[ProgSoc] Constitutional Amendment Proposal Fest 2017

Tomislav Bozic tomchristmas at progsoc.org
Sun Nov 19 19:03:58 AEDT 2017


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
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To judiciously use split infinitives is fine by me...



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