Constitutions: Clubs, Societies & Projects

This article will cover,

  1. What is a constitution?
  2. What should be included in a constituion
  3. How to make changes to your constitution
    1. Write a draft version
    2. Present changes to your membership
    3. Send to your MG/CU Executive Committee
    4. Complete a committee Structure Change Request
    5. Edit Draft*
    6. Final version uploaded to eActivities

*where necessary

What is a constitution?

In terms of CSPs a constitution is the document which captures the principles by which a CSP is governed. A CSPs constitution allows your membership to hold the committee accountable and works towards structuring a democratic, fair and transparent CSP.

Your constitution will be referred to throughout the year during processes such as Annual Budgeting and committee elections therefore it is important to review it annually and keep it up-to-date

Staff and volunteers such as your Management Group Chair will also use it when any issues or queries arise in relation to how your CSP is run.

What should be included in a constitution?

Each Clubs, Society and Project (CSP) must have a constitution as defined in the Clubs, Societies & Projects policy:

81. Each Club, Society and Project shall be governed in accordance with a constitution approved by the membership and the Management Group. It should be obeyed and regularly reviewed by them. It should set out the management structure and procedures enacted in the Clubs, Societies and Projects Policy.

This is a key document for your CSP and dictates how you are governed. Typically a CSP constitution will include the following points which can be changed by the CSP:

  • Name of the CSP*
  • Aims & objectives
  • Committee positions*
  • Committee job descriptions
  • Additional activities

*The following elements cannot be edited and submitted via eActivities; however, they can still be changed.

There are certain elements that cannot be changed by the CSP, for example, points relating to the CSP's finances and how they must be managed in accordance with the Imperial College Union Financial Regulations.

    How to make changes to your constitution

    In some instances, a committee may wish to make changes to elements of their CSP constitution (defined above). 

    eActivities allows the Chair/President and Treasurer to input various elements and build a model constitution for their CSP which is consistent with all the rules of the Union.

    Changes to the constitution must be agreed by a general meeting of the CSP. These changes must then be approved by your Management Group (MG) or Constituent Union (CU) Executive Committee. Once voted in by all relevant parties, a copy will be recorded on eActivities.

    Write a Draft 

    You can write a draft version using the eActivities constitution builder.

    Step 1: Fill in the fields provided
    To do this go to eActivities > Administration > Clubs, Societies & Projects > Documentation > Constitution > Editable Version

    Figure 1: Aims & Objectives sub-tab in the 'Constitution' section of eActivities.

    You may already have an existing constitution which can be viewed as a pdf in the Current Version tab, or elements which have been partially completed e.g. your aims & objectives.

    To complete your draft, fill out the fields provided in the following tabs:

    • Aims & Objectives: for example, 'to deliver fun and accessible to social tennis sessions to get more people of all levels playing the sport'.
    • Job Descriptions*: for example. 'The Vice President of Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking shall be responsible for obtaining discounts at restaurants and other establishments for the society and it's members. They should fulfil their role as a culinary artist and encourage alternative cooking (including vegan and vegetarian cooking). Importantly they are to teach cooking skills to members and encourage them to teach each other. They should also encourage the furthering of cooking skills through qualifications and competitions, also organising these for the members'. For new job descriptions (for potential new roles), this must be marked manually on the draft constitution (pdf), generated by the system once you have submitted any other changes or completed all the other tabs.
    • Current Committee: this is your committee list and is pre-set based on your existing constitution and committee structure. If you wish to add, remove, amend the title of, or number of positions available for a role, this must be marked manually on the draft constitution (pdf), generated by the system once you have submitted any other changes or completed all the other tabs.
    • Additional Activities: here you may include details of any annual flagship events run by the CSP so that a record can be kept of your planned activities, specifically those which are essential to your CSP.

    *Please note that the position and the world 'shall' are pre-entered into the field so you should start your line with 'be responsible for' or an equivalent statement.

    Step 2: Generate a draft version
    Once you have completed all the appropriate fields in the tabs (listed above) or made the necessary amendments, click on the Draft Version tab.Click on the pdf icon to download a copy.

    Figure 2: Draft Version sub-tab in the 'Constitution' section of eActivities.This is what you will use to present the changes to your membership.

    Remember to mark any changes to your committee structure manually on the pdf

     

    Present changes to your membership

    Any changes to your constitution must first be voted in by your members at a general meeting of the CSP. This is typically done at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) however this isn't always feasible, particularily for those taking part in the online Leadership Elections.

    Step 1: Call a general meeting of your membership

    When planning a general meeting, ensure that it is advertised to all members of your CSP via your mailing list to ensure the greatest attendance. Some CSPs will add constitutional matters onto the end or beginning of an existing meeting, or plan a social afterwards to maximise attendance. 

    Step 2: Have a vote

    Vote on the changes proposed using the standardised method of voting, outlined in the How to run an AGM: during article.

    Step 3: Record the results of the vote

    Your Management Group (MG) or Constituent Union (CU) may ask for evidence of the vote in the form of a voting record and/or meeting minutes. Be prepared to have this to hand to evidence the results of your vote.

    To learn what you might include in a voting record visit the Resignations, EGMs & Online By-elections article.

     

    Send to your MG/CU Executive Committee

    If the proposed changes are passed at a general meeting of the CSP, send the following to your MG/CU Executive Committee:

    • Copy of the draft constitution
    • Notes highlighting the proposed changes
    • Voting record and/or meeting minutes

     

    Complete a committee Structure Change Request

    Finally, if the proposed changes are passed by your MG/CU Executive Committee, you will need to complete a Committee Structure Change Request.

    Please note constitution changes don't automatically update committee structure changes (and vice versa). This is something we are working to rectify. Until then you will have to submit these changes individually, we understand this means a duplication of work for you and apologise for this inconvenience. If you are short of time, you may want to consider prioritising committee structure changes in preparation for eVoting.

    Skip this step if the proposed changes dare not for your committee structure (list of positions) and/or the name of your CSP.

    Edit draft

    Once positions have been added to the system and/or your name changed, you will need to go back into eActivities and click Copy Current Committee Positions.

    Figure 3: Job Description sub-tab in the 'Constitution' section of eActivities. This is where you enter all the positions you want listed in your constitution. 

    By clicking Copy Current Committee Positions, the system will refresh to include any new or amended positions.

    • Click an empty 'position' field to add in a position
    • Click the dustbin icon next to a position to remove it

    You can now enter in the relevant job description(s) for the new/amended role(s).

    Once complete, click the Submit Changes button at the top of the page. The new/amended positions and job descriptions will now appear in the pdf generated in the Draft Version tab. This should be your final draft version, ready to be converted to your final, completed constitution, and recorded in eActivities under the Current Version tab.

    Final version uploaded to eActivities

    Once everything is in order, contact your MG/CU Executive Committee. A member of the Exec will click approve constitution on eActivities. 

    Figure 4: Management Group Administration 'Constitution' tab. This is what your MG/CU views in eActivities.

    Once this has been completed, your final version will appear in the Current Version tab. This is now your Constitution

    Figure 5: Current Version sub-tab in the 'Constitution' section of eActivities. 

    The Previous Versions tab provides copies of all previous constitutions registered in eActivities. 

    Figure 6: Previous Version sub-tab in the 'Constitution' section of eActivities. 

    Do you need help?

    Management Group Committee/ Constituent Union Committee: Your MG Chair/CU Committee is trained to help you with this topic. Please find your relevant contact here

    Union Email Contact:  activities@imperial.ac.uk 

    Contact: Student Opportunities and Development Manager

    121 Session: Available for this topic, book here

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