Constitution & Bylaws
Building a Constitution
A student council constitution is a written document that sets forth the fundamental laws and principles under which the council operates and is organized. The constitution deals with general purposes and outlines the council's organization and administration. A primary quality of a constitution is that it is written in a concise manner. In simple terms, it clarifies and explains the fundamental purposes of the student council. A constitution also sets forth a basic framework for the council's processes, including its membership, meetings, officers, and legislation. It usually includes a historical perspective of the council such as when it was founded.
By including only the basic elements of the student council governance structure, a constitution should rarely need to be revised, but in the event that it is, the process for amending the constitution should be included in the document and incorporate accepted practices. Absent of the elements found in bylaws, a constitution is rarely more than two pages in length.
A constitution should be tailored to the particular group for which it is intended. The basic principles of a constitution, however, are the same for all groups. Here is an outline of the fundamental provisions needed for a constitution.
Name of your student council and any affiliations it has with state and national groups
The purpose or purposes of the student council
Membership - Identifies who are the members, and the grades and organizations they represent. Non-discrimination statements should also be included in this section.
Officers - Identifies the officer positions, eligible grades for holding office, and establishes the time and process for elections.
Adviser - Defines the position and how appointed
Meetings - Sets the frequency of meetings and defines special meetings. This article also tells how meetings are called.
Quorum - Sets forth the number of members required to conduct business. A quorum can be stated as a fraction of the number of members, such as 3/4 or 2/3, or it can be a set minimum number.
Legislation - The legislation article defines how ideas are presented to the student council and move through a process to become an activity or project
Amendments - Explains how the constitution is amended, including notice required, voting procedures, and the majority needed for passage.
The constitution should be written in general terms that can be understood by everyone. Sentences and articles should be brief, simple, and clear. Only those items that will help the council to accomplish its purposes should be included.
The first draft of the proposed constitution is prepared and submitted to the student body and faculty for comments and suggestions. A second draft will probably be necessary, incorporating as many ideas as are practical and acceptable.
The final draft should be simple, clearly stating the rules and regulations by which the student council is to be organized and containing specific directions for the orderly conduct of business. The final draft should be presented to the school for a vote of acceptance.
No matter what kind of organization is finally decided upon, these three general rules apply to all cases:
- The council must be based on a democratic philosophy that respects the value of each individual. The democratic process should be open to all, one person-one vote, and the majority rules.
- The council should be developed to fit local conditions and needs. The council should meet the diverse elements of the student body.
- The council should represent the combined thinking of students and faculty over a long period of time. Leadership should be developed in the work of the students with assistance of the faculty.
Sample Middle Level Constitution
The Constitution of the Anywhere Middle SchoolStudent Council Association
Name and Purposes of the Organization
Section 1. Name
The name of the student government at Anywhere Middle School shall be the Anywhere Middle School Student Council Association.
Section 2. Purposes and Duties
The purposes and duties of the Anywhere Middle School Student Council shall be to...
- Promote the general welfare of the school.
- Develop attitudes and practices of good citizenship.
- Take an active role in the improvement plans for the school.
- Foster positive student/faculty relationships.
- Provide a forum for student expression.
- Assist with assemblies and school programs.
- Promote positive attitudes of scholarship through example.
- Provide activities that build school pride in students and faculty. 9. Initiate and execute activities for the betterment of the community.
Membership to the Student Council
Section 1. General Membership
All students legally enrolled in Anywhere Middle School as Sixth, Seventh, or Eighth graders shall be considered to have membership in the Student Council Association.
Section 2. Executive Board
The membership of the Executive Board shall consist of a President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary, Historian, and Team Representatives.
Section 3. Executive Officers
The officers shall, during their terms of office, be in the following grades:
- President: Eighth Grade
- First Vice President: Seventh Grade
- Second Vice President: Sixth Grade
- Secretary: Seventh Grade
- Historian: Eighth Grade
Section 4. Vacancies
When a vacancy on the Executive Board occurs for any reason during the year, the Executive Board shall recommend the appointment of a new officer to the Council Adviser for final approval. If the vacancy is of a team representative, the position shall be filled by the team, within 2 weeks of the date of the vacancy.
Section 5. Ex-Officio Membership
Ex-Officio Members shall be non-voting members of the Executive Board and shall include any student serving as an officer or board member of a national, state, or district student council organization; or from time to time any student whose exceptional leadership abilities would be of significant benefit to the council (Such membership will be at the determination of the Executive board and with approval by the Student Council Adviser).
Powers and Duties of the Officers of the Student Council
Section 1. President
The President shall have the following duties:
Preside over all meetings of the Executive Board, appoint committee chairpersons, coordinate and oversee the making of morning announcements, represent the council at public occasions and conventions, act as the council liaison to the principal and faculty, assist in regular and special assemblies, carry out any other duties as directed by the Executive Board, attend a leadership workshop prior to October.
Section 2. First Vice President
The First Vice President shall have the following duties:
Assume the duties of the president in his/her absence, conduct student council elections under the direction of the council adviser, act as chairperson on committees, assist the Secretary to maintain the Student Council message board, carry out any other duties from time to time as requested by the Executive Board, attend a leadership workshop by the month of October.
Section 3. Second Vice President
The Second Vice President shall have the following duties:
Assume the duties of the President and First Vice President in their absence, serve as chairperson on committees, carry out any other duties from time to time as requested by the Executive Board, attend a leadership workshop prior to the month of October.
Section 4. The Secretary
The Secretary shall have the following duties:
Keep the minutes of all Executive Board meetings and Officers' meetings, provide a written agenda to all Executive Board members not less than 2 days prior to a scheduled business meeting, assist the Council Adviser with correspondence, maintain attendance records of meetings and activities, assist the First Vice President with the Council message board, attend a leadership workshop prior to the month of October.
Section 5. The Historian
The Historian shall have the following duties:
Maintain a written and photographic record of council activities and projects, collect any letters or other recognitions for archival storage, collect newspaper articles of council activities, provide photos of council activities to media and other organizations for publication, create a scrapbook as the official record of the year's council activities.
Section 6. Team Representatives
The Team Representatives shall have the following duties:
Shall act as liaisons between the Executive Board and the Student Body, attend all Executive Board meetings, actively participate on committees, actively participate in activities and projects sponsored by the Student Council Association.
Elections and Eligibility for Office
Section 1. Election of the President, First Vice President, and Secretary
Once the representatives have been elected from their teams, the council will hold an organizational meeting. During this time advisers will provide applications to eighth graders for the positions of President and Historian; seventh graders for the First Vice President and Secretary positions. Students will submit applications for the positions for which they wish to campaign. After the established application period is closed, the said students will meet with the newly elected team representatives and present a campaign speech to the group. Following the speeches, ballots will be prepared for the team representatives to cast their votes. After the elections are held, new officers will be announced to the school population. The installation of the new officers will be held within two weeks of the announcement.
Section 2. Election of the Second Vice President
The term of Second Vice President shall be filled by the third week of January by holding a general election in the Sixth Grade pursuant to the election process outlined in Article 4, Section 1. The term of the Second Vice President shall run from the January election until the position is refilled the following January. Upon completion of the term of office, the former Second Vice President shall remain an Ex-Officio member of the Executive Board with all the rights and privileges thereof.
Section 3. Election of Team Representatives
The Team Representatives from all grade levels shall be elected by the end of the first full week of school, on a date set forth by the Executive Officers.
Section 4. Eligibility for Office Executive Officers
Any student who is legally enrolled as a student at Anywhere Middle School and is in the appropriate grade for the office desired may be considered eligible for candidacy. Team Representatives Any student who is legally enrolled as a student at Anywhere Middle School may seek a position as Team Representative.
Section 1. Officers' Meetings
Executive Officers shall hold a minimum of two meetings per month, during the school year, and which precedes meetings of the whole.
Section 2. Scheduled Meetings
The Executive Board shall hold a minimum of bi-monthly meetings with one being for business purposes and another for leadership training.
Section 3. Meeting Calendar
The administration, faculty, and staff of the school shall be furnished with a published calendar that includes the dates of all scheduled, regular meetings of the Executive Board before the first meeting of the year.
Section 4. Called Meetings
No meeting shall be called without a minimum of two day's notice to the adviser.
Attendance, Active Status, and Dismissal from the Executive Board
Section 1. Statement of Justification
Inasmuch as the student council is a service-based organization, and can only properly carry out its projects and activities with a full and active membership, and Executive Board members are selected by their peers with the expectation of providing opportunities and activities pursuant to the goals as set forth in the Constitution, and with this requiring a commitment to the organization, and to the students and staff of Anywhere Middle School, the following rules of attendance and activeness shall apply to all members of the Executive Board.
Section 2. Unexcused Absences from Meetings
Any member of the Executive Board missing two (2) scheduled business meetings without giving prior notice to the council adviser, shall be required to meet with the Executive Officers and council adviser, and may be recommended for suspension or dismissal from the Executive Board based upon the outcomes of that meeting. This sections shall be inclusive of scheduled officers meetings as well.
Section 3. Minimum Requirements for Active Membership
To be an active member of the Executive Board, Team Representatives and Officers shall be expected to:
- Miss no more than one regularly scheduled meeting without giving prior notice.
- Serve on two active committees per semester, and not miss more than one scheduled committee meeting without giving prior notice.
- Team Representatives must present a report to the homerooms in each respective team, and provide a written copy of the report to the secretary, verified by the team faculty.
- Provide service at council-sponsored concession stands or other booths during sports seasons. Members participating on teams will be expected to compensate the time by service on extra committees or as determined by the Executive Board.
- Provide service prior to, during, and after school dances sponsored by the student council.
- Provide service as needed from time to time as requested by the faculty or administration.
Section 4. Dismissal from the Executive Board
Dismissal will be considered when: infractions are severe or habitual, and other disciplinary measures fail. Student Council members may be dismissed from the Executive Board for any of the following infractions:
- Violation of School policy that results in any form of suspension (in-school, Saturday school, out-of-school)
- Failure to attend council sponsored activities or assist in projects.
- Failure to notify of absences to committee, council, or officer meetings as stated in Article 6, Section 3.
- Failure to maintain minimum grade standards5
- Conduct which is deemed unacceptable and/or upon recommendation of the principal, adviser, or both.
Section 5. Due Process in Dismissals
Any student who is considered for dismissal will meet with the Student Council Adviser and Principal for the purpose of hearing the reasons for dismissal and to present a defense. Dismissal, probation, or dismissal of charges will then be determined. Students dismissed will not be eligible to hold office on the Executive Board the following school year.
Amendments to the Constitution may be submitted by any Executive Board member during a regular business meeting. Consideration of the Amendment is in the following manner...
- Purposed amendments are submitted to the Executive Board during a regular business meeting as new business.
- A written copy of the proposal is given to each Team Representative, who will review it with their team constituents and teachers.
- Following the class meetings, a two-thirds majority vote of the student body will be required for passage and adoption of the amendment.
Sources of Power and Veto
Section 1. Source of Power
The power of the Student Council Association is derived from the administration of Anywhere Middle School. The Principal shall have the right to permit or deny any action, activity, or project of the Student Council Association when such action, activity, or project is not in the best interest or reflective of the educational mission of the school environment and/or students.
Section 2. Veto Power of the Adviser
The Student Council Adviser, acting as a designee of the principal, shall have the right to veto any action, activity, or project of the Executive Board when such action, activity, or project is not in the best interest or reflective of the educational mission of the school environment and/or students.
The Constitution of is hereby ratified
on this, the ___ day of ___.
Principal of School:
Student Council Adviser:
Student Council President:
Sample High School Constitution
CONSTITUTION OF THE STUDENT COUNCIL OF SOMEWHERE HIGH SCHOOL
We, the students of Somewhere High School, do hereby establish a Student Government to be a forum for student opinion, promote positive attitudes of cooperation between faculty and students, provide opportunities for volunteer service to the school and community, and develop a culture that fosters student citizenship and leadership. To affirm our dedication to these ideals, we do hereby adopt this constitution for the Student Council of Somewhere High School.
The governing organization of the student body shall be known as the Student Council and shall be recognized as the official representative organization of the student body and as such its action supersedes those of all other student organizations.
The Student Council shall be divided into two branches: the Executive Committee and the Class Officers. Their relationship shall be benevolent and shall foster intra-governmental cooperation.
All powers of the Student Council are delegated to it by the principal who has the right to veto any act of the body or to revoke any powers held by it.
The Student Council shall have the power:
- To enforce all rules necessary and proper for the general well-being of the Student Body
- To provide for the disbursement of the Executive Committee funds
- To override a Presidential veto by two-thirds vote of all present
- To make recommendations on any subject to the administration
The Executive Committee of the Student Council shall consist of the Student Body President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and the Class Presidents.
The Student Body President along with the approval of the Executive Committee Officers shall appoint committees and shall appoint all committee chairs as may be deemed necessary. A chairman shall serve to report back necessary information to the Student Government. After the committee's work is done, the group will be disbanded. If in the event another project of similar task is undertaken and a committee is necessary, the President shall be able to appoint a new chairperson or rename a former chair to again serve.
- Shall be the chief executive of the Executive Committee
- Shall preside at all executive and all Executive Committee meetings
- Shall have the power to veto over all Executive Committee legislation
- Shall faithfully execute all provisions of the constitution and legislation of the Executive Committee
- Shall appoint all committees and the chairmen of such, and shall serve as an ex-officio member of all committees
- Shall be the Master of Ceremonies of all programs and assemblies as designated by the principal
- Shall serve as an intermediary between the administration and the student government and shall present all government business to the administration
- Shall cast the deciding vote in case of a tie
The Vice President
- Shall perform the duties of the President in his/her absence
- Shall assist in the drawing up of all agendas and assembly programs
- Shall oversee the various committees
- Shall act as chairman of the Inter Club Council
- Shall perform all other duties which may be assigned by the President or the Adviser
- Shall keep and file an accurate record of all Student Council meetings and Executive Committee meetings
- Shall perform all Student Council correspondence: keep file of all letters received and date and day of receiving them
- Shall keep a scrapbook of all Executive Committee activities
- Shall receive and file monthly reports as written by all committee chairmen
- Shall inform the Student Council records of all Executive Committee meetings
- Shall keep all financial records of the Executive Committee
- Shall make a report of all finances at government meetings and submit a copy of the report to the secretary
- Shall count all monies received and deposit them in the main office
- Shall be appointed by the Principal
- Shall work to further the Student Government and aid the organization in performance of their duties
- Shall interpret questions not addressed in the Constitution
- Shall accompany the selected delegates to the State Conference if applicable
The Judicial Committee
- Shall be in charge of any recall procedures
- Shall consist of seven members: three seniors, two juniors, and two sophomores which shall be appointed by the Student Council Adviser. The adviser and the principal shall also serve as non-voting members of the committee
- Shall interpret the Constitution and have the final voice in all questions pertaining to the Constitution
- The Judicial chair will be a senior member of the Committee, and will be appointed by the principal, adviser and Student Body President
The Inter Club Council shall consist of a representative from all clubs, organizations, and sports teams within the school. The purpose of which is to coordinate club activities within the school and to provide a broader base for student involvement b y creating an atmosphere of position relations for further leadership.
All legislative powers of the Student Council shall be vested in the Student Council.
The voting members of the Executive Committee will consist of all members of the Student Council. The Executive Committee meetings shall be open to all enrolled Somewhere High School students and the Student Government Adviser.
Class Officers are responsible for furthering the well-being of their respective classes.
The individual classes shall be charged with the responsibilities and oversight of the following activities:
- Freshman Class: Fund raising for future activities, Class Service Project
- Sophomore Class: Sophomore Dance, Class Service Project
- Junior Class: Prom, Class Service Project
- Senior Class: Graduation Ceremonies and Speaker, Class Service Project, Senior Class Gift
Each class shall have a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, & two representatives at large
In order to facilitate improved intra-governmental communication, the Class Officers and Executive Council shall meet every two months as a congress. Additionally, Class Officers will meet quarterly with the Student Body President
Attendance to State Conferences and Workshops:
Order of preference given to available positions: Executive Committee Officers, Class Officers, Student Council Representatives
The Principal and adviser have the authority to appoint from time to time additional [ex-officio] member(s) to Student Council for such purposes as filling positions related to special projects and including students who have been selected to serve in local, state or national leadership positions.
To be eligible for Student Council office as a rising junior or senior:
- The candidates must have attended Somewhere High School one semester prior to taking office.
- The candidates must be in good academic standing (as defined by the district for participation in school activities)with a conduct record free of suspensions or administrative disciplinary actions.
- Candidates for Student Body Officers must be a member of the rising Senior Class and have previously served, in some capacity, on Student Council at Somewhere High School at least 1 semester and ended or completed the term of service/office in good standing.
During March, each student wishing to run for Student Council must obtain and submit two faculty and two peer recommendations. Recommendation forms are provided by the Student Council Adviser. Each candidate will also be required to complete a one-page personal essay explaining his/her reasons for filing for office and goals if elected and attend a candidates' meeting to review campaign rules and ethics.
Once the candidates have filed for office, an assembly will be held in which all candidates will deliver prepared speeches. A copy of the candidate's speech must be approved by the Adviser at least 2 school days prior to the assembly. Each speech should be no shorter than one minute and must not exceed three minutes. A timekeeper will notify candidates when their time has expired. All candidates must follow the guidelines for campaign speeches there are included in the candidate materials.
On the first Thursday of April, the rising Junior and Senior classes shall vote by secret ballot to see who will fill the Executive Committee offices for the next school year. Seniors are not eligible to vote. Students receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected to their designated positions. In the event of a tie, a run-off election will be held the following morning.
To be eligible for Student Council Office as a rising sophomore:
- The candidates must be legally enrolled as a student at Somewhere High School.
- The candidates must be in good academic standing (as defined by the district for participation in school activities) with a conduct record free of suspensions or administrative disciplinary actions.The Candidate Filing Period is held annually the last full week of September. Any sophomore wishing to run for class officer must obtain and submit two teacher and two peer recommendations no later than Monday of the following week. Recommendation forms are provided by the Student Council Adviser. Each candidate will also be required to complete a one-page personal essay explaining his/her reasons for filing for office and goals if elected and attend a candidates' meeting to review campaign rules and ethics. All General Election Rules will apply.
Officers that are observed exhibiting inappropriate behaviors or conduct in or outside of Somewhere High School, fail to perform duties to the best of one's ability, and failure to maintain the acceptable academic standard are grounds for impeachment or other disciplinary actions. If a Student Council Officer is suspended from school or if s/he fails to meet all of the before-mentioned requirements then s/he will be required to appear before the Judicial Committee for a closed official hearing to determine future status.
In the event that a vacancy occurs in the office Student Council President, the Vice President shall succeed to the office of President. In the event of the vacancy is of any other Student Council Officer, the remaining three officers will unanimously choose a replacement from the senior class officials. A special election will then be held, using the election guidelines, to fill the vacant spot. In the event of a vacancy of any class officer, a special election will then be held, using the election guidelines, to fill the vacant spot.
Write-in candidates shall be ineligible for election.
A copy of the Student Council Constitution will be given to all candidates and will be available on the student council website.
Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in writing by any Student Council member.
Amendments must be accepted by a two-thirds majority of the Student Council membership
This Constitution will be reviewed by a special appointed committee every three years. The committee will review and recommend any necessary changes. The committee will consist of three seniors, two juniors, and two sophomores. The Vice President will chair this committee.
Student Council meetings will be held on the second Thursday of each week. The Adviser may at any time call a special meeting. The Student Body President may also call a special meeting with a minimum of one day's notice and approval of the Student Council Adviser. Proper Parliamentary Procedure shall be followed in the meetings.
Attendance at Council meetings are required. Members unable to attend must notify the adviser at least 1 day prior. Any member having two unexcused absences will be required to meet with the adviser. The member may also be asked to appear before the Judicial Committee in order to determine further disciplinary action or dismissal from the Student Council.
During the weeks prior to the Homecoming festivities and game, the Student Council shall work on planning all specifics for activities surrounding the event. Student Council shall be responsible for all traditional and non-traditional activities of Homecoming, both during the school day and after school hours. Events Student Council shall lead include:
- Hallway Decorating Competition - Classes shall each compete to decorate a given area of the class halls. Council selects the theme and Class Officers are responsible for lining up teacher chaperones, class members to work, and materials. Each class must follow the timeline, theme, budget, and behavior rules established by the Council at large. Violations of the rules will result in a Judiciary decision on the selection of winners. Judges from the community shall be selected by the Council to judge the walls in a rank order fashion by class based on following the designated theme, overall look, neatness, color, tastefulness, and conduct of said class as documented by teacher advisers during the week.
- Council shall be responsible for overseeing the election of Miss Patriot, each class attendant, and Mr. Patriot. Each nominee must have an overall GPA of 2.0, must be a member of the class they wish to represent, must have not been suspended in the semester in which they are running, must submit documented evidence of volunteer service, should show a high level of school spirit, and should be of good moral character reflecting school, county, and state guidelines. Council shall work with the adviser or faculty member designated by the adviser to select the flowers, crowns, automobiles, and all pageantry surrounding the crowning on the football field during the Homecoming Game at halftime. Mr. Patriot shall be crowned at the Homecoming Dance and must fit all of the requirements prescribed for Miss Patriot and her attendants.
- Council shall select themed days during Homecoming Week where classes shall dress in the clothing and spirit of the Council designated conceptual fashion. The student attire must follow all school, county, and state rules outlining acceptable student wear. Two adviser-selected Student Council representatives will go door-to-door to record the number of people in each class participating in this activity.
- Council shall host a school-wide celebration event in the form of a dance, field day, assembly, bon fire, or other activity, which must be approved by the principal. The activity selected must be one to involve the maximum number of students in school spirit surrounding Homecoming and all of it implications.
- Council shall host a pep assembly on the day of the Homecoming Football game in concert with the Band and all fall sports and academic competitions. Students shall sit by class and cheer in a competitive style.
- Council shall tally up in point form all of the class competitive activities during the week to award the Spirit Stick to the class with the "most school spirit" as evidenced by their rank in competitions in Homecoming Week.
- Council shall be responsible for the Homecoming Dance. They shall select the date, contract a DJ, decorate the area designated for the dance, have sign ups for dates from other schools, sell concessions, sell tickets, clean up afterwards, and police the event. The theme and character of the dance shall be the responsibility of the Council. All Student Council members are expected to attend the dance unless excused by the adviser and principal. The dance shall be open only to SWHS students of good standing, ie, eligible to participate as defined by school district policy.
Student Council shall sponsor Student Incentive Programs throughout the school year. Council shall work with the Administration to schedule events, activities, field trips, and any other activity directed by the Faculty Senate, Administration, and the Council itself. Activities can arise from the ranks of Student Council, from faculty, from Administration, or from a student suggestion. Council shall discuss, vote and work with the Administration to meet the needs of the Student Body. School dances or any other school-wide activity from other school organizations can request the participation and guidance of the council which will be brought before the entire Council for a vote on Council involvement. The Student Council will strive to sponsor school-wide activities that have broad appeal and reach out to the diverse populations within the student body.
The Student Council shall be the clearinghouse and representative body of SWHS serving as an intermediary agent acting as a liaison between students, faculty, and administration.
Diverse Representation Amendment
A homeroom representative is elected for a term on one year. However, he or she must come before the Judicial Committee for possible dismissal in case of:
- an unexcused absence from two meetings
- two dismissals from meetings on the ground of disorderly conduct
The responsibilities of the elected homeroom representatives shall be:
- To maintain the accepted academic standard throughout the year (verified every nine weeks). If this is not met, the representative will come before the Judicial Committee for a closed hearing to determine his or her future status.
- To attend the general session portion of all Student Government meetings
- To give reports of Student Council meetings to their respective homerooms. This will be validated by the homeroom teacher on a specified form.
- To carry back to the Student Council suggestions and complaints of enrolled students.
- To aid the Student Government members from their respective class with any class responsibilities.
- To serve on committees of the Student Council and to recruit other students to participate.