4. MOVEMENT FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY: NEW CONSTITUTION

Movement for a Democratic Society Constitution 2009

(This constitution is adapted from the sds constitution 1962-67)

Preamble: Movement for a Democratic Society is a global association of people on the left. It seeks to create a sustained community of educational and political concern and actions: one bringing together liberals and radicals, activists and scholars, students, faculty and workers in all trades. It maintains a vision of a democratic society, where at all levels the people have control of the decisions which affect them and the resources on which they are dependent. It seeks a relevance through the continual focus on realities and on the programs necessary to effect change at the most basic levels of economic, political, and social organization. It feels the urgency to put forth a radical, democratic program counter-posed to authoritarian movements.

Article I: Name

The name of the organization shall be Movement for a Democratic Society (sometimes referred to herein as: MDS).

Article II: Membership

Section 1.

Membership is open to all people who share the commitment of the organization to democracy as a means and as a social goal.

Section 2.

Movement for a Democratic Society is an organization of democrats. We are civil libertarian in our treatment of those with whom we disagree, but clear in our opposition to any totalitarian principle as a basis for government or social organization. Advocates or apologists for such a principle are not eligible for membership.

Section 3. Dues

There shall be a membership fee of one dollar, supplemented by periodic dues, the amount and period of which shall be determined by the Council of Representatives.

Section 4. Associates

Individuals who do not wish to join the Movement for a Democratic Society, but who share the major concerns of the organization, may become associates, with rights and responsibilities as determined by the MDS Working Committee.

Article III: Chapters and Affiliates

Section I.

Any group of five or more members may apply to the MDS Working Committee for a charter as a chapter.

A chapter may be geographical in a specific community, or non-local, focused on a particular project.

Section 2.

A chapter may be chartered at any meeting of the Council of Representatives. It must be considered for chartering at the first meeting of the Council of Representatives after it has submitted a membership list, a constitution or statement of principles, and notification of its elected Council of Representatives “chapter representative” to the Council. In the period between submission of the required information to the Council of Representatives and the next Council of Representatives’ meeting, the chapter may be given a provisional charter at the discretion of the MDS Working Committee.

Section 3.

Chapters are expected to operate within the broad terms of policy set by the Movement for a Democratic Society Convention and the Council of Representatives. Points of conflict should be referred to the Council of Representatives and a procedure established to make the issue public to the organization. In matters judged to be detrimental to the interests of the organization, the Council of Representatives shall have the power to dissociate the organization from whatever activity that has been brought into question. The matter shall be finally resolved by the Council of Representatives in meeting or referendum.

Section 4. Associated Groups

Independent groups can affiliate as associates of MDS by vote of their membership and designation of a liaison representative to sit on the Council of Representatives with consultative vote. The representative shall be a member of Movement for a Democratic Society. Such association is provisional until the approval of the Council of Representatives.

The form of the relationship shall be worked out in each case between the associated group and the Council of Representatives.

Section 5. Fraternal, Sororal and Sibling Organizations

Organizations whose programs and purposes are consistent with the broad aims and principles of Movement for a Democratic Society can be invited by the Council of Representatives to be Fraternal, Sororal or Sibling with the Movement for a Democratic Society and have a Fraternal, Sororal or Sibling vote on the Council of Representatives. Such organizations shall appoint a liaison representative who shall be a member of Movement for a Democratic Society.

Section 6.

Movement for a Democratic Society welcomes the opportunity to cooperate with other individuals and organizations in jointly sponsoring specific action, programs and joint stands on specific issues. The Council of Representatives shall be empowered to determine specific cooperative activity.

Article IV: Regions

Section 1.

All or some of the chapters and/or members in a given geographical area may constitute themselves a region of Movement for a Democratic Society. New regions shall submit their constitutions and be recognized provisionally by the MDS Working Committee, pending the next regular Council of Representatives meeting. All disputes over regional boundaries shall be resolved by the Council of Representatives.

Section 2.

Regions of Movement for a Democratic Society shall hold at least one membership convention each year and may establish regional councils as deemed necessary. Regional programs, staff, and offices shall be governed by decisions arrived at by a democratically constituted regional council.

Section 3.

While fundamentally responsible to their regional constituency, regions are expected to operate within the broad terms of policy set by the Movement for a Democratic Society Convention and Council of Representatives. Any points of conflict shall be finally resolved by the Council of Representatives.

Section 4.

If one-third of the duly chartered chapters in the geographical area of a region so petition, the Council of Representatives shall immediately consider whether to declare the regional organization defunct and to prohibit it from speaking or acting on behalf of Movement for a Democratic Society.

Article V: Convention

Section 1.

The Movement for a Democratic Society shall meet in convention at least annually, at a time fixed by the Council of Representatives, with at least three months prior notice being given to all members.

Section 2.

The Convention shall serve to debate major issues and orientation of the organization, to set program mandates to the MDS Working Committee, and to elect MDS Working Committee members. The Convention shall be the policy-making body.

Section 3. Representation.

Chapters shall elect Convention Spokespersons on the basis of one Spokesperson for every five MDS members in the chapter. Each Spokesperson will have as many votes as they have individual proxies from their chapter members who are not attending the Convention. Individual MDS members shall have the right to attend the Convention with one vote each. Delegates from associated and sibling groups shall be elected by a procedure determined by the Council of Representatives. The MDS Working Committee shall draft Convention rules, accreditation procedures, and other requirements, and determine the place.

Article VI: Council of Representatives

Section 1.

The Council of Representatives shall be composed of (1) two representatives elected from each chapter with five to twenty-five members, and one additional representative for each additional twenty-five members or fraction thereof, in that chapter; (2) the elected members of the MDS Working Committee (without vote); (3) elected liaison representatives from associated groups (with consultative voice); (4) liaison representatives from Fraternal, Sororal and Sibling organizations (with consultative voice); and (5) Movement for a Democratic Society staff, if any (without vote).

In all cases, Council of Representatives’ members and liaison representatives must be members of Movement for a Democratic Society. (No more than three members can serve concurrently as MDS Working Committee Members.)

Section 2.

The Council of Representatives shall be the policy making and program body of the organization between conventions. It shall determine policy in the form of resolutions on specific issues within the broad orientation of the organization; determine program priorities and action undertaken by the organization consonant with the orientation and mandates set by the convention; advise the MDS Working Committee on financial matters; establish ad hoc committees, designate representatives, if any, to other boards; charter chapters, associated groups, and sibling organizations.

Section 4. Term Lengths

The Council of Representatives members, except those Secretariat members and others elected by the convention, shall serve for one (1) year with no more than two (2) consecutive terms (unless there is an exception requested by the chapter).

Section 3.

The Council of Representatives shall meet at least every 2 months either in person or through cyberspace or telephone. A quorum shall be 40 percent of the voting members. Chapter and liaison representatives may be represented by a designated alternate authorized by the chapter or liaison group.

Section 4. The Council of Representatives shall establish by-laws governing due process in case of grievances, transparency, open communication, recall procedures, accountability and other matters of internal democracy.

Article VII: The Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) Working Committee

Section 1.

The MDS Working Committee shall be composed of two or more people from each secretariat, elected by the convention plus such other individuals as the convention may elect. If an MDS Working Committee member elected by the convention is unable to serve for a period, the Council of Representatives may select an alternate from among the chapter representatives on the Council. No more than three members from one chapter or associated group can serve concurrently on the MDS Working Committee.

Section 2.

The MDS Working Committee shall have formal address and office(s) at a place(s) determined by the Convention.

Section 3 The MDS Working Committee shall meet, via phone, internet web-cam and or in person, at least bi-weekly.

The MDS Working Committee shall compile and distribute to the membership a biweekly working group report, including pending questions and questions for consideration.

Section 4.

The MDS Working Committee members must have been members of the Movement for a Democratic Society at least two months prior to elections.

Section 5.

The MDS Working Committee is the day to day spokes vehicle of Movement for a Democratic Society. It shall be responsible for carrying out organizational policy and shall convene the Council of Representatives.

Section 6.

The MDS Working Committee shall have day to day responsibility for the implementation of programs approved by the Convention or Council of Representatives.

Section 7.

A representative of the MDS Working Committee shall not attend congresses, accept money, or establish formal relationships with organizations without the approval of the convention, the Council of Representatives, or, between Council of Representative meetings, the MDS Working Committee.

Article VIII Secretariats

Section 1.

The Movement for a Democratic Society shall have 5 secretariats, each with at least 2 secretaries, elected by the convention, and volunteer members as each may recruit. The voting members of the working committee are those elected by the convention or their alternates. The secretariats are expected to function as work collectives with shared leadership.

Section 2. Membership Secretariat: shall be responsible for list maintenance of chapter and at large members, membership recruitment, dues and finances, and maintaining the MDS web site and list serves.

Section 3. The Education Secretariat shall have the primary responsibility for the functioning of the internal membership education program, public education and publications.

Section 4. The Actions Secretariat: shall be responsible for helping support local chapter and regional actions and to coordinate actions and campaigns, as determined by the Convention and Council of Representatives.

Section 5. The Inter-Organization Relations Secretariat: shall have primary responsibility for liaison with Associated Groups, Fraternal, Sororal and Sibling Organizations, and other organizations, and for informing the membership about these groups.

Section 6. Media Secretariat: shall be responsible for “press releases,” relations with all media, and the place to which requests for organization statements are referred.

Article IX: Parliamentary Authority

In all cases not covered by this Constitution, How to Hold A good Meeting, Rusty’s Rules of Order, shall be the authority governing Movement for a Democratic Society business; except that on page 12, under the heading of “Making a Main Motion,” a motion may be amended either by agreement of the maker and the second, or by a motion to amend, with a second and a vote; and a proposed and seconded amendment may also be amended by the body, by a second and a vote, in accord with section 33 of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Article X: Policy and Discipline

Section 1.

Any member of the organization may be expelled or relieved of duties by a two-thirds vote of Council of Representatives. Due process shall be followed in all cases, according to by-laws approved by the Council of Representatives.

Section 2.

Any three chapters, or one-third of the Council of Representatives can initiate a Movement for a Democratic Society organization-wide referendum on any question.

Section 3.

All material sent out in the name of the organization shall have the approval of a majority of the Council of Representatives and shall have been submitted to all of the MDS Working Committee members.

Article XI: Amendments

This constitution may be amended by one of three procedures:

a. by a two-thirds vote of the Convention in session on amendments introduced at the Convention, in which case the amendment will take effect at the following Convention;

b. by a two-thirds vote of the Convention in session on amendments introduced by distribution to the membership at least a month before the Convention, in which case the amendment will take effect immediately upon adoption;

c. by a two-thirds vote of the membership in referendum in which case the amendment will take effect immediately upon adoption

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