UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BLACK LAW STUDENTS ASSOCIATION CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this organization shall be the Virginia Law Chapter of the Black Law Students Association, hereafter referred to as “BLSA,” or “the chapter.” The name may be shortened in correspondence to be "Virginia Law BLSA." The organization shall be affiliated with and conform to the constitutional provisions of the National BLSA.
ARTICLE II: DECLARATION OF PURPOSE
The purpose of this organization shall be to represent the views of Black students at the University of Virginia School of Law; to promote the welfare of its members through educational, professional, cultural and social programs; and to provide a forum for the discussion of local and national issues affecting both the Black law student community and the University community as a whole.
ARTICLE III: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1: General Eligibility
Membership in the University of Virginia Chapter of the Black Law Students Association shall be open to all students with a proven interest in the goals and objectives of the Black Law Students Association. The Black Law Students Association at the University of Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of age, citizenship, color, disability, gender, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran.
Section 2: Membership Categories
A. DUES-PAYING MEMBERS
All students who have met the criteria established in Section 1 of this Article and have paid all dues, both nationally and locally, for the year will be considered DUES-PAYING MEMBERS. Dues-paying members may vote in BLSA Policy Council elections and generally for matters that require a vote by members.
B. NON-DUES PAYING MEMBERS
All students who have met the criteria established in Section 1 of this Article, but have not paid all dues for the year will be considered NON-DUES PAYING MEMBERS. Non-dues paying members may not vote in BLSA Policy Council elections or generally for matters that require a vote by members.
C. GENERAL BODY
All students who have met the criteria established in Section 1 of this Article, and who have met the criteria established in either Sections 2A or 2B shall be considered the GENERAL BODY for the purposes of this Constitution.
D. HONORARY MEMBERSHIP
(i) All minority graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law shall be considered honorary members of the BLSA chapter. (ii) Any person who has attained unusual distinction in the legal profession or in the field of law shall be eligible for honorary membership. The term “field of law” shall embrace any person elected or appointed to a legislature or engaged in the execution, administration, or enforcement of the law, whether or not such a person is a member of the legal profession.
HONORARY MEMBERS shall not have the right to vote on matters affecting the operation of the BLSA chapter.
ARTICLE IV: MEETINGS
Section 1: General Body Meetings
There shall be a General Body Meeting at least twice per semester during the academic year. Ten percent (10%) of the General Body, excluding Policy Council members, present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum to do business. In the absence of a quorum, no voting business may be conducted. However, other business, of a non-voting nature, may proceed.
Section 2: Special Meetings
Special Meetings shall be called by the (i) the President or (ii) twenty-five percent of the General Body (25%). A written request for a special meeting should clearly state the reason(s) for the proposed meeting. For meetings called at the President’s discretion, at least three (3) days prior notice must be given to all members of the General Body. The special meeting must be scheduled for a date within seven (7) days of receipt of the petition.
ARTICLE V: Executive Board
Section 1: Meetings
A. The Executive Board (Eboard) shall hold regular meetings to be called at the discretion of the President. The Executive Board should meet prior to each regular and special meeting.
B. Except under special circumstances, meetings of the Executive Board shall be open to members of the General Body. Any member of the General Body wishing to bring an issue of concern from the Executive Board must request, before the meeting, that the President put the issue on the Executive Board's agenda.
C. Members of the Executive Board shall be notified two (2) business days prior to each meeting, unless an emergency meeting is required. Any seven (7) Executive Board members present at a Executive Board meeting shall constitute quorum to conduct business. No proxy voting will be allowed at Executive Board meetings.
Section 2: Membership
The Executive Board shall consist of all the elected and appointed officers of the chapter:
F. Standing Committee Chairpersons
(i) Membership Chair
(ii) Community Service Chair
(iii) Education Chair
(iv) Firm Relations Chair
(v) Social Action Chair
(vi) Social Programming
(viii) First Year Representative (1L Rep)
Section 3. Duties of Members
The President shall: 1) be the chief executive and administrative officer of the chapter; 2) call and preside at all General Body, Policy Council, and Special Meetings; 3) ensure that all other officers perform the duties for their respective offices; 4) serve as the official spokesperson for the chapter; 5) serve as an ex-officio member of all Standing Committees; 6) be responsible for the welfare and dignity of the chapter.
The Vice-president shall: 1) assist the President in the performance of such chapter duties as may be requested by the President. In the event of the absence, death, resignation, or removal from office of the President, the Vice-President shall perform the duties of the President; 2) serve as Chairperson of Elections; 3) perform such other duties relating to the organizational structure of the chapter as the President may request.
The Secretary shall: 1) be the chief recorder and correspondent of the chapter; 2) assist the President in the calling and conducting of BLSA meetings; 3) keep a true and complete record of all minutes of BLSA meetings and other matters pertaining to the chapter for future reference; 4) dispatch notices of meetings to members as are appropriate; 5) be responsible for submitting official reports required of the chapter by the law school or university administration; 6) be the historical officer of the chapter in the absence of a Historian.
The treasurer shall: 1) be the chief financial officer of the chapter; 2) collect all dues; 3) control all chapter funds and co-sign with the President all disbursements of chapter funds; 4) prepare a budget, under the direction of the President, which shall be approved by the Executive Board; 5) receive all funds which are available to BLSA from the law school and university; 6) perform such other duties as the President may request.
E. FIRST-YEAR REPRESENTATIVE (1L Rep)
There shall be a First-Year Representative elected by dues-paying members of the first-year class. The term of office shall be assumed from the time of the representative election until such time that a new representative for the succeeding first-year class is chosen. The First-Year Representative shall 1) coordinate the activities of the first-year class; 2) be a voting member of the Executive Board; 3) alert the Executive Board of the concern and ideas of first-year students; 4) perform such other duties as the President may request.
The Parliamentarian is a non-voting Executive Board member. The decision of whether to appoint a Parliamentarian is left to the President’s discretion. If the President appoints a Parliamentarian, the selection is subject to the approval of a majority of the other policy council members. The term of office shall be subject to the President’s discretion and must be determined at the time of appointment. The Parliamentarian shall: 1) assist the President in maintaining order during meetings, subject to the provision of this Constitution and By-Laws, and Robert’s Rules of Order; 2) be the final authority on rules of parliamentary procedure during meetings; 3) perform such other duties as the President may request.
G. STANDING COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSONS
All Standing Committee Chairpersons shall: 1) hold committee meetings as necessary; 2) submit to the President of the chapter a preliminary program of planned activities for the school year within 45 days of election to office; 3) maintain records of all correspondence and committee meetings; 4) report the committee’s activities to the chapter; 5) serve as a voting member of the Executive Board ; 6) perform such other duties as the President may request.
ARTICLE VI: COMMITTEES
Each Standing Committee shall be responsible for all activities coming under its title with such additional responsibilities as the Executive Board shall determine. The Chairpersons of the Standing Committees shall be elected pursuant to Article VII.
B. STANDING COMMITTEES
1. Committee on Membership
2. Committee on Community Service
3. Committee on Education
4. Committee on Firm Relations
5. Committee on Social Action
6. Committee on Social Programming
C. AD-HOC COMMITTEES
Ad-hoc committees may be appointed at the discretion of the President and/or the Executive Board .
ARTICLE VII: ELECTIONS
Section 1: Coordination
A. The Vice-President shall serve as the Chairperson of Elections and coordinate all aspects of the election process.
B. In the event that the Vice-President is not able to serve as the Chairperson of Elections because of a conflict of interest, resignation, vacant, or other just cause, the President will fill in the role of Chariperson of Elections. If the President is not able to fill this position, the Executive Board (Eboard) will select a board member to serve in the role.
Section 2: Time of Election
Elections should be held during the Spring Semester at a date to be determined by the Executive Board. The Executive Board shall take into account major dates which may affect participation in the election when making this determination. Elections should not be held prior to First Year Journal Tryouts. Elections should be held prior to the Spring Diversity Reception, or the date on which an equivalent event would take place.
Section 3: Nominations
A. A special BLSA meeting for the nomination of officers shall be held at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the election. The Vice-President, at such meeting, shall receive and record submitted nominations. The names of the nominees shall be posted on the following day.
B. Each BLSA member is entitled to nominate him or herself or any other BLSA member for any elective office. Only DUES-PAYING members are eligible to run for an elective office. The nominations and election procedures of the office of First-Year Representative shall proceed pursuant to section 4 of this Article.
C. A BLSA member may be nominated for more than one office but may hold only one elected office at a time.
D. Nominations for officers shall remain open from the period following the nominations meeting until the close of nominations on the election date. Nominations not coming from the floor on the election date must be submitted to the Chairperson of Elections and include the signature of the BLSA member making the nomination.
Section 4: Nomination and Election of First-Year Representative
A. The nominations for First-Year Representative shall take place at a BLSA general meeting in September.
B. Only first-year law students may make nominations for the office of First-Year Representative. ALL first-year students are eligible to hold office.
C. The election of First-Year Representative shall take place at a BLSA general meeting held in September. . A simple majority of the eligible votes cast (50% + 1) is required for election. Where no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a run-off election shall be conducted at the same meeting between the candidates with the greatest number of votes.
D. The First-Year Representative shall assume the duties of the office on the date of election.
Section 5: Voting Procedures
A. For the purposes of conducting election meetings, a quorum shall be one third (or 33%) of the DUES-PAYING Membership. Only DUES-PAYING MEMBERS may vote.
B. The Chairperson of Elections shall announce the candidates for each office before the floor is opened for additional nominations.
C. The Chairperson shall close the nominations for officers when all nominations have been received from the floor.
D. Each candidate will be allowed to address the chapter for a period of no longer than three (3) minutes.
E. A plurality of the eligible votes is required for election to any office that is contested. A simple majority of the eligible votes cast (50% + 1) is required for election to any office that is uncontested. In the event of a tie, a run-off election shall be held among the candidates with the two highest vote totals. If the tie is amongst all eligible candidates, the newly elected Executive Board will decide which candidate will hold the office. In the event that one member shall have been elected to two or more offices, that member may select the office in which he or she will serve. .
Section 6: Proxies
A. A DUES-PAYING MEMBER who will not be in attendance at the meeting may submit a proxy to the Chairperson of Elections.
B. Proxies to be submitted on forms exclusively provided by the Elections Committee. The proxies from the Elections Committee shall be the only valid proxy forms.
C. Proxies shall be included in determining the quorum for all elections.
D. Proxies shall not be accepted after the commencement of any election meeting.
E. Proxies will only be accepted from DUES-PAYING MEMBERS prior to the date of elections.
F. The proxy of a member may not be changed once submitted. A proxy may be recalled, however, if the member is in attendance at the election meeting.
G. Proxies used in the general election shall not be valid for use in a run-off election. A new proxy must be submitted in the event of a run-off.
Section 7: Validation of Elections
Validation of elections shall be made by the Election Committees at the close of the election process.
Section 8: Installation of Officers
Newly elected officers shall be installed by the end of the week following their election. Each newly elected Standing Committee Chair shall conduct a transition event with the assistance of the past Standing Committee Chair prior to the end of the spring semester.
Section 9: Term of offices
The terms of the office shall last for one year.
ARTICLE VIII: PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
A. Make Motion to begin consideration of a matter for vote when the discussion is concluded and it is clear that no one has any further comments or questions. If the discussion is consuming an unreasonably large amount of time, the Parliamentarian or President may encourage the members of the general body to make their final comments in order to bring the discussion to a conclusion
B. Second Motion to show that there is enough interest in the matter to warrant a vote
C. Discuss the relevant factors through comments and questions by the general body
D. Restate Motion by the Parliamentarian or President after discussion has been concluded
E. Voting shall occur under the direction of the Parliamentarian or President. When voting does not result in a majority, the votes will be reconsidered. This time, abstentions will not be counted towards the total number of votes
F. Internet voting will be used at discretion of the Presidents only in cases where it is absolutely essential, and or overwhelmingly beneficial to the general interest of BLSA that a matter be voted on immediately; and where in-person forms voting is not a reasonably practicable alternative
ARTICLE IX: REMOVAL OF ELECTED OFFICERS
Any member holding an elective office in this organization shall be subject for removal from office, for good and sufficient cause, pursuant to procedures delineated in the By-Laws. Violation of the oath of office, including malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance, shall constitute good and sufficient cause for removal from office of any such officer.
ARTICLE X: VACANCIES
Should any position become vacant by the removal or resignation of an officer, the position shall be filled through an election at a succeeding General Body Meeting. The Executive Board may appoint an interim officer to fill the position prior to such special election. Should the position of president become vacant, the Vice-President shall fill that position for the remainder of the term. A special election will be held to elect a new Vice-President.
ARTICLE XI: BY-LAWS
The membership may adopt by-laws by a two-thirds vote of the general membership present at a prearranged meeting. Any by-laws adopted must be consistent with this Constitution.
ARTICLE XII: AMENDMENTS
The Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the general membership present at a prearranged meeting. When so approved, such amendment shall be effective as soon as adopted, unless otherwise provided by the amendment. Notice of the proposed amendment shall be posted or placed in each member’s mailbox at least five (5) days before the amendment is offered.
ARTICLE XIII: RATIFICATION
Ratification of this Constitution shall be a two-thirds vote of those GENERAL MEMBERS voting at a special meeting called for the purpose of ratification. A quorum to ratify this Constitution must consist of 50% + 1 of the general membership.
ARTICLE XIV: BLSA CONVENTION ATTENDEES
Delegates for the MABLSA and NBLSA Conventions shall be appointed by the Vice President through an application process. The Vice President shall look to dues paying chapter members to fulfill the role. The President reserves the right to appoint chapter members to the delegate position.
B. Moot Court and Mock Trial teams
In the event that the chapter sends competition teams to the MABLSA and/or NBLSA competitions, the chapter will reserve the right to establish an alternate system to replace moot court and mock trial team competitors when necessary. The chapter reserves the right to collect a deposit from each competitor to be determined by the President, Vice President, and Treasurer.