Guidelines for Submission of USI Congress Motions and Constitutional Amendments

Submitting a motion to USI Congress is simple. These guidelines lay out the best way to submit the motions in a way which will speed up and simplify the process for submission of motions. Every year, we receive around 200 new policy proposals, each of which has to be parsed, prepared for printing and submitted to the Steering Committee for constitutional approval. If you follow the process laid out below, you can be fairly sure your motion will pass straight through the process and onto the Congress Motions Document for discussion.

Note that most of these are guidelines only – you should familiarise yourself with the USI Constitution for canonical, absolute rules, and request guidance from Steering and Elections Committee if you’re confused.

Things all submissions must have

All submissions must have:

  1. an identifier of ‘Motion’ or ‘Constitutional Amendment’
  2. the name of the college submitting the motion
  3. the actual motion

and be verified by the President of the Students’ Union submitting the motions

If the submission is missing any of these things, it’ll hold up the process. If it’s missing the verification of the President of the Students’ Union, it’ll not be in the Congress Motions Document.  In general, motions are submitted both in electronic form and on headed notepaper, signed by the President of the Students’ Union.  You must submit the motion in electronic form (as a .doc, .rtf or .txt document) as well as on headed paper.

A scanned copy of the original motion on headed notepaper, along with the electronic version, is generally acceptable – but be prepared for Steering Committee to contact you to verify details if anything seems wrong.

How a motion is structured

You can, of course, write a motion any way you want, but the tradition of USI has been to lay out a policy proposal by stating the reasons for an action and the desired action (and by whom) to be taken in paragraphs like:

Motion

Research into colour of the sky

Proposed by Anycollege SU

Congress notes the sky is blue

Congress further notes the reason for the sky being blue is not completely understood

Congress believes the colour blue is beautiful, but need not remain a mystery; research could settle the matter

Congress therefore mandates the President to support any research of which USI is made aware into the causes of the blue sky.

The emboldened ‘Congress notes / believes / mandates’ stuff doesn’t seem important, but it helps us understand what’s being proposed.

You state in the motion:

  1. how you believe the Congress does or should feel about an issue,
  2. and then you state what the President (or any officer, or all of them) should do about it.

Steering committee are apt to reject motions without a ‘mandate’ which makes someone do something. Every motion should have an action associated, and an officer inside USI to perform the action.

Is it a motion or a constitutional amendment?

If your proposal would require the Officerboard or organisation to do something prohibited in the constitution or requiring amendment or addition to the constitution, then it must be submitted as a Constitutional Amendment.

If the motion doesn’t do any of these things, then it’s a ‘Motion’. If not, keep reading.

A constitutional amendment has the effect of amending or adding to the USI constitution. Let’s take an example. Say you wanted to make officers present their plan of work on pink paper each year by the end of July. You would search the USI Constitution to find the section on Officers Plans of Work, which is in Article 5 of the Constitution. Here’s the section:

5.2 Work of the Officerboard:

The Officerboard shall:

5.2.1 Produce a plan of work for their term and present it for approval not later than the second National Council of the year.

You would need to amend that section of the constitution to reflect your proposal. You must submit the changes you would like to see made to that article. We recommend that you submit the WHOLE NEW SUB-ARTICLE, in order to ensure that everyone knows what you are trying to do. That new sub-article would look like this:

5.2 Work of the Officerboard:

The Officerboard shall:

5.2.1 Produce a plan of work for their term, print it on pink paper and present it for approval not later than the close of July each year.

Here’s how we would write this constitutional amendment and submit it to Congress:

Constitutional Amendment

Pink Paper in July for Plans of Work

Proposed by Anycollege Student’s Union

Delete: Article 5.2 Work of the Officerboard

Insert in its place:

5.2 Work of the Officerboard:

The Officerboard shall:

5.2.1 Produce a plan of work for their term, print it on pink paper and present it for approval not later than the close of July each year.

In essence: you must state that the submission is a Constitutional Amendment, state what’s to be removed and what’s to be added.

Constitutional Amendments don’t generally have arguments attached. They just state the amendment. Generally, the title of the Constitutional Amendment (which you can submit) gives the desired change. See how the title in the example gives the essence of the outcome.