Constitution and Bylaws

The Constitution and Bylaws of the Mason Staff Senate can be downloaded here and are given in their entirety below.

George Mason University

Constitution of the Mason Staff Senate

ARTICLE I
NAME

  1. The name of this organization is the Mason Staff Senate, herein referred to as “Staff Senate”.

Mission

Staff senators are ambassadors for George Mason University classified and non-student wage staff. Staff senators provide service to the staff at George Mason University through advocacy, education and appreciation.  We value the importance of and encourage dialogue with our constituents, the administration, Faculty Senate and student government.

Commitments

  • The Senate will engage in frequent and meaningful dialogue with its constituency and the university administration.
  • The Senate will foster relationships with administrators, faculty, and students promoting a unified Mason community.
  • The Senate will maintain collaborative relationships with Human Resources, State Government Relations, and other units with the goal of improving quality of conditions and work-life at Mason.
  • The Senate will serve as an information resource for its constituents and provide regular opportunities for staff to broaden their knowledge of university operations and activities.
  • The Senate will regularly demonstrate its appreciation for the hard work and dedication of its constituents.
  • The Senate will encourage active participation in senate and university activities by its constituency.

AUTHORITY

  1. The Staff Senate derives authority independently through the voice and intentions of all full-time and part-time classified and non-student wage employees of the university, herein referred to as “staff”.
  2. The Staff Senate exists under the authority of the President, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, and the Provost.
  3. The Staff Senate exists as counsel to the senior leadership of George Mason University and has no governing authority, as defined by the Board of Visitors.

ARTICLE II
MEMBERSHIP

  1. Members must be current classified or non-student wage employees of George Mason University.
  2. There shall be at least 28 voting seats on the Staff Senate.  Distribution of seats shall be on a proportional basis, with a minimum of two representatives from each geographic constituency (herein referred to as “location”).
  3. The 28 senate seats will be divided between into four locations: Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, and At-Large.  Members elected to these seats will serve the constituency of that location; at-large members represent all remaining constituencies.
  4. Re-distribution of seats will take place yearly prior to the annual election of new senators.  The distribution below will be updated yearly to reflect any changes in constituent population at each location.
    Fairfax–18 seats
    Prince William–5 seats
    Arlington–3 seats
    At Large–2 seats
  5. The total number of seats may be increased by a majority vote of the Staff Senate for a period of one-year.
  6. There shall be three ex officio, non-voting members representing:
    Faculty Senate
    Student Government Association
    Human Resources and Payroll

ARTICLE III
ELECTIONS

  1. Elections for the Staff Senate shall take place on an annual basis such that seats are filled prior to the first meeting of the academic year.
  2. Elections of the Staff Senate officers shall be conducted in accordance with the Staff Senate Bylaws.

TERM OF OFFICE

  1. Terms of office will be two years, commencing at the first general membership meeting of the academic year.
  2. Terms may be extended in the event a senator is elected as an officer of the Staff Senate in the midst of his/her term.  The new term-end date will coincide with the end-date of the term of office for that position or the original term end-date, whichever is longer.
  3. Members are eligible for re-election at the end of the term, without limitation.
  4. Members of the Staff Senate may be removed, for just cause, with approval of two-thirds of the voting membership.

ARTICLE IV
OFFICERS

  1. There shall be four elected officers of the Staff Senate: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Parliamentarian.  These members make up the Executive Committee of the Staff Senate.
  2. The Executive Committee will be elected to a two-year term by majority vote of the Staff Senate membership at the last meeting of the academic year.
  3. Chairs of all standing committees and adhoc committees will be appointed by the Chair with consent of a majority of the Staff Senate membership.  Standing committee appointments will be made annually.
  4. Officers may be removed, for just cause, with approval of two-thirds of the voting membership.
  5. Vacancies for elected officers will be filled in a special election to be held during the meeting following resignation or removal.  The replacement will fulfill the term of the previous occupant.

ARTICLE V
AMENDMENTS

  1. Members wishing to propose changes to the Constitution of the Staff Senate must notify the Executive Committee in writing at least 10-days prior to the general meeting.
  2. Written notice of proposed amendments must be disseminated to the voting membership at least four weeks in advance of ratification by the Staff Senate.  Written proposals shall include: former language, new language, and sound reasoning for alteration.
  3. Amendments will be debated at the general meeting in which a vote is to take place.
  4. Amendments to the Constitution will be ratified upon approval of two-thirds of the voting membership.

ARTICLE VI
ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTION

  1. The Constitution shall be ratified by a simple majority vote of the Staff Senate voting membership.

George Mason University

Bylaws of the Mason Staff Senate

ARTICLE I
SENATOR RESPONSIBILITIES

The Staff Senators shall:

  1. Represent staff and the Staff Senate with honor and integrity at all times.
  2. Uphold and promote the mission of the Staff Senate.
  3. Attend monthly Staff Senate general meetings and vote on matters brought before the Staff Senate.
  4. Perform regular outreach to constituents to solicit ideas and concerns.
  5. Present agenda items to the Chair and administrative assistant for discussion by the membership.
  6. Attend standing committee meetings, as assigned.
  7. Perform tasks assigned through his/her standing committee.
  8. Attend at least two Staff Senate sponsored events during the academic year and assist with constituent appreciation and
  9. outreach events.
  10. Be willing to travel to other university locations to perform constituent outreach, as necessary.
  11. Sign and abide by the Confidentiality Agreement.

OFFICER RESPONSIBILITIES
The Chair shall:

  1. Represent staff and the Staff Senate with honor and integrity at all times.
  2. Preside at all general meetings and Executive Committee meetings.
  3. Serve as an advisory member of the standing committees, as appropriate.
  4. Serve as liaison to the Faculty Senate.
  5. Routinely cultivate relationships with members of the Mason senior leadership and administration.
  6. Uphold and adhere to the Staff Senate Constitution and Bylaws.
  7. Submit a budget to the Staff Senate for approval at the first general meeting of the academic year.
  8. Prepare an agenda for the Staff Senate at least one week prior to the general meeting.
  9. Maintain authority for Staff Senate financial records and budget.
  10. Authorize disbursement of funds with the consent of the Treasurer.
  11. Appoint standing committee chairs and establish ad hoc committees with consent of the voting membership.
  12. Participate in university events and serve on committees as requested by the administration.
  13. Supervise and manage the activities of the Staff Senate administrative assistant.

The Vice Chair shall:

  1. Serve as the presiding officer when requested by the Chair.
  2. Represent staff and the Staff Senate with honor and integrity at all times.
  3. Serve as an advisory member of the standing committees, as appropriate.
  4. Serve as liaison to Student Government.
  5. Uphold and adhere to the Staff Senate Constitution and Bylaws.
  6. Authorize disbursement of funds with consent of the Treasurer and Chair.
  7. Maintain liaison to Virginia Governmental Employees Association (VGEA) and State Government Relations to keep senators informed of possible legislative decisions affecting staff.  Perform other such duties as associated with this office.
  8. Fulfill any term vacated by the Chair.

The Treasurer shall:

  1. Prepare a budget, in consultation with the Chair, prior to the start of the fiscal year.
  2. Maintain an accurate record of expenditures and commitments.
  3. Present budget updates to the Staff Senate at the general meeting.
  4. Modify the budget as requested by resolutions of the Staff Senate.
  5. Make authorized disbursements of funds with consent of the Chair.
  6. Perform other such duties as required by this office.

The Parliamentarian shall:

  1. Lead yearly reviews of the Constitution and Bylaws with the Executive Committee.
  2. Compile recommended changes and prepare amendments for presentation to the Staff Senate.
  3. Advise the administrative assistant as to changes passed by the Staff Senate to be changed on the official documents.
  4. Maintain procedure and order at general meetings in conjunction with the Chair.
  5. Maintain a log of all resolutions, including vote type and count, of the Staff Senate and share information with the administrative assistant, as requested

ARTICLE II
ELECTIONS

Nominations

  1. The administrative assistant, in preparation for a General Election, will request nominations for new senate nominees at all campuses by the last business day of June of each year.
  2. Each nominee’s employment status will be verified by the administration assistant in consultation with Human Resources/Payroll.

The Election Process

  1. Beginning mid-July, ballots will be made available via the Staff Senate Listserv to all classified and non-student wage employees.
  2. The ballot will be closed at 5:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of July.
  3. A timely certification of the results will be completed by the administrative assistant.
  4. The administrative assistant will notify the new senators by phone or e-mail following certification.
  5. In the event of a tie, senators will conduct a closed special election between the candidates in question to be held at the meeting following the regular election.    Candidate information will be disseminated to the Staff Senate membership prior to the vote.
  6. All newly elected senators will assume their senate responsibilities at the first general meeting of the academic year.

Interim Resignations

  1. Seats vacated by current senators between the time of an election and the start of a new term will be offered to the runners-up.
  2. If more than one half of the Staff Senate seats become vacant midway through the term year, the remaining senate members may determine a midterm election is necessary.

Orientation for New Senators

  1. Each election cycle, an orientation will be held for new Senators before their official term begins.
  2. Orientation will be coordinated by the Executive Committee and facilitated by the Chair.
  3. Required areas for discussions include: review of the Constitution, Bylaws; signature of Confidentiality Agreement, Staff Senate mission; and assignment to a standing committee.

Elections for Officers

  1. Senators are eligible to run for Chair after completing one full term in office.  All other positions are open to all current senators.
  2. During the May general meeting, senators will be asked to submit nominations from the floor for Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Parliamentarian.  .
  3. A final call for nominations will come to the floor at the June meeting prior to the vote.
  4. Senators will cast ballots at the June meeting and the candidate with the highest number of votes will win.  In the event of a tie, the two top candidates will have a run-off.
  5. The Parliamentarian, or designee if he/she is up for election, will count ballots aloud.
  6. Votes may take place by unanimous consent if only one candidate is running for a particular office.

ARTICLE III
COMMITTEES

Structure

  1. There will be an Executive Committee. Membership on the Executive Committee is outlined in Article IV of the Staff Senate Constitution.
  2. There will be three standing committees: Awards Committee, Outreach & Education Committee, and Events Committee.
  3. With the exception of the Executive Committee, committees will be balanced with approximately one-third of the senators serving on each committee.
  4. Ad hoc committees, established by the Chair and Executive Committee, may be formed to carry out research and report findings/recommendations on a specific university issue.  Ad hoc committees will be dissolved once the task is completed.

Membership

  1. Senators must serve on at least one standing committee and will have an opportunity to request or change his/her assignment to a particular committee prior to the July Executive Committee meeting.
  2. The Executive Committee will appoint members to the various committees with consideration of requests by members and work-load balance of each committee.
  3. Assignments will be reviewed and re-negotiated annually at the July Executive Committee meeting.

Chair Responsibilities

  1. In consultation with the administrative assistant, convene and preside over meetings of the standing committee at least two times per year and as needed to accomplish goals.
  2. Delegate tasks to committee members that are necessary to achieve outcomes.
  3. Regularly report progress, plans, and/or issues to the Chair, Vice Chair, and administrative assistant.
  4. Prepare motions for the general meeting, as necessary.
  5. Prepare exit report upon completion of term to maintain continuity.

Executive Committee

  1. Implements the rules and regulations of the Staff Senate and provides interpretation on language in the Constitution and Bylaws.
  2. Reviews and proposes changes to the Constitution and Bylaws in concert with senators.
  3. Makes recommendations on the budget and approve prior to presentation to the general membership.
  4. Reviews attendance records for each meeting and resolves participation issues.
  5. Compiles standing committee requests from senators and makes appointments as necessary to maintain work-load balance on each committee.
  6. Establishes ad hoc committees as necessary to accomplish Staff Senate goals.
  7. Addresses issues with members of the Staff Senate or the administration, when necessary.

Outreach & Education Committee

  1. Prepare and implement strategy for communicating with and educating staff about campus policies, programs, services, or other pertinent matters via e-mail, newsletter, website, brochures, social media, etc.
  2. Furnish a list of guest speakers and potential topics of interest to the Chair and administrative assistant.
  3. Perform a yearly review of the brochure and website to ensure information is relevant, current, and accurate.  Report back to administrative assistant for modifications.

Awards Committee

  1. Make recommendations to the Staff Senate on gifts for Employee of the Month, Outstanding Supervisor, and other service awards.
  2. Make budget proposals to the Treasurer and Staff Senate, as necessary.
  3. Coordinate and execute the nomination and selection process for the Outstanding Supervisor Award annually.
  4. Serve as presenters of Staff Senate’s Employee of the Month gift at each ceremony.

Events Committee

  1. Prepare and implement a strategy, in consultation with the Staff Senate, for conducting outreach events, which contain educational, appreciative, and feedback solicitation components.
  2. Coordinate two major staff appreciation events at each campus per year, to be held when the Staff Senate is in recess.
  3. Coordinate other outreach events (lunches, happy hours, etc.) throughout the year, as necessary to improve communication with staff.
  4. Coordinate other events that work to promote the mission of the Staff Senate.

Ad hoc Committees

  1. Address the issue for which the committee was created (i.e. smoking, commuter choice benefits).
  2. Conduct necessary research about practices at other institutions and policies of Mason and the Commonwealth, engaging staff, faculty, and students when appropriate.
  3. Report back to the Staff Senate, in a timely fashion, the findings of the working group.

University Advisory Committees

  1. The Chair, with consent of the Staff Senate, may appoint members of the constituency to serve on advisory committees created by the administration or other university departments.
  2. The constituent will be required to maintain contact with the Staff Senate by furnishing a written or oral report following each committee meeting.  The report will be presented at the next scheduled general meeting.
  3. At any time, if he/she is unable to continue service, the constituent will notify the Chair and administrative assistant immediately, in writing, so the position may be filled.

ARTICLE IV
MEETINGS

General Membership

  1. The first meeting of the senate membership will take place in conjunction with the start of the academic year, usually in August.  The meeting will be held on each campus, on a rotating basis, and senators will attend in person.  The meeting shall have networking and goal-setting components.  This meeting will be held in closed-session.
  2. Remaining meetings of the general membership will be held monthly and be open to the campus community. Meetings will be held at the Fairfax Campus and video and tele-conferenced to distributed campuses.
  3. The Staff Senate will recess twice per year during academic breaks, usually January and July.
  4. Special meetings may be called by the Chair, as necessary.
  5. Standing Committees
        Standing committees will meet at least twice per year, as directed by the appointed Chair.
      Standing committee meetings may be attended by any member of the Staff Senate.

Attendance

  1. Senators must notify the appropriate chair or administrative assistant of any pending absence from any Staff Senate meeting, stating the reason (i.e., on leave, workload, supervisor disapproval, etc.).
  2. Senators may designate a proxy to vote on his or her behalf.  The proxy must be a current senator.
  3. Participation will be discussed at each Staff Senate Executive Committee meeting. Senators of concern will be evaluated on three (3) components, one (1) qualitative and two (2) quantitative:
    1. Input from committee chair on participation in committee activities and events (qualitative)
    2. Attendance at general and committee meetings, to be presented to the executive committee by the Staff Senate administrative assistant (quantitative)
      1. Senators missing three (3) or more meetings without notice (notice within a 48-hour window before a meeting)
    3. Participation in Staff Senate sponsored events, to be presented to the executive committee by the staff Senate administrative assistant (quantitative)
      1. “Staff Senate sponsored events” include two
      2.  Staff Appreciation Events, Staff Senate Town Hall, and other events formally approved by the Senate.

    Consideration will be given to the senator when the absence is associated nature of the absences when associated with official George Mason University business.

    The Staff Senate administrative assistant will notify staff Senators who demonstrate a pattern of nonparticipation as soon as that pattern is discerned by the Senate Chair, the committee chair or the administrative assistant.

    In June, prior to the Staff Senate nomination period for the next year’s cohort, senators whose participation is deemed problematic by the Executive Committee will be asked to consider whether their tenure on the Staff Senate is in their and the Senate’s best interest. The chair of the Staff Senate will initiate a conversation.

General Meeting Agenda

  1. Agendas will be created by the Chair and administrative assistance for distribution one week prior to the general meeting.
  2. Agendas will be put together in the following manner:New business from committees or senators should be routed to the Chair and administrative assistant, in writing, at least 10 days prior to the meeting for inclusion on the agenda.
  3. Agenda Outline.
        Call to Order
        Announcements: For any senate-related or general announcements to the group
        Old Business: Unfinished action items & minute approval
        New Business: New action items or resolutions to be brought before the Staff Senate (i.e. creation of a working group or request for additional budget funds)
        Roundtable: Items that should be considered for a future agenda
        Constituents Time
        Guest Speaker
      Adjournment

Meeting Conduct and Rules of Order

  1. A quorum at all Staff Senate meetings shall be a majority of the total eligible voting Staff Senate membership. Quorum is necessary to conduct any business.
  2. The Parliamentarian and Chair will determine the appropriate amount of time to discuss any issue on the floor and enforce rules of order.
  3. Attachment A to the bylaws explains parliamentary procedures of the Staff Senate.
  4. Senators who do not abide by the rules of order may be deemed “out of order” and thus lose voting and speaking privileges for that meeting.
  5. Guests of the Staff Senate shall be subject to the rules of order for the Staff Senate.

ARTICLE V
AMENDMENTS

  1. Members wishing to propose changes to the Bylaws of the Staff Senate must notify the Executive Committee in writing at least 10-days prior to the general meeting.
  2. Written notice of proposed amendments must be disseminated to the voting membership at least four weeks in advance of ratification by the Staff Senate.  Written proposals shall include: former language, new language, and sound reasoning for alteration.
  3. Amendments will be debated at the general meeting in which a vote is to take place.
  4. Amendments to the Bylaws will be ratified upon approval of two-thirds of the voting membership.

ARTICLE VI
ADOPTION OF BYLAWS

  1. The Bylaws shall be ratified by a simple majority vote of the Staff Senate voting membership.

ARTICLE VII
Staff Senator oaths of office:

As a Mason Staff Senator, I affirm an oath to:

  1. Uphold and promote the mission of the Staff Senate
  2. Represent staff and the Staff Senate with honor and integrity at all times
  3. Perform regular outreach to constituents in order to solicit ideas and feedback
  4. Actively participate in the business of the senate, not limited to attending meetings and events, and voting on matters brought forth to the senate
  5. Respect confidentiality when sensitive matters are discussed involving the university or individuals.

I take this oath with an understanding that should I no longer be able or willing to serve, I will promptly vacate my seat.  I understand that failure to carry out the responsibility of this office may result in my removal from the Staff Senate by the membership.

Staff Senate Office Oath of  Office

I, ________________________________________, will faithfully discharge the duties of the office, of which I am about to enter, with honor and integrity; I will faithfully uphold the Mason Staff Senate Constitution and Bylaws;I will establish and maintain constructive relationships with the university administration and all members of the Mason community;I will formulate and endorse recommendations, for action or change, in the best interest of the Staff Senate and its constituents;I take this oath with the understanding that inability to discharge my duties will result in my removal from this office by the Staff Senate membership.