GSA Charter

CHARTER OF THE GRADUATE STUDENT ASSEMBLY OF YALE UNIVERSITY

1.  This Charter enumerates procedures for the constitution and functioning of an assembly of graduate students at Yale.  In order to assure that graduate students can be represented and can participate effectively in Graduate School policymaking about matters that are relevant to their education and their lives as students, an Assembly of Graduate Students (hereafter “Assembly”) shall be constituted by the election of representatives.  The constitution and functioning of this Assembly shall not infringe upon the formal authority and responsibilities that are assigned to the Dean and the Graduate Faculty.

A.  Representatives to the Assembly will be elected on a departmental basis.  Each department or degree-granting program in the Graduate School is guaranteed a minimum of one representative.  Departments having 40 or fewer registered students in all years will be entitled to one representative, departments having between 41 and 80 students will be entitled to two representatives, and so on.

B.1.  Elections will be held toward the end of the spring semester of each academic year.  The Assembly will determine the dates of its elections.

B.2.  All students currently registered in the Graduate School during the semester in which elections occur (including those registered in absentia) will be eligible to participate in the election of the Assembly as voters and candidates.  Students serving in the Assembly must be currently registered in the Graduate School and in residence.

B.3.  The Assembly shall determine its electoral process.  The Assembly may hold one by-election per semester and additional elections as needed, including recall elections as established in the by-laws.  An Assembly Election Committee appointed by the Assembly will supervise all elections.  Issues and concerns pertaining to elections, including complaints about electoral procedures, will be directed to the Committee for adjudication.  Moreover, the Committee is empowered to hold a recount of the vote, or conduct a new election, in any department in which the Committee judges that a violation of electoral rules has occurred.  Implementation of the electoral process will be governed under the provisions of the appropriate by-law.

B.4.  Candidates for election to the Assembly must be nominated by one or more students currently registered in the Graduate School.  Candidates may nominate themselves.  Candidates must stand for election in the department in which they are currently registered.  Students registered in multiple departments may stand for election in only one department.

B.5.  Students vote in the department or program in which they are currently registered or, in the event of registration in more than one department or program, in one department or program as they so choose.  They may vote for one candidate for each representative position allocated to their department.

C.1.  The Assembly will meet at least once a month during the academic year.  It should report regularly to the graduate students in each department on its proceedings.

C.2.  The Assembly will elect a chair, vice-chair, secretary, treasurer, and other officers as it deems appropriate.  The Steering Committee of the Assembly will consist of the four officers named and, in addition, six representatives, to be chosen by the Assembly, such that each Division, as determined by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is represented by at least two of the ten Steering Committee members.  If, after a certain point in the academic year to be determined at the discretion of the Chair, the Divisional requirement cannot be met, the Assembly will fill the vacant positions with representatives from any Division.  Officers and Steering Committee members may be removed from their positions as per the Assembly by-laws.

C.3.  The Steering Committee will generally meet twice a month during the academic year.  It will set the agenda for meetings of the Assembly and be responsible for regular communication between the Assembly and the administration.  Any decision that the Steering Committee reaches will be subject to approval by the Assembly.  The chair and vice-chair will share responsibility for chairing all meetings of the Steering Committee and the Assembly.  The secretary will be responsible for keeping a written record of all Assembly and Steering Committee meetings and deliberations and for overseeing the circulation of information about those meetings and deliberations to graduate students.

C.4.  The Assembly will establish a process by which graduate students can place items on its agenda.

C.5.  A quorum of the Assembly will consist of one-half of the total number of elected representatives.

C.6.  The Assembly may hold referenda including all graduate students on matters that the Assembly deems of particular significance.  The Assembly shall have full responsibility for preparing and carrying out such referenda independent of the Dean and Faculty.  A referendum may be authorized by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly.  A referendum may also be authorized by a three-quarters majority of the representatives of a single Division, provided that the number of representatives voting is at least one-fifth of the total number of Assembly seats allocated to that Division.  The Charter can only be revised according to the procedures described in article 3.

C.7.  The Assembly may introduce by-laws to determine the process or mechanisms by which the Charter provisions are implemented.  By-laws will be drafted by the Steering Committee and presented at least two Assembly meetings prior to approval or rejection by the Assembly.  Approval will require a two-thirds majority vote of Assembly members.

D.  The Assembly shall receive funding to cover the cost of its activities, including but not limited to costs associated with elections and referenda.  An annual budget for the Assembly will be developed by the Steering Committee in consultation with the Dean and submitted to the full Assembly for its approval.  The Assembly shall, at its sole discretion, determine the expenditure of funds supplied in its budget, provided that this expenditure is in accordance with University guidelines.

2.  The Assembly and its Steering Committee shall have the following responsibilities:

A.1. The Assembly will choose graduate student representatives to all standing committees of the Graduate School on which students serve.  Graduate student representatives to these committees need not be members of The Assembly. These committees will include, but are not limited to, the Executive Committee of the Graduate School, the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances, the Grievance Board for Student Complaints of Sexual Harassment, and the Committee on Regulations and Discipline. Members of the Executive Committee will include the Chair, vice-Chair, and one Representative from each Division of the Graduate School. The Assembly will attempt to achieve a rough balance in representation among the Divisions in its selections for the other committees.

A.2. The Assembly will appoint graduate-student representatives to the Advisory Committees in the Graduate School, including those associated with the McDougal Center and with the Offices of Teaching Fellow Preparation and Development, Career Services, and Diversity and Equal Opportunity.  The Assembly will attempt to achieve balanced Divisional representation on these committees. 

A.3. The Assembly will appoint graduate student representation on University wide committees when appropriate. In keeping with past practice these committees include, but are not limited to, the Yale University Health Services Member Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on Library Policy, the Minority Advisory Council, the Committee of Review, the Advisory Committee on Resources for Students and Employees with Disabilities, the Committee on Sexual Misconduct, and the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board.

A.4. The Graduate School and the University shall make all attempts to ensure Assembly nominated student representation on all future standing and ad-hoc committees on which students serve.  

B.1.  The Assembly shall select graduate students to serve on ad hoc committees created by the Dean and composed of faculty, administrators, and graduate students.

B.2.  The Assembly may propose that the Dean create ad hoc Graduate School committees composed of faculty, administrators, and graduate students to study issues and to make recommendations to the Dean and to the Assembly.  The graduate students on these committees shall be selected by the Assembly, with each Division entitled to equal representation.

C.  The Assembly may appoint committees consisting of representatives and, at its discretion, other registered graduate students, to consider matters pertaining to the Graduate School and Graduate School policy.  Each Division is entitled to equal representation on these committees.

D.  The Steering Committee shall meet regularly (normally every two weeks) with the Dean to discuss issues of interest to the Assembly or Dean, including recommendations that originate with the Dean or with the Assembly.  Through these discussions, the Assembly will be consulted about changes in Graduate School policies.  The Steering Committee will report the sense of these meetings to the general membership.

E.  Given the particular importance to graduate students of Graduate School policies concerned with the Graduate School Teaching Fellow and teacher training programs, the grievance procedure, the disciplinary procedure, health services, career services, diversity and equal opportunity, and the programs of the McDougal Center, the Steering Committee will work closely with the Dean in the formation of policy in these areas with the goal of achieving consensus.  No policy changes in these areas will be implemented without affording the Assembly an opportunity to discuss and comment upon them.  Failure to do so may result in a re-examination of policy under the provisions of article 2.F.

F.  When the Assembly votes by a two-thirds majority that the Dean has violated the Charter, it will move to take that violation to the Steering Committee to resolve the matter.  The Assembly must put in writing the specific language of the Charter that has been violated and a description of the manner in which it was violated.  If the Steering Committee fails to resolve the matter with the Dean in a manner acceptable to two-thirds of its members, it will bring to the Executive Committee of the Graduate School the original written complaint and the written minutes of the Steering Committee meeting at which the matter was discussed.  A faculty member of the Executive Committee will chair the meeting, the Dean will be present, and another faculty member will take minutes.  The Executive Committee will make a formal written recommendation to the Dean that will be sent to the Steering Committee for publication to the Assembly.

3.  The following procedures shall govern the implementation, review and revision of the Assembly Charter:

A.  In order for this Charter or any future revision of this Charter to take effect, it must be approved in identical form by a majority of all voting students in a referendum conducted among all currently registered graduate students, by the Graduate Faculty, and by the Dean.  The approval of the student body, Dean, and Faculty shall be secured by the end of the academic year in which the Charter review process has been carried out.  Once in effect, the provisions of the Charter may not be amended or curtailed except by means of the revision process described in articles 3.B. and 3.C.

B.  A re-examination of the Charter will take place at the end of every fourth academic year.  Charter review will be carried out by a Charter Review Committee consisting of twelve members; six faculty members equally representing the three Divisions will be designated by the Dean, and six graduate students equally representing the three Divisions will be designated by the Assembly.  The Dean shall name the Committee Chair.  The Committee will review the Charter and, if deemed necessary, propose modifications.  The Committee will also supervise a referendum to approve a continuance of the Charter under the provisions of the existing Charter, a modified Charter, or other propositions.  Acceptance of any proposition requires the joint approval of graduate students, Dean, and Faculty as described in article 3.A.

C.  With a two-thirds majority vote, the Assembly may request that the Dean initiate a Charter review process earlier than specified in article 3.B.  Early review can occur only with the joint approval of the Dean and two-thirds of the Assembly.  The procedures for conducting an early review and approving the resulting Charter remain as specified in articles 3.A., 3.B., and 3.D.

D.  If, upon completion of a Charter review process as described in article 3.B. or 3.C., the Charter recommended by the Charter Review Committee is not approved by graduate students, Faculty, and Dean as stipulated in article 3.A, the Assembly will continue to operate under its existing Charter for four years.  At the end of the four-year period, another review and approval process will be carried out as specified in article 3.B.