be limited to, contact information for all council members and the advertisement of GSAN events.
    2. Sports Coordinator(s) shall be responsible for:
      1. organizing GSAN participation in such sporting, athletic, or recreational activities as the membership sees fit;
      2. providing information on recreational athletics and help to find spots on teams for interested students by providing summaries or links on the GSAN website and answering athletics related emails.
    3. Advertising/Fundraising Officer(s) shall be responsible for:
      1. planning and executing events or activities that will promote GSAN and/or help raise money for the benefit of the committee.
    4. Social Officer(s) shall be responsible for:
      1. assisting the VP Social in planning and organizing events;
      2. hosting and overseeing GSAN social events.
    5. International Student Officer shall be responsible for:
      1. assisting international students in getting acquainted with the system at McGill and the department;
      2. acting as liaison between international students and the department, as well as the rest of the student body;
      3. voicing students' concerns and problems;
      4. helping students integrate into the city's lifestyle, culture, and winter;
      5. organizing appropriate events for student integration.
    6. Public Relations Officer shall be responsible for:
      1. Acting as liaison between GSAN and the public by providing two-way communication and fostering mutually beneficial relationships between the Association and the public;
      2. Providing appropriate exposure of the Association to the public, including speaking at conferences and working with the press;
      3. Promoting GSAN events to the public where appropriate.
    7. Environmental Officer shall be responsible for:
      1. Implementing a lab waste reduction program, if one does not exist;
      2. Maintaining the lab waste reduction program;
      3. Informing the membership of the aforementioned program and of ways to minimize laboratory-induced harm to the environment.
    8. Academic Officer shall be responsible for:
      1. Assisting the VP Academic in planning and organizing academic-related events and activities;
      2. Hosting and overseeing GSAN academic events and activities.

    Article VI - Institute Representation

    1. The following research institutes are recognized by the Association as part of the Neuroscience program, and as such are entitled to representation on the Committee:
      1. Center for Research in Neuroscience, Montreal General Hospital;
      2. Douglas Hospital and Research Centre;
      3. Duff Medical Building;
      4. Bellini Building;
      5. Jewish General Hospital;
      6. Lady Davis Institute;
      7. McIntyre Medical Building;
      8. Montreal Children's Hospital;
      9. Montreal Neurological Institute;
      10. Psychiatry Research and Training Building;
      11. Royal Victoria Hospital;
      12. Stewart Biology Building;
      13. Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry.
    2. Each recognized research Institute may have one representative on the Committee from amongst its members, hereafter referred to interchangeably as "Institute Representative" or "IR", with the exception of MNI and Douglas Hospital representatives that could be represented by two individuals each.
    3. In addition to representing the members of their respective Research Institutes at Committee Meetings, IRs shall be responsible for:
      1. relaying the Association's business to their constituents in a timely fashion; ii. encouraging and soliciting the participation of their constituents in the Association's events and activities, and particularly General Assemblies, votes, and elections; and
      2. relaying the concerns of their constituents with regards to their experiences with their Research Institute, the Department, and the University.
    4. The term for an IR is October 1st to the following September 31st inclusive.

    Article VII - The Committee

    1. The committee of GSAN, hereafter referred to as the "Committee", shall be the working body of the Association between General Assemblies.
    2. The role of the Committee shall be to:
      1. bring forth, discuss, and develop resolutions to issues of concern to the Association or its Members;
      2. promote the improvement of the Association's activities and structure; and
      3. direct the Executive in implementing the decisions of the Committee.
    3. The Committee shall be comprised of:
      1. the Executive
      2. the Officers
      3. the representatives of the Association to the PGSS Council; and
      4. Institute Representatives.
    4. The Executive may serve as IRs or members of the PGSS council.
    5. Regular Committee Meetings shall take place at least once per month.
    6. The agenda of Committee Meetings shall include at least the following items:
      1. recording of attendance;
      2. approval of the agenda, submitted at least one week before the council meeting;
      3. business of the Association including;
        1. items brought by the Executive;
        2. items brought by IRs, PGSS councillors or officers; and
        3. items brought by Members of the Association.
    7. Quorum for a Committee Meeting shall be one third (1/3) of voting members of the Committee, including three fifths (3/5) of the Executive.
    8. Committee Meetings are open to the entire Membership.

    Article VIII - Membership Representation

    1. GSAN shall be the only official representation of its Membership to all entities internal or external to the University.
    2. GSAN shall be the only body able to elect (or nominate where appropriate) any of its Membership as representatives of said Membership to any entity internal or external to the University.
    3. The Membership, at a General Assembly, may appoint an Acting Equivalent to the Executive or as an External Representative of the Association with the mandate, in order of priority:
      1. as stipulated by the General Assembly at the time of appointment;
      2. filling the position by the mechanisms stipulated in this Constitution; and
      3. satisfying the minimum requirements of the position.
    4. The term of an Acting Equivalent shall end no later than the end of the term for the position to which an Acting Equivalent has been appointed.
    5. All representatives of the Association, elected or otherwise, are liable, both legally and financially, for their actions on behalf of the Association.
    6. The Committee may elect new officers and external representatives other than those already specified in this Constitution, as required.
    7. The Officers and IRs will be elected by the Membership at a General Assembly, following submission of a nomination form.

    Article IX - Finances and Membership Fees

    1. The fiscal term for the Association shall begin on June 1st, and end on the May 31st of the following year, inclusively.
    2. The Association shall operate a bank account with two signing officers. All receivables must be deposited to this account.
    3. The Association's final annual financial statement must be produced after the end of the fiscal year for which the statement reports.
    4. If the Association requests a membership fee to be levied through the PGSS then:
      1. the fee must be approved by a simple majority vote at a General Assembly. The results of this approval must be forwarded to the PGSS VP Finance by March 1st, at the latest;
      2. approval of the fee shall be renewed at least once every three (3) years even if an increase is not sought;
      3. the list of the Executive for the coming year shall be forwarded to the PGSS VP Finance no later than March 1st;
      4. the approved budget and final annual financial statement of the previous year shall be forwarded to the PGSS VP Finance no later than September 1st; v. the fiscal term for the Association must begin on June 1st, and end on the May 31st immediately following, inclusively; and
      5. the Association will adhere to any other stipulations of the PGSS Constitution.

    Article X - Nominations, Elections, and Impeachment

    1. Notice of open positions shall be given at least one week in advance of nomination submission deadline.
    2. Nomination submission deadlines shall be at least one week before the General Assembly in which candidates are to be elected or declared.
    3. The election will be run by the chair of the General Assembly and one other member of the Committee, both of whom must not be nominated for any of the positions being elected.
    4. Duly completed Nomination Forms are to be submitted to the Association's President (or Acting Equivalent), which includes, at least:
      1. Nominee's name
      2. Nominated position;
      3. Nominee's contact information;
      4. Expected date of graduation;
      5. Nominee's acknowledgment of understanding all of the regulations, terms, conditions and responsibilities of the nominated position; and vi. Nominators names, signatures and date of signature.
    5. Each nominee for an open position must:
      1. be a current Member of the Association;
      2. be qualified to undertake the responsibilities of the position; and
      3. plan to serve a full term in the position as specified for the position sought.
    6. Candidates for elections shall:
      1. be given an opportunity to give a two minute campaign speech; and ii. be subject to an open question period with a duration subject to the discretion of the chair.
    7. Vacancies during the course of the year shall be filled through by-elections following an announcement and nomination form submission to the committee.
    8. Any person holding a position within the Association may be removed from that position due to non-performance of duties, or abuse of office, by the following procedures:
      1. by a motion of the Committee passed by a two thirds (2/3) majority vote of the members present; or
      2. by a motion of a General Assembly passed by a two thirds majority vote.
    9. Regular Executive elections:
      1. a candidate may seek nomination for only one open Executive position;
      2. the candidate for President must have previously or currently held a position on the Committee;
      3. Candidacy for an Executive position shall be established by the completion of a Nomination Form signed by at least 10 Members and submitted to the President;
      4. Elections shall be held once per year prior to June 1st, for the term starting June 1st and ending May 31st of the following year;
      5. Executives are elected at a General Assembly prior to June 1st; and
      6. Executives shall be elected by receiving a plurality of votes from GSAN members present at the General Assembly, not including the chair of the General Assembly and secretary, who will both remain non-voting. Votes will be counted independently and verified by both the chair and secretary, with voting intentions indicated through raising hands or completing a written ballot. Only in the event of a tie, will the chair will cast a (deciding) vote.
    10. Regular PGSS Councillor and Officer elections:
      1. A candidate may seek nomination for only one open PGSS Councillor or Officer position;
      2. Candidacy shall be established by the completion of a Nomination Form signed by at least 3 nominators and submitted to the President;
      3. PGSS councillors and Officers shall be elected at a General Assembly in the last week of September;
      4. The term for a PGSS Councillor or Officer is October 1st to September 31st of the following year;
      5. If seats are left vacant, positions may be appointed by the Executive; and vi. Officers and PGSS councillors shall be elected by receiving a plurality of votes from GSAN members present at the General Assembly, not including the chair of the General Assembly and secretary, who will both remain non- voting. Votes will be counted independently and verified by both the chair and secretary, with voting intentions indicated through raising hands or completing a written ballot. Only in the event of a tie, will the chair will cast a (deciding) vote.
    11. Regular Institute Representative elections:
      1. A candidate may seek nomination for only one open IR position;
      2. An IR is elected by:
        1. the most popular nominee by members of its research institute, or
        2. submission of a duly completed Nomination Form signed by at least three members of their respective institution or,
        3. by a majority vote at a General Assembly;
      3. IRs are elected/ratified at a General Assembly in the last week of September; and
      4. The term for an IR is October 1st to the September 31st of the following year.

    Article XI - General Assemblies

    1. All of the individual members of the Association present at a General Assembly, hereafter referred to as the "Assembly", have voice and vote at a General Assembly.
    2. There shall be at least two General Assemblies (GA) as required for the election of the Executive (prior to March 1st) and election of IRs, PGSS Councillors and Officers (last week of September recommended).
    3. Notice of a General Assembly shall be given by posting announcements on departmental notice boards and by email at least one week before the Assembly.
    4. Quorum for the General Assembly shall be 5% of the Membership of the Association.
    5. General Assemblies are open to the entire Membership.
    6. The agenda of a General Assembly will include but is not limited to:
      1. selection and appointment of the chair and secretary of the General
      Assembly;
      1. recording of attendance;
      2. approval of the agenda;
      3. recording of the minutes by the secretary.
    7. A General Assembly may be called by any Member of the Association by bringing forth a petition of at least 10 Members' signatures to the President.

    Article XII - Constitution

    1. Amendments to this Constitution may only be made at a General Assembly.
    2. All amendments shall be ratified by a minimum of a two thirds (2/3) majority vote at a General Assembly.
    3. Proposed amendments to this Constitution may be considered if raised as a motion passed at a Committee Meeting at least two weeks before the General Assembly at which the amendment is to be considered.
    4. Proposed amendments shall be included as items in the agenda of the General Assembly.
    5. Any changes of the organization's Constitution shall be forwarded to the PGSS within one month of their implementation.
    6. The dates of any amendments to the Constitution shall be recorded in the Constitution.
    7. Any responsibility stipulated in this Constitution may be delegated by the person responsible only upon acceptance by the person to whom responsibility is to be delegated. However, the delegator is still accountable for the delegated responsibility.