Student Government Association Constitution
Constitution of the Student Government Association
This is the operating Constitution of the Student Government Association at the time of print. This document may be amended at any time by SGA in accordance with the provisions of the stated Constitution. Because the Handbook is printed in advance, any revisions, amendments or changes lawfully passed by the SGA will not be reflected in this printed version. For this reason, please visit the SGA office or the SGA Web site (www.usm.edu/sga) for the operating document at the time of your inquiry.
We, the students of The University of Southern Mississippi, desiring to provide an effective organization for the administration of the student body, do establish this document as the official law of student representation. In an effort to establish official channels through which student opinions may be expressed, to promote students’ rights and responsibilities, to ensure the growth and development of self-government for all students, to encourage university pride, to promote academic freedom and academic responsibility, to protect the rights of students, faculty and administration in the constant pursuit of excellence, justice and quality of life for all students of The University of Southern Mississippi, we do hereby adopt this Constitution and pledge ourselves to its defense.
Table of Contents
Article I : General Organization ………………………………… 1
Section I : Student Government Association …….……………………… 1
Section II : Membership of SGA and GPA Requirement …………..…… 1
Section III : Governing Structure of the SGA of USM ………….……… 1
Section IV : Duties of the SGA Advisor ……………..…..……………… 1
Section V : Positions of the SGA Executive Officers …………………… 1
Section VI : SGA Chief Executive Officer ...……………………..……… 2
Section VII : SGA Vice President ..……………………………….……… 3
Section VIII : SGA Attorney General .…………………………………… 3
Section IX : The Powers and Duties of the SGA Election Commissioner .. 4
Section X : The Powers and Duties of the SGA Treasurer …………….… 4
Article II : Executive Branch ....…………………………………………………. 5
Section I : SGA Executive Authority ………..……………………....…… 5
Article III : Legislative Branch …..……………………………………………… 5
Section I : SGA Legislative Authority …………………….………..…… 5
Section II : Comprise of the Senate .…...………………………...……… 5
Section III : Powers of the Senate ………………………..……………… 5
Section IV : Rules and Procedures of the Senate ……………...………… 6
Section V : Senate Monitor’s Duties ………………………………..…… 8
Article IV : Judicial Branch ..…….…………………………………………….... 8
Section I : State Judicial Authority ……………………………………... 8
Section II : SGA Judicial Authority ………….…………………...……… 8
Section III : The SGA Judicial Board ……………………………...……… 9
Section IV : The University Appeals Committee ..……………………… 9
Section V : Disciplinary Proceedings ..…………..……………………… 9
Section VI : Quorum of the Judicial Body ..……………………….…….. 10
Section VII : Rights of the Accused ……..……………………………..… 10
Section VIII : Rules of Evidence ………………………………………… 10
Section IX : Appeals ………………………………………………...…… 10
Section X : Interim Suspension ……………………………………...…… 11
Section XI : Impeachment ……………………………………...………… 11
Article V : Budget .…………………………………. 11
Section I : Deadline of the Budget …….……………………………….… 12
Section II : Submitting the Budget to the Senate .……...………...…….… 12
Section III : Approval by Senate of Significant Changes …………..….… 12
Article VI : Student Rights ...………………………………..…………………… 12
Article VII : Amendments ….……………………………….…………………… 12
Section I : Senate Approval of Amendments ……………….…………… 12
Section II : Voting on Amendments ...……………………….…...……… 12
Section III : Amendment Approval by the SGA President ………….…… 12
Section VI : Rewriting the Constitution …...………………....…………… 12
Article VIII : Authority …………………………………………………..……... 13
Section I : Final Authority of the Constitution ………..…….…………… 13
Section II : Constitutionality ……...………………………….…...……… 13
The SGA Election Code ..………..……………………………………………… 13
Section I : The Election Commissioner and Commission ………...….…… 13
Section II : Candidacy ………..…………………………………....……… 14
Section III : Election Dates and Notices …………………..……………… 15
Section IV : Applications to be enforced by the Election Commissioner ... 16
Section V : Campaign Regulations ………………….…………………… 17
Section VI : Polling Places and Poll Worker Regulations ……………….. 19
Section VII : Ballots ……..……………………………………….……… 20
Section VIII : Voting ..…………………………………………………… 20
Section IX : Determining the Winner of an Election …………………….. 21
Section X : Violations of the Election Code ……………………………..… 22
Section XI : Election Appeals ………………………………...…………… 22
Section XII : Recall and Referendum ………………………………………. 22
Ratification Dates ………………………………….. 23
Article I. General Organization
Section I. The name of this organization shall be the Student Government Association of The University of Southern Mississippi, otherwise referred to as the SGA.
Section II. The membership of the SGA shall consist only of students duly enrolled in The University of Southern Mississippi with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 for senators, Cabinet members, Judicial Board members, and Election Commission members; and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for Executive Officers including SGA President, SGA Vice President, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Election Commissioner.
Section III. The governing structure of the Student Government Association of The University of Southern Mississippi shall consist of the following three distinct branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. In order to provide for an effective system of checks and balances, no person may concurrently serve in more than one position in any of the three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) or their auxiliaries, with the exception of the Election Commission.
Section IV. The Student Government Association advisor shall provide guidance and advisory opinions on financial matters, organizational operations and compliance with university student rules. This guidance is to be taken into consideration by all members when making decisions with reference to the SGA.
Section V. The executive officers of SGA shall consist of the following: President, Vice President, Attorney General, Election Commissioner, and Treasurer.
A. The executive officers shall be elected in accordance with the provisions of the SGA election code.
B. Executive officers shall serve from their inauguration on Founder’s Day until the following Founder’s Day. They must also assist the executive officers-elect during their transition period, i.e., the period between the election of the officers-elect and their inauguration.
Section VI. The Chief Executive officer of the SGA and the student body shall be the president of the Student Government Association, otherwise known as the student body president. The president shall be elected from and by the student body by a majority vote during the spring Student Government executive officer elections.
The powers and duties of the SGA president shall include the following:
A. To serve as the official representative of the SGA and the student body.
B. To sign or veto all bills passed by the SGA Senate (Any bill not signed or vetoed within five (5) class days of submission to the president shall then be enacted.)
C. To structure, organize and appoint a cabinet, which will serve at the discretion of the SGA president (These and all appointments are subject to the two-thirds approval of the SGA Senate.)
D. To call special sessions of the SGA Senate.
E. To make appointments to fill all executive officer vacancies from the SGA with a three-fourths approval of the SGA Senate.
F. To terminate any prior appointment made by the SGA president.
G. To appoint someone from outside the legislative branch to lead investigations on any subject the SGA president deems necessary.
H. To call for a special referendum (referendum is to be defined as an unscheduled vote of the student body on any subject.)
I. To appoint persons to serve on university committees.
J. To establish and enforce such rules and procedures as are necessary for the proper functioning of the executive branch.
K. To deliver a “State of the SGA” address to a joint meeting of the entire SGA at a regularly scheduled SGA Senate meeting at least once a semester.
L. To ensure public access to proceedings of all regularly scheduled meetings of any part of the Student Government (except Judicial Board proceedings).
M. To have appointed a cabinet by the last spring meeting of the SGA Senate.
N. To represent Southern Miss at all meetings of the Student Body President’s Council of Mississippi Universities.
O. To attend the transition meeting of the Mississippi Student Body President’s Council along with the president-elect.
P. To designate an executive officer to be the official student representative (beginning with the SGA vice president and following rank order) in the event that the president is unable to attend a university function.
Section VII. The powers and duties of the SGA vice president shall include the following:
A. To be the official representative of the SGA at activities both on and off campus that the president cannot attend.
B. To assume the office of SGA president during his/her absence or extended illness.
C. To be the presiding officer over all meetings of the SGA Senate and to cast a vote only in the event of a tie.
D. To ensure the maintenance of all official records of the SGA Senate.
E. To perform all such duties as the SGA president shall assign.
F. To use his/her discretion in appointing the members of all committees falling under the jurisdiction of the SGA Senate.
G. To remove any senator or observer from the Senate chamber if deemed necessary.
H. To serve as a member ex officio of all Senate committees.
I. To appoint all Senate committee chairs except for the budget and appointments committee.
J. To set the legislative agenda.
K. To determine the policies regarding the submission of legislation.
Section VIII. The powers and duties of the SGA attorney general shall include the following:
A. To serve as the chief advisor on all questions of constitutionality.
B. To notify the Senate should any officer of the SGA commit an unconstitutional or illegal act.
C. To certify the results of all SGA elections and referenda.
D. To preside at the swearing in of all SGA executive officers.
E. To answer questions and provide clarification during Senate meetings and to ensure that the governing documents of the SGA are followed correctly.
F. To rule on any conflicts that arise concerning SGA, its member groups, or its members that are not resolved through the normal methods, activities, or policies of those involved in the conflict.
G. To serve as the chief officer of the SGA Judicial Board, which hears both traffic appeal cases and cases solely concerning violations and interpretations of the SGA Constitution, the SGA Election Code, and the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Conduct.
H. To act in accordance with such responsibilities vested in him/her by the SGA president or the SGA Senate.
Section IX: The powers and duties of the SGA election commissioner shall include the following:
A. To supervise and oversee all SGA elections.
B. To certify and execute all initiative, recall, and referendum petitions.
C. To defer all duties to the executive director of the SGA election commission in the event of his/her absence.
D. To singularly appoint an election commission.
E. To publish and distribute the SGA Election Code to all candidates of any election.
F. To call a meeting of the election commission whenever necessary and to serve as presiding officer.
G. To set a date of all elections and referenda, subject to the limitations outlined in the election code.
H. To publicize the dates of elections and or referenda.
I. To examine applications, verify grade point averages, and to prepare ballots for all elections conducted by the Student Government Association.
J. To ensure the removal of any campaign materials resulting from an election.
K. To arrange for and supervise the tabulation of ballots and to prepare a certified copy of the election results signed by the SGA attorney general and the election commissioner within 24 hours after the close of the polls.
L. To post the election results outside the SGA offices and to make those results available to the campus newspaper upon certification.
M. To enforce and obey all rules and regulations set forth in the SGA election code.
N. To appoint poll workers and tabulators and provide for their instruction and supervision.
Section X: The powers and duties of the SGA treasurer shall include the following:
A. To keep an itemized account of all receipts and expenditures.
B. To make available to the SGA president and SGA Senate a monthly financial statement.
C. To make available all financial records of the SGA.
D. To present a budget report at the first and last Senate meeting of the fall semester, at the first meeting of the spring semester, and at the meeting immediately preceding the inauguration of new executive officers.
E. To serve as the chief advisor to the SGA president on the financial state of the organization.
Article II: Executive Branch
Section I. All executive powers herein granted shall be vested in the executive branch of the Student Government Association, also known as the SGA Executive Cabinet.
A. The Executive Cabinet shall be appointed through an application and interview process to be conducted by the student body president. All appointments shall be considered by the Senate and approved by a two-thirds vote.
B. The Cabinet shall consist of multiple standing committees to be chosen at the president’s discretion for the achievement of his/her agenda. Of these committees, one that shall be called the Freshman Associates shall be selected each fall, and shall be composed only of incoming freshmen. This committee will be directed by Freshman Associates advisors who will be appointed by the student body president.
Article III: Legislative Branch
Section I. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the legislative branch of the Student Government Association, also known as the SGA Senate. The Senate shall consist of all duly elected members.
Section II. The Senate shall be composed of 35 students. Twenty-eight (28) students shall be elected from the six academic colleges. Representation of constituents shall be set at approximately 500 students per senator. At the current enrollment of the academic colleges the apportionment shall be: College of Arts and Letters, 6 senators; College of Health, 4 senators; College of Science and Technology, 7 senators; College of Education and Psychology, 5 senators; College of Business, 4 senators; College of Nursing, 2 senators; At large seats shall currently be set at 7 but never decrease to below 4 regardless of the apportionment of the colleges. Re-apportionment shall be revisited by the Senate every five years following the spring semester of 2013. Seven (7) students shall be elected from the campus at large, two (2) of whom will be on campus residents.
I) Each college will be granted representation based on population of each individual college.
II) Each senator must be a member of the college they represent.
III) No senator may represent multiple colleges.
A. The election commissioner shall conduct Senate elections for all Senate positions every spring semester.
B. The SGA vice president reserves the right to fill any Senate vacancies at any time throughout the year with two-thirds approval of the Senate.
Section III. The Senate shall be vested with the following powers.
A. The Senate shall approve the appointment of all executive appointments of the SGA president by a two-thirds vote.
B. The Senate shall have the power to override any veto by the SGA president with a three-fourths vote.
C. The Senate shall issue summonses and conduct investigations on any subject.
D. The Senate may bring impeachment charges against any elected or appointed officer of the SGA upon a two-thirds vote by the Senate body.
E. The Senate shall review and approve the SGA budget with a majority vote.
F. With a unanimous vote, the Senate may call a Constitutional convention for the purposes of rewriting or restructuring any article or the Constitution as a whole.
G. The Senate shall enact any legislation it deems necessary and/or profitable to the student body.
Section IV. The Senate shall operate under the following rules and procedures. These doctrines supersede any previously written documents on Senate conduct.
A. The Senate shall meet every Tuesday night at 5:15PM.
1. The fall and spring Senate sessions shall begin on the first full week of classes.
2. The Senate president may call any emergency meetings necessary to the preservation of the Student Government Association.
3. The Senate president may cancel any Senate sessions with the approval of the Senate by a two-thirds vote.
B. All Senate sessions shall constructively proceed according to Robert’s Rules of Order.
C. All senators will dress according to the preference of the Senate president.
D. Each senator shall be allowed two (2) unexcused absences per semester of service. Upon the third unexcused absence, the Senate president reserves the right to call for said senator’s resignation.
E. A majority of senators on roll is required to meet quorum.
F. At the first meeting following the spring elections the Senate shall elect a president pro tempore.
1. The president pro tempore shall serve as presiding officer at the Senate president’s absence or request.
2. The president pro tempore shall chair the Senate budget and appointments committee.
G. The Senate shall have officers to aid the Senate president and increase the efficiency of the Senate.
1. The title and duties of the Senate officers shall be determined by the Senate president.
2. The Senate shall approve all officer appointments by a majority vote.
3. Senate officer applications shall be disseminated after senator elections, and all appointments shall be approved in the Senate’s first meeting following spring elections.
H. No less than three (3) and no more than eight (8) senior senators shall be appointed by the Senate president based on experience. The Senate president shall appoint each senior senator based on empirical evidence of performance and responsibility. Senior senators shall be held to a higher standard of service and conduct as it relates to Senate, and will be responsible for educating new incoming senators.
I. Every senator must serve on a committee or be subject to sanctions as stated in the Senate by laws.
1. The Senate shall have a budgets and appointments committee, procedures committee and implementation committee.
2. Committee chairs shall be selected by the Senate president, with the exception of the chair of the budgets and appointments committee.
I. Committee chairs shall establish regular meeting times agreed upon by the committee’s members.
II. Committee chairs shall report directly to the Senate president at the president’s request.
3. The budgets and appointments committee shall consist of the Senate pro tempore and six (6) other senators but no less than four (4) senators.
I) The budgets and appointments committee shall consider and approve the SGA budget before it is sent to the Senate body for final approval.
II) The budget and appointments committee shall approve all SGA position appointments prior to approval by the Senate.
4. The procedures committee shall not be limited in size.
I) To oversee proper adherence of the Senate body to Robert’s Rules of Order
II) To consult with the SGA Vice President in preparing the rules for the Senate body at the start of each session
III) To assist legislation sponsors with proper wording and formatting
IV) To review submitted legislation and correct grammatical and typographical errors
V) To approve all Senate legislation prior to consideration by the Senate body as a whole.
5. The implementation committee shall not be limited in size.
I) The implementation committee shall work closely with the university to guarantee the execution of all passed legislation.
II) Authors of legislation will work directly with the implementation committee in assurance that passed legislation will be enacted.
6. The Senate president may convene any additional committee as seen necessary.
7. The Senate shall keep a public record of all its proceedings, including attendance, legislation passed and failed, voting account, and any suspension of the rules.
8. Any executive officer reserves the right to speak during session when recognized by the Senate president or if time is yielded by a senator in accordance with Senate by laws.
Section V. The Senate monitor shall present all passed legislation during their routine meeting between the SGA president and the university president before implementation.
Article IV: Judicial Branch
Section I. State Judicial Authority
A. Under the laws of the state of Mississippi, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall have general supervision of the affairs of The University of Southern Mississippi. This board has delegated the power and authority to the president of the university to maintain standards of academic achievement and student conduct. The Division of Student Affairs has the basic responsibility to administer those regulations governing conduct at the university.
B. Students who register at the university agree to conform to its regulations and policies. A student is subject to the laws of the community and state, and enrollment as a student in no way relieves him/her of this responsibility. The fact that civil authorities have imposed punishment will not prevent the university from protecting its own educational purposes and community by taking suitable action against the student under university regulations.
C. These regulations derive their authority from both the students, as an article of the SGA Constitution, and from the administration of the university, as the Code of Student Conduct.
Section II. SGA Judicial Authority
A. In all organizational and individual discipline cases, the judicial authority of the SGA shall be vested in the Dean of Students, the student Judicial Board, the university appeals committee, the university president and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
B. In all cases solely concerning violations and interpretations of the SGA code and Constitution, the SGA judicial authority shall be vested in the SGA Judicial Board.
Section III. The SGA Judicial Board
A. The Judicial Board shall consist of nine (9) student members who shall serve in two year terms, each of which will begin on Founder’s Day. Five (5) members shall be appointed on odd numbered years to serve two year terms. Four (4) members shall be appointed on even-numbered years to serve two year terms. These students must maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA at the time of appointment and have one semester prior enrollment at Southern Miss. These students shall be representatives of the Southern Miss student body. The chairman of the Judicial Board shall be the attorney general of the SGA. He or she may have no vote in its judicial proceedings unless to break a tie.
B. These students shall be selected through an application and interview process to be conducted by the attorney general. All vacancies shall be filled under the above provisions for the remainder of the vacant term. In the event that vacancies arise during the year, the positions shall be filled through an application and interview process conducted by the attorney general within 30 days of the vacancy. In the event that this rule is unmet due to a lack of qualified applicants for a seat, the position shall be filled at the discretion of the attorney general. All members of the Judicial Board must be approved by two-thirds vote of the SGA Senate.
C. The attorney general shall select a vice chairman and a secretary from the Judicial Board. The chairman shall be in charge of the board in the absence of the attorney general and the secretary will be in charge of keeping track of attendance. Members of the Judicial Board shall be allowed three (3) absences during their term of service.
D. The Judicial Board shall have original jurisdiction in all cases concerning violations of university regulations by an individual. However, accused students may choose to have their case heard by the Dean of Students or designee of that office.
E. The Judicial Board has the power to request university documents that are relevant to any case being heard.
F. The Judicial Board can authorize dispositions in lieu of oral testimony when deemed necessary.
G. The Judicial Board will keep an adequate record, as determined by the Dean of Students, of the proceedings and upon request to make this record available to the accused after the hearing.
Section IV. The University Appeals Committee
A. The university appeals committee shall consist of four (4) members of the faculty and/ or staff appointed annually by the university president and four (4) students appointed by the SGA president, with the advice of the SGA Senate and subject to final approval by the university president.
B. The university appeals committee shall have appellate jurisdiction in all cases originating with the student Judicial Board and the Office of the Dean of Students.
Section V. Disciplinary Proceedings
A. The Dean of Students shall give, in writing, the options available to the accused student or organization for adjudication along with the hearing procedures.
B. The Dean of Students shall have the power to take any reasonable action to ensure the safety of the university community and the university property and to preserve an academic atmosphere prior to a full judicial hearing (these actions are subject to approval by the vice president of student affairs or his/her representative).
C. The Dean of Students shall assist the SGA attorney general with the presentation of the case.
Section VI. A majority of membership of each judicial body must be present to hear a case unless a lesser number is approved by both parties to the case.
Section VII. In all judicial proceedings, the accused shall have the right to the following:
A. To written notification of the charges of sufficient particularity to prepare a defense, to a summary of written evidence that is to be presented, to the names of adverse witnesses, to the date of the alleged violation, to the time and place of the hearing, and to at least 72 hours prior notice to that hearing.
B. To counsel.
C. To present evidence and to have an opportunity for reasonable testimony or evidence.
D. To call witnesses.
E. To a speedy and closed hearing, unless all parties concerned agree upon an open hearing.
Section VIII. Rules of Evidence
A. All decisions of responsibility or absence of responsibility shall be decided on the preponderance of evidence.
B. Evidence can be considered by a disciplinary body only if it is introduced before that body in the presence of the accused. If the accused is unavailable for a hearing, then every effort must be undertaken to inform the accused of the existence of the evidence, and the accused must be given every opportunity to respond before that body reaches a decision.
C. Each judicial body shall have the authority to adopt its own rules of evidence in addition to those specified in the SGA Constitution and code.
Section IX. Appeals
A. In all judicial decisions, either party shall have and be notified of the right to appeal the decision of the judicial body entering judgment. If the decision is appealed; no action shall be taken- except those measures necessary to ensure the safety of the university community, to protect university property, and to ensure an academic atmosphere- until the appellate process has been exhausted.
B. The request for appeal shall be filed within 72 hours of the written notification of the decision. The request shall be filed with the Dean of Students Office.
C. SGA Judicial Board decisions and those made by the Dean of Students may be appealed to the university appeals committee. Decisions made by the university appeals committee may be appealed to the university president or an appointed designee. Decisions of the university president may be appealed to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
Section X. Interim Suspension
A. When the president of the university or a designated administrator determines that the presence of a student would reasonably constitute clear and present danger to the university community or property, the president may take immediate action to suspend the student from university enrollment on an interim basis.
B. In such cases, the student will be afforded a preliminary hearing with the administrator designated in part A unless this action is not possible due to the circumstances at the time or to inaccessibility.
C. Whenever suspension occurs under the provisions of this section, the student shall be accorded review by the student judicial system at the earliest possible date following suspension.
D. If, at the time of review, the judicial authority determines that the suspension of the student is inappropriate, it may recommend to the president that the student be reinstated to university enrollment and be allowed to complete any academic work missed as a result of this suspension. See the student rights and responsibilities section for the complete Code of Student Conduct.
Section XI. Impeachment
A. The SGA president, vice president, attorney general, election commissioner and treasurer shall be removed from office upon impeachment for and conviction of violations of the SGA Constitution or SGA election code or law as well as any violation that would cause loss of good standing with the university.
B. The SGA Senate shall have the sole power of levying charges of impeachment. The SGA Senate shall upon concurrence of two-thirds of the members on roll formally charge an officer with impeachment.
C. The SGA Judicial Board shall have the sole power to try impeachments. Upon the introduction of formal charges by the SGA Senate, an individual shall be served notice of impeachment by the secretary of the Senate. The secretary of the Senate shall also notify the vice chairman of the SGA Judicial Board. The SGA Judicial Board vice chairman shall then call a meeting of the SGA Judicial Board within three days to conduct a preliminary hearing and to accept the plea of the defendant. The defendant will be issued his/her Constitutional rights and be given all pertinent information to prepare a defense. The trial will convene not fewer than 10 days and not more than 15 days from the date of this hearing.
D. Upon a majority vote of the SGA Judicial Board, a person will be immediately removed from office. In the event of an appeal from the person in question, the office shall be filled on an interim basis by the appropriate chain of command as per this Constitution until a final decision has been made.
Article V. Budget
Section I. The SGA president and SGA treasurer shall submit a budget before the end of the spring session for approval by the Senate.
Section II. Once submitted to the Senate, the SGA budget shall be regarded as legislation and requires a majority vote.
Section III. Should a 25 percent change in any one allotment or a 10 percent change in the budget as a whole occur then the matter must be brought to the Senate for approval.
Article VI. Student Rights
Each SGA member shall be guaranteed the civil liberties and rights vested to them by the United States and the state of Mississippi. This SGA Constitution remains subject to and can (in no way) infringe upon these governing documents.
Article VII. Amendments
Section I. Any amendments to this document shall be presented to the Senate for approval.
Section II. Amendments will be accepted to this Constitution upon a two-thirds vote of two consecutive Senate sessions.
Section III. After the amendment is approved by two consecutive Senate sessions, the amendment shall be sent to the SGA president for final approval. In the event the SGA president issues a veto, the veto may be overturned by a three-fourths vote of the Senate roster.
Section IV. If the need arises for a rewriting of the SGA Constitution, the process shall be as follows:
A. The process shall begin with the written consent of the SGA president or a unanimous vote of the SGA Senate.
B. There shall be a Constitutional committee established that shall consist of the following: The SGA president, the SGA vice president, the SGA attorney general (each of whom will choose two members of their respective branches) and the election commissioner as well as the treasurer, which shall bring the total of the Constitutional committee to 11 members.
C. The committee shall meet at the discretion of the committee members, but shall not operate unless 7 out of the 11 members are present.
D. Upon completion, the new document must be submitted first to the SGA Senate for two-thirds approval of the senators on the roster, then to a vote by the student body. This document will go into effect with the majority consent of the student body vote.
E. Upon a plurality vote of the participating student body of The University of Southern Mississippi and approval by the university president, the new SGA Constitution shall take immediate effect, and all preceding documents will be declared null and void.
F. Conflicts to immediate implementation, may be postponed or managed accordingly with the approval of the SGA president and the SGA attorney general.
Article VIII. Authority
Section I. This SGA Constitution shall be the final authority regarding all SGA matters. Should any bylaws, bills, or resolutions conflict with this Constitution, they will be rendered null and void.
Section II. Only these articles shall be considered Constitutional. Any codes or bylaws must submit to these precepts and shall not be considered equal to the SGA Constitution.
The SGA Election Code
Section 1. The election commissioner and commission.
A. Duties of the election commissioner are as follows:
1. To publish the Student Government Association election code
2. To call a meeting of the election commission whenever necessary and to serve as presiding officer.
3. To set the date of all elections, subject to the limitations outlined in this code.
4. To publicize in the campus newspaper the dates of elections and any other pertinent regulations.
5. To examine applications, verify grade point averages, and to prepare a sufficient number of ballots for all elections conducted by the Student Government Association.
6. To ensure the removal of any campaign materials resulting from an election.
7. To arrange for and supervise the tabulation of ballots and to prepare a certified copy of the election results signed by the SGA attorney general and the election commissioner within 24 hours after the close of the polls.
8. To post the election results outside the SGA offices and to make those results available to the campus newspaper upon certification.
9. To enforce and obey all rules and regulations set forth in the SGA election code.
10. To appoint poll workers and tabulators and provide for their instruction and supervision.
B. Duties of the election commission are as follows:
1. To aid the election commissioner.
2. To ensure compliance with this code during campaigning and election.
3. To attend all meetings of the election commissioner called by the election commissioner.
Section 2. Candidacy
A. All candidates must meet the application requirements.
B. Each candidate must meet the qualifications for the office, position, or title that he/she is seeking by the specified candidacy application deadline.
C. Each candidate for an SGA office, position, or title must be a full-time student in good academic standing with the university at the time of application.
D. SGA Executive Offices
1. The executive offices shall consist of the president, vice president, attorney general, treasurer and election commissioner. All candidates for executive office must have at least one (1) semester of experience in a branch or auxiliary of Southern Miss Student Government prior to application for candidacy.
2. Candidates for these offices must have for one (1) complete semester attended The University of Southern Mississippi before they take office.
3. Candidates for treasurer must have at least three (3) semester hours of accounting in which a cumulative “B” average was acquired.
4. Presidential Ticket
I. Candidates for president and vice president shall run together as one ticket and shall be elected together by a majority vote of the student body. In elections with three or more tickets, a ticket must receive over 50 percent of the student body vote to win without a runoff. For exceptions, see Subpoint III of this Item.
II. Candidates for president and vice president shall submit a joint application before the deadline. All required submissions and campaign activity shall be done jointly by the candidates on the ticket.
III. If either the presidential or vice presidential offices are unopposed, the ticket system as previously detailed in Subpoints I and II shall be abandoned for that election. If there are at least two complete tickets then no individual candidate may run alone.
E. SGA Senate Positions
1. A candidate for the Senate must run from the academic college of his/her primary major or from the campus at-large.
2. If any senator changes his/her major to a academic college other than the one from which he/she was elected, the senator must immediately inform the SGA vice president of the change. The senator will be required to resign from the Senate at the end of the semester in which the change occurred, and a replacement will be appointed by the vice president and approved by the Senate.
F. SGA Titles
1. Homecoming Court
A. All positions of the homecoming court will be filled by females.
B. The queen and the student body maid must be seniors.
C. There will be one maid for each undergraduate class and one graduate maid.
D. Each maid must be a member of the class that she seeks to represent.
E. If a candidate for queen does not receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast, there will be a runoff consisting of the two candidates who received the most votes.
F. The student body maid will be the runner-up in the queen election.
G. Runoffs for other maids will consist of the two candidates who received the most votes if none of the candidates received more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
H. All candidates for homecoming court must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher prior to application.
2. Mr. and Miss Southern Miss
A. Candidates for Mr. Southern Miss must be senior male students at The University of Southern Mississippi.
B. Candidates for Miss Southern Miss must be senior female students at The University of Southern Mississippi.
C. Each candidate for Mr. and Miss Southern Miss shall be required to turn in the required photos, a list of pertinent activities, honors and involvement at The University of Southern Mississippi. This information shall be posted under each candidate’s photo. (Refer to Section 4.G. 1 for specifications).
D. Runoffs will consist of the two (2) candidates who receive the most votes in each election if no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the total votes cast.
Section 3. Election Dates and Notices
A. Election Notices and Responsibilities of the Election Commissioner
1. An election shall be announced via the University Announcements email system 21 days prior to the election date.
2. The announcement shall include offices, titles and positions open; location of applications; and application deadlines.
3. At least five (5) calendar days before the elections, signs containing the election dates and polling places shall appear in all residence halls, fraternity houses and sorority houses.
4. A notice of the runoff dates shall be posted at each polling place.
5. There shall be at least two (2) calendar days between a primary election and a runoff election.
B. Election Dates
1. The homecoming court shall be elected a minimum of two weeks before homecoming.
2. SGA executive officers shall be elected in the spring semester no later than the third week in March.
3. Newly elected SGA executive officers shall serve as officers-elect from the time of election until inauguration in order that outgoing officers will inform and train incoming officers of their duties and responsibilities of their offices, as according to Article I, Section 3, Item B of the SGA Constitution.
4. Mr. and Miss Southern Miss shall be elected no later than 14 days before the Homecoming game.
Section 4. Applications to be enforced by the election commissioner.
A. Applications for any SGA office, position, or title shall be made available the first day of the first full week of the spring semester.
B. Applications will be made available online on the SGA website.
C. All students seeking an SGA office, position, or title must fill out the necessary application and meet the qualifications of this code for the particular office, position, or title for which they wish to run by the specified application deadline.
D. The application deadline shall be 5:00PM on the deadline day.
E. No applications will be accepted after the deadline.
F. All online applications shall be printed and placed in a secure file by the election commissioner in the presence of the attorney general or his/her agent at 5:00 PM on the deadline day and not before.
1. Candidates for Mr. and Miss Southern Miss shall be required to turn in a designated number of photographs of themselves and a list of pertinent activities, honors, and involvements at The University of Southern Mississippi. These materials shall be placed at each polling place.
2. Candidates for homecoming court shall be required to turn in a designated number of photographs of themselves and may turn in a position paper to the election commissioner. These materials shall be placed at each polling place.
3. Candidates for executive office and Senate must turn in a position paper to the election commissioner. These materials shall be placed at each polling place.
4. Position papers may include, but are not limited to, qualifications, platforms, graphics, photos or similar material. A position paper may not exceed 8.5 x 11 inches for any SGA-administered elections.
H. All candidacy application forms for SGA offices, positions and titles require at least the applicant’s name, ballot name, The University of Southern Mississippi address, permanent address, grade point average and university identification number.
I. All information on the application must be completed by the candidate, or a special note shall be attached to the application explaining why the information cannot be given.
J. No person shall simultaneously seek two executive offices. If a candidate wishes to seek an office other than the one originally applied for, the person must withdraw the first application and then file a new application for the different office sought, The second application must also meet the original deadline date.
K. If the candidate is unopposed, then he/she automatically wins the office for which he/she applied.
L. Application boxes will be left in a visible location in the SGA office at all times.
M. In the event that no candidacy application is received for a specific SGA office, position, or title, the application deadline will be extended for a period of five (5) days under the same guidelines set forth in this Election Code. If no applications are submitted after the five (5) day extension, the president-elect shall appoint the position before Founder’s Day.
Section 5. Campaign Regulations
A. For the posting of campaign materials, refer to the sign policy.
B. Campaign materials may be displayed after midnight of the application deadline date.
C. Campaign Materials
1. Campaign materials shall include, but are not limited to, social media outlets, posters, banners, handbills, handouts, cards and other means that convey a candidate’s name and attempt to influence a student’s vote.
2. Handbills shall include any printed, copied or written campaign materials that may be distributed by hand but not affixed to a permanent wall.
3. Campaign materials may be distributed through the University Post Office or e-mail.
4. All campaign materials must include the date of the election.
D. Verbal Campaigning
1. Verbal campaigning shall be defined as speaking to or appearing before any student or group of students for the purpose of influencing their decisions regarding any election conducted by the SGA.
2. Verbal campaigning will not be allowed in any building or complex where there is a polling station, or within 50 feet of any entrance to any such building or complex.
3. All verbal campaigning shall take place in a dignified, professional manner. Violations of this clause may result in the election commissioner removing the violators right to campaign for the rest of the election.
4. Verbal campaign may not include voice amplification such as the use of a bullhorn, microphone, etc., except for such organized events approved by the SGA election commissioner.
E. The content and location of all campaign materials must be approved by the election commissioner before display by the candidate. All campaign materials must also meet the requirements put forth by the university sign policy and any university auxiliary.
F. No person shall deliberately remove, destroy or deface any item of campaign materials of another candidate.
G. It shall be illegal for any person to fraudulently procure or to knowingly assist in fraudulently procuring the election of a candidate or group of candidates by any means.
H. Campaign materials will be limited as follows:
1. No campaign for a SGA executive office shall exceed $600.00 in expenses. Campaigns for tickets may not exceed $1,200.00 in expenses.
2. No Senate campaign shall exceed $200.00 in expenses.
3.No campaign for Homecoming court may exceed $200.00 in expenses.
4. For a definition of campaign materials, refer to Section 5.C-1 of the SGA Election Code.
5. Any donations to a particular candidate, monetary or otherwise, shall be included in the spending cap.
a) Donations must be valued and receipted at market value.
b) Discounts received from an organization must be recorded at market value regardless of a candidate’s purchase price.
6. Candidates shall be required to complete a Candidate’s Expense Report and attach all receipts to the report. Candidates who exceed their budget limit or submit a false expense report shall have their application removed from candidacy.
7. It is the candidate’s duty to turn in all receipts.
8. No spending cap extensions will be allowed for runoff elections.
9. The election commissioner has complete authority and jurisdiction over subjective matters that may arise during a campaign.
10. Violations may result in the following sanctions:
a) First offense justifies in the removal of candidate’s campaign material.
b) Second offense justifies removal from the election.
Section 6. Polling Place and Poll Worker Regulations
A. Polling Places
The polling places for all SGA offices, positions or titles shall be located in designated polling places assigned by the election commissioner. Notice of these locations shall be given by the election commissioner no later than 21 calendar days before the elections are to be held.
B. General Polling Place Regulations
1. Dates of elections and poll locations shall be set 30 days prior to the date of the election by the election commissioner. Polls shall be open for the election from 8:30AM to 4:00PM on the day of the election.
2. At least two (2) poll workers shall be assigned to each polling places at all times.
3. No student shall be allowed inside a polling place except poll workers and/or those actively casting a vote in the election.
4. Ballot boxes shall remained locked at all times when the polls are open.
5. Only the election commissioner or attorney general may officially close the polls at the designated time in Section 6.B-1.
C. Materials Necessary for Polling Places
1. Candidate photographs and pertinent information, arranged alphabetically.
2. Electronic devices made readily available to cast electronic votes as well as materials necessary for physical voting (paper ballots, pencils, ballot box with lock).
3. Computerized voter list for that school and classification.
4. Copy of current election code.
5. Dates of runoff elections.
D. Regulations for Poll Workers
1. The poll worker shall require each voter’s University of Southern Mississippi identification card, authenticate each voter through the University online system, and permit the voter to proceed to the electronic voting station.
2. If a student does not have his/her University of Southern Mississippi identification card but can present a driver’s license or state-issued ID card with a picture and his/her name appears on the voter list, he/she shall be allowed to vote.
3. If a student’s name does not appear on the voter list for that particular school or classification, he/she must present a signed note from the office of the dean of the school in question or the Registrar’s Office concerning the student’s classification.
4. All poll workers and tabulators are to attend a briefing of the election code that is to be held one day prior to the election.
Section 7. Ballots
A. Every student who has qualified for an office, position, or title shall have his/her name appear, in computerized random order, on the electronic ballot for that particular office, position, or title.
B. In the event that the electronic voting is not in proper working order, paper ballots will be available for students to cast a valid vote.
C. The ballots shall be kept intact and locked for 72 hours after the official announcement of the election results. The ballots shall be disposed of if the election is not contested within the 72 hours after the announcement.
D. Each voter shall be given only one ballot for each office, position, or title to be voted on.
E. The number of marked ballots placed in the ballot box and the number of names initialed on the voter list must correspond, or the results from the particular polling place will be invalid, unless the discrepancy will not change the outcome of the election. the attorney general and the election commissioner shall rule in this case.
F. Invalid Ballots
1. Those ballots that do not indicate clearly the voter’s intention shall be ruled on by the election commissioner and/or the attorney general.
2. Those in which more candidates are marked than are specified on the ballot shall be deemed invalid.
Section 8. Voting
A. All students who are enrolled in at least one hour of class on the Hattiesburg campus or online at the time of the election shall be eligible to vote in SGA-sponsored elections. Any student participating in study abroad programs, internships, or any other program that removes them from standard eligibility must notify the election commissioner at least two weeks prior to the election to receive an absentee ballot.
B. Voting shall be done electronically by secret ballot in all elections. In the event that the electronic voting system is not in proper working order, votes will be cast by paper ballots.
C. College Senator Elections: All University of Southern Mississippi students shall vote for a candidate in the school of his/her major as designated by the voter list. Double majors shall vote in the school of his/her primary major. All students with undecided majors shall vote in the College of Arts and Letters.
D. Homecoming Elections: All University of Southern Mississippi students shall vote for the homecoming queen and a candidate in the respective class as designated by the voter list.
E. Inside the polling place, no student (including poll workers) shall deliberately influence another student’s decision.
F. Any student with a valid reason (as determined by the election commissioner) shall be allowed to vote by absentee ballot. The ballots may be obtained by contacting the election commissioner no earlier than seven (7) days prior to the election day. The ballot shall be cast in the SGA Office no later than the day before the election.
G. In the event of an election where the voter may choose several candidates on one ballot, the voter may vote for fewer than the maximum number to be voted on.
H. The voter lists (alpha lists) shall be obtained by the election commissioner from the Office of the Registrar. Listed will be all students duly enrolled in The University of Southern Mississippi, organized alphabetically, with their respective Social Security numbers, student ID numbers, classifications and colleges.
Section 9. Determining the Winner of an Election
A. Vote Tabulation
1. Once the polls have closed, the election commissioner shall have all votes tabulated.
2. All tabulation shall be done electronically with the exception of the absentee ballots and/or any other ballots authorized by the election commissioner, which shall be counted by hand and added to the total from the electronic tabulation.
3. In the event the electronic voting system is down, and ballots are to be counted by hand:
a. The election commissioner shall choose a place for tabulation.
b. The election commissioner and others designated by the election commissioner shall tabulate the votes.
c. The attorney general or his/her appointed agent shall be present at all times during the tabulation.
B. Any candidate for an office, position, or title who receives a majority of the valid votes cast shall be considered duly elected.
C. A majority shall be defined as more than 50 percent of the valid votes cast.
D. In the event that a majority vote is not cast for any candidate for any office, position, or title, a runoff shall be held. Runoff elections shall be held within one week but no earlier than two calendar days after the primary election.
E. Runoff elections for each office, position, or title shall consists of the two (2) candidates from the primary election who received the most votes cast.
F. In a runoff election, the candidate with the most votes cast shall be considered duly elected.
G. The results of any election are to be considered official only when they are signed by the attorney general and the election commissioner.
H. In the event that two or more candidates in a primary election receive an identical number of votes, and in the event that the vote total is large enough to ordinarily give the candidate a runoff berth, then the names of both candidates shall be placed on the runoff ballot.
Section 10. Violations of the Election Code
A. Any student, candidate or SGA official may be charged for each instance of violation of the Election Code. Violators of the election code shall undergo disciplinary hearing before the SGA Judicial Board.
Section 11. Election Appeals
A. Any university student may challenge an election in which he/she is eligible to vote.
B. The election commission shall sit on all challenges and hear evidence from all parties concerned.
C. The election commission may disqualify a candidate ex post facto, order a recount of ballots, or order the reopening of any poll for a second vote.
D. Appeal Process
1. Appeals must be registered within two (2) business days following close of polls.
2. The election commissioner or advisor must be notified by 5:00PM of the last day that is eligible to make an appeal. Security of ballots must be maintained during that period.
Section 12. Recall and Referendum
A. If a petition signed by at least 20 percent of the electorate of the position concerned is presented to the election commissioner, a recall election for the same shall be held within 14 to 21 days of the presentation of the petition to the SGA election commissioner. If a majority of the voters express a desire to recall the incumbent, the office shall be vacant, and a new election shall be held.
B. If a petition signed by at least 20 percent of the student body is presented to the SGA election commissioner requesting the consideration of a student body vote on any particular issue, a special election for the same shall be held within 14 to 21 days following the presentation of the petition to the SGA election commissioner. If the measure is passed by a majority vote, the measure shall become law pending the approval of the university president, not the SGA president.
Ratified by the Constitutional Committee of 2011 on July 6, 2011 with consent of the student body on September 3, 2011.