Education, Constitution for high school seminar

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Constitution for high school seminar

D)  Constitution for the High School Seminar 

A central idea of the Humanity Initiative is that it often takes only one person to stand up in order to realize change   -   if that person can find a way to rally others to their cause. The seminar offers a way for students to practice this kind of leadership. We want to encourage students to take a vocal role in promoting not only the ideas of positive change but the methods of creating change as well.

This constitution opens a path for students to take this lead. By formalizing their role in the leadership of this effort we hope that this becomes a central part of their education. The ability to turn our ideas into reality is a skill we all need to learn. For students just beginning to explore positive change, it is a skill that can amplify their efforts far beyond the reach of any one organization

  1. Introduction
    1. The mission of this seminar is to promote individual understanding and commitment to the use of critical thought in addressing issues of global importance
    2. In order to ensure that the seminar can achieve this goal there must be a firm logistical background on which it can operate; this document is designed to provide that foundation
    3. The group to be primarily responsible for leading the seminar and ensuring that the provisions of this document are implemented is a student leadership group
      1. This group is to be formed of three students, elected by the members of the seminar and assisted in their tasks by members of the faculty and administration
      2. This group is to meet at a time convenient for all three members, and is to convene at least one regularly scheduled time a week.  Additional meetings should be held when issues demand immediate attention
    4. This constitution must be reviewed at the following times:
      1. By the group founding a seminar
      2. By all members participating in the seminar for the first time
      3. By all new elected leaders before the beginning of their terms in office


  1. Leaders
    1. The student leadership group is comprised of these three roles:
      1. President – Responsible for general administration of the seminar and acts as the primary liaison with school officials and outside groups.
      2. Vice-President – Helps conduct the weekly meeting of the seminar, tackling all logistical problems that may arise.  Also responsible for scheduling the meetings of the leadership group
      3. Secretary/Volunteer Project Coordinator – Manages communication between leadership group and seminar members.  In second semester is responsible for directly supervising, with the help of the President & Vice-President, the members of the seminar as they undertake their chosen volunteer project
    2. In addition to these tasks the group shares the following responsibilities:
      1. The recruitment of new members and the general promotion of the seminar to the general student body
      2. Assisting the other officers with their tasks as needed
      3.  Meet at least twice with their successors to advise them on tasks which they will be undertaking, this is to occur after the end of the seminar
    3. Assisting the leadership group is the teacher conducting the seminar, who, in addition to teaching the seminar, is responsible for the following:
      1. Make themselves available to answer questions and provide guidance for the leadership group
      2. Supervision of the volunteer project.
      3. In the case of a dispute between the leadership group and school officials the seminar teacher should act as mediator
    4. Leaders can be removed only in extreme cases of negligence or behavior which is detrimental to the group, which is defined as:
      1. Absence for a period of over two weeks
      2. Conduct that results in disciplinary action from school administration
      3. Removal can only commence if the lead teacher agrees that such action is appropriate, if that is obtained a two-thirds majority vote of active members is required to complete the action


  1. Voting
    1. There are two procedures which require the approval of the active members of the seminar, they are:
      1. Voting for the positions of the student leadership group
      2. Voting to amend this constitution
    2. The voting procedure leadership positions must following these guidelines:
      1. Students can only run as independent candidates
      2. Should a student run for one office and fail to be elected they may choose to stand for another position
      3. The candidates can vote in the election but not for the position they are standing for
      4. The vote is conducted by the outgoing holder of each office (President conducts vote for new President etc.)
      5. Voting is to take place at the end of the year, during the last meeting of the seminar and is to have this structure:
        1. Each candidate is to be afforded a time to speak and answer questions about their candidacy
        2. Once this is completed voting is to take place via anonymous ballot
        3. In the case of a tie, candidates should speak again and a re-vote be taken immediately
    3. Newly elected leaders begin their tenure immediately, but under the supervision of the outgoing leadership group, who are required to make themselves available to provide guidance
    4. The voting procedure for amending the constitution follows these rules:
      1. The proposed changes must by submitted by at least one-fifth of the active members of the seminar
        1. They must be submitted in writing and be made available for consideration to all seminar members at least one week before the vote is held
      2. Once submitted the changes can be voted on according to these guidelines:
        1. If submitted during the course of the seminar a two-thirds majority is required
        2. If put forward at the end of the school year, after all activities of the seminar have ended, only a simple majority is necessary


  1. Seminar
    1. The syllabus provided by The Humanity Initiative should form the basis of seminar meetings
    2. The seminar teacher has the authority to alter the syllabus to better suit their area of expertise or to fit the school calendar.
      1. The teacher should consult with the members of the seminar before altering the syllabus, but they hold ultimate authority
      2. The seminar should not be shortened, but specific sections can be eliminated to open time for more in depth consideration of a topic
      3. Students may request alterations to the syllabus, but they shall have no say in the final decisions
    3. The weekly meetings should meet these criteria, which can be altered at the discretion of the leadership group and teacher:
      1. Meetings are to be scheduled for a period of two hours, and every effort should be made to hold a discussion for this entire period
      2. Discussions are to begin with discussion of the readings and proposed questions for that week, but can progress in any direction desired by the participants, provided that it remains germane to the broad issues of positive change
    4. Participation in discussions is strongly encouraged, as is the completion of every reading assignment for the seminar, however neither of these are a requirement for continued participation in the seminar
    5. The weekly discussions of the seminar must be conducted in a civil manner, and respect at all times for participants is of the utmost importance
      1. Disrespect towards any member of the seminar will not be tolerated and should be considered grounds for removal from the group if the behavior persists
      2. Disagreement on the issues up for discussion is encouraged, but personal attacks made on the basis of one’s opinions will be basis for removal


  1. Volunteer Project
    1. The volunteer project is to be a collaboration of all members of the seminar,
    2. Selection of the volunteer project should begin by Week 12 of the seminar, if not before, and should take the following forms
      1. All participants of the seminar, members, leaders and the teacher can submit suggestions and proposals to the group
      2. If only one proposal is put forward, or there is unanimity in favor of one option, then it should be selected immediately
      3. If there are multiple proposals, one must be selected by a majority vote of seminar members
    3. These proposals be concrete and include these components:
      1. A stated goal, what the group will achieve by the end of the semester
      2. Why this is important
      3. With whom they plan on working, if they plan on partnering with another group
      4. An anticipated time table and schedule that covers the semester
    4. After selecting a volunteer project it is the responsibility Secretary/Volunteer Project Coordinator to ensure the following:
      1. There is an effective means of contact and communication with all members of the seminar
      2. If the group has partnered with an outside organization, that:
        1. Lines of communication are open
        2. There is agreement on the role which the volunteers will undertake
        3. That work will be able to begin at the start of the second semester
      3. If the group is working alone, that they have the space necessary to complete their task
    5. The project must be supervised by the teacher, or if they are unavailable, another administrator in order to verify that,
      1. Students are making progress towards the stated goals of the project
      2. That all students are participating
      3. If progress is not being made or students are failing to contribute the supervisor should take the necessary steps to ensure the completion of the project
    6. At the end of the project a special meeting of the seminar shall be had to discuss the project, at the heart of this discussion should be the following topics:
      1. The successes and difficulties of the project and how a project could be better designed and targeted in future years
      2. What students have learned through this process and this knowledge could be applied



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