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(en) US, SDS* National Constitutional Convention Final Bulletin - Provisional National Structure

Date Sat, 10 Nov 2007 18:25:08 +0200


SDS IS A HORIZONTAL ORGANIZATION, AND THIS IS REFLECTED IN A COMMITMENT TO participatory democracy and reaffirming that power resides in local chapters. This structure provides the benefits of national structure while maintaining an emphasis on grassroots, bottom-up organizing and allowing for both local autonomy and horizontal accountability. This is of the utmost importance if SDS is to remain effective. Horizontal organization fosters solidarity, mutual Mission: ---- To create a structure of communication and organization that will best lend itself to the formation of a mass movement and to democratic control over that organization. --- All participants in SDS have a voice, and a vote: regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, lack of religion, length of time in a SDS chapter or previous participation in a SDS chapter so long as they meet the requirements set forth in the definition of an SDS member.

Our structure must be one of service,
never of government
The final responsibility and authority of
SDS lies with each individual chapter
Each chapter is autonomous except in mat-
ters affecting other chapters or SDS as a whole
Our service structure depends on the
integrity and effectiveness of our communi-
cation
In order to build a mass movement, SDS
seeks to build ties and work with various
progressive political organizations a move-
ment across lines of age, race, sex, sexual
orientation, creed, religion, or lack of reli-
gion to mobilize and fight for shared goals
and lasting change
SDS has no opinion on the specific poli-
tics and methods of outside political organ-
izations that we work with (i.e. work with
other organizations is not necessarily an
endorsement of their politics or methods).
Proposal:
1. The national structure of SDS is not
in any way an independent organiza-
tion, rather the national structure is a
tool by which we can collectively and
democratically control the shared
resources and infrastructure that exist
at a national level. Control of local or
regional resources and infrastructure
are not the business of the national
structure, but are to be dealt with at the
regional or local level. A national struc-
ture is simply a tool to make sure that
the work that takes place on the nation-
al level, from moderating listservs, to
planning conferences to facilitating
coordination of national campaigns is
under the democratic control of the
chapters that make up SDS.
1a. The decisions made by the national
structure are divided into
[2] Executive and
[5]Administrative decisions.
The Executive decisions of the national
structure are further divided into
[3] Initiated and
[4] Reactive decisions.
The national structure of SDS will be
made up of
[6] Chapters,
[7]the National Conference,
[8]the National Point Person Council,
[9] National Working Groups, and
[10] National Caucuses.
Each of these groupings has specific
roles in making decisions.
2. Executive decisions are ones of poli-
cy, strategy, action, vision, and national
structure. As SDS is a federation of
local chapters and a horizontal and
democratic organization the power to
make such decisions must be in the
hands of the local chapters.
2a. A proposal on such an issue can be
brought by any SDS member or group of
members, and will be distributed to all
chapters for a vote according to the
guidelines below.
2b. This does not imply that individual
SDS chapters or groups of them need
approval to deal with issues on local or
regional levels.
3. Initiated executive decisions are ones
in which SDS is not reacting to an
immediate outside event, but instead
has the time to go through the process
of wide consultation and chapter
approval before acting.
3a. Initiated decisions are voted on by
chapters utilizing the appropriate voting
system discussed below [6]
4. Reactive executive decisions are ones
in which SDS is forced to react quickly
to outside events. This power is to be
used extremely sparingly, it is always
preferable to pre-plan our reactions to
outside events rather than to use this
process.
4a. In these rare cases, the National Point
Person Council is empowered to make an
emergency decision in line with our
Points of Unity and the statement of
guidelines governing the operation of the
council and with at least a two-thirds
(2/3rds) majority of support from Point
People. In such a situation it would be
possible for the council to take action
before chapter approval takes place.
4b. Every reactive executive decision
must be approved retroactively by the
chapters through the appropriate process
described below [6].
4c. If such a decision fails to gain
approval, dissenting chapters would
declare their reasons for dissent and pro-
pose amendments to either the Points of
Unity or to the statement of guidelines in
order to rectify the problems that led to
the rejected decision. These proposed
amendments would be refined and con-
solidated by a working group of people
from dissenting chapters and then sub-
mitting to the chapters for approval via
the general chapter approval process.
5. Administrative decisions are the facil-
itation of executive decisions. These
are decisions that facilitate the will of
the chapters as voiced in the Points of
Unity and in the proposals passed.
5a. These decisions are made in the
National Point Person Council in accor-
dance with the process outlined below
[8].
5b. A chapter can call a referendum on
any administrative decision with the sup-
port of two other chapters, such a refer-
endum would require only a simple
majority (50%+1) to pass [6c].
5c. Further a chapter is, with the support
of two additional chapters, able to call for
a chapter vote to make an administrative
decision that it feels the council is failing
to do, such a decision would require a a
two-thirds (2/3rds) majority of chapters
in support to pass [6e].
6. Chapters are the basic unit of SDS
and as such have the majority of deci-
sion making power in the national
structure.
6a. The chapter voting process is propor-
tional, although weighted. Chapters with
ten (10) or less members have one vote,
chapters that have eleven to forty (11-40)
members have two votes, chapters with
forty-one to one hundred (41-100) mem-
bers have 3 votes and chapters with over
one hundred (100+) members have four
votes. Chapters may divide their votes for
and against as they see fit.
6b. Decisions of different natures require
different proportions of chapter support
in order to pass.
6c. In order to reject a council decision,
chapters may call a referendum as
described above [5b], which only requires
a simple majority (50%+1) to pass.
6d. Chapters may pass administrative pro-
posals as described above which require a
two-thirds (2/3rds) majority in order to
pass [5c].
6e. Chapters may also pass action related
proposals which also require two-thirds
(2/3rds) support in order to pass. Action
proposals are not to be considered in any
way a prerequisite for actions on the part
of SDS chapters or groups of chapters.
Rather they are tool for gaining wide-
spread support and participation within
SDS, for being able to present a united
front to the press and large, non-local,
organizations, and to increase the level of
networking and coordination between
chapters in realizing an accepted propos-
al.
6f. Chapters may pass proposals dealing
with the values, vision, or the national
structure of SDS; these require a three-
fourths (3/4ths) majority to pass.
6g. Chapters may vote to disaffiliate with
a chapter or member of SDS if it felt that
their actions are in violation of SDS val-
ues or Points of Unity and that they have
failed to address this after being asked
too. Such a motion would require a three-
fourths majority to pass. This is no way
implies that chapters do not have the
power to disaffiliate with any of their
members or from SDS as a whole at their
discretion.
6h. All executive decisions must be made
or approved by the chapters via the
processes outlined above.
6i. Proposals sent to the chapters are con-
sidered active for one month before they
must pass or be assumed to have been
rejected.
7. The primary function of the National
Conference is to serve as a venue for
real interaction between the SDS mem-
bership. It is a space for SDS members
to share ideas and skills so that all
chapters can benefit from the knowl-
edge and skills of each other.
7a. Since decision making power always
rests ultimately in the chapters, the
National Conference does not have the
power to make decisions for the federa-
tion of SDS chapters in any way.
7b. Instead, the National Conference has
the power to pass recommendations on
administrative and executive issues. These
recommendations from the National
Conference act as proposals sent to the
chapters to be voted on, except these pro-
posals are more easily passed considering
they emerged from the National
Conference.
7c. Administrative recommendations only
require a simple majority of the chapters
to pass.
7d. Action related recommendations only
require a simple majority of the chapters
to pass.
7e. Vision and Structural recommenda-
tions only require a two-thirds majority of
the chapters to pass.
7f. The National Conference only has the
power to make recommendations so long
as it has a quorum of 75% of the active
SDS chapters represented, otherwise it is
purely deliberative in its power.
7g. It is understood that attending the
National Conference is an extreme privi-
lege and so a working group will be creat-
ed specifically to provide financial and
material resources to facilitate
Conference attendance.
7h. At National Conferences chapters will
vote according to the same weighted
chapter voting system as outlined above
[6a]
7i. The National Conference also has the
power to set priorities for the use of
whatever SDS national budget exists
using the process outlined below [14]
7j. A National Conference will be held at
least once per year
7k. The planning of the national
Conference will fall to the National
Conference Working Group [Addendum
2]
8. The National Point Person Council
serves to facilitate the national deci-
sions passed by the chapters, especially
the oversight of national working
groups. The National Point Person
Council will do this work in line with
the national Points of Unity and the
statement of guidelines that govern its
operation.
8a. The National Point Person Council is
composed of one point person from
each chapter.
8b. These point people serve on a stag-
gered (so that only one-third of the coun-
cil changes at a time) and rotating basis,
each serving for a four month period.
Additionally all point people are immedi-
ately recallable by their chapters.
8c. The National Point Person Council
requires a two-thirds (2/3rds) majority to
pass a proposal.
8d. The National Point Person Council
can vote only when it has a quorum of
two-thirds (2/3rds) of all chapters as well
as half of the chapters from each region
present. Debate may take place without
Quorum.
8f. The National Point Person Council
will be governed by the statement of
guidelines (17) which may be amended by
the chapters using a two-thirds (2/3rds
majority) chapter vote.
9. National Working Groups exist to do
administrative work.
9a. These groups are directly accountable
to the National Point Person Council but
can also be held accountable by the chap-
ters which have administrative powers
outlined above [6d].
9b. Working groups can be created by
either the National Point Person Council
or the chapters via the processes for mak-
ing administrative decisions outlined
above but can only be formed for the
purpose of facilitating the realization of
an executive decision.
9c. Working groups will be established to
carry out all of the necessary functions of
SDS. These groups are required to follow
all of the Students for a Democratic
Society mission guidelines and all demo-
cratic decisions made by chapters.
9d. Individual working groups have the
authority to decide how often and in what
manner they will meet as a group.
9e. During meetings, a moderator and a
secretary shall be appointed. These indi-
viduals must remain neutral during the
discussions they are facilitating. The
working group will be responsible for
archiving the secretary's notes on the
SDS wiki.
9f. It is recommended that each working
group nominate at least one individual to
serve as a point person for the particular
working group. The point persons have
no greater authority than any other mem-
ber of the working group. The purpose
of these point persons is to serve as a
contact for all SDS members interested in
the particular working group, and serve as
the contact for individuals outside of
SDS who are interested in working with
SDS on the project(s) of their working
group.
9g. It is recommended that the working
groups create a mission statement, and
use their point persons to facilitate com-
munication.
9h. Working groups hold no special
power over SDS as a whole. By focusing
smaller groups of SDS members on spe-
cific issues, working groups can concen-
trate more diligently to the task at hand.
9i. Some permanent working groups
[Addendum 2] will be formed with the ini-
tial approval of this structure, this list
may be revised by the chapters or
National Point Person Council via the
administrative decision making process
[5] so long as such a revision is in line
with the facilitation of an executive deci-
sion [2].
9j. In addition to permanent working
groups temporary task forces for the
coordination of actions, campaigns and
other events with specific time frames can
be created via the administrative decision
making process so long as their creation is
in line with the facilitation of an executive
decision [2]. These task forces are gov-
erned by all the rules of permanent work-
ing groups as well as being required to
disband upon the completion of their
task.
10. A National Caucus may be formed
by any identity group that feels
oppressed by society in order to meet
and address that oppression, especially
how that oppression is found in SDS.
10a. National Caucuses have the power to
veto national decisions made by either the
National Council or Chapters that they
feel contribute directly to their oppres-
sion within SDS.
Further they have the power to demand
changes within SDS that they feel will
challenge these oppressions.
10b. The National Caucuses have the
power to set priorities for distribution of
any national funding via the process out-
lined below [14]. This power is shared
with the National Conference as outlined
above [7i].
10c. National Caucuses have the power to
demand the creation of an auxiliary
group as well as the power to specify the
details of the auxiliary groups function-
ing.
10d. National Caucuses have the right to
seat representatives on the National Point
Person Council, these representatives are
there to ensure the caucuses remain aware
of the deliberations of the National Point
Person Council and to provide a voice for
the caucuses. These representatives are
non-voting since the National Caucus has
the power to block National Point Person
Council decisions as detailed above and
the power to make demands of the
National Point Person Council as detailed
above.
The national federation of SDS chapters am
has specific roles to which it is limited. am
Unless additional powers are approved by to
a structural change (three-fourths majori- an
ty) the national federation is limited to
these roles. All other roles are under the
purview of local chapters or any regional
organization they may chose to become a
part of. The roles of the national federa-
tion and the way in which they are exer-
cised are listed below.
14.
11. The national federation of SDS ch
chapters has the power to coordinate it
resources, maintain internal and exter- po
nal relations, and to publish, manage,
and distribute national SDS publica-
tions. In order to exercise these powers
effectively and democratically, the
national federation also has the ability
to hold those people and bodies doing
national work accountable.
11a. These powers are administrative in
nature and require a two-thirds vote to
pass. Since these decisions are administra-
tive in nature the National Point Person
Council will largely be making these deci-
sions unless the chapters utilize the previ-
ously mentioned method to call for a 15.
chapter vote on an administrative issue. ch
tia
12. The national federation of SDS
chapters has the power initiate national
campaigns and actions, to endorse
national campaigns and actions called
by other organizations, and to state the
position of the national body of nation-
al and international issues.
12a. These decisions can be either initiat-
ed or reactive executive decisions revolv-
ing around action and therefore require a
two-thirds (2/3rds) majority to be passed.
12b. Only chapters may approve such
proposals unless the decision is reactive in
which case the above process would be
used [4].
13. The national federation of SDS
chapters has the power to create or
amend a national structure, to create or
amend a national Points of Unity, and
to create or amend national strategy
and vision.
13a. These are initiated executive deci-
sions relating to broad issues of what
SDS is, and therefore require three-
fourths (3/4ths) majority to be passed.
13b. Only chapters may vote on such
decisions.
14. The national federation of SDS
chapters may create a national budget if
it has any raised any money for the pur-
pose of SDS organizing.
14a. The national budget will be created
after the National Conference and the
National Caucuses set the priorities of
the budget.
14b. Chapters and individuals may also
submit requests of the budget.
14c. The National Point Person Council
will then take the priorities and requests
given to it and create a formal budget
which must be approved by a two-thirds
(2/3rds) majority of the chapters to take
effect.
15. The national federation of SDS
chapters may institute fundraising ini-
tiatives
15a. Fundraising initiatives are divided
into three categories.
15b. Establishing fundraising initiatives
(such as a national bake sale, or general
donation collection campaign) are action
related executive decisions and require a
two-thirds (2/3rds) majority vote of the
chapters to pass.
15c. The establishment or adjustment of
a dues system is a structural change, and
thus according to the process outlined
above, would require three-fourths
(3/4ths) majority vote of the chapters to
pass.
15d. Establishing a working group to exe-
cute any fundraising initiative or system
passed by an executive decision is an
administrative decision which can be
made by the National Point Person
Council using a two-thirds (2/3rds)
majority vote.
16. The national federation of SDS
chapters may vote to disaffiliate with a
chapter or member of SDS if it felt that
their actions are in violation of SDS val-
ues or Points of Unity and that they
have failed to address this after being
asked too [6g]. Such a motion would
require a three-fourths (3/4ths) majority
to pass.
Addendum 1:
Guidelines of the National
Point Person Council
a. The National Point Person Council
exists to facilitate national decisions made
by the chapters and does so in good faith.
b. The National Point Person Council
always works in accordance with the guid-
ing principles of SDS as enumerated by
all vision, value, strategy, and Points of
Unity statements and other proposals
approved by the chapters.
c. When the National Point Person
Council is unsure of its power to do
something, it must always consult the
chapters to determine the answer.
d. The National Point Person Council
only makes a reactive decision in response
to an event that demands immediate
action and could not have been foreseen
or pre-planned for. If an event can be
foreseen it should be pre-planed for and
go through the normal initiated decision
process.
e. The National Point Person Council
always informs the chapters when it feels
that a situation is arising which the chap-
ters have not sufficiently addressed so
that reactive decisions happen as infre-
quently as possible.
f. Any reactive decision made must be
done so in a loose manner so as to allow
for varied interpretation among chapters
in their implementation of the decision.
Conference Working Group
Purpose: To coordinate, organize and
facilitate a national SDS Conference in
2008. The Conference-working group
will be in charge of finding a location,
facilitating transportation, food and hous-
ing, organizing all workshops, caucuses,
plenaries and events, composing a system
for submitting motions, and creating the
agenda. The Conference-working group
will be responsible for raising money if
necessary, and will be accountable for all
finances.
Proposal Working Group
Purpose: to collect proposals, disperse
among chapters, provide a forum or
forums (such as listservs, online forums,
conference calls, online chats, etc) to facil-
itate discussion, deliberation, and com-
promise, and collect and count votes.
They can also connect motion-makers
with related proposals and ask them to
attempt to compromise and merge their
proposals. Accountability and transparen-
cy are key to this function and as such the
votes returned by all chapters must be
mad available to SDS members and post-
ed and archived on the SDS wiki.
Newcomer/Welcome Working Group
Purpose: To welcome the new chapters
and members of SDS into the local,
regional and national structure of
Students for a Democratic Society. This
group should create a "newcomer book-
let", filled with information about the
current SDS's history, our structure,
actions we've been a part of, and person-
al experience and tips on organizing from
all members interested in contributing.
Further the working group should
attempt to link new chapters and mem-
bers with local SDS chapters.
Outside Organization Communication
and Coordination
Purpose: To build connections and
alliances with outside political organiza-
tions that share similar goals. This group
can serve as the point persons for any
groups interested in working with SDS.
Media Working Group
Purpose: Facilitate media interaction, not
become spokespersons. On the request of
SDS bodies such as Action taskforces,
local chapters, or any other group they
provide media contacts, media trainings
and write press releases. The Media
Working Group is subordinate to all other
SDS bodies and will only take action
other than gathering media contacts upon
request.
Structure Working Group
Purpose: To continue work on revising
and reworking ideas for our national
structure so it can better fit our needs and
values. Of course it can not make any
binding changes without chapter approval
via the process for structural changes out-
lined above [6f].

================================
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