The Constitution of the Order of Gownsmen
Order of Gownsmen
The Order of Gownsmen was formed by the Reverend Doctor William Porcher Dubose, University Chaplain, in 1873. The gown tradition, however, began before any formal organization. From the beginning, it has represented a tie between the University of Oxford and the academic distinction that the University of the South itself seeks to manifest. Maintaining the gown tradition is the distinctive duty, and privilege, of the students who grace the Domain. In preserving ties to the past and in promoting the spirit, traditions, and ideals of the University and the Order, the gownsmen of The University of the South do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution of the Order of Gownsmen.
Article I. – Name
The name of this organization shall be the Order of Gownsmen.
Article II. – Purpose
Section 1. – Purpose: The purpose of this organization is:
a. To make the Order efficient and effective enough to be entrusted more and more with matters pertaining to student government, and to act in close co-operation and harmony with the authorities of the University;
b. To afford proper and regular channels for handling student problems;
c. To promote a progressive and constructive form of student government;
d. And with organized and consistent influence to uphold and express the spirit, traditions, and ideals of The University of the South.
Article III. – Membership
Section 1. – Membership: Membership into the Order of Gownsmen shall be granted to all students who have the gown conferred upon them by The University of the South.
Section 2. – Loss of Membership: The Order has the power and authority to limit the membership of a gownsman or to deprive a gownsman of his or her membership through its own policies and rulings. The University also has the power and authority to deprive membership from a student based on its own policies and rulings.
Section 3. – Declining of Membership: A gownsman or a student who is qualified to become a gownsman has the right to decline membership in the Order. Such a request must be made, in writing, to the President of the Order and to the University Registrar. Any student declining membership is immediately freed from all obligations, responsibilities, rights, and privileges attributed to gownsmen until the beginning of the next academic semester. This decision may not be rescinded or cancelled during the academic semester in which it was made. At the beginning of the following academic semester, a student may declare, in writing, to the President and to the University Registrar, his or her intention to take-up membership in the Order. Once such a declaration has been properly made, and if the said student meets the requirements set by the University for membership in the Order, the said student shall become a gownsman with all of the obligations, responsibilities, rights, and privileges attributed to members of the Order. The Order and the University Registrar shall set a time period in which such a declaration may be made.
Section 4. – Seniors as De Facto Members: All seniors who have passed their comprehensive examinations and have at least the minimum grade point average required for graduation shall became de facto members of the Order. They shall have all of the obligations, responsibilities, rights, and privileges attributed to gownsmen, except privileges that the University declines to grant to de facto gownsmen, which may include privileges concerning cut-warning, no-cut days, and registration for classes. De facto members shall not be counted as part of the required quorum for amending this Constitution; however, they may still vote in matters of amendment. Seniors who are gownsmen before they passed their comprehensive examinations shall not be de facto members but shall retain their full membership.
Article IV. – Organization
Section 1. – Officers: The regular officers of the Order shall be a President, a Secretary and a Parliamentarian of the Order of Gownsmen.
Section 2. – Standing Committees: The Order shall establish at the first meeting of each scholastic year an Executive Committee, a Committee on Grievances, and an Elections Committee.
Article V. – Elections, Appointments, and Vacancies
Section 1. – Election of the President: The membership of the Order shall elect the President of the Order in the spring preceding the academic year in which he or she shall serve. The Elections Committee of the Order of Gownsmen shall prescribe the method of election and oversee said election.
Section 2. – Appointment of the Secretary: The President of the Order shall have the power and authority to appoint the Secretary of the Order in the spring preceding the academic year in which he or she shall serve or whenever there is a vacancy in the said office.
Section 3. – Selection of the Parliamentarian: The Parliamentarian of the Order shall be appointed or elected in the spring preceding the academic year in which he or she shall serve or whenever there is a vacancy in the said office. The Student Government Constitution shall determine the method of selecting this office. If there is an election, the Elections Committee of the Order of Gownsmen shall prescribe the method of election and oversee said election. However, if a vacancy forms in the said office before the end of a term or if there are no candidates for the said office during the spring elections, then the President of the Order shall notify the Order of this situation. At the next meeting of the Order, the President shall call for nominations for the said office. After all nominations have been made, the Order shall vote and select a gownsman for this office. The regular election procedures are not necessary for such an election.
Section 4. – Swearing in of Officers: The President of the Order shall be sworn into his office following the methods and rituals prescribed by tradition. The President at a later time may swear in the Secretary and the Parliamentarian.
Section 5. – Resignation of Offices and Positions Other than that of the President: The Secretary, the Parliamentarian, the committee chairmen, and the members of the Committee on Grievances may resign their respective offices or positions by submitting their resignations, in writing, to the President of the Order. A resignation is immediate and irrevocable once it has been accepted. The President must notify the Order of such resignations.
Section 6. – Removal of Offices and Positions Other than that of the President: The Secretary, the Parliamentarian, and the appointed committee chairmen may be removed from office according to the method and procedure set down in Article VII of this Constitution. Elected committee chairmen and members of the Committee on Grievances may be removed according to the procedures of their respective committees.
Section 7. – Election of the Committee on Grievances: The chairman and members of the Committee on Grievances shall be elected by the Order at the first meeting of each scholastic year or whenever there is a vacancy.
Section 8. – Composition of the Executive Committee: The Executive Committee of the Order of Gownsmen shall be comprised of the President, the Secretary, and the Parliamentarian of the Order, with the President as its chairman.
Section 9. – Elections Committee: The Order of Gownsmen shall maintain the Elections Committee of the Order of Gownsmen, which shall be comprised of all University Proctors with the President of the Order serving as chairman.
Section 10. – Nominees for University and Faculty Committees: The Order of Gownsmen shall nominate from its own membership gownsmen to sit on faculty and University committees that have student representation, according to the Student Government Constitution. If a vacancy develops in such positions, then the Order shall choose a nominee to fill the position at the next regular meeting. If the nomination must be made before the next meeting of the Order, then the President of the Order shall notify the Order immediately of this situation and shall solicit responses from those interested in the said positions. The President shall then have the power and authority to select one of the responding gownsmen to serve as the nominee of the Order. At the next meeting of the Order, the President shall ask the Order for its approval of his or her selection. The Order shall vote for or against the nominee with a simple majority deciding the matter. If the nominee is not approved, then the President shall ask for other nominations, and the regular committee selection process shall take place. The new nominee shall immediately replace the temporary nominee made by the President.
Section 11. – Vacancy in the Office of President and Special Elections: If the President of the Order resigns, is removed from office, or is unable to fulfill his or her required duties, the Secretary shall operate as Interim President of the Order and appoint an Interim Secretary of his or her choosing for a period no longer than is necessary for the election of a new President of the Order. If the Secretary wishes to participate as a candidate in the special election or if the Secretary feels that he or she is unable to fairly and properly conduct the special election, then the Secretary shall not become the Interim President or must relinquish the said office to the Parliamentarian. The Secretary and the Parliamentarian may not both be candidates in a special election. Upon such a vacancy, the Interim President shall immediately inform the Order of the situation and shall call a special meeting of the Order for the purpose of electing a new President. At the said special meeting, the Interim President shall explain current circumstances. The said special election must be done by secret ballot as regular elections are done. The person obtaining a majority of the votes cast shall become the President of the Order for the remainder of the term to which the previous President was elected. This election must be completed no later than two weeks after the vacancy is created. All other matters concerning the procedure and method of elections shall be determined by the Order at the said special meeting.
a. The President may resign his or her office by submitting the said resignation, in writing, to the Vice Chancellor of the University. The President must also notify, in writing, the Secretary of the Order of his or her resignation. A resignation is immediate and irrevocable once it has been accepted.
b. The President may be removed from office according to the method and procedure set down in Article VII of this Constitution.
Article VI. – Duties and Functions
Section 1. – President of the Order: The executive power and authority of the Order of Gownsmen shall be vested in the President of the Order of Gownsmen. The President shall preside over regular and special meetings of the Order.
Section 2. – Governing Laws and Directives: The duties for the President, Secretary, and Parliamentarian of the Order of Gownsmen shall be according to the Student Government Constitution, the Constitution of the Order of Gownsmen, the standing rules of the Order, and parliamentary law.
Section 3. – Executive Committee: The Executive Committee shall take up matters referred to it by the faculty of the University or other proper persons; shall supervise the work of all committees, except the Committee on Grievances; shall act on matters not serious enough for a special meeting of the Order of Gownsmen; and shall set the agenda for all regular meetings of the Order. The Executive Committee shall have open meetings before all meetings of the Order to hear proposals or concerns, to discuss important matters, and to set the agenda for the upcoming meeting.
Section 4. – Committee on Grievances: The Committee on Grievances shall be established as an outlet for and a means of resolving any concerns, grievances, or accusations made against the Order or any of its elected officers. The Committee on Grievances shall be comprised of four regular members and a chairman chosen by the Order at the first meeting of the scholastic year or whenever there is a vacancy. The President, the Secretary, and the Parliamentarian of the Order may not be members of this committee. The Committee shall have the power and authority to hear all grievances made against the Order or its officers, investigate all such grievances, report to the Order its findings and conclusions, and to make any recommendations concerning such grievances that it sees fit and that are in accordance with the Student Government Constitution and the Constitution of the Order of Gownsmen. The Committee does not need the approval of the Executive Committee in order to be part of the agenda at a meeting of the Order; however, the committee must inform the President and any other relevant persons of its findings and intentions before the said meetings. The Committee shall make all other procedures, policies, and means of operation that it finds necessary for it to fulfill its duties.
Section 5. – Meetings: The Order of Gownsmen shall meet on a regular basis at least three times per academic semester as defined by the President of the Order. A special meeting may be called by the President of the Order or by a petition of at least fifteen Gownsmen to the President of the Order.
Article VII. – The Removal and Censure of Officers
Section 1. – Removal of the President and Elected Positions: The Order shall have the power and authority to remove the President of the Order and all other elected officers from their respective offices or to censure the same.
Section 2. – Removal of Appointed Positions: The President of the Order shall have the power and authority to dismiss or censure all officers or chairmen, which were appointed by the President.
Section 3. – Initiation of Removal or Censure Procedures: In the case of elected officers, a recommendation for removal or censure may be made in one of two ways:
- A recommendation for the removal or censure of an officer may begin when a grievance is made against an officer to the Committee on Grievances by a member of the Order. The Committee must investigate the charge made, and if it plans to take action, it must hold at least one private hearing in which it can question the accused and allow the accused to defend him or herself. The meeting must be at a time at which the accused is available; however, if the accused fails to attend the said meeting, then the Committee may move forward in its proceedings. If the Committee believes that the accusation is of a sufficiently serious nature and that there is adequate evidence to support the charge, the Committee may choose to recommend to the Order that the officer be removed from office or censured. The Committee chairman or his or her designee shall serve as the Accusator, who shall speak on the behalf of the Committee and advocate its recommendations at meetings of the Order.
- A recommendation for removal or censure may be made by petition of no less than one-third of the total membership of the Order in the College. Once such a petition has been made, the petitioners must inform the Executive Committee of its petition and recommendations. The petitioners must also choose one member of the Order to act as the Accusator, who shall speak on the behalf of the petitioners and advocate its recommendations at meetings of the Order.
Section 3. – Procedure for Removal or Censure: If a recommendation for removal or censure is to be made by petition or the Committee, the Accusator shall be allowed time at the next meeting to report and explain the findings and recommendations. The Accusator may make more than one recommendation if the Committee or petitioners have done so. A period of questioning shall follow. At the said meeting, the President of the Order shall preside during the presentation and discussion of the said report, unless the accusations involve the President. If this is the case, then the Parliamentarian shall preside for the period of debate. The consideration of the report and recommendations shall then be laid on the table for a period of at least one week. The question may be tabled until the next regular meeting of that semester or a special meeting may be called. Before the next said meeting, the President must inform the Order that the removal or censure of an officer is being considered and will be decided at the next said meeting. At the next said meeting, the consideration of the report shall be reconsidered. The Accusator will report and explain again the findings and recommendations. A period of questioning shall follow. Then the accused officer shall be allowed to defend him or herself for a period of no less than five minutes if the accused chooses to do so. At the end of the said period, the accused may be questioned for a period no longer than three minutes. The Accusator shall then have an opportunity lasting no longer than three minutes to respond to the statement of the accused if he or she chooses to do so. After this response, no questions other than points of order or procedure may be made. The presiding officer shall then call the question and read the exact recommendation that is being considered. The officers may be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of a quorum as defined by the standing rules. The censure of an officer shall require a three-fifths majority vote of a quorum as defined by the standing rules. If there is more than one recommendation, then this process must be completed again immediately following the vote on the previous recommendation. If the removal or censure is agreed to by the Order, then the action shall be effective immediately.
Article VIII. – Amendments
Section 1. – Amendment Process: Amendments to this Constitution must be agreed upon by a two-thirds majority of a quorum at a meeting of the Order. If the amendment passes this vote, then the amendment can be made by one of two methods:
- The amendment to the Constitution may be made if it is reconsidered at a meeting no less than one week after the initial meeting. At this second meeting, the amendment shall require a three-fourths vote of a quorum in order to be approved. Having achieved a two-thirds majority of the quorum at the first meeting and a three-fourths majority of the quorum at the second meeting, the Constitution shall be amended. If the amendment receives the two-thirds majority of a quorum at the first meeting but fails to receive the three-fourths majority of a quorum at the second meeting, it still may be considered for referendum as prescribed in Article VIII.1.b.
- The amendment to the Constitution may be made by a referendum of the total membership of the Order. The amendment shall be made if such a referendum yields a two-thirds majority of voting members in favor of the amendment, with at least one-half of the total membership of the Order voting or actively abstaining.
Article IX. – Conflicts with the Student Government Constitution
All parts of the Constitution of the Order of Gownsmen that are in conflict with the Student Government Constitution are automatically deemed null and void.
Article X. – Adoption
The approval of two-thirds of voting members, with at least two-thirds of the total membership of the Order voting, shall be sufficient for the establishment and adoption of this Constitution.
Adopted April 29th, 2007
Adopted April 29th, 2007