Political Education Committee Charter AY 2021-2022

1. Purpose

1. The purpose of the Political Education Committee (PEC) as outlined in our bylwas is to function as an organizing body in the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) oriented towards keeping the membership informed about political issues that affect the GTFF.

 1.1. The PEC shall establish goals and directions on a regular basis, either yearly or by term as appropriate.

 1.2. The PEC aims to be a safer space for its members generally.

2. Members

2. Three criteria must be met to be considered an active member, and they are outlined below.

2.1. Members must have requested membership to the VP Political Education email (political.education@gtff.net) and subsequently been added to an internal database found in our Google Drive folder.

2.2. Members must not have missed two consecutive meetings. 

2.2.3. Missing a meeting means failing to attend or proxy into a PEC meeting.

3. Meetings

3. The committee will officially meet twice a month, and every other meeting should occur at a different time and date in order to support physical attendance by a variety of members.

3.1. For each official meeting, a meeting agenda must be sent out 48 hours beforehand to all members.

3.2. Meetings shall be held in a location accessible to all members. 

3.3. There may be unofficial meetings which consist of social hours, brunches, hangouts, or other unofficial instances where committee members meet. These meetings do not carry an attendance requirement.

3.3.1. Committee members should strive to keep committee business to official meetings in order to maintain equity in the committee; if the committee is discussing important business outside meeting spaces, some members will not be kept in the loop.

4. Rules of Order

4. If there are more than four members present at an official meeting, the meeting will respect the following rules of order for the purposes of supporting equitable and fair discussion. The meeting facilitator is responsible for explaining how meetings work to members.

4.1. At the beginning of each meeting, the Chair may solicit a volunteer to be the meeting facilitator.

4.1.1. The meeting facilitator may not also be the person taking minutes.

4.2. At the beginning of each meeting, the Chair will solicit a volunteer to keep time. The timekeeper will be tasked with informing the meeting when an agenda item is approaching its allotted time.

4.3. In order to make a comment, members must raise their hand. The facilitator will call on members to speak in an equitable manner of their choosing that they should feel comfortable explaining.

4.4. Meeting minutes – Minutes shall be taken at each meeting. At the beginning of each meeting, the Chair will solicit a volunteer who will take meeting notes. If there is no one available to, the Chair may take notes or minutes themselves, provided they are not also facilitating.

4.4.1. Minutes shall include a list of names of those present, those who proxied, and those who were absent (did not attend, send a proxy, or otherwise give notice).

4.4.2. Minutes shall not be comprehensive transcripts, but summaries of key points of the meeting.

5. Votes and Proposals

5. A vote is required for all proposals and motions.

5.1. Voting models – The committee will normally use a consensus model of voting. The committee may also choose to use a simple majority model, as well as other situationally-appropriate models.

5.1.1. The consensus model of voting is determined by reaching a consensus among all members. This means focusing on agreement on what is in the best common interest of the committee. While in a majority vote, there are only yes, no, and abstain votes, consensus voting will use the practices outlined in section 5.2.

5.1.2. If the committee decides to use a simple majority model, the committee must first come to a consensus on using this model for a given vote.

5.2. There are four kinds of votes: yes, stand aside, block, and abstain.

5.2.1. A “yes” vote is an affirmative vote in favor of a proposal. At meetings, this vote will be indicated by a thumbs up.

5.2.2. A “stand aside” vote is a neutral vote that indicates either that the issue does not affect the person, or they are otherwise conflicted on the issue. “Stand aside” is not an abstain; it indicates that some misgivings remain. A “stand aside” vote is indicated by a sideways thumb. Three “stand aside” votes shall be equivalent to a “block” vote. The committee should strive to discuss “stand aside” votes and generally minimize them; if people do not feel comfortable with a “yes” vote, that feeling should be discussed and encouraged.

5.2.3. A “block” vote is a rejection of the proposal. In a consensus vote, any “block” vote will stop a proposal from passing. Members should strive to use “block” votes only when they feel that such a proposal would endanger or otherwise negatively affect the committee as a whole. The meeting facilitator retains the right to overrule a “block” vote; this must also be used sparingly as it is an extraordinary power. Overrules of “block” votes should generally only happen in circumstances where the committee as a whole feels the “block” vote is not being used in good faith.

5.2.4. An “abstain” vote is a vote that is neither for nor against the proposal. It is not a “stand aside” in that no amount of abstain votes will block a proposal. Abstains should be used in cases where members feel the issue does not affect them in any way.

5.2.5. Votes must be conducted in an accessible manner. Being that all members cannot always attend a meeting or be physically present for a vote, members are expected to read agenda items indicating proposals and proxy their vote in by the time of the meeting.

5.2.6. Unless otherwise appropriate, email vote windows will be available for no less than 48 hours and no more than a week before closing.

5.2.7. Should a proposal arise at a meeting that was not on the original agenda that makes voting necessary due to timeliness or other exigent circumstances, a vote will be conducted at the discretion of members and its results will be considered contingent until formalized at a following meeting.

5.3. Quorum is required for all committee proposals.

5.3.1. Quorum may be met by proxy votes in addition to physically present votes.

6. Charter Changes

6. The charter may be changed at any time during the regular academic year, excluding summer as many members are away during summer term.

6.1. The charter must be changed in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

6.1.1. An agenda item is submitted concerning the proposed change. This initial agenda item will be a discussion item, and the change will not be voted on upon its initial discussion. Following the conclusion of discussion, the committee will opt to either continue discussion of the item, or to opt the submission of the change as a proposal for a following meeting.

6.1.2. The committee will vote on the proposal. All changes to the charter must pass by a two-thirds majority of members who were active members that attended the meeting where the agenda item was originally submitted for discussion of the proposed change.

6.1.3. All charter changes are recorded as amendments in section 9 (Amendments) of this charter.

7. Safer Space

7. The committee recognizes that not everyone experiences spaces in the same way as others, that any guidelines supporting safety may not meet the requirements of everyone, and that there may be complications or lapses in fulfilling those guidelines in practice.

7.1. Members are asked to be aware of their language and behavior, and to think about whether it might be harmful to others. 

7.2. The committee will not tolerate touching people without their consent, being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, misogyny, racism, ageism, sexism, transphobia, TERF ideology, ableism, body-shaming, or other oppressive actions.

7.2.1. The committee will strive to educate members on oppressive practices and how to not replicate or perpetuate them.

8. Definitions

8.1. Proxy: A written response to a meeting agenda that is robust enough to represent a member’s views on discussions and proposals. Proxies should include a response to each agenda item and an indication of a vote (yes/stand aside/block/abstain) on proposals if applicable.

8.2. Quorum: 2/3rds of all members.

8.3. Chair: The current VP Political Education. The VP is chair of the committee as per the GTFF bylaws.

9. Amendments