Guest Tom R.

attendance & automatic expulsion

8 posts in this topic

My college's student government has in its bylaws an attendance policy for its members, with the penalty of automatic expulsion for being absent too often.  I think it may contradict our constitution's minimum vote threshold for expelling a member, though.  Can someone look at this language and tell me whether our attendance policy violates our constitution?  (We have adopted Robert's Rules of Order as our parliamentary authority for meetings.)

Our constitution says that the Federation can "[d]iscipline and/or remove officers or representatives with justified cause. This shall require a 2/3 vote of the Student Federation representatives and the consent of the President..."  Elsewhere it says, "The Federation shall be empowered to enact its own bylaws, which must be coded and added accordingly as official governing authority of the Federation...."

Our bylaws say, "After two unexcused absences or a combination of four excused and unexcused absences in the year, a member shall be removed from the Federation. A member may be reinstated by a two-thirds vote."  The types of absences are defined, but that's not important here.

In my opinion, the attendance policy is unconstitutional because a mere one-third of the members can successfully vote to have someone expelled (after the specified number of absences).  On the other hand, the bylaws have been created ahead of time, and a deliberative body can create its own rules for its members.  Is it legal here to have an automatically enforced attendance policy?

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2 hours ago, Guest Tom R. said:

In my opinion, the attendance policy is unconstitutional because a mere one-third of the members can successfully vote to have someone expelled (after the specified number of absences).  On the other hand, the bylaws have been created ahead of time, and a deliberative body can create its own rules for its members.  Is it legal here to have an automatically enforced attendance policy?

It is correct that it is ultimately up to the organization to interpret its own rules, but if what has been posted here is the full extent of what those rules say on this subject, then I think It is quite clear that the automatic removal policy conflicts with the constitution, and is therefore null and void. If the organization wishes to have such a policy, it will need to amend the constitution.

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The quoted provision of the constitution refers to removal of officers and representatives, whereas the quoted provision of the bylaws refers to removal and reinstatement of members. 

Maybe this is relevant, and maybe it isn't.  :)

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The quoted provision of the constitution refers to removal of officers and representatives, whereas the quoted provision of the bylaws refers to removal and reinstatement of members. 

Maybe this is relevant, and maybe it isn't.  :)

This seems to raise the question - one which clearly must be answered by the organization - whether there are other 'members' of the student government in addition to officers and representatives.

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Thank you everyone for your input.  This is all very helpful.  To address some unclear issues:

6 hours ago, Bruce Lages said:

This seems to raise the question - one which clearly must be answered by the organization - whether there are other 'members' of the student government in addition to officers and representatives.

It is very clear in our constitution that the Student Federation consists of representatives and 4 officers, so "member" refers to any of them (except the president, since our constitution prohibits him from voting except to break a tie).  There are no other members in addition to this.

8 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

By the way, apparently the President will have to consent to his own removal from office in order for it to be effective.

Right after the constitution's provisions on removing members, there is also a mechanism for removing the president (consent of both the VP and treasurer), but I didn't include that in the quote because it wasn't really relevant to this issue.

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