Writing a Constitution
The constitution is the most important organisational document and an essential beginning for any (Jewish Student) Organisation. A constitution gives an organisation and it’s members purposes, direction, and guidance.
The document is not intended to be static; rather it should be reviewed periodically so that it fits the need of the contemporary student group.
The language should be clear and concise, leaving little to interpretation. Why?
How do you get started?
Go through each of the following questions with care. Although it may take time, the result will be the definite beginnings of a constitution!
1. Writing a purpose or mission
2. Membership: Restrictions and Regulations
3. Governance and Officers
4. Operations and Elections of Officers
Who oversees the election? Is it an advisor or a student? In some groups an outgoing President who is not running for re-election runs the election, but in that case there must be a chain of command in case the President is running for re-election or for another office.
How is a candidate nominated? Are nominations taken vocally at a meeting or submitted in writing? Are self-nominations acceptable? Does someone else need to ‘second’ the nomination? Are the nomination and voting process completed at the same meeting or is there time in between to campaign? Do candidates need to submit a manifesto or similar document outlining their candidacy? How long before the elections do candidates have to submit nominations?
Does there need to be a quorum of members to vote? Do the candidates leave the room during the vote? Does the advisor or director or person running the elections vote? How is the vote taken: by secret ballot, or hands raised? What voting system is used? Who counts the votes? If there are more than 2 candidates, do you cast more than one ballot removing the candidate who receives the least vote each time until there is a majority cast for one person? Is the majority of votes cast an acceptable victory, or does it need to be a majority of those present or a majority of the membership?
How long after the election does the victor take office? Is there a transition period during which both the old and new office holder are in office simultaneously?
5. Amending your Constitution: Suggestions and Caveats