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The Pennsylvania State University Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

Graduate Student Organization (The SIPGSO). Amended August 2020.


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 issues may include but are not limited to: 

  • Teaching assignments
  • Department regulations
  • Academic program and 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

The 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. All others interested in furthering the purpose of the SIPGSO, including but not limited to, faculty, staff, and community members, shall be associate members. Associate members shall not hold office, vote, officially represent the organization or solicit funds on campus on behalf of the organization. Associate members are welcome to participate in SIPGSO social events and mass communications within 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

The organization must share the University Hazing policy with the entire membership, prescribed by Policies and Rules for Student Organizations on an annual basis. This document is available upon request by the Office of Student Activities. 

Section E 

The club reserves the right to expel a member who is not following the policies of the organization with a supermajority vote of attending members - quorum is 75% of active members. 

Section F

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

The mediator shall: 

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

Section G: New Membership and Recruitment 

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

  1. Organizational documents (Constitution, bylaws, manuals, etc.) 

  2. Typical organizational events and activities 

  3. A list of responsibilities of members 

  4. 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. 

b. 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. 

c. 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 they should first seek approval from the Office of Student Activities. 

Section B

The President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer may not hold more than one of the aforementioned positions concurrently, but they are eligible to hold any other position secondarily within the SIPGSO (i.e., the Secretary may also serve as the Representative to the International Programs Committee, but cannot hold the positions of Secretary and Vice-President or other combinations during the same term). 

Section C

Each year, one named officer shall serve as the voluntary manager of the Benevento Mentorship Program. This volunteer shall be responsible for matching incoming graduate students (mentees) with more senior graduate students (mentors) based on similar research and personal interests to encourage academic success and social well-being. The manager shall communicate with the mentees and mentors to provide contact information and general expectations of both parties. The Benevento Mentorship Program is an optional program for all incoming and advanced graduate students. 

Section D - Offices

  1. The President is the spokesperson for the SIPGSO. The President shall preside over meetings, appoint committees, and have the authority and responsibility of conducting the activities of the organization with consent of membership. The President shall also be responsible for maintaining relevant documentation (meeting minutes, rosters, election data, etc.) and sharing it with relevant personnel when necessary. 

  2. The Vice-President shall assist the President in their duties and in presiding over general meetings. The Vice-President shall also assume the duties of the President in their absence or incapacity. 

  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 email database and distribute information regarding the SIPGSO 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 and the Linguistics Representative to the Faculty Meetings shall serve as liaisons 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. The Literature and Linguistics Faculty Representatives will not attend meetings or vote on issues related to personnel, as in tenure reviews, hiring, and issues concerning individual graduate students. These representatives may also collect proposals from the SIPGSO membership for scholars they would like to invite to PSU and will prepare the necessary documentation for such visits to be presented to the Faculty Activities Committee. 

  7. The Representative to the International Programs Committee shall 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. 

  8. The Ad Hoc Committee Member shall fill in for an Executive Board member when they are temporarily unable to carry out their responsibilities (i.e., the Ad Hoc Committee Member may attend a Faculty meeting on behalf of one of the Faculty Representatives). 

  9. The First-Year Representative is a voluntary position, based on interest. This Representative must be a first-year graduate student and will serve as a liaison between all first-year students and the SIPGSO officers. In the event of two or more nominations, an informal vote will be held among the first-year graduate students. The Representative must be elected by September 30 of the present academic year. It is their responsibility to act as an advocate specifically on behalf of first-year students, presenting to the SIPGSO any questions, concerns, or ideas that first-year students would like to bring to the Executive Board’s attention. 

  10. The Literature and Linguistics Practice Talk Coordinator are two positions designated by the Faculty Committee. The Literature and Linguistics Practice Talk Coordinators shall be responsible for scheduling practice talks for graduate students attending conferences. The Practice Talk Coordinators shall reserve the space for the practice talk to be held and notify the SIPGSO membership and Faculty of event details at least two weeks prior to the practice talk. 

Section D - Officer Removal 

1. An officer can be removed from office, through the process of removal. 

2. Grounds for removal includes, but is not limited to:

  • Behavior that is detrimental to advancing the purpose of this organization.
  • A demonstrated pattern of negligence or abandonment of duty to the organization
  • A violation of the organization’s constitution or bylaws or a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, university policy, or federal, state or local law. 

a. The officer may be removed through a two-thirds affirmative vote of the members in consultation with the SIPGSO’s advisor (if applicable). 

b. In the event that the reason for member removal is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or cannot otherwise be shared with members (e.g., while an investigation is pending), the executive board, in consultation with the organization’s advisor (if applicable), may vote to temporarily suspend an officer. 

3. Removal proceedings may be brought against any officer of the organization by any organization member.

a. Such claims must be submitted in writing to the most senior executive board officer not named in the grievance or the advisor (if applicable) no later than one week prior to a meeting in which all grievances will be discussed and voted upon by present active members. 

  • See voting article for necessary quorum to hold a vote. 
  • The officer or advisor (if applicable) shall inform the officer in question of any such grievances immediately or as soon as possible of any such claims. 
  • The officer in question shall be given the opportunity to present their perspective on the incident and how it relates to their officer role to the voting members. 
  • The removal vote shall be taken at this meeting. 
  • The individual being considered for removal shall not have a vote and shall not be counted amongst the number of voting members present. 

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. In the event that physical attendance is prohibited, meetings will take place virtually. 

Section B

Adequate advance notice must be given to all active members. 

Section C

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

Section D

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

Section E

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, they should speak with the President or Vice-President in order to schedule the meeting. 


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 UPAC funding provided to the organization without the approval of the general membership. 


Article VII - Elections

Section A

The Executive Board will communicate with the general body via email regarding all aspects of the nomination, voting, and acceptance process. The election process in its entirety will be conducted by at least one named active member who is not seeking election or reelection.  

Section B

Nominations and elections for officers and representatives to serve on the Executive Board for the upcoming academic year shall take place during the second half of the spring semester. 

Section C

Nominations shall be accepted two weeks before the voting officially begins, and close one week prior to voting. Nominees reserve the right to accept or decline nominations for any position and may run for any number of positions. 

Section D

In the event that all nominees for a given position decline, open nominations shall be collected via email. 

Section E

Votes shall be submitted by electronic ballot. Each active member shall have one vote per officer position. 

Section F

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

Section G

In the event that the majority-holding candidate declines a given position, the position shall be offered to the candidate holding the second-highest number of votes. Should all candidates decline, the election committee shall follow Section VII-D. 

Section H

Incoming officers will be announced at the final general body meeting of the spring semester. If any position remains unfilled, open nominations shall be accepted at the meeting. 

Section I

All officers serve for a term of one year, beginning at the end of the academic year in which they are elected, and ending once elections and all meetings have taken place in the academic year of service. 

Section J

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

Section K

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


Article VIII - 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 the Executive Board and to all general members prior to the meeting. 

Section B

Any active member may propose an amendment to the Constitution once every year. Proposed amendments should be submitted in writing to the Secretary who will notify the Executive Board and consequently inform all active members of the proposed amendment and the voting day. 

Section C

All amendments are subject to the approval of the Office of Student Activities to ensure that they align with University policies and rules. 


Article IX - Parliamentary Authority

Section A

“Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised” by Sarah Corbin Roberts shall be used in all cases not covered by this constitution. 


Article X  - Accessibility of this Constitution

Section A

Copies of this constitution shall be made available to anyone upon request. 


Article XI - Advisor

Section A

The SIPGSO must retain an advisor at all times. 

Section B

The advisor will be a full-time Faculty or Staff member of The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus and will be 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.