Constitution of the Yale College Democrats
Article I: Mission Statement
We are intentional advocates for progressive change in New Haven, in Connecticut, and across the country.
We fight for candidates and causes that advance equal justice, human dignity, and the empowerment of all people.
We embrace students of all backgrounds who want to take action and join an inclusive community dedicated to these values.
Article II: The Executive Board
1) A. In all years, the Executive Board shall be composed of the President, Vice President, Finance Director, Legislative Coordinator, Elections Coordinator, City Engagement Coordinator, Communications Director, Events Coordinator, and Membership Coordinator.
B. In even-numbered years, a Registrar of Voters may be added to the Executive Board. The decision to add one or not shall be made the preceding November, before information on Board elections is disseminated, by majority vote of the outgoing Executive Board.
2) A. Executive Board members must be currently enrolled undergraduates in Yale College, taking courses on Yale’s campus. Students who plan to graduate partway through their term in office may not serve on the Executive Board.
B. Executive Board members must be active members of the Yale College Democrats, as defined by Section IV.2, at the time of their election or appointment, and must remain in good standing with the Yale College Democrats.
C. If legally able to do so, each member of the Executive Board must be a registered voter or become one as soon as is practicable. Additionally, if registered in a state where voters can register by party, a member of the Executive Board must be registered as a Democrat. This subsection shall not be construed to exclude from Board those who cannot register to vote at all (due to age, citizenship, or other legal reasons) or those who cannot register by party.
3) A. Elections of Executive Board members shall take place after the second Tuesday in November and before the start of fall finals period, at a time determined by the Executive Board.
B. The candidate for each Executive Board office who receives a majority of the vote of the active membership present at the election shall be declared the winner. In the event that no candidate receives a majority in the first round of voting, there shall be a runoff between the top two vote-getters. The Executive Board shall be empowered to create procedures for three-way ties, ties for second-place, etc. Look at Amendment II for update version of elections procedures.
C. Elections shall occur sequentially by office in the order in Subsection II.1.A, save that election of the Registrar of Voters, if there is one, will occur immediately after election of the Elections Coordinator. Before information on Board elections is disseminated, the outgoing Executive Board may temporarily alter this order for the following election by two-thirds vote.
D. Candidates may run for up to two positions, and no more. In the case that candidate wins both of their elections, a predetermined order of preference will determine which position they take.
E. Elected Executive Board members take office (and outgoing Executive Board members leave office) immediately upon the conclusion of each year’s elections.
F. Elections shall be administered by active members designated by the outgoing President who are ineligible to run due to upcoming graduation. If no such members are available, the President may designate any other active member(s) to administer elections, provided they agree not to run for Executive Board themselves that election.
4) A. During a term of office, a vacancy in any Executive Board office other than the President shall occur whenever the officeholder submits written notice of resignation to the President, fails to meet the qualifications in Section II.2, is removed from office per Section II.5, or is promoted to another vacant Executive Board office. Such vacancies shall be filled by the approval of the Board.
B. During a term of office, a vacancy in the Presidency shall occur whenever the President submits written notice of resignation to the Vice President, fails to meet the qualifications in Section II.2, or is removed from office per Section II.5. Upon a vacancy in the Presidency, the Vice President shall become President. The subsequent vacancy in the Vice Presidency shall be filled per Subsection II.4.A.
5) An Executive Board member may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of all other members of the Executive Board, provided he or she is informed of the cause for potential removal and given the opportunity to reply to it before the rest of the Executive Board.
6) Meetings of the Executive Board shall be chaired by the President, or the Vice President in the President’s absence. Business not otherwise discussed in the bylaws shall be conducted by majority vote.
Article III: Duties of the Executive Board
1) The Executive Board shall be ultimately responsible for all financial, political, and programmatic decisions of the Yale College Democrats.
2) The duties of the President shall include—
A. long-term planning and scheduling;
B. running major initiatives;
C. holding meetings of the Executive Board, per Section II.6; and
D. representing the Yale College Democrats both to the public and to the press.
3) The duties of the Vice President shall include—
co-managing and planning long-term goals and initiatives alongside the President
promoting collaboration with other on- and off-campus groups alongside the President, Membership Coordinator, and City Engagement Coordinator
advising the President in any of their duties
managing initiatives not covered by other Board members’ roles, potentially including handling alumni relations and community service activities.
4) The duties of the Finance Director shall include—
A. keeping a record of income and expenses, reimbursing members who incur expenses, and applying for Undergraduate Organizations Committee funding and speaker grants as needed each semester;
B. maintaining the Bulldog Democrats Political Action Committees and its regular campaign finance reporting;
C. acting as a resource for the board’s questions regarding UOC funding guidelines and state and federal campaign finance regulations; and
D. developing a fundraising strategy for the Yale College Democrats and selling merchandise to raise funds.
5) The duties of the Legislative Coordinator shall include—
A. managing the Yale College Democrats’ involvement in legislative advocacy or issues-based campaigns at the national and state level, via working with lawmakers, fostering coalitions with other organizations, etc.;
B. educating the membership and/or the broader community about the Yale College Democrats’ legislative advocacy and issue positions;
C. chairing any meetings of Yale College Democrats members related to the above tasks; and
D. appointing Legislative Captains as needed to aid with these duties.
6) The duties of the Elections Coordinator shall include—
A. ensuring an active and effective role for the Yale College Democrats in local, state, and national electoral campaigns;
B. running get-out-the-vote operations for candidates;
C. organizing campaign opportunities for members;
D. assuming the duties in Section III.7 when a Registrar of Voters is not a part of the Executive Board, per Subsection II.1.B;
E. chairing any meetings of Yale College Democrats members related to the above tasks; and
F. appointing Elections Captains as needed to aid with these duties.
7) When part of the Executive Board as per Subsection II.1.B, the duties of the Registrar of Voters shall include—
A. leading voter registration efforts and disseminating information on how to register to vote;
B. resolving any voter registration questions or issues which arise between the registrants, the office in charge of processing registrations, and the Yale College Democrats;
C. managing voter data and targeting for campaign work; and
D. assisting the Elections Coordinator in his or her duties.
8) The duties of the City Engagement Coordinator shall include—
A. maintaining relationships with other progressive organizations and partner groups, in the city of New Haven
B. facilitating joint efforts with these groups for events, advocacy, and other collaborative and coalition-based work.
C. Appointing City Engagement Captains as needed to aid with these duties.
9) The duties of the Communications Director shall include—
A. sending out weekly e-mails summarizing upcoming Yale College Democrats events;
B. managing the main and subsidiary e-mail panlists;
C. managing the Yale College Democrats’ website;
D. managing the Yale College Democrats’ social media;
E. taking and sharing photographs at events;
F. serving as the primary contact for press inquiries about the Yale College Democrats and attracting press coverage for appropriate Yale College Democrats activities;
G. monitoring any press about the Yale College Democrats or coalition partners; and
H. keeping minutes at Executive Board meetings.
10) The duties of the Events Coordinator shall include—
A. recruiting speakers for Yale College Democrats meetings;
B. planning larger events, with the President and other Board members; and
C. managing the logistics of events, including finding and registering rooms.
11) The duties of the Membership Coordinator shall include—
A. bringing new people into the Yale College Democrats and leading freshmen recruitment;
B. working to retain current members;
C. keeping track of meeting attendance and membership rolls;
D. polling the membership and keeping in touch with members’ needs; and
E. planning social events, with the Events Coordinator.
Article IV: General Membership
1) Any student in Yale College is eligible for membership in the Yale College Democrats.
2) A. An “active member” for the purposes of elections and other events shall have attended at least three Yale College Democrats events since the beginning of the calendar year and have been, in general, in good standing with the Yale College Democrats.
Amendment: At least 6 events total per year, and at least 3 weekly meetings.
B. Notwithstanding the above, until the conclusion of the sixth Yale College Democrats event each calendar year, memberships from the previous calendar year shall carry over.
Article V: Endorsements by the Yale College Democrats
1) A. In elections for public office, the Yale College Democrats—
i. shall only endorse Democratic candidates; and
ii. B. The term “Democratic candidate” shall refer to—
i. any candidate for county, state, or federal office nominated for that office by the corresponding branch of the Democratic Party, per its official procedures; or
ii. any candidate for municipal office who is a registered Democrat in the district in which he or she seeks election.
C. The Yale College Democrats shall not endorse—
i. in contested partisan primary elections, unless a significant need to do so arises, as is approved by the board.
ii. in general elections which include more than one Democratic candidate, except as outlined in Subsection V.1.D.
D. The President may choose to suspend Subsection V.1.C.ii under special circumstances if at least two-thirds of the Executive Board vote to endorse a candidate.
2) The Yale College Democrats shall not endorse in elections for any Yale-registered student organization, including the Yale College Council.
3) Decisions on the Yale College Democrats’ stance on issues not directly related to candidate endorsement shall be made by the Executive Board or delegated to the active membership at the Board’s discretion.
4) The Yale College Democrats shall not be involved as an organization in any issues, advocacy, etc. centrally related to the governance or operations of Yale University, Yale College, and/or the Yale Corporation. Questions as to whether an event or issue falls under this section shall be decided by the Executive Board on a case-by-case basis.
5) A. Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent individual members of the Yale College Democrats who are not on the Executive Board from supporting or working for candidates or causes not endorsed by the Yale College Democrats, except that members may not aid office-seekers running against candidates endorsed by the Yale College Democrats. When not acting as a representative of the Yale College Democrats, members must not claim to be acting on behalf of the organization.
B. Members of the Executive Board may not work for a given candidate if the Executive Board votes to forbid it. Otherwise, members of the Board likewise follow Subsection V.5.A.
C. Violations of Subsections V.5.A or V.5.B may result in a member losing good standing with the Yale College Democrats, as applicable in Subsections II.2.B and IV.2.A.
Article VI: Use of the Yale College Democrats’ Name
1) The use of the Yale College Democrats’ name shall be regulated by the Executive Board. The Executive Board is authorized and encouraged to use whatever means it deems appropriate, within the rules of Yale College and this constitution, to prevent unauthorized use.
Article VII: Finances
1) All expenditures over twenty dollars must be raised at an Executive Board meeting and, if any Board member objects, put to a majority vote.
2) The Treasurer may approve expenditures under twenty dollars, but the Executive Board retains the right to refuse any expenditure at its discretion.
3) The Executive Board may, by majority vote, open, close, or transfer a savings or checking account on behalf of the organization.
4) The President and Treasurer must be signatories to any account opened on behalf of the organization.
5) All proceeds obtained under the Yale College Democrats’ name by any means, including donations, University allocations, and revenue from fundraising and other sales, shall be considered the property of the Yale College Democrats and may not directly benefit any other individual except as it has been determined by a majority vote of the Executive Board (i.e. stipends for fellows). This shall not be construed to prevent use of funds for campaigning on behalf of individual candidates.
6) The Yale College Democrats shall comply with all applicable federal, state, local and University financial regulations.
7) In the event that the Yale College Democrats should dissolve, any remaining assets shall be distributed to the Connecticut Democratic Party, in accordance to relevant campaign finance laws. Any funds not legally dispersible to the state party should instead be directed to the New Haven Democratic Town Committee. As a last resort only, funds should be returned to Yale College.
Article VIII: Amendments
1) The constitution of the Yale College Democrats may be amended by a vote of at least three-quarters of the Executive Board.
Amendment I: Involvement in Yale-Related Activism
1) At the discretion of the Executive Board, the Yale College Democrats may be involved as an organization in the activities described and previously forbidden in Section V.4.
2) The Yale College Democrats shall not become involved in said activities at the expense of organizational objectives managed by the Legislative Coordinator or Elections Coordinator, as described in Sections III.5 and III.6, respectively.
Amendment II: Executive Board Elections
1) In lieu of the procedures outlined in Subsection I.3.D, candidates for the Executive Board shall be permitted to run for a maximum of two Executive Board positions in a given election.
2) Candidates for Executive Board positions shall declare their candidacy by submitting statements for each prospective position to the members designated in accordance with Subsection I.3.F. Candidates for multiple offices shall also provide an order of preference for each position sought for the purposes of circumstances outlined in Subsection 3.D of this amendment. Candidates shall submit these materials by date and manner of the aforementioned members' choosing.
3) In lieu of the procedures outlined in Subsection I.3.B, elections for the Executive Board will henceforth be administered as follows:
A. Elections for the Executive Board shall employ a rank-choice, instant-runoff voting system that allows members to list all of their choices for candidate for each position. Members designated in accordance with Subsection I.3.F shall determine the winner of the election by—
i. administering a vote count of all voters' first-choice candidates—
1. to determine whether any one candidate won the majority of votes within that vote count, thereby winning the election outright, or
2. to identify whichever candidate(s) received the least number of votes within that vote count, thus eliminating them from the running;
ii. administering a vote count of the second-choice candidates of voters whose first-choice candidate(s) were eliminated from the previous vote count, adding these results to the vote totals of the remaining candidates for the purposes outlined in Subsections 3.A.i.1 and 3.A.i.2 of this amendment;
iii. administering a vote count of the third-choice candidates of voters whose whose first- and second-choice candidates were eliminated in the previous two rounds, adding these results to the vote totals of the remaining candidates; and
iv. identifying the winner of the majority or plurality of the vote by the third vote count of the election.
B. In the event of tie, the members designated in accordance with Subsection I.3.F shall determine the winner by comparing the voter preference averages of the remaining candidate, with the candidate sporting the lowest average ranking of first-choice (1), second-choice (2), and third-choice (3) winning the election. the event hat tied candidates receive the same average voter preference score, the aforementioned members shall use a tie-breaking method or procedure outlined by them prior to the meeting.
C. In the event that a candidate wins multiple Executive Board positions in an election, that candidate shall be awarded the position that he or she ranked as highest in preference of the positions won, as outlined in the procedures of Section 1 of this amendment.
In lieu of the procedures outlined in Subsection I.3.C, elections for the Executive Board shall occur at once through a single, comprehensive ballot issued to eligible members present at the elections meeting. In the event that the members designated under Subsection I.3.F invite candidates to give speeches at the meeting, those speeches shall be held before ballots are counted in an order determined by said members.
Amendment III: Staff Positions
1) With the advice and consent of the President and Executive Board, the Vice President may form a staff composed of staff members serving in task-oriented positions determined by the procedures outlined in Section 2 of this amendment.
Staff positions shall be determined and outlined by the Executive Board at the beginning of each semester, with all Staff positions requiring the approval of both the President and Vice President.
3) The Executive Board shall solicit and select members for Staff positions by an application process administered by the Vice President.
Staff members shall serve for the entirety of a semester unless otherwise determined by both the Vice President and the majority of the Executive Board; may not serve on the Executive Board during their time on Staff; and shall be expected to fulfill their duties as outlined for their position by the Executive Board, per Section 2 of this amendment; and to attend regular Staff meetings hosted by the Vice President.
5) In addition to the duties outlined in Subsection III.3, the Vice President shall be tasked with managing the major operations and initiatives of Staff and its member; hosting and chairing Staff meetings on a regular, recurring basis.
A vacancy in any Staff position shall be filled by appointment from the Vice President in consultation with the Executive Board.
A staff member may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of members of the Executive Board, provided he or she is informed of the cause for potential removal and given the opportunity to reply to it before members o the Executive Board.