[ProgSoc] Constitutional Amendment Proposal Fest 2017

Tomislav Bozic tomchristmas at progsoc.org
Fri Dec 1 19:14:14 AEDT 2017


Hello again,

Last night, I was reading through the 2018 edition of the ActivateUTS 
Clubs Handbook[1], which is the document that governs all 
Union-affiliated clubs. Pertinently (for this email thread anyhow), 
should any directive specified within the Handbook conflict with a 
clause found in the constitution of a club under the Union's patronage, 
one would assume the former document's directive to the extent of the 
conflict shall prevail.

On page 12 of the Handbook, it says:

 > Membership to a club or society will be valid for the current
 > calendar year, expiring on the 31st of December for that year. After
 > this period, an individual will need to renew their membership.

Section 4.2.5 of ProgSoc's Constitution[2] says:

 > Annual subscription is dated for the calendar year. Memberships will
 > reset on 1st February of each year, with a 1 month grace period to
 > cover the annual subscriptions.

Clearly, this is in conflict with the Union's requirements. This clause 
is effectively null-and-void.

As it turns out, my original proposal for 4.2.5:

 > Membership shall commence on the date of payment of subscription.
 > The duration of membership shall be twelve months.

would also be null-and-void, which is a shame, since I believe that my 
proposal is fairer than what the Union requires.

So, I guess the only two amendments possible for this clause are, either 
to delete the clause entirely, which would be sufficient since clubs are 
bound by the laws of the Handbook anyway, or to replace the clause with 
words to the effect of "Members shall also be subject to further 
conditions of membership, as determined by the Union from time to time, 
and as outlined in the Union Handbook.", which would make being subject 
to the Handbook more explicit. Perhaps a definition for "Handbook" would 
also need to be inserted under Section 2.

I'm starting to believe that memberships that expire on the 31st of 
December has always been a Union requirement. It's just that I have 
misinterpreted the phrase "annual subscription" in our Constitution as 
"good for exactly 12 months". What it really means is that, to be a 
member, you only need pay your membership dues once a year and that 
you're good for the rest of the calendar year.

Also, no-one reads the Handbook, which is why the membership rules we 
have enforced over the years differ from what the Union requires of us.

Keeping this one-man festival going,

Tom

[1] sorry, no electronic link available. I believe it is only shared on 
a "need-to-know basis.

[2] http://progsoc.org/wiki?title=Constitution&oldid=5420

On 19/11/17 19:03, Tomislav Bozic wrote:
> Hello ProgSoc,
> 
> I've just been spending a lazy Sunday afternoon going through our 
> Constitution[1] and have come up with a bunch of amendments that I think 
> warrant consideration and/or discussion on this here mailing list! 
> Indulge me, if you will, as I present to you my proposals and a brief 
> explanation as to the reasoning behind each one.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 1 (Definitions) ==
> 
> Under Section 2:
> 
> Replace:
> 
>    * University, UTS: The University of Technology, Sydney.
>    * Union: UTS Union.
> 
> with
> 
>    * University, UTS: The University of Technology Sydney.
>    * Union: ActivateUTS (formerly known as UTS Union).
> 
> -- 
> 
> According to their 2016 Annual Report[2], on the 11th of November, 2016, 
> UTS Union Limited changed their legal name to ActivateUTS. Since it's 
> their actual legal name, rather than just their trading name, I think we 
> need to amend this definition, if for no other reason than to not 
> confuse future members who might not know what "UTS Union" is. However, 
> since we are only amending the definition of the word 'Union', there's 
> no need to change every instance of the word. Besides, they may be 
> called "ActivateUTS", but they still ARE the Union of UTS. Their purpose 
> has not changed, just their name.
> 
> Also, UTS' full name has been comma-free for many years now. Wouldn't 
> hurt to remove the comma between 'Technology' and 'Sydney'.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 2 (Membership) ==
> 
> Replace clause 4.2.5:
> 
>     Annual subscription is dated for the calendar year. Memberships will
>     reset on 1st February of each year, with a 1 month grace period to
>     cover the annual subscriptions.
> 
> with:
> 
>     Membership shall commence on the date of payment of subscription.
>     The duration of membership shall be twelve months.
> 
> -- 
> 
> Prior to 2015, there was never an explicit definition of the duration of 
> a membership; when it commenced and when it concluded. It was merely 
> implied. Because they were not aware of the rules governing membership 
> duration due to them not being explicit, previous Executives simply 
> chose to ignore the definition and come up with their own, 
> non-Constitutional definition, namely that all memberships that had not 
> already been renewed, or if they were not brand new membership acquired 
> earlier in the year, would expire at the AGM in March of that year.
> 
> So, in an attempt to make it explicit, clause 4.2.5. was inserted at the 
> March 2015 AGM. However, I believe that -- with all due respect -- this 
> definition of a membership sucks. I mean, it's just blatantly unfair! 
> What if someone renewed their membership in December? Does it mean it 
> only lasts for three months?
> 
> So, I want to bring back the original, fair and equitable definition 
> that lasts exactly for one year. But this time, I want to make it explicit.
> 
> It's really not that hard to enforce, especially with modern 
> technology...such as online electronic spreadsheets! When recording 
> current memberships in the spreadsheet, the Secretary need only have two 
> extra columns: date of registration and date of expiry. Say we got a new 
> member today. Then the Secretary would record 2017-11-19 under date of 
> registration and 2018-11-19 under date of expiry. Then, come meeting 
> time -- AGM or otherwise -- when we need to determine who are current 
> financial members for voting purposes, we simply look at the date of 
> expiry column for each person at the meeting.
> 
> Too easy!
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 3 (Executive Term Length) ==
> 
> Delete clause 5.1.3.1:
> 
>     The exemption from this clause is the 2015 term of office, due to
>     the change in Annual General Meeting dates, will be the period of
>     March 2015 to October 2015.
> 
> -- 
> 
> The time has come and gone. Let's delete it. Next!
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 4 (Executive Voting) ==
> 
> Delete clause 5.1.7.1:
> 
>    In the case of a hung vote or tie, the President shall
>    have a deciding ruling on the vote.
> 
> -- 
> 
> You know, I pointed out to the 2014 Executive, who put forth the last 
> set of amendments, that this clause would be completely redundant, since 
> a hung vote or tie would be impossible in a five-member Executive, 
> which, let's be honest, they were going to get that amendment as 
> well[3], since all potential voices of reason and dissent by that stage 
> had disappeared or had otherwise been suppressed (but that's another 
> story).
> 
> But did they listen to me? Remarkably (not really), the motion to insert 
> this clause had passed. Let's fix this.
> 
> And in any case, how the Executive decide matters in Executive meetings 
> should be entirely at their discretion.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 5 (Key Holders) ==
> 
> Delete clauses 5.1.4 and 5.1.5:
> 
>     5.1.4 Make up to four Key-Holder Appointments, each of which must
>     be assigned an administrative role as determined by a vote of
>     the Executive.
> 
>     5.1.5 Review, remove and add Key-Holder Appointments from time to
>     time, subject to 5.1.4.
> 
> Renumber clauses 5.1.6, 5.1.7 (and 5.1.7.1. if not deleted) to 5.1.4., 
> 5.1.5. (and 5.1.5.1 if not deleted)
> 
> -- 
> 
> Thing is, ProgSoc doesn't have its own room anymore. At least not with 
> one that requires access to it with a key.
> 
> Back when we were in Building 10, the ProgSoc room was behind two doors 
> that needed to be unlocked with a key loaned to ProgSoc members by the 
> FEIT Dean's Unit. Keys were issued to Executive members, who were "ex 
> officio" entitled to a key. Keys were also issued to people nominated by 
> the Executive to facilitate carrying out club activities.
> 
> In my opinion, the purpose of Key-Holders has been replaced by Liaison 
> Officers. So let's remove this.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 6 (Security) ==
> 
> Replace clause 5.6:
> 
>     All members holding keys to the Programmers' Society room and any
>     rooms leading to same, shall make all reasonable efforts to maintain
>     the security of those rooms.
> 
> with
> 
>     All members holding access privileges to the Programmers' Society
>     room and any rooms leading to same, shall make all reasonable
>     efforts to maintain the security of those rooms.
> 
> -- 
> 
> Not really too fussed about this. 'Keys' can be construed to be 'access 
> privileges', regardless of the technology employed. Nevertheless, 
> wouldn't hurt to change this.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 7 (Secretary) ==
> 
> Delete from 5.5.3:
> 
>     The Secretary shall act as the Vice­-President in their absence.
> 
> -- 
> 
> Some more 2015 nonsense[4] I'd like to see gone. I don't see why it's 
> necessary.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 8 (Liaison Officers) ==
> 
> Replace in clause 5.1.6:
> 
>     time to to time
> 
> with
> 
>     time to time
> 
> Delete from clause 5.1.6:
> 
>     , each of which must be agreed upon by a majority of the
>     Executive Committee vote
> 
> Delete clauses 5.7.1 through to 5.7.7.
> 
> Replace clause 5.7:
> 
>     Liaison Officers are to be appointed at the discretion of the
>     Executive Committee and removed at the earlier of either removal by
>     discretion of the Executive Committee, or at the end of an office
>     period of the Executive Committee. Liaison Officers do not hold a
>     position on the Executive Committee, and shall assist and advise
>     the Executive Committee.
> 
> with:
> 
>     Liaison Officers are to be appointed at the discretion of the
>     Executive Committee and removed at the earlier of either removal by
>     discretion of the Executive Committee, or at the end of an office
>     period of the Executive Committee. Liaison Officers do not hold a
>     position on the Executive Committee, and shall assist and advise the
>     Executive Committee. ​Persons eligible for appointments must be
>     financial members of the Society for the year they are appointed.
>     Liaison Officer roles and positions are to be determined and revised
>     by the Executive Committee from time to time.
> 
> -- 
> 
> Now the big one. In fact, this is the main part of the Constitution I 
> wish to have amended.
> 
> The thing about the Constitution is, it should outline what we, as a 
> Society MUST do, not what we OUGHT to do. Accordingly, it should be a 
> minimal document and also, should not be weighed down with clauses that 
> are, in fact, completely discretionary and optional.
> 
> I'm not against there being Liaison Officers. It's good to empower the 
> rest of the membership, to give them responsibilities and duties. But do 
> we really need to explicitly outline, in the Constitution at least, what 
> roles can be occupied by Officers and how they're appointed?
> 
> The Executive should be free to appoint as many or as few Liaison 
> Officers as they wish. How they do it should be at their discretion -- 
> they don't have to follow an overly bureaucratic process.
> 
> It is the membership at large that informs (or should inform) what 
> activities the club does in a given year. These activities vary from 
> year to year, according to the interests of the membership. Appointing 
> Liaisons on a more ad hoc basis -- to serve a specific need, to run a 
> specific set of activities (e.g. programming competitions) -- would be 
> the way to go.
> 
> It would be a good idea, however, rather than to simply discard clauses 
> 5.7.1 to 5.7.7., we should put those clauses in another document on the 
> wiki called "Liaison Officer Roles" or similar. If you like, the 
> membership can vote upon adding or deleting new roles or amending 
> existing roles to suit the club's purpose. In any case, these roles 
> would serve more or less as a guide as to what a Liaison Officer can 
> occupy. It's good to retain the definitions for this purpose. Again, we 
> shouldn't be limiting ourselves to only appointing Liaisons with these 
> roles.
> 
> == Proposed Amendment 9 (Auditing) ==
> 
> Delete clause 5.5.4.3:
> 
>     ​They shall present the annual statement of accounts and balance sheet
>     for the preceding financial year to the auditor each year at least
>     two weeks before the Annual General Meeting and shall present the
>     audited statements and balance sheet at the Annual General Meeting.
> 
> Renumber clause 5.5.4.4 to 5.5.4.3.
> 
> Delete clauses 6.5 and 6.6:
> 
>     6.5 Auditor
> 
>     The Auditor shall be appointed by the Executive Committee.
> 
>     6.6 Annual Audit
> 
>     The Auditor will conduct an audit of the Society's accounts and
>     balance sheet for the financial year preceding the Annual General
>     Meeting, and furnish a report thereon, as an addendum to the
>     Treasurer's report to the Annual General Meeting.
> 
> -- 
> 
> I'm kind of torn on this one.
> 
> You see, in all of my time in ProgSoc and, in particular, on the 
> Executive, we never actually did this. We still don't. Maybe it was 
> because we simply weren't aware of these clauses. Or maybe it's because 
> it's completely unnecessary. Every year, as part of Union reaffiliation, 
> each club is required to compile and submit their accounts and balance 
> sheets to the Union, who essentially proceed to carry out an audit of 
> their own of each affiliated clubs' accounts. That we have successfully 
> reaffiliated each year would suggest our financials were in order.
> 
> (This, by the way, is what I told our previous Treasurer, now current 
> President -- go Brenton! -- when he asked me about these auditing 
> requirements.)
> 
> So, is it a good idea to retain these clauses, but leave them 
> inoperable, even though as I have previously said, the Constitution 
> should be all about what we must do, not what we should do?
> 
> Or should we, in fact, be doing our own audit in addition to the one the 
> Union does for us?
> 
> Thoughts,
> 
> Tom
> 
> ---
> 
> [1] http://progsoc.org/wiki?title=Constitution&oldid=5420
> 
> [2] 
> https://www.activateuts.com.au/sites/default/files/2016.AnnualReport.pdf
> 
> [3] 
> http://progsoc.org/wiki?title=Constitution_Amendments_2015&oldid=5431#Proposed_Amendment_3_.28Removal_of_Executive_Committee_roles.29 
> 
> 
> [4] 
> http://progsoc.org/wiki?title=Constitution_Amendments_2015&oldid=5431#Proposed_Amendment_7_.28Clarification_of_the_role_of_Secretary.29 
> 
> -----------------------------------------------------
> 
> To judiciously use split infinitives is fine by me...
> 
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-- 
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To judiciously use split infinitives is fine by me...



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