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Black Law Student Association

Constitution

Article I. Name

The name of this organization is the “Lewis and Clark Black Law Students Association” (also referred to as “Black Law Students Association” or “BLSA” or “the Association”). 

Article II. Affiliation

BLSA is affiliated with the National Black Law Students Association (“NBLSA”). As an affiliate of NBLSA, BLSA will act as the national organization’s local chapter at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR. While event participation and conference attendance is discretionary, BLSA will be diligent in communication with and support of NBLSA at the regional and national level.

Article III. Purpose

The purpose of the Black Law Students Association is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

Article IV. Authority

Section 1: This Constitution repeals all other instruments, bylaws and operating documents. This instrument regulates each enterprise of the BLSA chapter; including general members, the Executive Board, as well as all standing and ad hoc committees.

Section 2: This instrument is intended to guide BLSA and to supplement the purpose, duties, and rights stated in the NBLSA Constitution.

Article V. Membership

Section 1: Non-discrimination

General membership in BLSA may consist of all matriculated students at Lewis and Clark Law School, who are committed to the purpose of this organization as stated in Article III of this constitution. No hazing or discrimination will be used as a condition of BLSA membership. No student may be denied membership on the basis of race, creed, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, parental status, disability, or the inability to pay dues.

Section 2: Types

The general and associate members of BLSA constitute the general body of BLSA. Upon recommendation of the Executive Board and the confirmation of a majority of the general BLSA membership, BLSA may extend either associate or honorary membership to any member of the academic community at Lewis & Clark College.

General members are defined as those individuals enrolled as law students at Lewis & Clark Law school who have paid the set fee for membership dues. 

Associate members are defined as those individuals who are guests of Lewis & Clark Law students, Law students who have not paid the set fee, College of Law faculty, and/or staff.

Honorary members are defined as those individuals who have rendered exemplary service to BLSA.

Section 3: Association Rights and Responsibilities of Members

Only general members of BLSA are entitled to: (1) participate in all Association functions and activities, (2) vote in BLSA officer elections, (3) hold office within the Association, and (4) make motions or vote on motions at any general body meeting. 

Associate and honorary members may attend general BLSA meetings; however, they do not possess any of the rights and privileges of general members. 

Section 4: Dues

Membership dues and manner of payment are recommended by the BLSA Executive Board and approved by the general body of BLSA. Membership dues may be accepted only during membership drive periods, which will be set by the BLSA Executive Board. As stated in Article V Section 1, no student may be denied membership due to inability to pay dues. Members may be asked to supply proof of financial hardship.

Section 5: Termination and Revocation of Membership

Termination. Membership may be terminated if a member performs an act that is deemed illegal, as defined by law, or threatening to the integrity of the organization. Termination of membership must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Board. Dismissed members are eligible to reapply after three academic semesters.

Revocation. Membership may be revoked without mutual agreement for non-participation, misconduct, or violations of any provisions of the Constitution. Prior to the vote, the BLSA President must cause the Executive Board to (1) notify the member in writing of the possible revocation at least 72 hours prior to the vote and (2) provide an opportunity for the BLSA member to address the Association and provide a defense. Revocation of membership must be approved by a majority of the Executive Board. The BLSA member may appeal the Executive Board’s decision to the general body.  Unless an appeal is approved by a majority vote of the general body, revocation of membership will be valid for two academic semesters.

Article VI. Officers

Section 1: Executive Board; line of succession. The executive board shall consist of (1) president (2) president-elect (3) vice president (4) treasurer and (5) secretary. In the event of a declared vacancy, the foregoing order of officers shall also comprise the line of succession.

Section 2: Duties of officers.

The President shall exercise general authority over the business and activities of the Association; including the following duties:

1.    Call and preside over meetings of the Association’s general body;

2.    Create ad-hoc committees as necessary for the implementation of special events subject to the approval of the Executive Board;

3.    Attend weekly meetings of the Executive Board;

4.    Develop an annual budget in conjunction with the Treasurer subject to the approval of a majority of the Executive Board;

5.    Vote in general body and Executive Board meetings in cases of a tie;

6.    Appoint all Executive Board officers not elected by the Association membership; the Executive Board shall advise the President on these appointments;

7.    Present ideas and propose direction for the organization;

8.    Coordinate the activities of the Executive Board to ensure implementation of all internal and external tasks;

9.    Develop and finalize meeting agendas in accordance with the ideas and input of the Executive Board and membership;

10. Evaluate projects, programs, and initiatives proposed by Executive Board and membership;

11. Serve as BLSA’s official spokesperson and representative to outside entities, including other student groups, members of the media, and L&C administrative officials;

12. Foster interaction with BLSA organizations at peer institutions;

13. Maintain monthly communication with the BLSA faculty advisor(s);

14. Attend National and Regional BLSA conferences whenever financially and logistically feasible; and nominate any active member as a proxy to cast votes on behalf of the LCBLSA chapter at Regional and Sub-regional BLSA meetings. The proxy’s attendance at these meetings is dependent on availability of BLSA funds; and

15. Compile a brief synopsis of his/her yearly activities and produce a transition report at the close of the term of office.

The President-elect shall exercise general executive authority over the business and activities of the Association; including the following duties:

1.    Assume office at the conclusion of the president’s term.

2.    Chair the Executive Board;

3.    Exercises discretion in setting the association’s agenda, including determining whether a matter should be brought before the Executive Board or the general body;

4.    Preside over the general body in the absence of the President;

5.    Serve as the Association liaison and representative in the absence of the President;

6.    Cast ballots on behalf of BLSA at Regional and NBLSA meetings and proceedings, and report back to the general body and the Executive Board.

7.    Lead the process of revising this Constitution, as needed; and

8.    Compile a brief synopsis of his/her yearly activities and produce an official transition report at the close of the term of office.

The Vice President shall, under the direction of the President, be responsible for planning and organizing programs, events and activities for the Association; including the following duties:

1.    Serve as the BLSA Chief Program Officer;

2.    Manage all internal board relations;

3.    Serve as a parliamentarian during meetings that she does not preside over.

4.    Update the BLSA website;

5.    Develop and lead the execution of BLSA’s communications and marketing strategies to create a unified brand identity and increase awareness for key events;

6.    Oversee the BLSA’s social media efforts;

7.    Perform other functions and duties the Executive Board may assign; and

8.    Compile a brief synopsis of his/her yearly activities and produce an official transition report at the close of the term of office.

The Treasurer shall be responsible for managing the financial matters of the Association, including the following duties:

1.    Assure that entries are regularly made in the financial records, accounting for all funds received and disbursed by BLSA;

2.    Determine, with Executive Board, allocation of BLSA funds;

3.    Present general overview of budget to BLSA membership;

4.    Report on the financial resources of BLSA at each Executive Board meeting;

5.    Develop an annual budget in conjunction with the President subject to the approval of a majority of the Executive Board;

6.    Collect dues from BLSA membership and ensure that each member has paid their dues;

7.    Research methods of obtaining funding for the Association;

8.    Oversee solicitation of funds for BLSA from outside entities, including but not limited to law firms;

9.    Perform other functions and duties the Executive Board may assign; and

10. Compile a brief synopsis of his/her yearly activities and produce an official transition report at the close of the term of office.

The Secretary shall provide administrative and clerical support to the Association, including the following duties:

1.    Serve as the record keeper and administrator for the Association, including filing Association documents, typing Association correspondence, and sustaining general maintenance of the Association;

2.    Record and provide minutes of every Association meeting;

3.    Reserve rooms for all Association meetings;

4.    Advertise all Association meetings;

5.    Distribute the agenda for all General and Executive Board meetings;

6.    Develop, with the Executive Board, an operational calendar of BLSA events;

7.    Present an updated calendar of BLSA events to General Members at every general body Meeting;

8.    Coordinate Executive Board meetings, including meeting sites;

9.    Update and maintain the BLSA membership list and email list serve;

10. Perform other functions and duties as the Executive Board may assign; and

11. Compile a brief synopsis of his/her yearly activities and produce an official transition report at the close of the term of office.

Section 3: Vacancies

An office is declared “vacant” if an officer tenders her resignation, fails to complete her term, or is removed. The line of succession shall follow the order listed in Section 2 of this Article. In the event that an officer position is vacant and cannot be filled through the line of succession, the position may be temporarily filled by appointment by a majority of the remaining officers, provided that such appointments are ratified by the general membership at the next general body meeting. Those voting members interested in being considered as a candidate to fill a vacancy on the Executive Board must communicate their interest to the remaining Executive Board officers in writing.

Section 4: Removal of Officers

The President may remove any officer who is not fulfilling his/her duties, as defined in this Section 2 of this Article. The President, however, must supply one warning to the officer and allow him/her sufficient time for correction before removing him/her from office. The sufficient time for correction shall be determined by the President on a case-by-case basis, but must not exceed thirty days.

Section 5: Officer Resignation

Officers no longer wishing to serve on the board must submit their resignation to the President at least two weeks in advance. Prior to the officers final day he/she shall provide all documents relating to the organization and brief his/her replacement of current projects in his/her care.

Article VII. Meetings

Section 1: Executive Board Meetings

The President shall call Executive Board meetings. The meetings will take place as often as the President deems necessary.

Section 2: Notice of General Body Meetings

The general body of BLSA shall meet at the discretion of the Executive Board, but must meet at least once per month during the academic term. The Secretary shall announce the meeting in the daily announcements, giving members notice of the date, time, and location of meetings. The foregoing notice must also be given to members no less than one-week in advance by email, announcement on the organization’s webpage, or its prior meeting.

Section 3: Special Meetings

Special meetings may be called upon the directive of the President, or upon the directive of any three Executive Board members or one-third of the general membership. The Secretary shall appropriately notify all members of the special meeting no less than 48 hours prior to the date of the meeting.

Section 4: Rules

The rules contained in the simplified Robert’s Rules of Order govern this organization in all cases for which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with this organization’s Constitution.

Article VIII. Quorum

A quorum shall consist of at least one-third of voting members present at any regular or special meeting. Members who are unable to vote in person are entitled to vote by written absentee ballot, if personally delivered to the Secretary at least 24 hours prior to the time of voting.

Article IX: Advisors

Section 1: Faculty Advisor. The Association’s faculty advisor is an ex-officio BLSA member (no voting privileges).The President appoints the faculty advisor, with the advice of the Executive Board and majority vote of the general body.The faculty advisor shall oversee all Association elections, and serve as a liaison between the Association and the Law School Administration.

Section 2: Community Leader-in-Residence. The President, in consultation with the Executive Board, may invite a community leader to serve in an honorific capacity, advising the Association about the Oregon Bar. The Community Leader-in-Residence shall serves as a liaison between BLSA and the Oregon Bar. The honoree should confer with the faculty advisor and determine an appropriate manner to encourage students to diversify the Portland Bar (e.g., networking, observe courtroom proceedings and shadow city leaders through a day’s activities). The Leader-in-Residence may also participate in classroom settings, lead discussions, give lectures or host presentations. Upon selection of the honoree, the President shall inform the law school administration of the Association’s invitation.

Article X: Amendments

Section 1: Manner of Amending. This Constitution may be amended at any regular general body meeting of BLSA upon a majority vote of general members, provided that the proposed amendment has been submitted in writing to the general body.

Section 2: Emergency Executive Action. If the Executive Board seeks to make any changes to policies during the academic year, those changes should be presented and explained to the general membership at the soonest general body meeting. If necessity requires quicker action, the Executive Board may inform membership of the change via email and provide a brief period for response.

Article XI. Adoption and Rescission

This Constitution shall be adopted or rescinded by BLSA upon a two-thirds vote of all general members. 

Article XII. Ratification  

This Constitution shall become effective upon ratification by a majority of the general membership. This Constitution was ratified by a majority of the general body membership on March 18 of 2015 and will take immediate effect thereafter.