GSA Constitution


Table of Contents


Brandeis University Graduate Student Association Constitution


Article I. Objectives and Purposes

The objectives and purposes to which the Graduate Student Association (GSA) is dedicated are as follows:

  • to provide a forum for discussion of issues of concern to graduate students;
  • to represent graduate student interests before Brandeis faculty and administration;
  • to organize, promote, and conduct activities beneficial to graduate student life;
  • to disseminate information of interest to graduate students;
  • to provide support and assistance to graduate student clubs and organizations;
  • to own and manage property and accounts that will assist in securing the above objectives; and
  • to select graduate students for appointment to faculty and university committees.

Article II. The Graduate Student Association

Section 2.1: Membership

The Graduate Student Association shall consist of all graduate students. All graduate students are eligible for appointment to any committee, internal or external, that provides for representation by graduate students and to participate in all activities of the GSA.

  • The elected officers of the GSA Executive Committee shall be the President, Treasurer, Graduate Student Representative to the Board of Trustees, Educational Programming Officer, and Travel and Research Grants Officer. In addition, the Senate Chair, elected by the GSA Senate, shall serve as a full member of the EC. All officers are required to periodically, and on an equal basis, hold rotating office hours so that there is an executive officer available in the Graduate Student Center during announced time slots and to regularly attend Senate and GSA meetings. Officers should also be available to meet, or be available for consultation, during the summer and for orientation.
  • The GSA Senate shall consist of students from each of the three graduate schools, and representatives to University Committees. Senators representing each graduate school are elected in order to be most representative of the community at large for terms of one year at a time. Membership is proportional to the size of each school’s population. There is no limit to the number of times a person may be elected or appointed to a Senate position. The Senate shall elect a chair-person who will serve as a full member of the GSA Executive Committee and chair Senate meetings.
  • Graduate student University Committee Representatives are either sitting GSA senators or students identified by the GSA Senate. These graduate students shall represent the Association to all faculty and administrative committees that have student representation, as determined by the Assistant Provost, every year (or every other year according to the length of the term). Whenever a position becomes open, the Senate appoints a new representative.

Section 2.2: Office of Graduate Student Affairs

The Office of Graduate Student Affairs, representing the Office of The Provost, shall act as a liaison between the Graduate Student Association and the University Administration. In addition, this Office will serve in an advisory capacity to the GSA.

Section 2.3: Duties

The GSA Executive Committee and Senate shall require all officers and senators to comply with all provisions of this constitution. They shall have the power to establish committees to assist with the work of the GSA, and to delegate to any committee or individual the powers and responsibilities required to carry out its role, in keeping with the objects and purposes of the GSA as a whole. They shall always act according to the objects and purposes of the GSA.

  • The GSA Executive Committee (EC) shall have authority over matters pertaining to the activities of the GSA or any committee thereof, as determined by majority vote. It collaborates with the GSA Senate to develop an annual budget (based on the income from the Graduate Student Activities fee) in order to disperse funds under the counsel of the GSA Treasurer and GSA Senate. The GSA Executive Committee is responsible for reporting the disbursement of the budget monies each semester to the GSA Senate. The EC, in collaboration with the Office of Graduate Students affairs, may identify and appoint individuals to fill additional positions as necessary. It reserves the right to charter or recognize graduate student clubs and organizations, and to grant said chartered clubs funding requests. The Executive Committee serves as the official elected governing body of the graduate students of Brandeis University.
  • The GSA Senate acts as an advisory board to the GSA Executive Committee. It collaborates with the GSA Executive Committee to develop an annual budget based on the income from the Graduate Student Activities fee. The Senate appoints graduate student representatives to faculty and university committees. It serves as the official representative body of the graduate students of Brandeis University.
  • University Committee Representatives represent the concerns of their constituencies to the committees they sit on, and before the GSA Executive Committee and Senate. They communicate the proceedings of committee meetings to the GSA Executive Committee and Senate as well as to their constituencies. Although representatives bear particular responsibilities to the graduate students of their division, they shall also represent the interest of the graduate student body at-large. University Committee Representatives, if not also Senators, are encouraged to attend all Senate meetings. If they cannot attend, they must report on their particular committees to the Senator Chair prior to the Senate meeting.

Section 2.4: Meetings

Meetings of the GSA Executive Committee shall be held at the Graduate Student Center on alternate weeks during the period of September to May, inclusive, unless otherwise directed by the Executive Committee. Additional meetings may be scheduled by vote of the Executive Committee or at the discretion of the President. Meetings may be canceled by prior vote of the Executive Committee or at the discretion of the President. Agenda items are solicited from Executive Committee Officers and set by the President. A motion may be proposed by any member of the Executive Committee. A motion may be seconded by any member of the Executive Committee. Any duly seconded motion shall be passed upon receiving the affirmation of a majority of the members present, and shall be otherwise defeated. Each Officer may cast one vote. A quorum, defined as the presence of at least two-thirds of the voting Officers, must be satisfied in order to allow the Committee to take official actions.

Meetings of the GSA Senate shall happen at least three times each semester at the Graduate Student Center unless otherwise directed by the Senate Chair. At the first Senate meeting of every year, the Senate shall determine who will take minutes, and the specific Senators to become University Committee Representatives. Additional meetings may be scheduled by vote of the Senate or at the discretion of the Chair. Agenda items are solicited from Senators and Committee Representatives and set by the Senate Chair. A motion may be proposed (and seconded) by any Senator. Any duly seconded motion shall be passed upon receiving the affirmation of a majority of the members present, and shall be otherwise defeated. Each Senator may cast one vote. University Committee Representatives who are not sitting Senators cannot vote in the Senate. A quorum for the Senate is defined as the presence of at least half of voting Senators, must be satisfied in order to allow the Senate to take official actions.

Article III. Elections

Elections shall be held once every academic year during the spring semester to replace all relevant Graduate Student Senators or other directly-elected positions. Elections must follow these restrictions:

  1. The voting period must be for at least one week. 
  2. A description of all offices up for election shall be distributed to the entire graduate student body at least 1 week before the close of nominations.

All graduate students are eligible to vote. The election of senators shall be done online. Newly elected senators are then allowed to nominate candidates from amongst themselves for GSA Executive Committee positions. Voting for these positions shall be administered by the Office of Graduate Student Affairs. Newly elected officers will take office the day of May commencement. Upon the closing of elections, an orientation date and time for newly elected officers and outgoing officers shall be set. All newly elected officers are required to read the GSA Constitution prior to this orientation. If a position is vacated before elections then the Executive Committee shall elect or appoint a student to fill it.

Article IV. Removal from Office

An Executive Committee officer can be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is then required to replace the officer by a majority vote. A Senator or University Committee representative can be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate. The Senate is then required to replace the Senator by a majority vote.

Article V. Operating Manual

In addition to the Constitution, the GSA shall abide by the guidelines outlined in the operating manual containing the details of the roles and responsibilities of the EC officers and Senators, as well as any other relevant information. This document can be changed by a majority vote of both bodies, as specified in the above articles.

Article VI. Clubs and Organizations

The Assistant Provost has delegated authority to charter or recognize new graduate student organizations to the GSA Executive Committee. Such groups can apply for a charter or recognition from the GSA. In making these determinations, the Executive Committee will consider the accuracy and descriptiveness of the club name, the openness of the proposed club to all members of the Brandeis graduate student community, the need to encourage diversity among Brandeis clubs, and accountability for club financial transactions. Chartered and Recognized clubs receive all the same benefits (inclusion in Brandeis club listing, ability to use space on campus, use of the Brandeis name in association with the name of the club/organization, website), except that a Chartered club can also request funding from the Executive Committee.

Article VII. Issues of Concern

An item or issue of concern can be brought to the attention of the GSA Senate Chair by any member of the GSA Executive Committee, Senate, or any graduate student at Brandeis University. The Senate Chair can then add this item to the next Executive Committee meeting's agenda. During this meeting, appropriate action and relevant participants will be decided. If any Executive Committee Officer deems a certain action is appropriate on any issue, and seeks to take action, s/he must first inform the rest of the Executive Committee of his/her intent or action. This action must pass a majority vote of the Executive Committee in order that the action be taken in the name of the GSA.

Article VIII. Amendments to the Constitution

Amendments to the constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Executive Committee at the next scheduled Executive Committee meeting, and by Senators present at a regularly scheduled Senate meeting, and then by a three-fifths majority of all the ballots cast on this issue in a referendum of all graduate students. If any graduate student at Brandeis wants to make amendments to the GSA Constitution, s/he has to solicit 200 signatures from other Brandeis graduate students on a petition that will appear on the next GSA election.