You are here: Home / Graduate / Current Students / The SIPGSO Constitution

The Pennsylvania State University Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

Graduate Student Organization (The SIPGSO). Amended December 2016.


Article I - Purpose

Section A

The purpose of the SIPGSO is to provide a forum for graduate students in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese to discuss and educate members about issues that directly affect them both as Graduate Students and Teaching Assistants. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching assignments
  • Department regulations
  • Academic program and teaching administration concerns
  • Opportunities available for graduate students at PSU

Section B

The SIPGSO will also strive to create a more cohesive group of graduate students (i.e., the  mentoring of new students by more advanced students) as  well  as  better communication between graduate students and faculty and administration. 


Article II - Membership

Section A

At all times, the majority (50%+1) of all active members shall be officially registered Graduate students at University Park.

Section B

Membership in the SIPGSO shall be divided into Active and Associate members.

  1. Only currently registered students are eligible for active membership. Only active members may hold office, vote, preside, officiate, or solicit funds on behalf of the organization.
  2. Associate members shall include all other members. Associate members shall not hold office, vote, officially represent the organization or solicit funds on campus on behalf of the organization.
  3. The SIPGSO does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, physical handicap, age or sexual orientation. 

Section C

The SIPGSO shall have at least 10 active student members at all times.

Section D

In the case of violations of constitutional policies and/or a conflict between members within the organization the highest ranking officer that is not involved in the conflict, with the assistance from the advisor (if applicable), will facilitate an informal mediation procedure.

The mediator shall:

i. Arrange for a mediation meeting outside of the regular organization business meeting.
ii. Explain their role as the impartial party and the objectives of the mediation.
iii. Set ground rules.
iv. Allow each party to express their views by allowing the conversation to go where the parties wish it to go.
v. Collect any available resources that might assist in the resolution (financial documents, emails, photos, etc.).
vi. As a third party, do not suggest resolutions but rather leave the responsibility for the resolution with the parties involved.
vii. Facilitate goal setting to reach a win-win resolution.

Section E - New Membership and recruitment

1. Any and all new members will be given full disclosure during recruitment, including but not limited to the disclosure of the following:

i. Organizational documents (Constitution, Bylaws, Manuals, etc.).
ii. Organizational events and activities.
iii. A list of responsibilities of members.
iv. A copy of the University Hazing policy, prescribed by Policies and Rules for Student Organizations. This document is available upon request by the Office of Student Activities.

2. All members, including but not limited to new members and recruits, reserve the right to refrain from participating in any activities without consequence, based upon personal/religious beliefs, personal values, or moral reserve as defined by the member.

3. Any and all interaction/activity between members and/or new members will be limited to guidelines stated by university policy, as well as local, state, and federal laws.


Article III - Officers

Section A

Graduate candidates may be full-time or part-time, officially registered active student members to be selected as officers at the time of the appointment or election. Officers may change from full-time to part-time, or vice versa, after becoming an officer. Student organizations may establish and apply additional eligibility criteria for appointed or elected leaders/officers, but should first seek approval from the Office of Student Activities.

Section B - Offices

  1. The President of the SIPGSO shall preside over meetings, appoint committees and have the authority and responsibility of conducting the activities of the SIPGSO with consent of membership. The President shall also be responsible for the transference of the SIPGSO’s relevant documentation (meeting minutes, rosters, election data, etc.) to the Penn State University Library archives at the conclusion of each spring semester.
  2. The Vice-President shall assist the President in his/her duties and shall assume the duties of the President in his/her absence or incapacity. The Vice-President shall assist the President in presiding over general meetings.
  3. The Treasurer shall be responsible for maintaining all financial records, collections and disbursement of funds and preparation of financial reports. The Treasurer shall also be responsible for investigating possible sources of funding and for bringing these sources to the attention of the group.
  4. The Secretary shall be responsible for all correspondence, recordings, reports of minutes and announcements that may be required by the members and SIPGSO’s officers. The Secretary shall also be responsible for maintaining the organization’s LISTSERV, collect nominations during elections, and distribute information regarding the SIPGSO and faculty committee meetings to the membership and appropriate representatives, respectively.
  5. The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) Representative shall serve as a liaison between the Department’s graduate students and the GPSA. They will report pertinent information received at GPSA meetings and pass along important news regarding events, etc. of said organization.
  6. The Literature Representative to the Faculty meetings will serve as a liaison between the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese’s Faculty Committee and the SIPGSO. They will provide reports of current issues being discussed by the committee and related graduate student concerns discussed in the SIPGSO to the faculty. This representative and the Linguistics Representative shall share one vote on decisions reached by the faculty, and it shall be decided by vote at the SIPGSO general elections which of these representatives will carry the official vote to the faculty. Issues that will be brought to vote at faculty meetings will be presented first to the SIPGSO via the LISTSERV, and the representatives will vote according to the majority (50%+1) opinion. The Literature Representative will not attend meetings or vote on issues related to personnel, as in tenure reviews, hiring, and issues concerning individual graduate students.
  7. The Linguistics Representative to the Faculty meetings will have the same responsibilities as the Literature Representative to the Faculty meetings.
  8. The Representative to the International Programs Committee will attend meetings with the purpose of keeping the SIPGSO informed with regards to developments in PSU’s programs abroad and the opportunities for graduate students to participate in those activities. This representative will also make the interests of graduate students and the SIPGSO heard at these meetings.
  9. The Representative to the Faculty Activities Committee and other ad hoc committees will be responsible for attending the meetings of the departmental Faculty Activities Committee and other ad hoc committees composed by the SIP Department Head which call for graduate student representation. They will also be responsible for reporting the proceedings of said meetings to the Secretary of the SIPGSO, who will then share this information with the SIPGSO members via the LISTSERV. This representative will also collect proposals from the SIPGSO membership for scholars they would like to invite to give presentations at PSU and will prepare the necessary documentation for such visits to be presented to the Faculty Activities Committee.
  10. The First Year Representative is a voluntary position, based on interest. The First Year Representative will serve as a liaison between all first year students and the SIPGSO officers. This representative must be a first year graduate student and will be appointed by the President by the last day of the first September of each scholastic year. It is the responsibility of this representative to act as advocate specifically on behalf of first year students, presenting to the SIPGSO officers any questions, concerns, or ideas incoming students would like to bring to their attention.

Section C - Filling unexpired vacancies

  1. Nominations are taken at the meeting following the vacancy. Elections also occur at this meeting.
  2. If a majority (50%+1) is not obtained by any of the candidates, the candidate receiving the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and the active members shall vote again.
  3. When nominations are being taken to fill unexpired terms, any member of the organization may nominate another member of the organization by simply raising his/her hand and indicating such when recognized.

Article IV - Meetings

Section A

The SIPGSO shall hold a minimum of two meetings per semester. General meetings will take place only during the fall and spring academic semesters.

Section B

The President and Vice-President shall determine meeting dates and frequency of meetings, while remaining open to requests from members for special meetings.

Section C

Under special circumstances (i.e., issues requiring immediate action) the Executive Board may choose to call special meetings. If a member of the SIPGSO who is not part of the Executive Board wishes to call a special meeting, s/he should speak with the President or Vice-President in order to schedule the meeting.

Section D

The Secretary shall notify members of regular and special meetings via the LISTERV at least one week in advance.


Article V - Voting

Section A

Only active members of the SIPGSO may vote.

Section B

Quorum for all voting in the SIPGSO shall be thirty-three percent (33%) of the active membership.

Section C

A simple majority (50% + 1) shall be necessary for all voting. This majority shall be derived from the active members of the SIPGSO present.


Article VI - Finances

Section A

All SIPGSO funds are to be deposited and handled exclusively through the Associated Student Activities (ASA) in 240 HUB.

Section B

The SIPGSO will not have an off-campus account(s).

Section C

The SIPGSO shall not collect dues.

Section D

The officers of the SIPGSO may spend up to $50 of the SIPGSO’s funds without the approval of the general membership.


Article VII - Advisor

Section A

The SIPGSO will retain an advisor at all times.

Section B

The advisor will be a full-time faculty or staff member at The Pennsylvania State University, chosen by the organization by majority vote of members present. It is advisable that the advisor be affiliated with the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Section C

The advisor will serve a minimal role in the SIPGSO, allowing the graduate student members to direct the majority of the organization’s regular business.  


Article VIII - Elections

Section A

Elections will be held in March of every year.

Section B

Nominations for officers and representatives shall be accepted beginning two weeks before the last regular meeting and will close immediately prior to the election. Nominations from the floor will be accepted at the election.

Section C

Votes will be submitted by written ballot. An election committee of three to five members (only one of whom may be an officer or representative) selected by the SIPGSO officers, in addition to the President, shall conduct elections, count votes and name the newly elected officers.

Section D

A simple majority (50%+1) of those present shall be sufficient to elect a candidate. In the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, a runoff election between the top two candidates will be held immediately.

Section E

The officers serve for a term of one year, beginning on the day after the last day of classes of the spring semester in which they are elected, and will serve until the last day of classes of the following spring semester.

Section F

Officers may serve for unlimited consecutive terms, provided they are reelected each year.

Section G

No one involved in conducting the elections may be an official candidate.


Article IX - Amendments To The Constitution

Section A

This Constitution can be amended at any general meeting by a two-thirds majority vote provided that the proposed amendment has been submitted in writing to all general members prior to the meeting.

Section B

Any active member may propose an amendment to the Constitution. Proposed amendments should be submitted in writing to a SIPGSO Officer (preferably the Secretary) who will make all active members aware of the amendment and the date that the vote will take place.

Section C

The Office of Student Activities must ultimately approve all amendments to this Constitution.


Article X  - Parliamentary Authority

The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order shall govern the SIPGSO in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are consistent with this Constitution and any special rules of order the SIPGSO may adopt.


Article XI - Accessibility of this Constitution

Copies of this Constitution are available to anyone upon request, and on the SIPGO webpage on the SIP website. A copy of this Constitution can be made available in Spanish upon special request.