This Constitution will serve as the guiding principle of the Activities Board at Columbia, hereafter referred to as ABC, in order to ensure the fair governance of all groups that fall under it and the responsible allocation of student life fees.
ARTICLE I – PURPOSE
The ABC is an undergraduate governing board that operates on behalf of its constituent groups. The ABC governs groups with a diverse range of interests, including pre-professional, academic, engineering, competition, cultural, special interest, performance, musical, media, performing arts, publication, and large scale events. The ABC serves the following primary purposes:
- Serves and represents the interests of its groups;
- Determines initial funding and approves groups’ expenditures;
- Sets funding and policy guidelines for its groups;
- Empanels a Judiciary Committee to enforce above policy;
- Recommends groups for formal recognition.
ARTICLE II – BOARD COMPOSITION
SECTION 1 – EXECUTIVE BOARD
The ABC Executive Board shall consist of the following five officers:
- President, whose powers and responsibilities include calling and presiding over ABC meetings, coordinating the ABC, and holding ABC elections;
- Vice-President, whose responsibilities include chairing the Judiciary Committee, presiding over ABC meetings when the ABC President is unavailable,, and assisting the President and other officers in executing and enforcing the policy decisions made by the ABC;
- Treasurer, whose responsibilities include balancing the ABC account and executing monetary legislation made by the ABC;
- Secretary, whose responsibilities include leading the New Group Recognition Process, sending out the regular ABC newsletter, taking minutes of weekly ABC meetings, and making them publicly accessible;
- Tech Director (if appointed), whose responsibilities include website maintenance and technology-related initiatives.
SECTION 2 – REPRESENTATIVES
There will be fifteen ABC Representatives. The duties of the Representatives shall include advising a set category of groups, which involves the following:
- Maintaining regular communication with group leaders, including making a concerted effort to attend or arrange for at least one meeting or event per semester per group represented, notification of important meetings, deadlines, and related information;
- Advising groups with programming, finances, and helping them understand ABC procedures, rules, and regulations;
- Acting as the primary source of information for the ABC regarding the group’s activities, and making recommendations to the ABC with regard to actions taken by the board concerning the group, including recognition, de-recognition, appeals, and allocations.
SECTION 3 – COUNCIL LIAISONS
There will be one Liaison from CCSC, one Liaison from ESC, one Liaison from SGA, and one Liaison from GSSC, whose duties include maintaining effective lines of communication between their respective councils and the ABC and regularly attending ABC meetings. Each Liaison will have one vote in ABC board matters.
SECTION 4 – MEETINGS
- Every member of the ABC has one vote, except for the President, who may vote only in the event of a tie.
- Meetings shall be held weekly, and all meetings shall be open to the public unless closed by a two-thirds (2/3) vote by the Board.
- A quorum of 2/3 of the voting members of the board must be present for any business to be conducted.
ARTICLE III – MEMBERSHIP IN THE ABC
SECTION 1 – CRITERIA FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE ABC
To be a recognized group of the ABC, a group must:
- Not be community service, political, religious, athletic, or activist in purpose. Honorary societies, fraternities, sororities, or privately incorporated organizations are also ineligible;
- Be open to all members of the Columbia community regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, veteran’s status, academic major, or physical handicaps;
- Be composed of at least twenty (20) members, unless the nature of the group precludes a 20-person membership;
- Have a membership consisting of three-fourths (3/4) Columbia College and/or the School of Engineering and Applied Science and/or Barnard College and/or General Studies undergraduate students.
- Have at least one of the president, vice-president, or treasurer be a full-time undergraduate student of Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, or School of General Studies. This person will be required to complete required training at the start of the academic year;
- Not duplicate the function and/or recognized purpose of any other ABC organization;
- Require access to University facilities and resources not otherwise available to them as an unrecognized group.
SECTION 2 – PRIVILEGES OF RECOGNIZED GROUPS
- Recognized groups may include “Columbia” as part of the name of the organization. The organization may not, however, use the name “Columbia” in such a way as to represent to others that the organization is authorized to act on behalf of the University (e.g. when the organization is negotiating or signing contracts);
- Recognized groups also have access to Student Engagement-provided resources, including advising, space and services in Lerner Hall (and other buildings) for group programming, use of a group mailbox, storage closets, and other resources, a financial account, and the ability to request funding from the ABC.
SECTION 3 – GROUP CATEGORIES
- All groups will be placed into one of fifteen (15) categories.
- Each category will elect their own ABC Representative.
- Groups may submit requests to the ABC board for changing categories. Changes in categories will occur by a simple majority vote of the ABC board.
SECTION 4 – GROUP CONSTITUTION
- All groups must keep a Constitution on file with the ABC. The board should approve a group’s Constitution so long as the Constitution is structurally sound and does not contradict a provision of the ABC Constitution.
- A group wishing to change its Constitution must submit an amended Constitution along with reasons for the change to the Recognition Committee. The amended Constitution must be approved by a simple majority of the full ABC board.
- If a change in the mission statement of the group is deemed significant enough by the ABC, the group may instead be referred to the New Group Recognition process.
ARTICLE IV – NEW GROUP RECOGNITION PROCESS
To apply for ABC recognition, an organization must submit an application to the ABC by a date set by the ABC and announced at the beginning of each semester that includes:
- A membership list with signatures of all members;
- A signed constitution, complete with a statement of purpose;
- A completed New Group Application.
SECTION 2 – REVIEW OF NEW GROUP PROPOSALS
- The New Group Recognition Chair will receive applications and initiate communication between applicants and ABC representatives for the applicants’ group category. Unqualified and incomplete applications may be rejected at any point during the NGR process at the ABC’s discretion.
- All applicants will meet with the appropriate ABC representatives to discuss their applications.
- The ABC representatives will prepare short briefs of groups’ applications for the board to be distributed at interviews.
- The entire board will interview all of the groups during one weekend. Before each group is interviewed, representatives will quickly brief the board based on their meetings with applicant groups.
- At the day of interviews, the ABC board will deliberate which groups to recommend to Phase 2 of the NGR Process. A group shall be recommended when a simple majority of ABC members vote to accept them.
- Any remaining deliberations will be completed in the following week.
- Groups have the right to appeal to the ABC executive board regarding the ABC’s decision. If three-fourths (3/4) of the executive board vote to grant their appeal, they will come in for a hearing in front of the entire ABC board, where the board will vote again on the group’s application.
- A new group shall receive all privileges associated with ABC recognition and its category effective immediately after approval from the Student Engagement Office.
SECTION 3 – NOTIFICATION AND APPEAL
- If at any point in the recognition process a group fails to qualify or achieve the necessary votes, the New Group Recognition Chair should provide said group with reasons for why the group was not recognized.
- A group wishing to appeal a decision should provide the ABC Executive Board with reasons for reconsideration. The appeal will only be considered if at least one member of the ABC Executive Board determines the group has provided new information relevant to the review of the application, at which point the request will be reviewed again by the full board.
SECTION 4 – SPRING RECOGNITION
The ABC may only recognize new groups in the spring semester if the derecognition process has been completed for that year.
ARTICLE V – OTHER FUNDING GUIDELINES
SECTION 1 – Financial Policies
If a group accumulates debt, then the ABC shall take the following actions:
- As much as possible of a group’s debt should first be reclaimed from the group’s revenue.
- The ABC may then reclaim up to 1/3 of a group’s initial allocation as debt payment until the full debt has been repaid
- Exceptions under this policy may be granted by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the ABC.
Revenue is automatically rolled over, but unused allocation is reclaimed at the end of the fiscal year.
SECTION 4 – AGREEMENTS
The ABC reserves the right to make additional agreements with a group specific to their circumstances so long as the agreement does not violate a principle of this Constitution. The agreement must be made clear in writing, signed by both parties (an electronic signature is sufficient), and preserved in the ABC archives as well as transferred to incoming boards of both ABC and the group.
ARTICLE VI – PENALTIES
SECTION 1 – FORMS OF SANCTIONS
The ABC reserves the right to impose the following sanctions on groups:
- Allocation Deduction;
- Freezing of Account;
- Suspension of ABC privileges.
- Recommendation of Group Derecognition;
- Recommendation of Disciplinary Action.
Sanctions may be levied in response to violations including:
- Failure to either attend semesterly Town Hall meetings or vote in the ABC elections;
- Late submission of budget proposals;
- Violation of ABC regulations;
- Serious and deliberate misrepresentation of financial figures;
- Failure of a group’s executive board to attend required training sessions.
SECTION 2 – ALLOCATION DEDUCTION
Financial penalties imposed by ABC for failure to attend Town Hall meetings or submit a budget proposal by the deadlines set by the ABC shall not exceed 10% of total allocation. Groups must be given at least three (3) weeks’ notice of upcoming deadlines.
SECTION 3 – IMPOSITION OF OTHER SANCTIONS
The ABC may impose all other sanctions only through a 2/3 vote by the full board.
ARTICLE VII – DERECOGNITION OF STUDENT GROUPS
SECTION 1 – CRITERIA
The ABC may de-recognize groups that violate ABC policies (including no longer meeting the criteria for group membership) or that have been deemed inactive for two consecutive semesters.
SECTION 2 – PROCEDURE
- If a group is being derecognized on the grounds of inactivity, all efforts should be made to make sure that the group is indeed inactive, including contacting past boards.
- A simple majority vote by the ABC is required to derecognize a group.
- A demoted or derecognized group wishing to make an appeal must provide reasons for remaining recognized in writing to the New Group Recognition Chair within fourteen (14) days of the date of original notification. A simple majority vote by the full ABC board is required to approve the appeal.
ARTICLE VIII – BY-LAWS
SECTION 1 – FUNCTION
The By-Laws shall detail the procedures by which the ABC shall carry out its duties, including but not limited to budget allocation, appeals, group recognition, and judicial review, as well as policies relevant to groups, including but not limited to categorization, funding guidelines, and use of resources.
SECTION 2 – AMENDMENTS
The By-Laws shall be contained in a separate public document, titled “ABC By-Laws” and may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the ABC.
ARTICLE IX – COMMITTEES
All committees, including the judiciary committee, are established by a proposal by the ABC Executive Board and a simple majority vote of the board.
SECTION 2 – COMMITTEE FORMATION
Committee assignments will be made under such rules as the ABC may establish, with the following exceptions:
- At least one (1) Executive Officer of the ABC must serve on each standing committee.
- The chair of the committees will be appointed by the Executive Board.
- Members of the ABC must recuse themselves as appropriate if that member has a conflict of interest regarding one of the groups under the committee’s jurisdiction.
SECTION 3 – COMMITTEE MEETING PROCEDURES
- A quorum of 2/3 of the members of the committee must be present for the committee to vote on any recommendations.
- At least one-half (1/2) of the committee must vote in favor of a recommendation for the recommendation to pass.
ARTICLE X – ELECTING, APPOINTING, AND REMOVING ABC MEMBERS
SECTION 1 – ELIGIBILITY
Executive Board and Representative positions are only open to any continuing full-time undergraduate student in the Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, or General Studies.
SECTION 2 – ELECTION PROCEDURES
The date for Executive Board Officer elections shall be at least one (1) week before the date for the elections of Representatives. All candidates for an ABC position are required to hand in a candidate statement to be made available to the voting population before the date of the election.
- Election of ABC Executive Board Officers:
- Candidates for each Officer position will be elected by members of the ABC not running for that office.
- Voting for an office will commence after all candidates for that office have spoken, starting with that of President. Candidates who fail to win a particular Officer position may choose to run for the next Officer position. Elections will proceed in the order of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary
- Candidates may appeal to the ABC President to demand a recount before the next Officer election takes place.
- Election of ABC Representatives
- Each category of groups will vote only for candidates running for to be a Representative for their specific category.
- Nominations and Applications for ABC Representative will be due at least two (2) weeks prior to the Spring Town Hall.
- Candidates will be give two (2) weeks to campaign to the groups of their intended category.
- A candidate may run to be a Representative for only one category of groups per election.
- All groups are required to submit a vote for Representative to the ABC. Votes must be made by members of the groups’ executive boards.
- Proxy votes are prohibited. An executive board member of an ABC recognized group who sits on the executive board of another group may cast separate votes on behalf of his/her respective organizations.
SECTION 3 – RESIGNATIONS
- If a Representative resigns, applications for the vacancy shall be solicited from the general Columbia undergraduate student body. A new representative may then be appointed by a simple majority of the ABC.
- If a member of the ABC Executive Board resigns, a new officer may be appointed by a simple majority of the ABC after nominations are made from within the board.
SECTION 4 – IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL
Grounds for impeachment shall include serious abuse of membership privileges, neglect of the duties set forth in the ABC Constitution, or deliberate violation of the ABC Constitution. Impeachment proceedings may be initiated by any of the following four methods:
- A motion by at least three of the four Executive Officers of the ABC.
- A motion submitted by the three Council Liaisons and affirmed by at least two of the four Executive Officers of the ABC.
- A request submitted in the form of a petition signed by no fewer than six (6) of the ABC Representatives.
- A request submitted in the form of a petition signed by one or more officers of no fewer than one-fifth (1/5) of all registered ABC groups or, in the case of impeaching a representative, two-thirds (2/3) of a representative’s groups.
Following impeachment, an officer may be removed from office by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the ABC, or a three-fifths (3/5) majority vote of all general body groups
ARTICLE XI – JUDICIARY POLICY
The Judiciary Policy shall be contained in a separate document and may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the ABC.
ARTICLE XII – AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Amendments to the ABC constitution must be passed by two-thirds (2/3) majority vote by the ABC and two-thirds (2/3) vote of voting ABC member groups.
Last Updated: November 13th, 2017 (Fall Town Hall)