VSO Constitution, Stanford Debate Society


Our purpose is to compete in intercollegiate debate tournaments such as the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), British Parliamentary Debate, National Debate Tournament (NDT) policy debate, and the World Parliamentary Debate Championships. The Society shall engage in several public debates throughout the year to inform and entertain the Stanford campus. The Society will participate in the Great Debate against the University of California, Berkeley and any other exhibition debates that we are invited to attend. The APDA portion of the Society will organize and run an APDA-formatted tournament on campus. Finally, the Society will run a tournament for high school students and facilitate the organization of the Stanford National Forensic Institute.

The Society will examine its fiscal resources on a yearly basis to determine how many new members it will receive. All Stanford students (including graduate students who have eligibility in APDA and/or NDT) are eligible to interview. The interview procedure will include a test of speaking and argumentative ability (the specifics of which will depend on the number of applicants and the discretion of the Executive Board). Members are required to work at the High School Invitational and comply with the other conditions set forth in the Society's contract.

A. Titles and Responsibilities

Executive Board

  1. President: Organize and run meetings; facilitate interactions between different branches of the Society; act as secondary signatory for bank accounts; maintain contact with the society about debate opportunities not explicitly delegated to either team captain; organize team recruitment efforts; coordinate team interviews for new members; handle all administrative issues not explicitly delegated to another officer.

  2. Vice President, Finance: Keep records of all financial transactions for all branches of the Society; act as primary signatory for bank accounts; reimburse Society members for Society related costs after approving those costs; meet regularly with the Assistant Dean of Student Activities (Nanci Howe) to keep track of the Willard Endowment; ensure payment of debts to the Society. (Due to the fact that the Society runs the Stanford National Forensic Institute over the summer, the Vice President will be replaced for the summer quarter by a member of the Society that will be working at that camp. This will not be open to vote, but will be appointed by the executive board and with consultation of the Director of the Stanford National Forensic Institute.)

  3. High School Tournament Director: Work with administration and local high school speech and debate coaches to plan the February tournament; schedule work and shifts for Society members.

  4. Captain, Parliamentary Debate: Act as a liaison to and contact for the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) and British Parliamentary Debate community; make travel arrangements for APDA and BP tournaments; work with the financial officer to determine acceptable travel expenses and purchase plane tickets; pre-register and register teams for tournaments; maintain contact with members of the Society about tournament opportunities and results.

  5. Captain, NDT: (Same as Captain, APDA, but for NDT branch of the Society). Additionally: recruit and train new members of the NDT squad, serve as liaison between the NDT coach and the team.

Other Offices

  1. Secretary: Keep minutes of all meetings; maintain records of tournament results after released by captains; compose newsletter at least once a year with help of financial officer to report the Society's activities and victories for the benefit of the current members, alumni, and Stanford administration.

  2. College Tournament Director: Work with administration to plan the APDA tournament; schedule Society members to specific shifts and occupations as are deemed necessary.

  3. Social Chair: Plan team events and dinners for a novice welcome and senior graduation; work with College Tournament Director to plan the theme of the tournament, and both Tournament Directors to plan catering necessary for those tournaments.

  4. Webmaster: Maintain the debate team website; address any other technological needs that arise such as securing internet access for participants at the high school tournament.

  5. Financial Assistant: Responsible for assisting the Vice President in long term team planning; responsible for collecting receipts for and distributing reimbursements following rules determined by the Executive Board; may be a paid position, to be determined by the Executive Board.

B. Elections and Removal Process

Elections will be held by silent, preferential ballot at the end of each Spring Term to determine officers for the following year. The election for each office will occur one at a time, beginning with President and proceeding individually in the order that the offices are listed on this constitution. The only condition on offices is that they have participated actively in the Society during the academic year prior to election and be a member in good standing. The results will be tabulated immediately by the two or more neutral third parties to be selected prior to elections by the Executive Board. Anyone not elected may drop down and compete in other races.

Officers may be removed if they fail to comply with the guidelines set forth in the Society Contract or fail to fulfill the here-enumerated duties. Executive Board officers may be removed if they fail to fulfill duties enumerated in any contracts issued by the Executive Board. Removal can be determined by the executive board upon consent by a majority of the Society's active members in good standing. In the event that an individual is removed from the executive board, the remaining executive board members shall vote to determine if a mid-year, entire Society election shall be held to replace the removed board member.

Any matters up for decision by the Society can be decided by either 1) an entire team vote, or 2) an executive board vote. The President will decide which method to invoke. All officers may vote in matters relegated to the entire team. Any decisions resulting in a tie can only be broken by a second vote of the President.

An Executive Board vote may be called by any member of the Executive Board. Any issue up for vote shall be submitted to the President, who shall give all members of the Executive Board notice. Members of the Executive Board shall have, at minimum, up to seven days from time of notice to submit their vote to the President.

In the event that an individual is elected to multiple executive board positions, that individual shall only receive one executive board vote. The remaining executive board position or positions will go to the person or persons holding Other Offices in order until there are 5 persons on the executive board.

Whereas the Stanford Debate Society is primarily an undergraduate institution, and whereas the Willard Endowment was granted to the Stanford Debate Society for the primary purpose of fostering undergraduate debate, no graduate student shall hold a position on the executive board, though graduate students may still participate in the Stanford Debate Society as members. For this purpose, a coterminal student who was a member of the Stanford Debate Society as an undergraduate can count as an undergraduate.

C. Length of Term

Terms will last for one calendar year, beginning at the start of the Autumn Quarter.

D. Eligible Voters

Any member of the Society in good standing who has participated in a tournament within the past calendar year from the time of elections may vote.

To be in good standing, a member must fulfill all of her obligations to the Society for the academic year. Such obligations include working a full commitment a the annual Stanford Invitational High School Tournament, plus any additional obligations set out by the Executive Board as detailed in the annual team membership contract (to be circulated and available prior to the first travelling tournament of the academic year).

The Executive Board will publish a list of all members in good standing that are eligible to vote prior to any Society vote or election.

A. Disposition of Uncommitted Funds
All funds will be held over for use the following year. Upon dissolution of the Society, all remaining funds shall first be used to pay any outstanding debts to creditors and shall then be combined with the capital from the Willard Endowment. What happens to the interest payout from the Endowment is to be determined by the Assistant Dean of Students Activities to be in accordance with the directions given regarding use of the grant money.

B. Disposition of Property
All property is to be given to the ASSU Speakers Bureau.

Amendments to the Constitution can be recommended by any Society member. Any amendment, in the spirit of the organization, will be debated before the Society. That debate will be judged by the members of the executive board, and the majority of votes of both the Executive Board and the Society will approve the amendment. The Executive Board shall vote before the entire Society votes. Failure to achieve either majority will cause the Amendment to fail. The amendment can only become finalized upon the approval of the Assistant Dean of Student Activities.

Any amendments adopted by the Society shall go into effect the following academic year.