Student Senate Constitution

(Ratified and adopted September 2000)

Article I

Purpose of Student Senate

Section 1 – Student Senate will serve as a formal representative voice for the student body in the shaping of policies, strategies and programs.

A.  The student body will bring grievances, concerns, innovative ideas, and suggestions for change to the Senate who will communicate them to the administration.

B.  It is the responsibility of the Senate Cabinet to contact student organizations and the student body at the beginning of each school year.  At this time they are to communicate the role of the Senate and how Senate can best be contacted.

Section 2 – A student organization is defined as any organization officially recognized by the college.

A.  Student organizations that are not officially recognized by the college may appeal to Senate for representation.

Section 3 – Student Senate will serve as the formal link between students and other Goshen College publics (e.g. Faculty, Administration, and the Board of Overseers).

Article II

Weekly Meetings

Section 1 – A meeting will be held weekly for the Senate body to make decisions.

A.  This does not account for the last meeting of every month that is designated as a ‘town meeting’ open to the entire campus community.  (Refer to Article X)

B.  Each year Cabinet and the new Senate representatives will work together to find a time that works best for everyone.

Article III

Election of Cabinet Members

Section 1 – A Cabinet elected by the entire student body will direct Student Senate.

A.  The Cabinet will consist of four members; a President and three Cabinet members whose roles are defined in Article IV

B.  The Cabinet members shall be composed of two men and two women.  One of these is to be from an underrepresented student group (i.e. international or minority).

C.  At least one Cabinet member must have served as a Senate representative during a previous year.

Section 2 – The incoming Cabinet will be elected during the first week of March the previous school year.

A.  The up-coming election should be publicized (e.g. The Record and posters).

B.  A 50-word paragraph from each nominee shall be placed in the Record the day ballots are placed in campus mail.

C.  The results shall be reported in the next Record.

D.  The time period between the incoming Cabinet’s elections and the end of the academic year shall be a training period.

E.  The newly elected Cabinet shall sit in on the weekly Student Senate meetings as well as weekly Cabinet meetings for the remainder of the school year.  This is to provide a smooth transition between Cabinets.

Section 3 – The length of office is one year.  Multiple terms are permitted.

A.  The term for Cabinet members is the entire year.  Students planning to be absent for part of the year cannot serve this term in partial form.

Section 4 – One or more of the Cabinet members must be a continuing student in the next academic year in order for a resource person to be available for the incoming Cabinet.

Article IV

Representatives Membership and Election

Section 1 – The body of the Student Senate will consist of representatives elected from the various constituencies at the college.

A.  The Representatives

  1. Two representatives form each class, one female and one male, will be selected in a campus wide general election.
  2. One representative will be selected from fifth (+) year seniors, non-traditional and commuter students.
  3. One representative will be a member of the International Student Club.  The representative will be selected within the club without the consent of the general student body.

B.  The Election

  1. Cabinet will specify the period of time when representative nominations are collected.
  2. Cabinet will specify the period of time when voting occurs for the general student body.
  3. The general student body will only vote for representatives within their class.
  4. Voting for the representatives will take place online.

Section 2 – The preferred length of office is one year.  Multiple terms are permitted.

A.  Representatives may serve a partial year if they run with another person within the same class and gender in the election e.g. Foster(fall)/Nafziger(spring).

Article V

Roles of Cabinet Members (Generally, the Cabinet is responsible to organize and determine the agenda for the weekly Senate meetings, oversee the student Opinion Board, and report to the Board of Overseers.)

Section 1 – The offices shall be determined as follows:  The candidate who receives the most votes shall have the option to choose the role of president.  The three remaining will be designated Cabinet members at large (co-vice presidents).

A.  Should the candidate who receives the most votes decline the role of president, the Cabinet will decide positions amongst themselves.

Section 2 – From the duties formerly distinguished by the roles of President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer; Cabinet members will divide and decide upon individualized and customized roles for each Cabinet member.

A.      The Duties:

  1. Schedule weekly meetings with the Cabinet and Senate advisor.
  2. Preside over Senate meetings.
  3. Respond to official correspondence addressed to the Senate including letters and e-mail.
  4. Design the glass covered information box in the Union.
  5. Record minutes of each meeting of Student Senate and see that the minutes are distributed to each representative as well as one posted on the opinion boards.
  6. Write and send agenda previous to weekly meeting.
  7. Notify members of all meetings.
  8. Prepare and supervise the approved Student Senate budget.
  9. Obtain the signature of the Senate advisor for reimbursement of expenses.

B. The sole duty specific to the President is to make official statements and respond to the public.

Article VI

Role of Representatives

Section 1 – Representatives are expected to serve on other campus committees and to report over their respective committees as needed to the Senate.

A.  Committees to which Senate is responsible for assigning one or more student

representatives may change from year to year.

Section 2 – Representatives are to volunteer to serve on student committees within the Student Senate that may be formed during the year to handle specific issues.

A.  If representatives do not volunteer, delegation by the cabinet may occur.

Section 3 – Representatives may be asked to oversee official clubs on campus to enhance communication channels between Senate and the clubs.

Article VII

Attendance and Resignation

Section 1 – Attendance at all weekly meetings is mandatory for all representatives and Cabinet members.

A.  If absence is unavoidable they must contact a Cabinet member prior to the meeting.

Section 2 – The Senate will dismiss any member who misses any three consecutive meetings without prior notification.

A.  The representative shall first be given a written warning after two missed meetings.

Article VIII

Resource People

Section 1 – The advisor to the Student Senate is the Dean of Student Life.  Each Cabinet, in consultation with the Dean of Students, shall determine the role of the advisor.  In general, the advisor will serve as a resource person.  He or she will advise the Cabinet as to the workings of the administration and appropriate actions to take.

Section 2 – The advisor will conduct a training session based on the amount of instruction the particular Senate needs.

A. The session will include information on how to conduct meetings, organize agendas, organize records, and available credit for Senate responsibilities.

Section 3 –  If requested, a member from the previous Cabinet will stay on for a month, or as long as the Senate decides, as a resource person for the incoming Cabinet.

A.  The resource person may attend Cabinet meetings or strictly be on call.  The Cabinet shall decide the role of the resource person and communicate their decision with him or her.

Section 4 –  Cabinet can appoint their own resource persons.

A.  This could include giving them a chair at Senate meetings as a non-voting representative.

Article IV

Constitutional Revisions and Emergency Circumstances

Section 1 – All constitutional revisions will be voted on by the current voting Senate body.  Revisions must pass by a 2/3rds vote.

A.  This includes times where the Cabinet is the extent of the voting body of Student Senate (i.e. summer and fall planning times).

Section 2 –  Cabinet members have the power to enforce decisions in order to continue the effectiveness of Student Senate.

A.  Emergency situations must be agreed upon as emergencies and remediary measures agreed upon by a consensus of the Senate Cabinet members.

Section 3 – If a Cabinet member becomes unable to serve, the remaining Cabinet will appoint a new person to replace him/her.

A.  In this situation the consideration of the gender and ethnicity of the replacement Cabinet member are considerations and only considerations.  (i.e.  The Cabinet will no longer have to follow the said guidelines in Article II, section 1, clause B.)

Article X

Town Meeting

Section 1 – The last meeting of every month will be open to the entire campus.  This is a time for students to express both ideas and grievances.

A.  This meeting is an open forum.  No votes will be called.

B.  If no one attends then the Cabinet members have the choice to cancel the meeting or to conduct a normal meeting.

Section 2 – The meeting will be an hour in length.  Meetings will open with a brief review of the minutes from the previous town meeting. Each person wishing to speak will be given 3-5 minutes.  Open discussion will follow with people being given 2-3 minutes for comment time.

Section 3 – Minutes of the town meeting will be taken and voting issues will be brought to the representatives the following week.

A.  If needed Senate can invite people to the following meeting to clarify their proposal and answer questions.

Section 4 –  If Senate has pressing issues at hand that need to be voted upon, Cabinet can decide to postpone the town meeting until the following week.

Article XI

The Writing on the Wall

Section 1 – Attending the leadership retreat at the beginning of the year is required.  It is at this time that the Cabinet begins to set goals and decipher the role of the advisor and resource person.

Section 2 – Establish communication between student organizations, resident assistants, and the Record in order to work effectively throughout the year.  It is important that this is done early in the year.

Section 3 – It is important for the Cabinet to take advantage of every opportunity possible to make themselves visible to the Student body.

Section 4 – Holding elections on the dates indicated by the official school calendar for both representatives and Cabinet.

A.  Publicize the elections in order that the student body is well informed.  This is to be done by the procedure outlined in Article III as well as other innovative ways unique to the particular Cabinet.

Section 5 – Keeping accurate records.

A.  Compile a summary describing projects finished and projects uncompleted.  This will be of great assistance to the incoming Cabinet as they work to set their agenda for the next year.

Section 6 – Two Students will be appointed to monitor the opinion board following the established guidelines.

Section 7 – Submit a list of Senate events for the official school calendar.

Section 8 – A group cohesiveness activity is suggested for each year

Appendix I

As of the 2000-2001 school year, the organizations/clubs with seats are:


Black Student Union – Latino Student Union


Goshen Student Women’s Association

International Student Club

Non-Traditional/Commuter Student Association


The Record

Groups with seats include:

Field of Study

Business Club

Pre-Med Club

Social Work Action Association

Sociology/Anthropology Club

Extra-Curricular Sports

Association of Mennonites Interested in Street Hockey

GC Bike Club

Goshen Swim Club

Maple Paddlers

Motorcycle Club

Common Interests

GC Players

Kite Club


Third Culture Students

Appendix II

Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure:

Order of Business

  1. Call to order (Roll Call)
  2. Reading of minutes from previous meeting
  3. Officers’ reports
  4. Committee reports
  5. Unfinished business
  6. New business
  7. Announcements
  8. Adjournment

To make a motion

  1. Obtain the floor – speak to the chair
  2. Make your motion – “I move that we. . .”
  3. Wait for a second – “I second the motion”
  4. Chair states your motion – “It is moved and seconded that we. . .”
  5. Expand on your motion – mover speaks first and may speak again when all other speakers are finished
  6. Motion is debated
  7. Put the question – vote


Amend :  To change a motion by adding, deleting, or substituting words or provisions.

The amendment is voted on entirely separately from the motion.

Appeal :  A decision of the chairperson may be appealed.  An appeal requires that the decision be referred to the assembly for its determination by a vote.

Close debate : To stop all discussion on a motion and to take a vote on it immediately.

Dispose of Motion : To remove it from the consideration of the assembly.

Division of assembly : A vote taken by counting members, either by raising or by a show of hands.  Often taken to verify a voice vote.

Motion :  A proposal submitted to an assembly for its consideration and introduced by the words “I move.”

Pending question : A question, or motion, before the assembly, which has not yet been voted upon.

Point of Order : An assertion amounting to a demand addressed to the chairperson that a mistake should be corrected or a rule enforced.

Postpone definitely : To defer consideration of a motion or report until a specific time.

Postpone indefinitely : To kill a motion or report by deferring consideration of it indefinitely.

Postpone temporarily : To defer consideration of a report or motion until the assembly chooses to take it up again.  The old form of the emotion was “lay on the table.”

Quorum :  Number or proportion of members, which must be present at a meeting to enable the assembly to act legally on business.  Typically two-thirds.

Reconsider : Motion to cancel the effect of a vote so that the question may be reviewed and re-decided.

Second :  An indication of approval of the consideration of a proposed motion.

Suppress a motion: To kill it without letting it come to a vote.

Yeas and nays : Roll-call vote during which each member answers “yea” or “nay” when called by name.