SRB Constitution

Preamble

We, the students of Harvard Law School, do hereby establish the Harvard Law School Student Representative Board for the primary purpose of representing our interests within the HLS community.

I. Name

The name of the organization is “Harvard Law School Student Representative Board” (hereinafter “SRB”). The organization may also use the name “Rep Board.”

II. Purpose

1. The primary and most important purpose of SRB is to advocate for the interests of the student body, to the faculty, administration, and others whose decisions affect student life at HLS.

2. SRB shall have these additional functions:

  • To organize and provide services to the student body, to the extent that those services are not provided by HLS.
  • To organize events that promote campus-wide community-building.
  • To oversee the formation of student groups at HLS.

III. Principles

SRB should strive to adhere to the following principles. Though not formal mandates, these principles arise out of the circumstances that led to the establishment of this new Constitution, and have informed its design. Where there is ambiguity in this Constitution, it should be interpreted in accordance with these principles.

Advocacy, not government. The primary role of SRB is to advocate, not to govern. It should generally not issue decrees or make binding decisions, except in those narrow areas that are provided for in this Constitution. In no case should it make decisions on the basis of the individual interests of its representatives and officers.

Active engagement with the membership. SRB should strive to maintain an up-to-date and accurate perspective on the opinions of the student body. This means conducting regular surveys and maintaining open channels of communication.

Independence. The organization is independent from the HLS administration. When the administration changes a policy – either explicitly or through its behavior – that affects the student body, the organization should investigate the student body’s opinions and resist the change if appropriate.

Minimal structure and operation by consensus. SRB should operate with the minimum amount of structure and procedure required to fulfill its purposes, and should strive to act by consensus. Parliamentary procedure and frequent internal votes risk focusing attention toward internal governance and away from the core mission of SRB: advocacy. A lack of consensus within SRB on an important issue is an indication that the student body should be asked directly for its opinion.

IV. Specific Powers

1. SRB shall have the power to speak to other HLS and Harvard constituencies on behalf of the student body, where it has reasonably determined through a survey, referendum, or similar means that there is widespread agreement among the students.

2. SRB shall have the power to communicate with its members, including first-year students from the beginning of orientation, as reasonably necessary to inform the membership of its activities, collect member feedback, and conduct elections and surveys.

V. Membership

1. All currently-enrolled students, including visiting and exchange students in residence, at the law school are deemed members of SRB. Membership begins when HLS considers the individual to be a current student, and ends when the individual loses official current student status, even if that loss is temporary. Notwithstanding the above, those students completing programs away from campus, such as a joint degree program or study abroad, with a firm plan to return to campus are members regardless of their physical presence or official student status.

2. All members shall have equal rights to:

  • Attend and participate fully in the general body meetings of SRB.
  • Vote in elections of SRB.
  • Stand for election as a representative in or officer of SRB, subject to minimal qualification requirements described herein;

VI. Representatives.

1. SRB shall have elected representatives who represent the interests of particular groups of members before SRB.

2. SRB shall have the following composition of elected representatives:

  • One representative of each section in the first-year class.
  • Four representatives of the second-year class.
  • Four representatives of the third-year class.
  • Two representatives of the LL.M. program.
  • One representative of the S.J.D. program
  • One representative of students who have transferred to HLS following their first year in law school.

3. In order to stand for election as a representative, a student must, in the normal course of his or her academic program, expect to be a member of the represented group during his or her term.

4. Only those members who would be eligible to stand for election to a representative position may vote in an election for that position.

5. Representatives are responsible for attending meetings of SRB, supporting its activities, and actively soliciting input from constituents.

6. The term of each representative begins on the certification of his or her election, or the end of the term of the previous representatives. The terms of all representatives end on the last day of classes of the academic year.

7. In the event of a failure to elect a member to a representative position normally filled through the spring election, the position shall be filled through the fall election. In the event of any other representative vacancy, the representatives shall appoint a new office-holder following a public solicitation of applications, by plurality vote.

VII. Officers

1. SRB shall have officers for the purpose of administering SRB and its activities.

2. SRB shall have the following officers elected to their specific positions by the entire membership:

  • A President, the chief executive of SRB, charged with calling its meetings to order and setting the meeting agenda within the constraints provided for in this Constitution, and making or delegating day-to-day decisions that do not necessitate more formal process.
  • A Vice-President, charged with acting as President as necessary to ensure continuous operation of SRB in the event of the President’s incapacity.
  • A Director of Student Organizations, charged with representing the interests of student organizations and journals before SRB, and administering the formation of student organizations.

3. SRB shall have the following officers, generally appointed by the President from the elected representatives. If no elected representative expresses interest in being appointed to one of these positions, the President may appoint the officer from the general membership, following a public announcement of the vacancy and open solicitation of applications.

  • A Secretary, charged with organizing the calendar of SRB and keeping minutes of its meetings.
  • A Treasurer, charged with keeping the books of SRB and administering its budget.
  • A Director of Academic Affairs, charged with acting as a liaison to the faculty and the administration on academic issues.
  • A Director of Events, charged with chairing the Events Committee.
  • A Director of Student Affairs, charged with building a strong relationship between SRB and the general membership.

4. The term of each elected officer begins upon the end of the term of his or her predecessor. The term of each appointed officer begins upon his or her appointment. The terms of all officers end on the last day of classes of the academic year.

5. In the event of a vacancy in an elected officer position, the President shall appoint a member to the position following a public solicitation of applications. In the event of a vacancy in an appointed officer position, the President shall appoint a new office-holder under the same procedures used for an initial appointment.

6. An elected representative may not also hold a position as an elected officer. The same individual may act as both an elected representative and an appointed officer, but is only entitled to a single vote. No individual may act in more than one officer role.

VIII. Student Organizations

1. SRB shall administer the establishment and dissolution of student organizations at HLS. For the purposes of these provisions, “student organizations” do not include official student journals administered by the Dean of Students office.

2. Upon a showing of sufficient organizational structure and student interest, a nascent organization is entitled to recognition as a provisional student organization at HLS. Provisional student organizations are entitled to the services provided to all student organizations. Provisional student organizations may apply for funding at a fixed level applicable to all provisional student organizations, under the funding provisions of this Constitution.

3. Following two semesters of continuous existence, and upon showing of continued student interest, as well as active contributions by the organization to campus life, the organization is entitled to recognition as a full student organization at HLS. Full student organizations are entitled to the services provided to all student organizations. Full student organizations may apply for budget-based funding applicable to all full student organizations, under the funding provisions of this Constitution.

4. Once each year, SRB shall require all student organizations to submit a basic statement of continuing existence, outlining activities undertaken by and student participation in the organization. If an organization repeatedly fails to demonstrate a meaningful continued existence, it may be dissolved by SRB.

5. SRB shall promulgate bylaws establishing the proof to be provided in establishing organizational structure . These bylaws should contain sufficient specificity to remove substantially all discretion from this process. These bylaws must be approved by the membership prior to becoming effective.

6. Decisions pursuant to the above rules shall be made by the Director of Student Organizations. The decision of the Director of Student Organizations is subject to an automatic right of appeal by members of the organization or potential organization. Any appeal shall be heard at a meeting of SRB following at least one week’s notice to the student body of the appeal. SRB shall promulgate bylaws regarding the procedure to be used in an appeal, which must comport with principles of due process. Review of a denial of organization status is de novo and requires a vote of a majority of those representatives and officers present, where quorum has been met. Review of the dissolution of an organization is de novo and requires a two-thirds vote of those representatives and officers present, where quorum has been met.

IX. Student Organization Funding

[Reserved]

X. Bylaws

1. SRB may promulgate bylaws relating to its own operation or where this constitution otherwise provides. Bylaws may be introduced for consideration by any member of SRB. A proposed bylaw becomes effective after passing by a two-thirds vote of the representatives and officers present at a meeting of SRB where quorum has been met, followed by the appropriate procedure below.

2. Unless otherwise provided for in this Constitution, bylaws of the organization shall be promulgated under a notice-and-comment regime. For each bylaw or set of bylaws that successfully passes at a meeting of SRB, SRB shall provide the bylaw by email to the student body for consideration at least ten days prior to its intended effectiveness date. SRB shall provide for member comment by return email or survey, and a dedicated time at a meeting of SRB. Once at least ten days have been provided for comment, SRB may hold a second vote, and if the bylaw again passes with two-thirds support, it shall become effective immediately or as of the original intended effectiveness date, whichever is later.

3. Where this Constitution provides for bylaws to be approved by vote of the membership, those bylaws shall become effective upon approval by a majority of those members voting for the bylaw where at least 10% of the entire membership has voted on the bylaw. This approval vote follows the normal notice and comment procedure described above, and takes the place of the second vote by SRB. This approval vote may be held as part of a representative or officer election, a survey, or a special vote organized for the particular purpose of voting on the bylaw(s).

XI. Mandatory Activities

1. General Body Meetings

A. SRB shall hold general body meetings at least once every three weeks during the academic year, while classes are in session. The purpose of these meetings is to provide updates on the activities of SRB, to receive feedback and hear concerns from the student body and the representatives, and to plan major initiatives in a public venue.

B. SRB shall keep minutes of these meetings and timely make these minutes available to the membership.

C. Attendance by representatives and officer of SRB at general body meetings is mandatory, unless the representative or officer has a reasonable excuse for non-attendance. A quorum of representatives and officers is present when greater than one half of the representatives and officers in office are present.

2. Elections

A. During the fall semester of each academic year, as early as practical constraints permit, SRB shall hold an election for the first-year section representatives, L.L.M. program representatives, and any representative positions unfilled in the spring election.

B. Near the end of the spring semester of each academic year, but at least two weeks before the beginning of exams, SRB shall hold an election for all of its other elected positions. The spring election shall provide candidates with at least eight days of time to campaign, and voters shall be given at least 96 hours during which to cast their ballots.

C. All candidates for election must be members of SRB and be reasonably likely to remain members for the entire duration of their office.

D. Prior to each election, the President shall appoint an elections committee comprising three representatives or officers of SRB and two members who are nor representatives or officers of SRB. The two members appointed from the general membership shall be appointed following an open call for applications and an application process. The committee shall designate a chair, who shall organize the committee’s activities and meetings, and who shall report to SRB on the committee’s activities. No member of the committee may stand for office in the election being supervised by the committee. The elections committee shall arrange for the election to be held, tabulate and announce election results, and, by majority vote, determine any disputes that arise under the elections rules.

E. Rules for elections

i. The positions of President and Vice President shall be elected together as a slate.

ii. Except for the election to the position of President and Vice President, election shall be by a plurality vote. In the election for President and Vice President, voting shall be by a majority vote. SRB shall promulgate bylaws establishing an instant or after-the-fact run-off procedure to be used in the event that no slate for President and Vice President receives a majority of the vote.

iii. In the event that the election for a position is uncontested (i.e., there are fewer candidates than open vacancies in the position), a candidate must receive at least 5% of the vote of those eligible to vote for that position

iv. Subject to the limitations in this Constitution, SRB shall promulgate bylaws setting out elections rules, including nomination procedures, any advertising limitations, campaigning guidelines, and dispute resolution procedures. These bylaws shall lay out standards for determining the punitive measures to be taken against a party that violates elections rules. Removal from the ballot may only be used when there has been a willful and injurious disregard of an important elections rule.

v. In no case shall the HLS faculty or administration be involved in setting rules for elections or resolving elections disputes.

3. Semesterly survey

A. Once each semester, SRB shall conduct a survey of its entire membership, for the purpose of determining student opinion on issues affecting the student body.

B. The survey shall be conducted by the President or a designee officer or representative. The officer or representative conducting the survey shall determine the format of the survey, subject to the limitations below.

C. The survey shall contain, at least:

i. One or more open-ended questions, without word limits, intended to provide a venue for raising new issues or providing detailed feedback.

ii. Any specific questions determined by a majority vote of the officers and representatives voting at a meeting of the SRB, where a quorum is present. SRB shall make a public call for questions prior to the meeting and consider including those questions and any others raised by members at the meeting.

iii. Any referendum questions submitted by a member and supported by a petition signed by at least 150 additional members. Other than minor formatting changes, referendum questions shall be included in the survey in the form originally proposed.

D. Each survey respondent shall have the option of submitting her or his survey responses anonymously.

E. Subject to the limitations in this Constitution, SRB may promulgate bylaws regarding the procedure for soliciting questions for and conducting the survey.

4. Update Emails

A. At least as often as SRB holds general body meetings, it shall provide the study body an email update regarding its activities.

B. This update shall include, at least, a link to the minutes of the most recent general body meeting, and any new information released by SRB under the disclosure provisions in this Constitution.

XII. Internal Meetings

SRB may hold meetings of its officers to internally discuss and develop its activities. A summary of any such meeting and the decisions made therein shall be provided to the membership in an update email or at the following meeting of SRB.

XIII. Committees

1. SRB has the power to organize committees for particular purposes, but these committees shall not have any special power to act on behalf of SRB unless otherwise provided herein. Committee positions may be filled by election or by appointment.

2. Mandatory Committees. SRB shall maintain the following committees:

  • An Events Committee, for the purpose of planning events aimed at building campus-wide community. The Committee shall be chaired by the Director of Events and between two and four members appointed by the Director of Events following a call for applications. At least one of these additional members shall be an officer or representative of SRB.
  • A Student Organizations and Journals Committee, for the purpose of engaging with student organizations and journals and proactively representing their interests. The Committee shall be chaired by the Director of Student Organizations and four members appointed by the Director of Student Organizations following a call for applications. At least one of these appointed committee members shall be a member of the executive board (or similar executive group) of a student organization, and at least one shall be a member of the upper masthead (or similar executive group) of a student journal.

3. Other Committees. SRB may maintain any additional committees, the charge, make-up, and duties of which must be determined in a duly-promulgated bylaw of SRB.

XIV. Budget

1. The Treasurer shall work with the President, the representatives, and the officers of SRB to ensure that planned SRB activities remain within the budget provided for SRB’s activities by the Dean of Students Office.

2. At the beginning of each semester, SRB shall release to the membership a report of its expenditures, itemized by activity. In the event that SRB draws up an itemized budget prior to making expenditures, a report detailing this budget shall be released to the membership at the time that is finalized.

XV. Miscellaneous

1. SRB shall generally try to operate by consensus. Where consensus cannot be achieved, SRB may act by majority vote of a quorum-satisfying group of its representatives and officers at a duly held general body meeting of SRB.

2. Attendance at a meeting of SRB may be by telephonic or electronic means, so long as contemporaneous two-way communication is provided. Such attendance by telephonic or electronic means is treated as actual attendance, and is valid for purposes of voting and quorum.

3. Representatives and Officers may not vote through a proxy at a meeting of SRB.

4. For the purposes of this Constitution, any signature, including an electronic signature, is valid so long as it reflects an intent to sign.

5. All operating documents, including without limitation this Constitution and any bylaws promulgated hereunder, meeting minutes, and any other disclosure required by this Constitution, shall be made perpetually available in a publicly accessible location on the internet.

6. Unless otherwise provided, a majority vote under this Constitution means a vote by greater than one-half of those voting, and a two-third vote means a vote by at least two-thirds of those voting.

7. Any act requiring authorization by vote of some proportion of the representatives and officers at a meeting of SRB may instead be authorized by unanimous written consent of the representatives and officers.

8. Representatives and officers may resign from office, and such resignation may be made effective immediately or at such time as is specified in the resignation document. Representatives and officers may be removed by affirmative votes constituting at least three-fourths of the representatives and officers in office at the time of the vote, and such removal may be made effective immediately or at such time as is otherwise specified.

9. SRB shall promulgate bylaws establishing a procedure for responding to particular student concerns and inquiries in a reasonable period of time.

XVI. Amendments

1. Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed by 200 members of SRB, or by affirmative votes of two-thirds of its officers and representatives. Once proposed by one of these means, the amendment must be put before the membership for ratification no later than the next election or survey held by SRB.

2. No amendment to this Constitution will be valid until ratified by two-thirds of the votes cast by at least 15% of the student body, over a period no longer than 240 hours.

XVII. Ratification

1. This Constitution shall be effective only upon ratification by two-thirds of the votes cast by at least 15% of the student body, over a period no longer than 240 hours.

2. Once ratified, this document constitutes the sole Constitution of SRB, which replaces all prior HLS student governments or similar organizations.

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