Penn Democrats Constitution
(ratified November 15, 2012)

I. Name

The name of this organization shall be the University of Pennsylvania Democrats.

II. Statement of Purpose

The University of Pennsylvania Democrats obliges itself to support the ideals of the Democratic Party: freedom, equality and opportunity for all, and a strong and society that can adapt to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving world. We aim to raise awareness about various issues and ideals that are consistent with the beliefs of the Democratic Party, and is to mobilize support on campus for various local, state, and national candidates for political office, and to raise awareness about issues and ideas that are consistent with the beliefs of the Democratic Party. The organization additionally seeks to demonstrate the ideals of the Democratic Party with community service and leadership.

  1. Penn Dems shall achieve these ends by organizing and hosting events that educate students about Democratic party principles, by recruiting Penn Democrats to achieve these aims by organizing both in the Penn community and in the greater Philadelphia area, by supplying volunteers for Democratic political campaigns, by planning and sponsoring campaign events, and by encouraging student participation in the political process.

  2. Penn Dems shall always aim to be the best resource on campus for students who want to involve themselves in political thought and politics. In order to further an understanding and dialogue about Democratic ideals Penn Democrats also sponsors events that expand Penn’s access to cutting edge political thought, and links students with Democratic campaigns or political officials in order to provide candidates with vital support, and students with opportunities for advanced political participation

III. Officers

  1. The officers are President, Vice President, Events Director, Political Director, Community Outreach Director, Communications Director, Membership Director, Treasurer, and Legislative Director. The order in which these positions are listed does not convey status; it is a board of equals.

  2. Any Penn undergraduate student who is in official standing as a voting member, as defined below, is eligible to run for an officer position and must be elected at a general body meeting of Penn Democrats members.

  3. The President.  The President shall:

    1. Fulfill the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Penn Democrats

    2. Set the agenda and goals of the organization;

    3. Be accountable for the administration and conduct of the Penn Democrats;

    4. Serve as the official representative of Penn Dems to other organizations and the media;

    5. Call and preside over all meetings;

    6. Meet with every Board member at least once every three weeks to see that they are fulfilling their goals and obligations to the organization, are making progress, and to both give and seek guidance and advice. 

  4. The Vice President.  The Vice President shall:

    1. Administer meetings in the President’s absence;

    2. Assist the President in achieving the goals and objectives of the Organization;

    3. Serve as Chief of Staff of the Penn Democrats;

    4. Assume the office of President in the event of the President’s inability to serve. 

  5. Events Director.  The Events Director shall:

    1. Oversee the planning and execution of Penn Dems events;

    2. See to it that Penn Dems hosts at least 1 event for every 2 weeks of class;

    3. Seek members to help plan events;

    4. Work with the Political Director to plan events involving candidates for elected office;

    5. Assume responsibility for Penn Dems’ role(s) in cosponsored events. 

  6. Political Director. The Political Director shall:

    1. Maintain contact with and outreach to local campaigns;

    2. Keep a finger on the pulse of local, state and national politics;

    3. Seek opportunities for members to get involved in campaigns;

    4. Supervise and work to form Campaign Subgroups.

  7. The Communications Director.  The Communications Director shall:

    1. Assume responsibility for publicity of all Penn Dems events;

    2. Manage the distribution of listserv e-mails;

    3. Create new and innovative ways to market the organization and its activities to the University community;

    4. Take and distribute minutes at meetings;

    5. Write and distribute to media organizations press releases detailing actions of the organization, statements of the Board, or notices of events;

    6. Utilize social networking and media tools to increase presence on campus;

    7. Assist in other administrative matters. 

  8. Membership Director. The Membership Director shall:

    1. Assume responsibility for recruitment and retention in the organization;

    2. Organize, with the input of the Events Director, events designed to increase or retain members in the Penn Democrats organization.

    3. Assume responsibility for tracking eligible voting members through an excel database.

    4. Maintain a running list of eligible voting members on the website.

  9. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall:

    1. Coordinate all fundraising initiatives (in consultation with the Events Director when necessary);

    2. Oversee the Budget;

    3. Oversee and document all transactions of the organization;

    4. Prepare and present to the Board an operating budget on a semester-by-semester basis;

    5. Authorize expenditures with the consent of the President;

    6. Attend SAC meetings.

  10. Legislative Director. The Legislative Director shall:

    1. Maintain contact with and outreach to issue-oriented groups

    2. Keep a finger on the pulse of local, state and national politics;

    3. Seek opportunities for members to get involved with issue-oriented groups;

    4. Work with the Events Director to plan policy-oriented events

  11. Volunteer Coordinator. The Volunteer Coordinator shall:

    1. Be responsible for organizing and coordinating all Penn Dems volunteer activities on Locust Walk and in the West Philly and suburban Philadelphia communities;

    2. Work with the Membership Director to engage the membership base in volunteer activities;

    3. Work with the Political Director to organize and manage volunteers for canvassing; and

    4. Organize any and all tabling and flyering activities on Locust Walk.

IV. Membership and Voting Rights

  1. Any undergraduate who is on the Penn Dems listserv is a member of the organization.

  2. In order to vote, a member must meet the following criteria over the course of the current and previous semesters:

    • (1) Attendance at a minimum of one General Body Meeting; (2) Attendance at a minimum of a second General Body Meeting, at least one Penn Dems event that has been approved by the Executive Board, or at least one hour of volunteering directly for Penn Dems

    • A plurality vote of the Executive Board will determine whether an event counts towards the voting requirement.

    • “Volunteering directly for the Penn Dems” is defined as engaging in activity for at least an hour at a time that directly benefits the Penn Dems. Examples are advertising events on Locust Walk, manning our table at a fair, or volunteering in a school through the Community Outreach Program. Activities such as volunteering for a Democratic candidate or registering people to vote, while commendable, do not count towards the voting requirement.

V. Elections And Removal Of Officers

  1. Elections shall be held once a year, every year at the close of the fall semester, for every position on the Executive Board. New Officers shall take office on January 1.

  2. Any member who is in official standing as a voting member is eligible to vote and/or to run in an election; nominations will be taken up to and including the day of elections.

  3. It is the responsibility of the outgoing board to compile a list of eligible voting members before the election and to make that information available to the public prior to the beginning of elections.

  4. It is the responsibility of the outgoing board to inform the general body of the time and location of the election, and to provide information regarding candidates.

  5. An election for an officer position is determined by taking the vote of the members present at a full body meeting. The winner receives a majority of the votes of the members present at the meeting. If no clear majority emerges, a runoff election between the two candidates for a particular office with the highest vote counts will be held.

  6. If there is a vacancy in a position during the year, the President may nominate a candidate who shall be confirmed by a two-thirds majority vote of the board, and must then be confirmed by a majority of the general body.

  7. If, during the course of the academic year, the Executive Board feels that the objectives of the Penn Democrats can be best served through the addition of deputy board members and positions, it is the privilege of the President, upon a majority vote by the Executive Board, to create a position and then to fill said position via appointment.

    1. These positions are created and filled by majority consent of board at beginning of each semester;

    2. All candidates must interview with the board before being appointed.

    3. All deputy board positions must report to one Executive Board officer and the responsibility for managing the Deputy Board member is added to the obligations of said Executive Board officer.

  8. If an officer participates in behavior unbecoming of the office or organization, the officer may be impeached and removed from office by a two thirds vote of the board, but can appeal this decision by a vote of the majority of members at a full body meeting called by the President.

VI. Procedure Of The Executive Board

  1. Board meetings consisting of the officers of the Penn Democrats Executive Board shall occur at the discretion of the President. 

  2.  The President shall have responsibility for notifying members of meeting times and locations. 

  3. The board will suggest organizational decisions at board meetings and the President will have final approval over these decisions.

  4. Parliamentary Procedure need not be used during meetings, but can be requested by an Executive Board member and enacted for the duration of a meeting by majority vote, this vote taking precedence over any existing discussion.  Should such an event arise the President will have responsibility for enforcing adherence to parliamentary procedure. 

VII. Endorsement Procedure

  1. The Executive Board, by a two-thirds vote, may call an endorsement meeting.

  2. At an endorsement meeting, a candidate or platform must get two-thirds of the general body vote.

  3. The board will decide, prior to the endorsement meeting, whether the meeting will allow for a runoff vote or whether it will just allow for a straight vote.

    1. A runoff vote is a vote between the two candidates with the most number of votes in the case one candidate does not capture a two-thirds majority during the initial vote count.

    2. A straight vote does not allow for a runoff; if a candidate does not capture the two-thirds majority approval of the general body, Penn Dems will not endorse.

VIII. Bylaws and Amendments to the Constitution

  1. The organization shall be further governed by its bylaws, which shall provide codification for additional structure and guidelines for the operations and procedures of Penn Dems. 

  2. Any member of the organization may propose bylaws by emailing the proposed bylaw to info@penndems.org.  Bylaws shall be enacted upon a plurality vote of the Executive Board.

  3. Bylaws expire at the end of each Executive Board term, unless renewed by the subsequent Executive Board.

  4. Amendments may be submitted to the board by the same process used to submit proposed bylaws, and will be discussed among the board. At least 2/3 of the board and a simple majority of the general body must approve of an amendment before it can be incorporated into the Constitution.

IX. Ratification

The Constitution will go into effect when it is approved by two-thirds of the Penn Democrats Executive Board and then ratified by a simple plurality of the General Body.

X. Amendments to the Constitution

Amendment I

While any member who is in official standing as a voting member is eligible to vote and/or to run in an election for an Executive Board position, eligibility for the position of President is limited to Penn Dems members who have served a minimum of one year on the Executive Board.

Amendment II

Section II, Article (A) will now read:

  1. The University of Pennsylvania Democrats obliges itself to support the ideals of the Democratic Party: freedom, equality and opportunity for all, and a strong and society that can adapt to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving world. We aim to raise awareness about various issues and ideals that are consistent with the beliefs of the Democratic Party, and is to mobilize support on campus for various local, state, and national candidates for political office, and to raise awareness about issues and ideas that are consistent with the beliefs of the Democratic Party. Organization initiatives must be consistent with the beliefs and goals of the Democratic Party.

Amendment III

From hereon forth, the executive board of this organization will consist of: the President, Vice President, Political Director, Communications Director, Membership Director, Legislative Director, Outreach Director, Treasurer, and Secretary. The order in which these positions are listed does not convey status; it is a board of equals. Each officer’s roles and responsibilities are as follows:

  1. The President.  The President shall:
    1. Fulfill the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Penn Democrats
    2. Set the agenda and goals of the organization for the semester;
    3. Be accountable for the administration and conduct of the Penn Democrats;
    4. Serve as the official representative of Penn Dems to other organizations and the media;
    5. Call and preside over all meetings;
    6. Meet with every Board member at least once every three weeks to see that they are fulfilling their goals and obligations to the organization, are making progress, and to both give and seek guidance and advice;
    7. Write a Strategic Plan that is presented to the Executive Board prior to each semester.
    8. Authorize all organizational purchases and reimbursements;
    9. Authorize all Deputy Board appointments and dismissals.
  1. The Vice President.  The Vice President shall:
    1. Administer meetings in the President’s absence;
    2. Assist the President in achieving the goals and objectives of the Organization;
    3. Act as point person for all Penn Democrats events
    4. Oversee the planning and execution of Penn Dems events;
    5. In doing so, the Vice President will delegate as necessary to the Legislative and Political Directors.
    6. Assume the office of President in the event of the President’s inability to serve.
  2. Political Director. The Political Director shall:
    1. Work alongside the Vice President to be responsible for political event programming. This includes all speaker events, election-year campaign events, rallies, and political academic discussions;
    2. Work alongside the President and Vice President to maintain a relationship with local, state, and national campaigns and politicians;
    3. Organize all election activism initiatives including phone banks, canvasses, and voter registration drives.
  3. The Communications Director.  The Communications Director shall:

    1. Assume responsibility for publicity of all Penn Dems events;
    2. Manage the distribution of listserv e-mails;
    3. Create new and innovative ways to market the organization and its activities to the University community;
    4. Write and distribute to media organizations press releases detailing actions of the organization, statements of the Board, or notices of events;
    5. Utilize social networking and media tools to increase presence on campus;
    6. Maintain a relationship with the Daily Pennsylvanian and other on-campus media outlets
      1. Assume responsibility for coordinating press coverage of events
  4. Membership Director. The Membership Director shall:
    1. Assume responsibility for retention in the organization;
    2. Manage and oversee the Deputy Board
    3. Organize events designed to increase or retain members in the Penn Democrats organization.
      1. Organize and execute all Penn Democrats social events;
    4. Manage the organization listserv
  5. Secretary. The Secretary shall:
    1. Assume responsibility for tracking eligible voting members through an excel database;
    2. Generate a list of eligible voting members at least 3 weeks before elections
    3. Reserve spaces for meetings involving the Executive or Deputy Board.
    4. Maintain an organization-wide Google Calendar and Deputy Board-only Google Calendar listing all meetings and events for Penn Dems;
    5. Take and distribute minutes at meetings;
    6. Upon request, reserve spaces for any committees or Boards;
  6. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall:
    1. Oversee and maintain the Budget;
    2. Oversee and document all transactions of the organization;
    3. Prepare and present to the Board an operating budget on a semester-by-semester basis;
    4. Authorize expenditures with the consent of the President
    5. Maintain organizational attendance at SAC meetings;
    6. Organize fundraising initiatives
  7. Legislative Director. The Legislative Director shall:
    1. Alongside the Vice President, plan issue based events and initiatives focusing on activism, education, or publicity.
      1. These initiatives can include petitions, issue-based events, rallies, lobbying efforts, and partner events with other organizations.
  8. Outreach Director. The Outreach Director shall:
    1. Assume responsibility for recruitment of new members
    2. Maintain and build relationships with outside organizations on- and off- campus that are active in the community;
    3. Advertise Penn Democrats events and initiatives to outside organizations;
    4. Coordinate co-sponsorships for events at the request of the Vice President, Political Director, and/or Legislative Director
    5. Hold co-sponsors accountable for their participation in Penn Dems events.

Amendment IV

A general body member, as defined by Section IV, Article (A), will obtain voting member status by meeting one of the following criteria, effective January 1, 2013:

  1. At least two Penn Dems events that have been approved by the Executive Board, or at least one Penn Dems-sponsored volunteer event

-OR-

  1. Petition to the Executive Board that must be available three weeks prior to the election and submitted two weeks prior to the election.

    1. Petitions will be accepted by a two-thirds majority Executive Board vote. The Executive Board is expected to vote on whether the petitioner actually met the requirements to vote and their absence from the voter rolls is based on an error or there were extenuating circumstances that prevented them from meeting such requirements.

Amendment V

Section V, regarding Elections and Removal of Officers, will now read, effective January 1, 2013:

  1. Elections shall be held annually at the close of the fall semester, for every position on the Executive Board. New Officers shall take office on January 1.
  2. Any member who is in official standing as a voting member, as described in Amendment I and IV, is eligible to vote and/or to run in an election; nominations will be taken up to and including the day of elections.
  3. It is the responsibility of the outgoing Secretary to inform the general body of the time and location of the election, and to provide information regarding candidates.
  4. An election for an officer position is determined by taking the vote of the members present at the election at a full body meeting. The winner receives a majority, or more than 50%, of the votes of the members present at the meeting. If no clear majority emerges, a runoff election between the two candidates for a particular office with the highest vote counts will be held.
  5. If there is a vacancy in a position during the year, an Executive Board member may nominate a candidate who shall be confirmed by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board, and must then be confirmed by a
  6. If, during the course of the academic year, the Executive Board feels that the objectives of the Penn Democrats can be best served through the addition of deputy board members and positions, it is the privilege of the President, upon a majority vote by the Executive Board, to create a position and then to fill said position via appointment.
    1. All candidates must interview with the board before being appointed.
    2. All deputy board positions must report to one Executive Board officer and the responsibility for managing the Deputy Board member is added to the obligations of said Executive Board officer.
  7. If an officer participates in gross misconduct of the office or organization, the officer may be impeached and removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the board, but can appeal this decision by a vote of the majority of members at a full body meeting called by the President.
    1. Any officer wishing to file a motion for impeachment must notify the entire executive board of this desire at least 72 hours prior to any meeting of the Executive Board at which such a motion would be considered. Such a motion shall be out of order unless this minimum notification period is respected.
    2. The impeached officer has the right of an impeachment meeting at which (s)he is charged with the reasons for their dismissal and has ample speaking time to defend their position on the board. The impeached officer must step out for the vote on their impeachment.

Amendment VI

Section VI, Article (D) is null and void, effective immediately. The method through which Executive board meetings are conducted is at the discretion of the President.

Amendment VII

The Endorsement Procedure, as described in Section VII, will now occur as follows:

  1. The President may choose to discuss endorsements at an Executive board meeting.
  2. At an endorsement meeting, a candidate or platform must get two-thirds of the Executive Board vote.

Amendment VIII

From hereon forth, this organization will no longer accept or be shaped by bylaws; therefore, Section VIII, Articles (A), (B), and (C) are null and void, effective immediately. Section VIII, Article (D) will now read, effective January 1, 2013:

  1. Amendments will be discussed among the board. At least 2/3 of the board must approve amendments and a simple majority of the general body must approve of an amendment before it can be incorporated into the Constitution.

Amendment IX

A general body member, as defined by Section IV, Article (A), will obtain voting member status by being a member of the Deputy Board in good standing either semester in the calendar year preceding the election in which the member wishes to vote.

Each Deputy Board member’s appointment must be approved by a simple majority of the Executive Board. Criteria for good standing will be established by the Executive Board at the beginning of each semester and must be clearly explained to every Deputy Board member at the beginning of the semester. If a Deputy Board member in in danger of losing standing, he or she must be contacted by the Executive Board and given the opportunity to explain his or her situation.

If a general member attends 2/3 of events during the one semester prior to the election but is not a member of the Deputy Board, he or she can petition for voting status. This petition must be accepted by 2/3 of the Executive Board.

This amendment nullifies Amendment IV and is effective February 2, 2015.