Student Subunit Bylaws Format
The following example is intended only to serve as a starting point and provide some examples. The different AFS Student Subunits may have very different needs and will likely change this draft substantially. Roberts Rule’s of Order includes a good discussion of Bylaws if you want to read more on the subject.
NOTE: You may want to contact the Constitutional Consultant for example bylaws from other similar Subunits for the most relevant examples. Be sure to start working with the Constitutional Consultant about 60 days before you plan to have a Subunit vote to approve them. This will usually expedite the process.
Of The [Name of University] Student Subunit
Of The American Fisheries Society
ARTICLE I. Name and Objectives
- The name of this organization shall be the [name] Subunit of the [name] Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, hereinafter referred to as the Subunit, Chapter and Society respectively.
- The objectives of the Subunit shall be those of the Society as set forth in ARTICLE I of the Constitution. In addition, the Subunit also has the following objectives:
- [Additional Subunit objectives… Example: "…and especially, to encourage the exchange of regional fisheries information among students and Subunit members as well as encourage student involvement in the Chapter, Division, and Society."]
- All activities of this Subunit shall conform to the Society’s Constitution, Rules, and Procedures. [Some student subunits may also add to this sentence to indicate conformity to any organizational requirements of the university.]
ARTICLE II. Membership
- The membership of the Subunit shall be composed of those [name of university] students, faculty and alumni who are active members of the Chapter. [This may vary between subunits.]
- Only Active Members of the Society may vote, hold office or chair a committee.
ARTICLE III. Officers
- The officers of the Subunit shall consist of a President, a Vice President, and a Secretary-Treasurer. [Minimum requirement to conduct business are three officer, including either a Vice President or President-Elect. A "President-Elect" indicates the individual automatically ascends to President at the end of their term. The Secretary-Treasurer may be split between two people, if desired.]
- All officers must be members in good standing of the Society.
- Officers shall be nominated by a Nominating Committee. Officers shall be elected by a majority of ballots cast and election methods shall be determined by the Executive Committee. [The nominating committee members may not be appointed by the President, but may be appointed by the members, faculty advisor or Past-President, as indicated in the bylaws.]
- Terms of newly elected officers shall change at the meeting closest in time to the Society’s annual meeting. [Or some other time that your Subunit has evolved to fit your Subunit, such as the beginning of an academic year.]
- The Subunit Officers shall serve for a period of one year in each office, and shall be ineligible for re-election for a period of one year after the expiration of their term.
- In the event of a vacated position, the Executive Committee shall appoint a qualified replacement to fill the unexpired term.
- No elected officer or appointed committee member of the Subunit shall receive any salary or other compensation. Expenses may be defrayed from funds available to the Subunit when authorized by the Executive Committee.
- The Advisor of the Subunit shall be… [Selection or job classification of the advisor varies between subunits and may not necessarily be specified in the bylaws.]
ARTICLE IV. Duties of Officers
[Note that these vary considerably between Subunits. The following example is just a starting place for consideration.]
- The President shall:
- Preside at all meetings;
- Serve as Chair of the Executive Committee;
- Appoint all committees except the Nominating Committee;
- Coordinate the activities of the Subunit’s standing and technical committees and serve as liaison between such committees and the Executive Committee;
- Represent the Subunit to the Chapter; [Whether they serve on the Chapter ExCom depends on the Subunit and Chapter bylaws.]
- Conduct official correspondence for the Subunit and present reports of Subunit activities at the annual meeting;
- Make such appointments and perform other duties and functions as are authorized and necessary; and
- Proceed to the office of Past-President at the end of the term. [If the subunit has a Past-President position.]
- The President-Elect shall:
- Assume the duties of the President, if the President is absent or unable to act;
- Serve on the Executive Committee; and
- Advance to the office of President at the end of the term. [This would not be true for a Vice-President who would have to be elected to the president's position.]
- The Secretary-Treasurer shall:
- Keep the official records of the Subunit, collect and be custodian of any fees or assessments authorized by these bylaws or funds allotted to the Subunit by the Society;
- Disburse funds only as authorized by either the membership or Executive Committee;
- Submit, at the annual Subunit meeting, the year-end report for the previous fiscal year and a comparison of approved versus actual income and expenditures for the current fiscal year;
- Submit a record of receipts and disbursements at the Annual Chapter meeting, establish necessary banking arrangements and prepare and file necessary tax returns and other official documents necessary to keep the Unit in good legal and financial standing, and maintain financial records for review by Society officers and staff as needed or required;
- Submit minutes of the annual Chapter business meeting to the Executive Director and to the secretary-treasurer of the Division within 30 days after the annual Chapter meeting;
- Serve on the Executive Committee;
- Advance to the office of President-Elect (or retire depending on the Unit); and,
- Conduct the election.
- The immediate Past-President shall: [Some student subunits recognize that this person may have graduated, so they don't include this position.]
- Serve on the Executive Committee;
- Serve as the chair of the Nominating Committee; and
- Assist the other officers as needed.
ARTICLE V. Executive Committee
- The Executive Committee of the Subunit shall consist of elected officers, and other members as appointed by the President. Those with voting privileges shall be the President, President-Elect, Past President and Secretary-Treasurer. [Varies by subunit, especially regarding participation of the faculty advisor.]
- The Executive Committee is authorized to act on behalf of the Subunit between annual meetings.
- A quorum is required for transaction of official business at an Executive Committee meeting. A quorum for an Executive Committee meeting shall consist of three of the four members. Executive Committee members can appoint a proxy.
- Each member of the Executive Committee shall have one vote on Executive Committee decisions. In the event of a tie, the President’s vote shall be the deciding vote.
- Executive Committee meetings are called by the President and are typically held three times per year. [Varies by subunit.]
ARTICLE VI. Meetings and Voting
- The Subunit shall hold at least one meeting annually at a time and place designated by its Executive Committee. Special meetings may be called by the President with approval of the Executive Committee.
- A quorum is required for transaction of official business and shall be [number, fraction or percentage] of the Subunit membership. [This number or percentage may differ substantially among Subunits and should be a number that are likely to attend most meetings. If you don't specify a number, it will automatically be a majority (just over half) of the number of members in the organization.]
- Business and voting may be conducted via mail or electronic media if approved by the Executive Committee. [Specify if you wish to allow electronic or surface mail business and/or voting. If voting will only be done in person, this statement is not necessary.]
- Unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws or the Constitution of the Society, meetings are conducted according to the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.
- Decisions at meetings are by simple majority of Active Members voting, except 2/3 majorities are required in special cases such as amending the Bylaws and suspending a Rule. [Other less frequently used voting requirements are described in Robert's Rules of Order.]
ARTICLE VII. Subunit Committees
- Committees and Chairs of committees, except as listed in ARTICLES IV and V of these Bylaws, shall be appointed and charged by the President. Except for Standing Committees, these Subunit committees shall cease to function upon the discharge of the duties for which they were appointed or with the end of the term of the appointing officer.
- Standing Committees help the President and the Executive Committee conduct the Subunit’s affairs, and the chairs should report their committees’ activities, findings, and recommendations at annual Subunit meetings and interim meetings of the Executive Committee.
- The Subunit has established the following Standing Committees:
- List your committees and their functions. Look at the AFS Constitution or other unit bylaws for examples. Describe their function broadly and place the procedural details in your Procedure Manual.
- More committees… [Varies by subunit.]
ARTICLE VIII. Dues and Fees
- The Executive Committee shall establish annual dues subject to approval of the members voting at the annual meeting.
- The Executive Committee may assess registration fees for annual meetings.
ARTICLE IX. Bylaws, Rules and Procedures
- The Bylaws are the defining document for the Subunit and take precedence over all other rules and procedures of the Subunit. The Bylaws cannot be suspended and cannot be changed without prior notice to members.
- The Bylaws may be amended by a 2/3 majority of Active Members choosing to vote, provided that the proposed amendment(s) are circulated in writing to the membership at least 30 days prior to voting. If voting is by mail ballot, members must be given at least 30 days to return their ballots.
- Following approval by the Subunit membership, bylaws amendments must be submitted to the Chapter President and the Society Constitutional Consultant within 45 days of Subunit approval of the amendment.
- Changes to the Subunit Bylaws must be submitted and approved by the Executive Committee of the Chapter before taking effect.
- In accordance with the Society Constitution, an adopted amendment shall be reviewed by the Society’s Constitutional Consultant for conformity with the Constitution, Rules and Procedures of the Society. The Constitutional Consultant presents the adopted amendment to the Society Governing Board for approval.
- Amendments take effect when the Unit receives written notice of their approval by the Governing Board from the Society Executive Director.
- Rules are the next highest level of documentation of Subunit operations. They are generally established to facilitate the conduct of Subunit business, and to describe duties and responsibilities of officers and committees. They may be suspended or amended as follows.
- The Rules may be suspended during an Executive Committee meeting until the next annual or special Subunit meeting by a 2/3 majority of the Executive Committee.
- The Rules may be suspended for the duration of a meeting by a 2/3 majority of Active Members voting at an annual or special Subunit meeting.
- The Rules may be amended by a simple majority of Active Members voting at an annual or special Subunit meeting.
- Procedures are the lowest level of documentation of Subunit operations. They are generally established to provide continuity in the conduct of Subunit business. The Procedures may be suspended or amended by a simple majority vote of the Executive Committee.
[Note that not all units will have Rules and Procedures at the unit level. It is not necessary to have sections 2 and 3 above if you do not have these documents.]