Minority Coalition adopts new by-laws, constitution; aims for cohesion

In an effort to increase cooperation between various groups of the 13-member Minority Coalition and address some of the poor attendance problems that plagued the group last semester, MinCo representatives made major changes to the group’s Constitution. With the changes, MinCo hopes to resolve areas of confusion, as well as redefining the coalition’s purpose.

Said MinCo secretary Medha Kirtane ’00, “Throughout my two years serving on MinCo, one aspect of MinCo that made me uneasy was the lack of true cohesion between the groups and various representatives. MinCo was formed as a coalition – an umbrella structure for all of the groups, and elected MinCo reps and treasurers were supposed to be the glue that would bind the various groups together.“

With that in mind, MinCo sought to change their constitution so that it could be “ a conduit or interface for exchange amongst its groups,” in the words of co-chair Farrah Musani ’00, rather than just “a big funding structure for money.”

In an effort to address this, MinCo began by changing the group’s overall statement of purpose and function, making the MinCo both “a mechanism for minority groups to come together in an organizational, social, academic, and political spheres” and “a facilitator of cooperation and communication amongst its member organizations.”

All MinCo groups were forced to agree to and ratify that area of the constitution. Furthermore, funding shall be given only to activities for those proposals in accordance with the group’s statement and purpose.

More changes were made to the area pertaining to membership in the coalition. First, it was stipulated that all groups, in order to be part of MinCo, had to agree to and ratify the Statement of Purpose and Function of the Minority Coalition at the beginning of each academic year.

The section on voting privileges was also cleared up, as it was an area that had become a problem late in the fall semester of this year. When six member groups lost voting privileges due to absences at MinCo meetings, an effective quorum of two-thirds of all MinCo groups couldn’t be established. As a result, all remaining MinCo meetings for the rest of the semester and Winter Study were canceled.

Hoping to ensure that such a situation could not arise again, the group cleared up its rules on dormancy, stating clearly that no group could miss more than two MinCo meetings each semester without a valid excuse. If a MinCo group misses three consecutive meetings, their membership in the coalition will be expelled.

They also made a clear distinction between “active” groups, who can be considered members of the coalition and are thus eligible for funding, and “dormant” groups. All MinCo groups are “active” as long as they have ratified MinCo’s statement of purpose and function, as well as had “sufficient representation to the Council as deemed by the co-chairs of the Minority Coalition.” Groups can remain “active” even if they have lost voting privileges.

It was also reiterated that no meeting shall begin with without a two-thirds quorum of groups. This creates a situation, in Musani’s opinion, of greater interdependence between various MinCo groups. “Groups will rely on other groups’ presence to pass their funding proposals. If members skip meetings, they will be held accountable to all of MinCo.”

The next change in the constitution came in the section regarding each MinCo group’s coalition representatives. Kirtane identifies the lack of cohesion between MinCo reps as one of the reasons MinCo groups had less cooperation with each other. “What I saw was happening was the MinCo reps would go to meetings and treasurers would go to funding meetings, and there would be little to no relaying of information to groups, so MinCo sort of became another little group here at Williams.”

As a result, each coalition representative was forced to attend all group and MinCo meetings, including funding meetings. In addition, it was stipulated that only MinCo representatives, not treasurers, be allowed to vote on funding issues. In Musani’s opinion, the changes in this section promote a greater sense of responsibility for MinCo reps.

“We clearly delineated the role of the MinCo rep for member organizations. I think, before, that the constitution didn’t instill reps with a sense of responsibility. They are the voice of their group at MinCo meetings, not just an individual student. Therefore, they need to have the group’s position in mind.” Moreover, there would be “more continuity in having the same people (MinCo reps) discussing issues at regular meetings and voting on proposals at funding meetings.”

In addition, the term for coalition representatives was extended from one semester to one full academic year, further increasing the commitment group reps had to make to the coalition.