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SSE Constitution  

SSE : Students for a Sustainable Earth
Drafted August, 1999

I. Organization Description:
Mission Statement: To promote attitudes and practices in the university and the
surrounding community that are ecologically and culturally sustainable.

Rationale: We of SSE endorse the notion that human society and the rest of the
earth's biosphere are in grave ecological crisis, a situation that demands
immediate and sustained attention. We believe that affluent societies such as the
United States, and the institutions therein, bear primary responsibility both for
creating and for resolving this crisis. Higher education institutions such as
Western Michigan University play a key role in this matter, as they have
considerable environmental impacts (in their own right) and, more essentially,
are in charge of producing society's leaders. As a student organization, SSE is
in a unique and substantial position to promote sustainable attitudes and
practices at WMU and in the surrounding community. It is therefore our task to do

Approach: The nature of SSE's activities will be primarily (1) one of cooperation
and education rather than confrontation, and (2) one emphasizing institutional or
permanent change over transitory change.

 Rationale: We of SSE maintain that, while aggressive environmental reform
tactics (eco-terrorism, protests, etc.) are sometimes appropriate, they seldom
apply to our institutional circumstances and may indeed be counterproductive to
our goals. Therefore, in all that we do, SSE will strive to work with, rather
than against, targeted parties. In order to be effective in doing this, SSE
itself must be strong and organized; its individual members committed,
cooperative, and well-informed about the relevant issues.   We of SSE also
recognize that environmental reform requires institutional or permanent change.
Our endeavors, then, will primarily be directed toward achieving those ends.
II. Organization Structure
* Overview: In order to operate efficiently and appear that way to the public,
SSE is to be organized hierarchically. At the same time, the contribution of
every SSE member is valuable- and so every voice and opinion is to be
acknowledged and respected at all times, and in the appropriate manner. SSE shall
consist of the following constituents:

 * Executive Board (E-board), composed of:
1. President
2. Vice-president
3. Public Relations Coordinator
4. Secretary
5. Treasurer
6. WSA (Western Student Association) Representative
7. CAB (Campus Activities Board) Representative
8. Any existing committee chairs
* General SSE Members
* Committees
* Faculty Advisor
* Constituent descriptions:

A. Executive Board-  the leadership core of SSE. The E-board is responsible
* Setting meeting and project agendas
* Recruitment of new members
* Encouragement and support of other members
* Providing the educational opportunities/resources necessary to ensure that all
members have an adequate understanding of:
* relevant environmental issues
* ecological principles
* their personal environmental impact ("ecological footprint")
* university structure and operations
* the history of SSE
* multiple strategies for approaching a problem

B. President- the central spokesperson and leader of SSE. The SSE President:
* Presides over meetings
* Maintains efficient discussion
* Resolves outstanding disputes between other members
* Represents SSE in the media
* Introduces new members to the rest of the group
* Delegates work to the appropriate person(s)
* Makes immediate executive decisions, in rare cases when the input of other
members is not available
* Handles legal issues
* Communicates with the Faculty Advisor when appropriate
* Holds conferences with individual SSE members, for various reasons (esp.
concerning members with "strikes"- see member description)

C. Vice-President-
* Assumes the role of President in all her/his responsibilities, including the
delegation of work, in the case of the President's absence
* Co-facilitates full SSE sessions, by helping to maintain order and resolve
disputes (the latter only when the President is part of a dispute)
* Reserves meeting spaces
* Oversees SSE members and committees to ensure that deadlines and goals are
being met

D. Secretary-
* Records minutes during full SSE meetings, in detail
* Edits, prepares, and disseminates meeting minutes prior to following meetings
(by e-mail; if not possible, then by other means)
* Reads, or summarizes, minutes from preceding session at the beginning of
present session
* Provides both on-line and hard copies of meeting minutes to Faculty Advisor on
a weekly basis (or according to the Advisor's alternative preferences)
* Keeps record of a "campus contact list"- including contacts outside of WMU
* Maintains SSE office
* Makes arrangements with SSE members to fulfill office-occupation requirements
(8 hours per week during business hours, plus 7 per week during non-business
* Posts SSE office hours on door; notifies group of any changes thereof
* Maintains and posts "new topics for discussion" sign-up list several days prior
to next meeting
* Keeps record of SSE's activities (banquets, trips, hosted events, initiatives,
media releases and coverage, conferences with press/administration/others
* Provides all members with personal (hard) copy of SSE Constitution

E. Treasurer-
* Keeps diligent record of all fiscal matters, including deposits and
withdrawals, expenditures and account balance
* Generates and presents budget allocation proposals to SSE. Proposals are to be
voted on, and revised as necessary.
* Submits to the university the finalized budget allocation forms and any other
financially relevant forms.
* Researches fundraising options, brings these to (first, the E-board, second,
the full group), and coordinates/supervises all determined fundraising efforts
* Attends SBAC Treasurer-Training once per semester
* Records, edits, and disseminates meeting minutes in the event of the
Secretary's absence

F. Public Relations Coordinator- the officer primarily in charge of SSE's
public image and dissemination of information to targeted parties. The Public
Relations Coordinator:
* Generates innovative strategies for advertising SSE, recruiting new members,
raising awareness on issues
* Is primarily in charge of implementing these strategies, but may delegate tasks
to other members and move to form a Public Relations committee (for specific or
general purposes)
* Obtains approval for all public relations schemes (posters & flyers,
demonstration projects...)
* Works with President and/or Vice-President in all matters of SSE representation
in the media

G. WSA Representative-
* Attends WSA sessions, acting as spokesperson for SSE
* Announces significant information to rest of SSE members
* Preferably the President, Vice-President, or Public Relations Coordinator

H. CAB Representative-
* Attends CAB sessions, acting as spokesperson for SSE
* Announces significant information to rest of SSE members

I. All SSE members-
* Will be provided a personal copy of the SSE Constitution, and are responsible
for knowing its contents
* Are required to sign a personal commitment form, to be collected by the
* Are encouraged to plan and participate in activities
* Are expected to follow through with any personally agreed-to commitments, with acceptable quality and timeliness. The "three strikes - you're out!" policy that SSE upholds, dictates that a member who fails to complete three agreed-to
responsibilities will no longer be considered an active member of SSE. Members'
"strikes" are erased at the beginning of each semester.
* Are expected to have/acquire an adequate understanding of:
* relevant environmental issues
* ecological principles
* their personal environmental impact ("ecological footprint")
* university structure and operations
* the history of SSE
* multiple strategies for approaching a problem

J. Committees-
* Will be formed, by full SSE vote, when necessary
* May be permanent or temporary in nature
* Purpose will dictate size, time demanded, other characteristics
* Will be led by a Committee Chair, whose responsibilities to the committee
resemble those of the President to SSE; also coordinating efforts; reporting
committee "status" to rest of group at end of full sessions; working with
committee members to set up additional meeting times; upholding the "three
strikes - you're out!" policy, and reporting such matters to the President when
* Will carry out their work outside of regular meetings, when necessary

K. Faculty Advisor-
* Ought to be knowledgeable about environmental issues, experienced in
environmental activism (of any kind, teaching included), and willing to be a
dependable source of guidance for SSE and SSE members
* Will receive weekly meeting minutes from Secretary
* Should contact the President first, for all general concerns regarding SSE
* Encouraged to attend at least one full SSE meeting each month

III. SSE Activities:  SSE will plan activities that do not contradict the Mission
Statement or the Approach statement delineated above.

A. Annual Events
* Bronco Bash- generally the first day of Fall semester classes
* One World Fest- to be held every Fall semester
* Earth Week- to be held every spring
* SSE banquets- to take place (at least) once at the beginning of Fall semester
and at the end of Winter semester

B. Other Activities
* Include trips, hosted conferences, educational events, clean-up projects,
environmental audits, surveys, campaigns for environmental reform, etc.
* Require full SSE vote, unless circumstances make this impossible
* Major activities to be scheduled and timelined by the first month of Fall
semester- this is CRUCIAL!

IV. Meetings:  Three types of SSE meetings will take place.

A. Executive Board meetings- The E-board will meet for the first time every Fall
semester during the week before school begins, in order to plan for Bronco Bash, set a tentative agenda for the forthcoming year, and determine the date, time and location of the first full group meeting. The E-board will hold additional, 30-minute weekly meetings, immediately prior to full group sessions, in which it will:
* Review the meeting minutes from the previous week
* Set the agenda for the full group meeting
* Determine the best way to present the agenda
* Discuss internal issues
* Evaluate the group's effectiveness (in general and regarding particular
* Brainstorm ideas

B. Full group meetings- SSE as a full group will meet weekly. (Permanent time,
day, and location of full group meetings will be determined by the second week of each semester.) Each meeting will last approximately one hour. Meetings are not mandatory, but excessive absenteeism will be frowned upon. For purposes of efficiency, meetings will operate according to "Robert's Rules" (the rules will
be reviewed during the first meeting of each semester). The following meeting
structure will be adhered to, unless special circumstances dictate otherwise:

0-5 min.  Peripheral  news announcements. During this time, any SSE        
member may briefly announce events that are not necessarily directly relevant to SSE.
6-10 min. Reading of the previous week's meeting minutes. Minutes will not be re-read for late-comers.
11-30 min.  All of the following that apply: closure of old business (remaining
from previous week), announcement of new business, discussion of new business, committee progress updates, setting of the agenda for the rest of the meeting.
31-50 min.  Break into relevant committees. Committees in many cases cannot
expect to accomplish everything within this short meeting. More likely, it is a
time to incorporate newly acquired information, to brainstorm, and to set
committee agendas, timelines, and meeting times.
51-60 min.  Full group congregation. Committee project developments are reported, the agenda for the ensuing week is clarified, and the meeting adjourns.

C. Committee meetings- as it is unlikely that committees will finish their tasks
using only their 20-minute allotment during general meetings, they will need to
meet additional times. It is expected that committees accomplish most of their
work independent of full group meetings.

V. Elections: 

A. When & Who: Elections for Executive Board members will take place at the
end of Winter semester. This gives newly elected officials the opportunity to
begin planning immediately for the following year. If circumstances do not permit a timely election, and all attempts at organizing an alternative have been
exhausted, it is the responsibility of the incumbent E-board to form a new one as soon as possible. The new E-board will then remain valid unless in the coming
year a movement is made for a re-election. Elections for E-board positions will
all take place in one meeting, and in this order:

1. Treasurer
2. Secretary
3. Public Relations Coordinator
4. Vice-President
5. President
6. WSA (Western Student Association) Representative
7. CAB (Campus Activities Board) Representative

B. How: Elections for each position consist of four stages. The first two
stages may be conducted openly or by "secret ballot"; the last stage must me
conducted using the latter. The President may cast her/his vote for all elected
positions. All persons interested in running for a position must be present to
accept nominations, or submit a brief letter (to the President) prior to the
meeting, listing the positions to which they would accept being elected.

(1) Opening nominations, wherein an individual may be nominated either by another person or voluntarily.
(2) Confirmation, wherein a nominated individual may accept or decline the offer.
(3) Second nominations, wherein the initial nomination of an individual is
"seconded" by another. The second nomination may also be voluntary; not, however, if the opening nomination was as well.
(4) Final vote, wherein all nominees for the position are considered, voted (via
"secret ballot"), and tallied in private by the President and Vice-President. In
the case of a tied vote, the final vote will be repeated- but the identities of
the nominees who tied shall not be disclosed. If results remain the same after
the second vote, nominees will be asked to give an impromptu speech explaining their qualifications. A third vote will be cast, hopefully with different

C. Term limits: an individual may hold the same E-board position for two
years (more than two if not consecutively). The same individual may run for
another E-board position once s/he has reached a term limit. 


Mission Statement: To promote attitudes and practices in the university and
the surrounding  community that are ecologically and culturally sustainable.

I agree with SSE's Mission Statement and therefore believe that environmental
reform is a valuable task to dedicate my time and effort. I have read the SSE
Constitution thoroughly, and understand the organization's structure and my role
and responsibilities as a member of SSE. I accept that if I fail to meet the
minimal membership requirements described in the Constitution, I will no longer
be considered an active member of SSE.


____________________ Date:  _____________