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SGA Constitution
 	


STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION
CONSTITUTION


Constitution of the Thirty-Sixth Senate

Preamble:

We, the students of Methodist University, having faith in the ability of students to govern themselves in accordance with and subject to the policies of the Board of Trustees of Methodist University, do establish this constitution to promote and protect the general welfare of the student body and the college.


Article I

Name, Purpose, and Membership

Section 1. The name of the organization shall be the Student Government Association of Methodist University. (Hereafter known as the Association)

Section 2. In order to assure the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of the students of Methodist University, this organization shall fulfill the executive, legislative, and judicial duties for directing student life and providing democratic student government to the college.

Section 3. The Association shall consist of all currently enrolled full-time Methodist University Students. Full-time shall be defined, as taking at least twelve semester hours or the number of hours needed to satisfy the requirements for graduation.

Section 4. There shall be at least one regular joint meeting each academic year of all of the subsidiary branches of the association in order to facilitate planning and implementation of student concerns. This meeting shall be scheduled at the discretion of the President of the Association.


Article II

Student Rights

Section 1. The Association shall not make or enforce any regulation abridging the freedom of speech, academic inquiry, or the press or the right of students to assemble peaceably and petition the Student Government or the college for a redress of grievances.

Section 2. The right of students to secure in their person, residences, papers, and effects against searches and seizures shall not be violated under any circumstance without valid warrant. No warrant shall be issued, but upon reasonable cause, or any infraction of college policy, and particularly describing the place to be searched.

Section 3. No student shall be subject to double jeopardy in on-campus judicial proceedings; nor shall he/she be compelled in any case to testify against himself/herself, nor be deprived of the rights, privileges or responsibilities of a college student without due process.

Section 4. The powers not delegated to the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches of the Association by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the Constitution to said branches, are reserved to the Association. The right of the Association to review any action taken by its subsidiary branches shall not be denied.

Section 5. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny other rights retained by the students.


Article III

Executive Branch

Section 1. The Executive Council shall consist of the four- (4) executive officers of the Association. These shall include:

A. President
B. Vice President
C. Treasurer
D. Secretary

Section 2. The Executive Council shall function as the executive branch of the Association and shall execute the decisions of the Senate.

Section 3. The duties of the President shall include these:

A. The President shall be the Chief Executive officer of the Association.
B. The President shall report to the Association at least once per semester on the state of the Association.
C. The President shall have Ex-Officio membership on all subsidiary bodies of the Association.
D. The President shall serve as the Chairperson of the President's Forum.

Section 4. The duties of the Vice President shall include these:

A. The Vice President shall assume the duties of the President in the absence of the President.
B. The Vice President shall serve as the President for the Student Senate.
C. The Vice President shall have Ex-Officio membership of all subsidiary bodies of the Senate.
D. The Vice President shall serve as Chairperson of the Awards Committee.

Section 5. The duties of the Secretary include these:

A. The Secretary shall be responsible for recording minutes of all of the meetings of the Executive Council and of the Association.
B. The Secretary shall be responsible for coordination with the Clerk of the Student Senate to insure the publication of all resolutions, bills, and other documents of the Senate and Executive Council.
C. The Secretary shall be responsible for the publication, at least once per semester, of the activities of the Association in the college newspaper.
D. The Secretary shall serve as Chairperson of the Public Relations Committee of the Association.

Section 6. The duties of the Treasurer shall include these:

A. The Treasurer shall be responsible for all financial matters of the Association and its subsidiary branches.
B. The Treasurer shall report to the Senate once a month on the financial status of the Association.
C. The Treasurer shall serve as the Chairperson of the SGA Finance Committee.
D. The Treasurer shall oversee the operations budget of the Association in conjunction with the Executive Committee.

Section 7. Qualifications for Executive Office

A. A candidate for office as a member of the Executive Council shall have a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average to seek or hold office.
B. The President and Vice President shall have attained at least junior class status prior to their assumption of office and have attended the college for at least two (2) consecutive semesters prior to the term of office.

C. The Secretary and Treasurer shall have attained at least sophomore class academic status prior to their assumption of office and have attended the college for at least two (2) consecutive semesters prior to the term of office.

Section 8. Elections and Term of Office

A. The Executive Council shall be elected in a general election to be held in April of each academic year.
B. The Executive Council shall take office two (2) weeks after the formal announcement of the election results and serve until the next election is held or for one calendar year, whichever comes first.

Section 9. Vacancies in Office

A. In the event of a vacancy in the office of President, the Vice-President shall assume that office and shall serve the remainder of that term as President.
B. In the event of a vacancy in any other office of the Executive Council, the Senate shall elect a student nominated by a member of the Association to fill the vacant position for the remainder of the term. The election shall occur at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate after such a vacancy occurs.


Article IV

The Legislative Branch

Section 1. The Student Senate (hereafter known as the Senate) shall function as the legislative body of the Association consisting of twelve members.

Section 2. Rules governing the membership of the Senate are as follows:

A. Sixteen senators shall be elected from the full-time student population. The senators shall have at least a minimum of a 2.0 cumulative G.P.A.
B. No person may be elected to or serve in the Senate, excluding the freshman class, unless he/she is in good academic standing, which is defined as having completed one full semester at Methodist University and having obtained a 2.0 cumulative grade point average.
C. Following the completion of the first semester all freshman must meet the criteria of all other senators, this includes having at least twelve (12) semester hours completed and they must have a cumulative G.P.A of 2.0 or higher. If they do not meet the qualifications after the Fall semester, they shall be excused from the senate.
D. Voting is limited to the sixteen elected members of the Senate.
E. The Senate shall be made up of four freshman and twelve senators from the three other classes combined

Section 3. The Senate shall discuss and take action of its choice regarding any issue that, it determines, has an effect on the students of Methodist University.

Section 4. The Senate shall meet at least once a month to consider issues of student interest.

Section 5. The Senate may establish any committees, commissions, task forces, or other sub-bodies that it feels are necessary to carry out the business of the Association.

Section 6. Officers of the Senate

A. The Officers of the Senate shall be the President of the Senate, who shall be the Vice President of the Association; the President Pro-Tempore, the Parliamentarian; and the Clerk.
B. The President Pro-Tempore, the parliamentarian and the Clerk shall be elected from the membership of the Senate by a majority vote of those present at the first meeting of the fall semester of each year.
C. Vacancies shall be filled by a similar vote as needed.

Section 7. Duties of the Officers of the Senate

A. President
1. To serve as the presiding officer of the Senate at all meetings.
2. To plan and implement the agenda of Senate meetings.
3. To coordinate all of the activities and subsidiary bodies of the Senate.
4. To vote only in the case of a tie.

B. President Pro-Tempore
1. To assume the duties of the President of the Senate in his/her absence.
2. To chart the progress and current status of all legislation, resolutions and other actions of the Senate.
3. To notify any member of the Senate, member of the Judicial Branch or member of the Executive Branch of impeachment or recall proceedings brought against him/her.

D. Parliamentarian
1. To assist the President of the Senate in the conduct of meetings of the Senate.
2. To serve as an expert on parliamentary procedure during Senate meetings and other functions of the Association where requested.
3. To have read and have a working knowledge of the latest edition of Robert's Rules of Order.

E. Clerk
1. To keep accurate records of attendance of all Senate meetings and to notify the President of the Senate when an individual Senator has reached his/her limit of absences.
2. To contact the Vice President for Student Life at the beginning of each semester in order to assure that all Senate members remain in good academic standing.

Section 8. Club and Organization Approval
A. The Senate shall have the responsibility for approval of all applications by student groups to form clubs and organizations on the campus.
1. The approval process shall include the consideration by the Senate of a constitution of the organization, a proposed sponsor/advisor, and a list of at least ten (10) members, including a list of officers, to be presented by the officers of the organization at the regular meeting.
2. Negative decisions regarding the approval of a charter by the Senate may be appealed to the Vice President for Student Life. Decisions by the Vice President may be appealed to the President of the college.

B. After the presentation of required materials to the Association, the Clubs and Organizations Committee has fifteen (15) working days that school is in session to consider the proposed club or organization and return a recommendation to the Senate. The Senate will then vote on approval.
1. The Senate shall consider such proposed constitutions at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate.
2. Should the Senate believe that the constitution is inadequate or in need of amendment, it shall be returned to the organization for revision. Such revised documents should be submitted for approval at the next regularly scheduled Senate meeting.
3. If the Senate fails to deal with the constitution of an organization within fifteen (15) working days of submission of the document to the Clerk of the Senate, the constitution shall stand approved.
4. If the Senate rejects a constitution after amendment, the decision of the Senate may be appealed to the Vice President for Student Life and ultimately to the President of the college.

C. If the Senate approves the Constitution of a campus organization, such organization shall become an "approved campus organization". That is, such organizations may use campus facilities and may have an account with the Business Office of the college in which to deposit organizational funds, may request allocation from the SGA Finance Committee for special uses, and will gain the normal privileges and responsibilities of a college organization.
1. No student organization that is not an "approved campus organization" may use any campus facility, service, or account or be in any way affiliated with the college without the prior written permission of the Vice President for Student Life.
2. Annual updates listing constitutional amendments, current advisors, and current officers must be filed with the Clerk of the Senate no later than September 1 of each academic year. Failure to do so will result in a written warning to the organization. Failure to submit such material by October 1 shall result in the withdrawal of the "approved campus organization" status for one calendar year on first offense and permanent removal on a second offense within a three-year period.

D. All approved campus organizations, unless excepted by the Vice President for Student Life, must set up an account with the Business Office of the college into which all funds acquired by the organization through any source must be deposited and from which all funds for any use of the organization must be expended. Violation of this requirement shall result in a one-semester removal of "approved campus organization" status on the first offense and permanent removal on a second offense within a three-year period.

E. Approval of an organization as an "approved campus organization" does not mean that the S.G.A. or the college supports the purposes, goals, or directions of the organization. In fact, such approval means only that the college and the S.G.A. grant permission for the use of campus facilities and services by the organization.

Section 9. Quorum
A. A quorum shall be a simple majority of the members of the Senate.
B. A quorum shall be necessary for business to be conducted at a meeting.


Section 10. Absences
A. Any member of the Student Government Association is allowed only three (3) absences during an academic semester.
B. Any member having three (3) absences during an academic semester shall receive a written censure from the clerk.
C. The Senate shall remove any member having four (4) absences during an academic semester from office.


Article V

The Judicial Branch

Section 1. Purpose

A. The purpose of the Methodist University Judicial System is to maintain integrity and harmony in the Methodist University Community and to deal with alleged violations of the judicial code in a fair and prompt manner.

Section 2. Structure

A. The Student Community Court which shall consist of a Chief Justice elected by the student body and unlimited number of Associate Justices who are appointed by the Student Senate. The Associate Justices shall have at least a minimum of a 2.0 cumulative G.P.A.
B. The Dean of Students
C. The Review Board

The Review Board shall be appointed by the President of the College and shall consist of seven members: three administrators, two faculty members, and two student representatives nominated by the Student Government Association.
1. The President of the college will appoint one of the six to serve as chairperson.
2. A minimum of four members of the Review Board is required for a review, with at least one member from each category.
3. The chairperson shall vote only in the case of a tie.

Section 3. Procedure

A. Any Methodist University employee or student may report a violation.
B. Alleged violations of the standards found in the Judicial Code and residential guidelines shall be forwarded to the Assistant Dean for Student Services.
C. The student(s) involved will be given the opportunity to discuss the case with the Assistant Dean for Student Services and to read the report that has been submitted.
D. The Assistant Dean for Student Services shall determine if the reported violation warrants a hearing; if it does, the Assistant Dean for Student Services shall determine whether the matter is to be heard by the Student Community Court or the Dean of Students.
E. The student may have his/her violation heard by the Dean of Students instead of the Community Court upon request.
F. Hearings before the Student Community Court

1. Cases will be heard by a hearing body of at least three justices in addition to the Chief Justice. In the case of a tie, the Chief Justice shall vote.

2. All sessions of the community court shall be closed.

3. In a finding of guilty, the Student Community Court may impose sanctions ranging from a written warning to removal from the residence halls.

4. Decisions of the Student Community Court may be appealed to the Dean of Students.

G. Hearings before the Dean of Students

1. Hearings before the Dean of Students shall be closed.

2. The Dean of Students shall conduct investigations and interviews, as he/she deems appropriate.

3. The accused student shall have the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to the Dean of Students.

4. The Dean of Students shall determine the innocence or guilt of the student(s) and may assign such sanctions, as he/she deems appropriate.

5. Sanctions by the Dean of Students may be appealed to the Review Board.

H. Hearings before the Review Board

1. All sessions shall be closed.

2. Students making an appeal before the Review Board may enlist the aid of any member of the Methodist University Community, including other students, faculty, or administrators.

3. Outside counsel will be permitted only at the Review Board. Counsel may be present to advise the student and may not speak for the defense.

4. Rulings of the Review Board are final.

Section 4. Appeals

A. Appeals must be submitted in writing the Assistant Dean for Student Services within two business days after the date of the hearing.

B. The Dean of Students or Review Board, as appropriate, will act promptly on the appeal (normally within two business days).

C. In the meantime, the sanctions of the hearing body shall be observed.

D. Alternatives available to the Dean of Students and the Review Board:

1. To affirm the decision of the original hearing body.

2. To negate or alter the decision or the sanction of the original hearing body.

3. To rehear the case, render a new verdict, and impose a new sanction, if appropriate.

E. Rehearing

1. If the decision is a rehearing, it will be scheduled at the earliest opportunity.

2. Twenty-four hour notice of the hearing will be given.

3. Students filing appeals should be prepared at the time of appeal to present their case at a hearing.

4. The Assistant Dean for Student Services will present the case for the college in a rehearing.

F. Guidelines for an Appeal

1. Information is available that was not available at the time of the decision.

2. The decision embodies a sanction that is inconsistent with the nature of the offense.

3. The facts were not sufficient to justify the findings.


Article VI

Elections

Section 1. Authority

A. The Elections Committee of the Association shall be the operational supervisor of all such elections.

Section 2. Filing for Candidacy

A. All students shall be notified by the Election Committee of the period set aside for filing of candidacy for any office at least one week prior to such a period.

B. The period for filing shall be at least three days in duration.

C. After filing, the prospective candidate shall circulate a petition among the student body in order to collect the signatures of those who support his/her candidacy. Candidates for an executive office shall collect a minimum of fifty (50) signatures. Candidates for other offices must collect a minimum of twenty-five (25) signatures. Petitions must be verified by the Assistant Dean for Student Services. Petitions shall be turned in to the Chairperson of the
Elections Committee.
D. At the time at which a candidate picks up a petition, he/she shall be given a list of the election guidelines to be followed. Such guidelines shall be developed by the Elections Committee prior to each election.

E. Any person who runs as a write-in candidate must meet all requirements for office as outlined in the Constitution.

Section 3. Procedure

A. In any election of the Association, as many candidates that fulfill all of the requirements for office may run for each office.

B. There will be absentee ballots for students not present the day of the election. They may be picked up two (2) days prior to election and turned in the day before.

C. Election for each office shall be by simple plurality vote of those casting ballots for that office.

D. In the event of a tie, a run-off election shall be held within three business days of the original election. Campaigning is allowed for run-off elections.

E. The elected write-in candidate must receive at least one more than the number of votes needed to file a petition properly for the office in question.

F. A tabulation of the final vote count shall be recorded and made available upon request. Names of the newly elected candidates shall be posted on the bulletin board outside the Student Life Office. Ballots shall be deposited with the Assistant Dean for Student Services.

G. Any candidate for office may contest the election to the Election Committee and ask for a re-count of the votes. Such request must meet the following requirements:

1. The request shall be in writing.

2. The request shall be deposited with the Assistant Dean for Student Services within seven (7) days after the election.

H. If, after seven days, the election has not been contested, the Student Life Department shall destroy the ballots.

Section 4. Campaigns

A. The Election Committee shall post two signs at least seventy-two hours prior to the election listing all the names of formally filed candidates. The sign shall also denote the exact date, time and place of the election.

B. Each candidate shall be responsible for all phases of his/her campaign and the individuals who work on the campaign on his/her behalf. Discretion and good taste must be used, and these will be set and judged by the Election Committee.

C. Campaigning activities may begin the day after the period for filing for candidacy. Campaigning shall cease immediately after the close of balloting.

D. No campaigning or loitering shall be allowed within fifteen feet of the polls. This distance will be monitored by the Election Committee.

E. No candidate may spend in excess of $50.00 for all items related to his/her campaign.

F. All signs to be posted must be approved for posting by the Assistant Dean for Student Services and stamped as approved for posting.

G. Signs shall not be posted in the Horner Administration Building, Davis Memorial Library, Hensdale Chapel, or any classroom.

H. No signs may be posted on glass windows or doors. No sign shall be larger than two feet by three feet. All signs shall be hung with masking tape or some other substance approved by the Assistant Dean.

I. All signs must be removed within twenty-four hours of the completion of the balloting.


J. Posters that do not meet any of the guidelines stated above, or others to be determined by the Election Committee, may be removed and placed in the S.G.A. Office to be picked up by the candidate.

K. Alleged violation of any campaign regulations shall be heard by the Election Committee. The committee may penalize an offending candidate in any manner it sees fit, including elimination of the candidate from the election.

L. The Election Committee shall sit as election judges with the power to rule on any question regarding elections. Decisions of the committee may be appealed to the Community Court and then to the Vice President for Student Life.

Section 5. Oath of Office

Before the assumption of office by any elected official of the Association or its subsidiary bodies, the following oath shall be taken:

"I do solemnly affirm that I shall faithfully execute the duties of _______________ of the Student Government Association of Methodist University and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the Student Government Association of Methodist University."

The oath shall be administered by the incumbent Chief Justice.


Article VII

Committees

Section 1. The committee structure of the Association may include both standing committees and ad hoc committees.

Section 2. Plans and activities of the committees must be approved by the Senate. Upon approval, implementation is the responsibility of the respective committee.

Section 3. Standing committees of the Association shall include these:

A. Elections Committee

1. The Elections Committee shall have responsibilities for the supervision of all elections of the Association as determined in Article VI of this constitution.
2. This committee will be composed of four members of the Association and will be chaired by a member of the Senate who shall also be a voting member.
3. This committee shall have the responsibility for the organization, operation, and supervision of all elections held for any office within the S.G.A. and any other votes taken by the Association for any purpose.
4. This committee shall be responsible for interpretation of all policies of the Association regarding elections.
5. No member of this committee may serve on the campaign of any candidate for office or in any way be associated with any campaign.

B. The Cafeteria/Food Service Committee

1. This committee is responsible for assisting the college and the food service providers of the college to provide high-quality food services to students.
2. This committee will consist of two (2) or more members of the Association appointed by the Executive Committee, two (2) or more members of the Methodist University Student Body, the Director of the Cafeteria, the Manager of the Snack Bar, and two (2) members of the faculty/staff. This committee will select its chairperson.
3. Meeting times and operating procedures will be determined by the committee.

C. The Awards Committee

1. This committee has the responsibility for arranging the purchase and presentation of all awards given by the Association or its subsidiary bodies.
2. The committee will work with the Assistant Dean for Student Services to coordinate these activities.
3. The committee will consist of four members of the Association and will be chaired by the Vice President of the Association, who will also be a voting member.
4. The committee shall meet as necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the committee.

D. The Public Relations Committee

1. The Public Relations Committee shall have the responsibility for keeping the members of the Association informed of the activities of the Association by publication in the student newspaper minutes of the Executive Committee and Student Senate, and other materials (as necessary).
2. The committee shall consist of four members of the Association and be chaired by the Secretary of the Association, who shall also be a voting member.
3. The committee shall meet as necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the committee.

E. The Finance Committee

1. The main purpose of the SGA Finance Committee shall be to allocate and monitor the Student Activity Fee. The Committee shall have authority over all matters concerning the student activity fee except raising/lowering it and a final budget for the fee.
2. The foremost responsibility of the SGA Finance Committee shall be to support financially, to the greatest extent possible, all official student organizations meeting their goals and needs based on available monies.
3. All monies shall be spent in accordance to the policies set forth by the SGA Finance Committee.
4. The student activity fee budget shall be due to the Senate four weeks prior to reading day of the Spring Semester.
5. The SGA Finance Committee shall maintain by-laws with all rules, procedures, and other important information that can be requested at any time.
6. The formula for allocating student activity fee money shall be: 60% to Student Activities Committee, 30% to clubs and other organizations, and 10% for special grants and seed money. Grants shall be considered after the 15th of each month and awarded at the end of each month.
7. The SGA Finance Committee shall consist of:
-Three SGA Senators
-Seven Non-SGA members of which or at least one shall be a commuter, one shall be a non-traditional, and one shall be a resident student. All efforts shall be made to include diverse persons who do not hold executive board positions of any other club or organization.
-Treasurer who shall serve as chair with no vote, except in case of tie vote.
-Dean of Students who shall be considered Advisor without vote.
8. All questions and requests for budgetary information should be directed to the Treasurer.


Article VIII

Amendments

Section 1. The Constitution of the Association may be amended by a majority vote of those members of the Association participating in such a vote.

Section 2. Any member of the Association may propose amendments.

Section 3. An amendment must be voted on as soon as possible at the discretion of the Senate.

Section 4. Amendments to the Constitution of the Association may be made by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.


Article IX

Impeachment and Removal from Office

Section 1. Impeachment

A. Any Senator may initiate impeachment proceedings against any member of the Executive Council of the Association, Senator, or any other elected or appointed official of the Association or its subsidiary bodies.


1. Such proceedings may be initiated at any regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate.
2. Discussions and a vote on such proceedings shall be taken at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Senate.

B. A two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of all members of the Senate is necessary to approve such proceedings and grant impeachment.

Section 2. Removal from Office

A. Upon the successful completion of impeachment proceedings, the person(s) against whom such proceedings are initiated shall be presented with the opportunity to offer any defense that he/she feels appropriate.

1. No more than one (1) hour may be used for presentation of arguments on either side of the issue.

2. The impeached person shall have the last opportunity to present information prior to a vote.

B. A three-quarters (3/4) majority vote of all members of the Senate is necessary to remove any official from office.

C. The Chief Justice shall preside over discussions and votes regarding removal from office of any official.

D. In case of proceedings against the Chief Justice, the President of the Association shall preside over the discussion and vote.

Article X

Authority

The Association operates under the authority of the Board of Trustees and the
Administrative Officers of Methodist University and recognizes that the college has the right to coordinate the operations of the Association.


Article XI

Ethical Conduct

Section 1. Code of Ethics for Student Government Association

Any person in government should:

1. Put loyalty to the highest moral principals.

2. Uphold the Constitution of the Student Government Association and of all governing bodies therein and never be a party to their evasion.

3. Give a full day's labor for a full day's pay; giving to the performance of his duties his earnest effort and best thought.

4. Seek to find more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.

5. Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept for himself, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.

6. Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office.

7. Expose corruption wherever discovered.

8. Uphold these principals, ever conscious that office is a public trust.

Section 2. Highlights

Members and officers of the Student Government should:

* conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the Student Government Association.

* adhere to the broad ethical standards expressed in the Code of Ethics for Student Government Service. They should not seek private gain from public office. Nor should they attempt to circumvent any Methodist University rule or standard of conduct.

That "public office is a public trust" has long been a guiding principle of government. To uphold this trust, the Student Government has bound itself to abide by certain standards of conduct, expressed in the Code of Ethics for Student Government Service. This code exhorts members and officers to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect creditably on the S.G.A. of Methodist University, to work earnestly and thoughtfully for their fellow student, not to seek to profit by virtue of their public office or to allow themselves to be improperly influenced, and never to discriminate unfairly by dispensing of special favors. This code is set forth at the front of this Bill.

Appropriate standards of conduct enhance the legislative process and build confidence. Ethics rules, is reasonably drafted and reliably enforced, increase the likelihood that legislators (senators; and other officials) will make decisions and policies on the basis of the merits of issues, rather than on the basis of factors (such as personal gain) that should be irrelevant.

Section 3. Violations of Ethical Standards

Violations of ethical standards may lead to various penalties. The Constitution authorizes any member of the Senate to punish its Members for disorderly behavior and, with concurrence of two-thirds, to expel a Member. Precedents also show that any Senator (by means of the President Pro-Tempore), President of the Senate, and President of the Student Government Association may punish a Member by censure, reprimand, or condemnation.

A Senate rule specifically authorizes the Ethics Committee to enforce standards of conduct on Members and Officers; to investigate alleged violations of any rule outlined in the Methodist University Handbook, the Constitution of the Student Government Association, or any regulation pertaining to official conduct; and to make recommendations to the Senate for further action.
This same rule recognizes the Committee's authority to issue letters of reprisal and to take other administrative action. With the approval of the Senate, the Committee may also report substantial evidence of violation by a Member or Officer to the appropriate Methodist University Administrative Body.

Even where no specific penalties are provided, Members of the Senate may be removed from their positions for misconduct at the discretion of the employing Member, Chief Justice, or Ethics Committee.

Charges of unethical conduct can be evaluated only on a case- by-care basis. As the Committee has noted, "it was for the very purpose of evaluating particular situations against existing standards, and of weeding out baseless charges from legitimate ones, that this committee was created."

Section 4. Ethics Committee Procedures

Committee rules now set forth the following requirements for complaints filed with the Committee:

* A complaint must be in writing, under oath, and dated.

* A Member of the Association may file a complaint directly, or may forward the complaint of an individual not a Member for the purpose of initiating Preliminary Inquiry.

* If three Members refuse in writing to forward the complaint of someone not a Member, acknowledging that this may cause the Committee to initiate a Preliminary Inquiry, then the individual may file the Complaint directly with the Committee. An exact copy of the complaint filed must be attached to each refusal letter.

* The complaining party must provide a copy of the complaint to the respondent (the person against whom the complaint is filed) or the Committee will not be accepted.

* The respondent will be notified if the complaint is returned, as well as if it is accepted by the Committee as properly filed.

* The respondent will be afforded an opportunity to provide information in response to a complaint.

* The Committee generally will not undertake an investigation of an alleged violation that occurred in previous years of the Association.

* Upon receipt of a complaint, the Committee first determines that it is in proper form, the matter is within its jurisdiction, and the complaint merits further inquiry, it may initiate a Preliminary Inquiry upon an affirmative vote or at least four of its six members. Once a Preliminary Inquiry is voted, the Chairman will select two of the six Members to comprise an Investigative Subcommittee.

* The Investigative Subcommittee reviews the evidence and determines whether there is reason to believe that an offense within the Committee's jurisdiction was committed. If so, the Investigative Subcommittee notifies the respondent of its determination and files with the full committee a Statement of Alleged Violation, asserting specific charges in separate accounts.

* The Chairman then designates the Chief Justice and the Student Community Court to serve as an Adjudicatory Subcommittee to conduct a Disciplinary Hearing where evidence and testimony is received. At the conclusion of the Disciplinary Hearing, the subcommittee determines if any count contained in the Statement of Alleged Violation is proved by clear and convincing
evidence. If so, all Members of the Ethics Committee holds a Sanction Hearing to determine what punishment, if any, to recommend to the Association.

The Ethics Committee may recommend one or more of the following sanctions to the Association:

1. expulsion from the Association
2. censure
3. reprimand
4. suspension for a period of time determined by the Committee
5. any other sanction determined appropriate.

Alternatively, the Ethics Committee may send a Letter of Reprisal to the Respondent without recommending further action by the Association.

Section 5. Advisory Opinions

The Ethics Committee urges individuals to ask questions regarding the appropriateness of contemplated activity. The Committee authorizes "to give consideration to the request of any Member or Officer." This enactment guarantees that no one may be put in jeopardy by making such a request. Anyone who acts in good faith in accordance with a written advisory opinion
from the Committee may not then be investigated by the Committee based on the conduct addressed in the opinion, and the Student Community Court will consider reliance on such an opinion a defense to prosecution by the Justices. All such inquiries and their responses will be kept confidential by the Committee.

 

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