Constitution of the Latin@ Coalition of the
University of Pennsylvania
Revised: February 28, 2007
Revised: October 15, 2012
Revised: October 30, 2013
Revised: November 14, 2013
Revised: January 30, 2014
Revised: April 9, 2014
Revised: April 11, 2015
Revised: April 14, 2016
We, the members of the Latin@ community of the University of Pennsylvania, hereby establish the Latin@ Coalition of the University of Pennsylvania to promote the growth and advancement of the Latin@ community. We strive to facilitate effective communication within and between the Latin@ organizations at the University of Pennsylvania and to provide a unified voice for the Latin@ student body.
Article I. Name and Purpose
A. The name of this organization shall be the Latin@ Coalition of the University of Pennsylvania.
B. The purpose of the Latin@ Coalition shall be:
- To formulate, promote, and advance the agenda of Latin@ students at the University of Pennsylvania
- To recognize, support, and foster development of the Latin@ community at the University of Pennsylvania;
- To collaborate with policy-making bodies of the University of Pennsylvania to promote the growth of the Latin@ community in order to make comparable with the percentage of Latin@s in the United States the percentage of Latin@ students, faculty, and staff at the University of Pennsylvania;
- To advance the professional and economic status of Latin@ students, faculty, and staff;
- To foster desirable relations with the objective of building a strong network of Latin@ students;
- To motivate and empower Latin@ students to become dynamic leaders, and identify and address critical issues in the Latin@ community;
- To plan, facilitate, and coordinate student programming;
- To collect, manage, and distribute funds for the benefit of the constituent groups of the Latin@ Coalition;
- To advocate for the existing initiatives that address matters of constituent groups;
- To maintain a relationship with Latin@ alumni; and
- To reach out to prospective Latin@ students with the aim of increasing enrollment of Latin@ students at the University of Pennsylvania.
- "Official meeting"shall be defined as any steering meeting, general body meeting, the Latin@ Community Retreat, and all meetings necessary for the planning and execution of an event during Festival Latino.
- A "petition" shall be defined as expressing, in writing, to the Chair of External Affairs a request to receive recognition as an active constituent group of the Latin@ Coalition.
- "General Body" shall be defined as all members of Latin@ Coalition constituent groups.
- All uses of the term "University"shall be understood as referring to the University of Pennsylvania, unless otherwise stated.
- "Resolution" shall be defined as a non-binding statement or endorsement made by the voting members of constituent groups of the Latin@ Coalition.
Article II. Constituency
- All Latin@ student groups at the University of Pennsylvania are eligible for consideration for membership in the LC if their membership is predominantly Latin@ or if the group's goals and interests strongly coincide with those of the LC.
- A group may become a recognized member group by a three-fourths majority vote of the LC voting members present.
- Every recognized group receives voting privileges as a constituent of the LC. If in compliance with the following bylaws each group will have the power to cast one vote without reservations of membership size.
- Individual students not associated with an LC recognized constituent group are welcome to attend meetings but shall not have the power to cast votes.
- Each group is to be represented on the Coalition with a minimum of one representative.
- The representative should be on the governing board of the constituent organization. The appointed representative is expected to attend regular body and(or steering) meetings consistently. When this is not possible, a representative should send an appointed substitute.
C. Active Constituent Groups
- Each constituent group shall be required to attend official meetings to remain active. If a constituent group misses three official meetings within one semester, they will be deemed inactive.
- In the event of an absence of a constituent group from an official meeting, the Chair of External Affairs will notify that constituent group of its constituent status, including its number of absences from official meetings.
- Only active members shall be eligible to vote at official meetings and elections. In the event that a constituent group is deemed inactive, the Chair of External Affairs shall notify the inactive constituent group that its representative cannot vote.
- Only active constituent groups shall be considered for funding requests and disbursements. The Board of the Latin@ Coalition shall decide have the power to decide whether or not to approve funding requests. Disbursements shall only be granted to active constituent groups.
- Inactive constituent groups will remain inactive until they attend three consecutive official meetings. At the last of these three official meetings, the inactive constituent group shall petition the Chair of External Affairs for reactivation, and declare the constituent group active again.
D. Responsibilities of Constituent Groups
- Each constituent group shall:
- Attend all official meetings when announced;
- Inform its members of all official Latin@ Coalition meetings and events;
- Convey any pertinent issues or questions to the Latin@ Coalition Board and to the General Body when appropriate;
- Each constituent group shall check-in, in person, with the Chair of Internal Affairs at every official meeting to make sure attendance is recorded;
- Be represented at the Latin@ Community Retreat by at least one board member and at least one other board member or non-board member
- Each representative at the Latin@ Community Retreat can only represent one constituent group.
- Violations of any of the aforementioned responsibilities may:
- Negatively affect funding, at the discretion of the Latin@ Coalition Board;
- ultimately result in membership revocation;
- A constituent group with repeated violations shall have their membership in the Latin@ Coalition revoked only after receiving formal written notice from the Latin@ Coalition Board. Revocation of membership requires a majority vote of the Latin@ Coalition Board, previous formal notification to all constituent groups, and a three-fourths majority vote of eligible voting constituent groups.
- Former constituent groups that wish to reinstate membership in the Latin@ Coalition must follow the same steps as new groups looking to gain first-time membership. Reinstatement of membership shall be considered only after a semester from the date of membership revocation.
- Regarding Festival Latino, each constituent group of the LC will have the opportunity to opt-in (via a form provided by the LC Board) as a participating group of Festival Latino at the beginning of the Fall Semester. Constituent groups that choose to opt-in as participants in Festival Latino will be expected to work with the Festival Board and other participating constituents to plan an event for Festival. If a constituent group opts-in as a participant and fails to meet these expectations, they will be penalized via the loss of funding from the LC for the remainder of the school year barring extraneous circumstances communicated to the LC. Constituent groups that do not opt-in are not subject to any type of penalty for not participating.
Article III. The Latin@ Coalition Board
A. The Latin@ Coalition Board shall be comprised of the following elected offices: Co-Chair Internal, Co-Chair External, Chair of Programming, Chair of Finance, Chair of Admissions and Recruitment, and Chair of Operations.
- The Co-Chair Internal shall:
- Ensure the overall effectiveness of the LC and the LC Board;
- Schedule board and general body meetings and plan the agendas for each;
- Work closely with the Director and Associate Director of The Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina on issues of mutual importance;
- Communicate directly with the leaders of the graduate and professional student member groups to ensure that their concerns are addressed at general body meetings;
- Communicate directly with the board of the Association of Latin@ Alumni (ALA) to collaborate on alumni events; and
- Assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair External when he/she cannot fulfill those duties
- The Co-Chair External shall:
- Represent the LC at the Undergraduate Assembly Steering, and other meetings with branches of student government;
- Meet with student-leaders across the University, including the leaders from the minority student coalitions, to explore avenues for collaboration;
- Work closely with the Co-Chair Internal to coordinate meetings with University faculty and administrators, leaders of minority student coalitions, branches of student government, and other student groups as designated by the LC;
- Represent the LC in the University Council;
- Present the Coalition to the media; and
- Assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair Internal when he/she cannot fulfill those duties
- The Chair of Programming shall:
- Ensure that all programming activities sponsored by the Latin@ Coalition are officially recognized by university administration;
- Facilitate any events sponsored by the Latin@ Coalition;
- Work with the Associate Director of The Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina to plan and execute the regular Latin@ Community Retreats;
- Serve on the planning committees for Latin@ Heritage Month, Festival Latino, Unidos: La Casa Latina Mentorship Program, Freshman Fuerza, and ARCH Programming;
- Maintain the integrity of the relationship between the Latin@ Coalition and the Philadelphia community, with the assistance of the Chair of External Affairs
4. Chair of Finance shall
- Oversee and coordinate all financial matters of the Latin@ Coalition;
- Analyze financial records to forecast future financial position and budget requirements;
- Evaluate and execute the need for procurement of funds and investment of surplus;
- Advise the Latin@ Coalition Board on the best use of the Latin@ Coalition funds;
- Coordinate the allocation of Latin@ Coalition funding to constituent groups and submit budgets to the Board and constituent groups in a timely fashion;
- Execute the receipt, disbursement, banking, protection and custody of funds, securities, and financial instruments under approval of the majority of the board;
- Present oral financial reports at all steering meetings;
- Submit a written financial report at the beginning and end of each semester to all constituent groups;
- Coordinate closely with the Chair of Programming to ensure adequate fundraising and spending for Latin@ Coalition programming; and
- Attend Tangible Change and Intercultural Fund meetings.
5. The Chair of Admissions and Recruitment shall:
- Coordinate and attend meetings with officials from the University's admissions office;
- Report the activities of the Admissions Dean's Advisory Board and Quaker OATS (Opportunities and Access Team) to the Board and the General Body;
- Meet with Admissions to include Latin@ Coalition-related events in the schedule for the annual Multicultural Scholar's Preview;
- Represent the Latin@ Coalition at all recruitment events;
- Design and carry out a program to encourage Latin@ Coalition members to return to their high schools to recruit students; and
- Design programs that aim to make the percentage of Latin@ students, faculty, and staff comparable to the percentage of Latin@s in the United States.
6. The Chair of Operations shall:
- Manage social media outlets;
- Manage the Latin@ Coalition listserv;
- Send regular weekly newsletters to the Latin@ Coalition constituency through the listserv;
- Work to design and update a suitable website;
- Prepare presentations for official meetings;
- Record minutes at each official meeting;
- Keep a record of all Coalition statements and articles pertaining to our activities; and
- Create a weekly task manager for fellow board members.
B. Only one person may fill each of the elected positions at any given time. Each board member holds one vote during voting procedures at board meetings. All officers of the board shall have these responsibilities.
- Attend all board meetings and official meetings or submitting their reasons for not attending in writing to the other board members before said meetings;
- Delegate tasks when they are unable to complete the duties of their respective positions and following up on the completion of these tasks;
- Report on the State of the Latin@ Coalition, the Latin@ community, and the results of their occupation of the post at the penultimate official meeting of the fall semester; and
- Attend the first Latin@ Coalition Board and official meeting of the replacing Board and to provide advice and consultation as required.
- Latin@ Coalition Board members who do not fulfill the duties outlined above and have been formally notified of complaints against them shall be subject to removal from office. Removal from office requires the unanimous vote of the other Latin@ Coalition Board members, formal notification in writing to constituent groups, and a three-fourths majority vote of representatives of active constituent groups present.
C. In the event that there is a vacancy on the Latin@ Coalition Board the current Latin@ Coalition Board members have the responsibility to:
- Inform the general Latin@ Coalition Body of the vacancy in the Latin@ Coalition Board;
- Recruit prospective candidates for the position; and
- Carry out an expedited interview process in which they must narrow the prospective selection pool to two candidates and an election process defined in Article VI, Section G will be carried out.
Article IV. Meeting Guidelines
A. At the first official meeting of every semester the board shall designate an official meeting day and time for Latin@ Coalition meetings throughout that semester. This schedule will include general body meetings as well as steering meetings. At each of the first general body and steering meetings of the semester, the board shall describe the purpose and parameters for these meetings, paying particular attention to the difference between both.
B. Any active member of the Latin@ Coalition may call for an unofficial meeting and set the agenda for said meeting. The Co-Chair must be notified three days in advance for said meetings, and must in turn notify all member groups in a timely manner. Amendments cannot be passed at such meetings.
C. At each steering meeting there will be time allotted for constituent groups to report on and discuss their activities and concerns.
D. Resolutions shall pass by a simple majority of representatives of active constituent groups taking part in the vote.
E. Minutes must be published on the website no later than one week after the meeting.
Article V. Funding
A. The Latin@ Coalition will collect, manage, and distribute funds for use in programming and for distribution among active constituent groups.
B. Each constituent group should complete the application with an itemized budget and present it to the Chair of Finance a week in advance.
C. The Latin@ Coalition Board will subsequently review event funding requests and allocate funding in an appropriate fashion.
D. Funding for events that are sponsored by a single Latin@ Coalition constiuent group shall be limited to a maximum of $50 per semester. No funding cap shall exist for events that are cosponsored by two or more Latin@ Coalition constiuent groups.
Article VI. Elections Guidelines
- Candidates shall announce their intention to run for specific Latin@ Coalition Board positions at the penultimate steering meeting of the Fall semester.
- Elections will be held each year during the last general body meeting of the Fall semester.
- Nominations and constituent groups that are eligible to vote shall be announced at the steering meeting prior to elections.
- Each constituent group shall be allowed one voting member and one alternate voter.
C. Time limits:
- Each candidate will be given three minutes to deliver a speech to the general body.
- The general body will be given five minutes to question the candidates. At all times during questions and deliberations, each general body member will be allotted thirty seconds to formulate their question or comment. Candidates will be allotted one minute to answer each question. If, after the end of the five-minute period, the general body desires to ask more questions, a majority of representatives can vote to extend the questioning period by three minutes. Following the questioning period, the general body will be allotted five minutes to deliberate each position. If, after the end of the five-minute period, the general body desires to extend the deliberation period, a majority of representatives can vote to extend the deliberation period once by two minutes per candidate per position. These two minutes will be proportional to the number of candidates running per position. For example, if there are three candidates running for a position, the deliberation period shall be extended by six minutes. Following the deliberation period, general body members will be allotted up to three minutes to consult amongst themselves before casting their final votes.
- The Chair of Internal Affairs will be charged with keeping time throughout the election procedures, or will delegate this responsibility to another board member or an outside body, such as the Nominations and Elections Committee.
- General Guidelines
- Active constituent groups of the Latin@ Coalition shall deliberate on candidates for each open position on the Board.
- There shall be seven (7) periods of deliberations, one for each open position on the Board as described in Article III of the Latin@ Coalition Constitution.
- Length of Deliberation Periods
- Refer to Article VI, Section C, Subsection 2.
- Active constituent groups need not use the entire time allotted by the original period of deliberation or any extensions.
- Discussion Guidelines
- Discussion participants during each deliberation period shall follow the "Guidelines for Deliberation" as determined by The Choices Program at Brown University available at http://www.choices.edu/resources/guidelines.php
- Additional guidelines may be added through a simple open forum facilitated by the Chair of the Latin@ Coalition at the steering meeting prior to elections.
- Additional guidelines determined at the steering meeting prior to elections are only effective for that election cycle.
- The Co-Chair Internal of the Latin@ Coalition shall distribute the comprehensive discussion guidelines via email to the steering committee no later than twenty-four (24) hours before elections.
- The Co-Chair Internal of the Latin@ Coalition shall read aloud the discussion guidelines before beginning the first period of deliberation.
- Discussion participants shall be held responsible for following the announced discussion guidelines during each deliberation period.
E. Electoral Votes
- Active constituent groups shall vote for who they consider to be the best-fit candidate for each open position on the Board.
- "Best-fit" is determined by the qualities of the candidate's platform as demonstrated during their opening statement and responses to questions.
- Active constituent groups are encouraged, but not required, to use the following list of questions to inform their vote at elections:
- Did the candidate meet with the exiting chairperson?
- Does the candidate have a good understanding of the current and prevalent political issues affecting Latin@s at Penn?
- Does the candidate demonstrate a thoughtful plan to address these issues through the function of their desired position?
- Does the candidate have a history of participation with the Latin@ Coalition and/or its constituent groups?
- Does the candidate have a level of campus involvements that would allow for focused efforts in the desired position?
- Additional questions may be added through a simple open forum facilitated by the Chair of the Latin@ Coalition at the steering meeting prior to elections.
- Additional questions determined at the steering meeting prior to elections are only effective for that election cycle.
- The Chair of the Latin@ Coalition shall distribute the comprehensive list of questions via email to the steering committee no later than twenty-four (24) hours before elections.
- The Chair of the Latin@ Coalition shall distribute physical copies of this list of questions to voting constituent groups at the beginning of elections.
F. Voting Procedures:
- The Co-Chairs shall preside over the election and ensure that voting is carried out fairly. If either Co-Chair is running for re-election, then the Co-Chairs shall have the Nominations and Elections Committee of the University of Pennsylvania preside over elections.
- The Order of voting shall be as follows:
- Co-Chairs shall run independently and all candidates for Co-Chair shall be voted for at the same time. During the election process, candidates should specify what position they desire.
- Every voting member for one Co-Chair Internal and one Co-Chair External.
- The two highest vote getters shall be elected Co-Chairs.
- Chair of Programming
- Chair of Finance
- Chair of Admissions
- Chair of Operations
- The Chair, or their designee, shall preside over the election and ensure that voting is carried out fairly. If the Chair is running for re-election, the Vice-Chair shall assume this role.
- Voting shall be conducted through secret ballot.
- Candidates shall not be allowed to vote for the position that they are contesting.
- Current Latin@ Coalition Board members shall not be allowed to vote.
- Candidates, including those running unopposed, must receive a majority of the vote from the presiding body to be elected.
G. In an extraordinary circumstance as delineated in Article III, Section D, the election procedure shall be as follows;
- The Board will designate a deadline for registration for candidacy and make such information public to constituent groups one week prior to said deadline;
- The Board will inform candidates in advance of their scheduled interview;
- The Board will select a minimum of two final candidates that will be asked to present their platform at the next regularly scheduled official meeting; and
- The election process will follow protocol outlined in Article VI, Sections B-F.
Article VII. Amendments
A. All constituent groups and members of the Board are eligible to promote amendments to this Constitution
B. Proposed amendments have to be submitted in writing to the Board and will be included in the agenda for the next steering meeting.
- Proposed amendments must be submitted in writing to the Chair and Chair of External Affairs one week prior to the steering meeting at which it will be addressed.
C. The proposed amendment shall be distributed to constituent groups at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the next steering meeting.
D. At the steering meeting:
- Those wishing to introduce amendments must make a motion to amend. To consider debate on the amendment a second is required and a vote of one-third of voting members present is needed. If it does not receive either of these the amendment is not introduced.
- The Co-Chair Internal will read aloud the proposed amendment.
- The sponsor of the amendment will be allotted two minutes to propose their amendment followed by a three-minute question-and-answer period.
- A representative of the Board will be granted three minutes to explain the Board's position on the suggested amendment.
- The body will be given five minutes to question the sponsor of the amendment and the representative of the Board.
E. Following the question-and-answer period, an open discussion of five minutes will be granted.
- If, after the end of the five-minute period, the body desires to expand the discussion time, a majority of representatives can vote to extend the discussion period by five minutes, after which each present voting group will cast their vote.
F. Following the question-and-answer period, a moderated caucus of five minutes will be granted.
- If, after the end of the five-minute moderated-caucus period, the body desires to expand the discussion time, a majority of representatives can vote to extend the discussion period by two minutes twice, for a maximum of four minutes.
- Representatives will have 30 seconds to speak and no member can speak twice until all those wishing to speak have done so at least once.
- During this time, voting groups may propose modifications to the amendment.
- There will then be a one minute unmoderated caucus, after which each present voting group will cast their vote.
G. Only germane modifications to the amendment, as defined by the Co-Chair Internal, will be accepted.
- The Co-Chair Internal must receive the modification in writing before recognizing this motion. After recognizing the motion and reading the modification to the representatives, the sponsor of the primary amendment will deem the modification acceptable or unacceptable.
- If the modification is deemed acceptable, it shall be immediately adopted.
- If the modification is deemed unacceptable, then a vote is held in which one-third of voting members present is needed to consider the modification. Consideration of the modification to the amendment will follow the amendment process as defined in Article VII, Section E-F.
H. If the majority of the constituent groups accept the proposed amendment, the Board will vote:
- The members of the Board will cast their vote, which will count as one per post. Simple majority is required to ratify the amendment, the moment at which it becomes part of the official Constitution.
- If the amendment is vetoed, the general body has the power to ratify the amendment by calling a re-vote on the amendment and obtaining a three-fourths approval of active constituent groups.