Harvard Hillel Undergraduate Bylaws
Current as of April 2017
Article I: Purpose
As the catalyst for Jewish life on the Harvard campus, Harvard Hillel strives to serve the cultural, religious, educational, and social needs of all members of the Harvard Jewish community. Harvard Hillel undergraduate leadership endeavors to design and implement effective programming to ensure that these needs are met. As expressed in Harvard Hillel's Mission Statement, the primary function of the organization is "to provide every Jewish Harvard student—without regard to ideological commitment or background—appropriate grounding for making meaningful Jewish choices in a complex and changing world." Working together with staff, lay leadership, and Hillel's other constituents, the undergraduate leadership seeks to serve this function under the guidance of four primary tenets: the centrality of education, pluralism, the development of leaders, and dialogue with Israel. Additionally, the undergraduate leadership is devoted to fostering the creative interchange among members of the Harvard Jewish community and to facilitating involvement in leadership and programming by anyone who seeks to become involved.
Membership in this organization shall be open to all students in good standing currently enrolled in Harvard College, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical disability. All officers shall be registered undergraduates in Harvard College.
Article II: Coordinating Council
The Coordinating Council is the governing body of Harvard Hillel's undergraduate community. It serves as a forum for discussion of topics of interest to Harvard's undergraduate Jewish community. Through conversation, resolutions, public statements, election of officers, and ad hoc committees, the Coordinating Council seeks to fulfill the functions described in Section I.
Powers and Obligations
Coordinating Council may:
- Make binding and non-binding resolutions on issues pertaining to Harvard Hillel's undergraduate leadership.
- Make recommendations to the Harvard Hillel staff and other Hillel constituencies on all matters.
- Issue public statements communicating Hillel's policies and stances to the general community.
- Elect six members of the Steering Committee, as outlined in Article XI.
- Remove a member of the Steering Committee, as outlined in Article XII.
- Create, renew, and sever Hillel's affilation with Affiliated Groups, as outlined in Article XIII.
- Override a Steering Committee decision by a simple majority.
Amend these bylaws as outlined in Article XIV.
All members of the Coordinating Council shall have voting privileges.
Matriculated Harvard undergraduates may become members of Coordinating Council by:
- Attending two Coordinating Council meetings in one semester. S/he may vote in all subsequent meetings.
- Having been a member the previous semester.
- Being on Steering Committee. The Steering Committee President is a member of the Coordinating Council but only votes in the case of a tie.
Membership is maintained by attending two Coordinating Council meetings in a semester. Membership can be lost:
- At the end of the penultimate meeting of the semester if s/he has attended no prior meetings in the semester.
- At the end of the last meeting if s/he has attended only one meeting during the semester.
- The Vice President for Communications shall notify any member who is in danger of losing her or his membership.
- The Vice President for Communications may, at her or his discretion, grant excused absences to members. Such excused absences shall count as attendance for the purpose of maintaining (but specifically not obtaining) membership.
Coordinating Council may suspend voting privileges of any member by the vote of a 2/3 majority of all Coordinating Council members present before the items for which that member's privileges will be suspended have been opened for business. Coordinating Council cannot suspend voting privileges of Steering Committee members.
- Matriculated Harvard undergraduates may become members of Coordinating Council by:
The following people shall be on the Coordinating Council Mailing List:
- Any member.
Anyone eligible for membership who has attended at least one meeting during the semester.
The Coordinating Council shall meet at least four times each semester. A reminder letter must be sent by the Vice President for Communications to the Coordinating Council Mailing List at least one week prior to each meeting.
One of the Coordinating Council meetings during fall semester shall be help between the beginning of the Steering Committee elections voter registration drive and the candidates forum.
- One of the Coordinating Council meetings during fall semester shall be help between the beginning of the Steering Committee elections voter registration drive and the candidates forum.
2/3 of Coordinating Council members or 1/5 of Coordinating Council members including three members of Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum. In order for a Coordinating Council resolution to be binding, a quorum must be present at the time of the vote.
The agenda for the Coordinating Council shall be set by the Presdient, in consultation with the Steering Committee and other members of the Coordinating Council.
The President shall conduct Coordinating Council meetings according to Robert's Rules of Order. In the event that the President must be absent from a Coordinating Council meeting, the Steering Committee shall appoint one of the elected Vice Presidents to serve in the President's stead.
- The Vice President for Communications shall serve as Recording Secretary during meetings of the Coordinating Council. S/he may not conduct meetings in the President's stead in the event of the President's absence.
Article III: Steering Committee
The Steering Committee shall consist of the President, the Vice President for Communications, the Vice President for Community Building, the Vice President for Community Relations, the Vice President for Education, the Vice President for Shabbat, and the Vice President for Holidays. The Steering Committee may appoint additional members or advisors, including undergraduates, graduate students, or Harvard Hillel staff members, as it sees fit.
Steering Committee meetings are closed to everyone but Steering Committee members and invited guests.
Steering committee shall:
- Be elected/appointed during the fall semester, prior to the Winter Recess, according to the procedure set out in Article XI.
- Serve a term consisting of two semesters, beginning on the first day of the spring semester following their election.
- Meet at least weekly, at a pre-arranged time, and as it sees fit.
- Serve as officers of the Coordinating Council.
- Implement decisions and resolutions of the Coordinating Council.
- Act on behalf of the Coordinating Council between meetings of the Coordinating Council.
- Appoint members of the Programming Committees.
- Make recommendations to Coordinating Council regarding the creation and annual affiliation renewal of Affiliated Groups.
- Appoint individuals to perform particular tasks, on a short- or long-term basis, as it sees fit.
- Develop a unified vision for Hillel's undergraduate programming.
- Create opportunities for interaction among undergraduates and Harvard Hillel's other constituent groups, including the Harvard Hillel Board of Directors.
- Encourage the Harvard Hillel Board of Directors to include student representatives on its committees.
- Consult with the Harvard Hillel Board of Directors prior to the creaton of the annual undergraduate program budget.
- Periodically evaluate Hillel's activities.
- Report at least once per month on its proceedings to the Coordinating Council and the greater Harvard community.
- In conjunction with Hillel's staff, maintain records of Hillel's activities and events.
Mentor its successors in a formal manner for hte semester following the completion of their own term to ensure continuity between committees an aid their successors in their new roles. The manner in which this is to take place shall be determined immediately after each election by the combined incoming and outgoing Steering Committees.
The President shall:
- Set the agenda for the Coordinating Council and the Steering Committee, in consultation with other members of these bodies.
- Officiate meetings of the Coordinating Council and the Steering Committee.
- Appoint ad hoc committeees as s/he sees fit.
- Serve as a spokesperson for the Coordinating Council and the Steering Committee.
Serve on the Harvard Hillel Board of Directors.
The Vice President for Communications shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's communications during his/her term.
- Serve as chairperson of the Communications committee.
- Serve as Recording Secretary at meetings of the Coordinating Council and Steering Committee.
- Be responsible for regular communication of Steering Committee proceedings to the Coordinating Council and the greater community.
- Serve as the parliamentarian of the Coordinating Council.
- Record all resolutions of the Coordinating Council.
Moniter the membership list and mailing list of the Coordinating Council, as outlined in Article II, Sections C through E.
The Vice President for Community Building shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's community building activities during his/her term.
Serve as chairperson of the Community Building committee
The Vice President for Community Relations shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's community relations activities during his/her term.
Serve as chairperson of the Community Relations committee.
The Vice President for Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice) shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's community service and social justice programs during his/her term.
Serve as chairperson of the Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice) committee.
The Vice President for Shabbat shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's Shabbat during his/her term.
Serve as chairperson of the Shabbat committee.
The Vice President for Holidays shall:
- Set the vision for Harvard Hillel's Jewish holidays during his/her term.
Serve as chairperson of the Holidays committee.
- In the absence of a President, the Steering Committee shall appoint one of the elected Vice Presidents to perform the President's tasks. The Vice President for Communications may not fill this role.
Article IV: Programming Committees
Much of Harvard Hillel's undergraduate programming shall be designed and implemented by the Programming Committees. Each committee is guided by a particular broad theme, though the programming of each is diverse. Programming Committees shall work together to ensure that Hillel's overall progam is sufficiently integraded and inclusive and that students' needs are being met, as described in Article I.
The activities of each Programming Committee shall be coordinated by a Chairperson, who also serves as a member of the Steering Committee and as a Vice President of Harvard Hillel. These Committee Chairpeople shall be elected according to the procedure in Article XI. Each Committee shall also include members who, after having submitted applications, are appointed to that Programming Committee by the Steering Committee. The particular responsibilities of each Committee member shall be allocated as the members of the Committee see fit.
Each Committee shall hold meetings for its entire membership at least once per semester. During meetings, the Committee shall articulate broad goals and strategies for programming as well as design specific programming initiatives. Each Committee shall decide whether its meetings shall be open or closed to non-Committee members.
Each Committee shall submit an annual budget proposal to the Steering Committee. This proposal shall be written by the Committee Chairperson in consultation with a Harvard Hillel staff member.
Each Committee shall foster opportunities for individual students to pursue their passions within a Jewish context.
Resources shall be set aside for individuals who seek to implement programming outside the auspices of a particular Programming Committee. The Steering Committee shall publicize throughout the Harvard community the availability of these resources.
Article V: Communications Committee
The Communications Committee shall:
Establish an effective method of publicizing Hillel events.
Facilitate communication between the Hillel student body, its student governing bodies, and the Hillel staff.
- Work with the rabbinical team and staff to promote educational programs and an environment supportive of Jewish learning.
Articlve VI: Community Building Committee
The Community Building Committee shall:
Seek to maintain a sense of community among the Jews of Harvard, both within and without the Hillel building.
Seek to establish a warm, friendly atmosphere within the Hillel building.
Seek to promote a sense of Jewish community within each residential House and within each undergraduate class.
Implement programs at multiple locations around campus each semester.
Implement socially oriented programs, with and without specific Jewish themes.
Actively gauge the interests of Jewish students on campus, and create programs that cater to these specific interests.
- Work with the rabbinical team and staff to promote educational programs and an environment supportive of Jewish learning.
Article VII: Community Relations Committee
The Community Relations Committee shall:
Create and maintain relationships weith communities outside the Harvard Jewish community.
Seek to ehance Harvard Hillel's presence on Harvard's campus.
Create and maintain relationships with other Jewish organizations, including Hillels, in the Boston area and throughout the world.
Moniter Harvard Hillel's ongoing dialogue with Israel.
Implement interfaith and interethnic programming.
- Work with the rabbinical team and staff to promote educational programs and an environment supportive of Jewish learning.
Article VIII: Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice) Committee
The Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice) Committee shall:
Implement programming devoted to public service and social action both on and off the Harvard campus.
Serve as a voice for social justice within and without the Harvard Jewish community.
Article IX: Shabbat Committee
The Shabbat Committee shall:
Coordinate all Shabbat programming for Harvard undergraduates, both within and without the Hillel building. This includes weekly Shabbat dinner, post-dinner programming, Shabbat lunch, and Saturday night programming.
Communicate with Harvard Hillel's prayer communities, in particular about issues concerning undergraduate programming for Shabbat and minyan times.
Seek to create a warm, inviting atmosphere within the Hillel building on Shabbat.
Create publications that promote Judaic education.
Article X: Holidays Committee
The Holidays Committee shall:
Have primary responsibility for programming that pertains to observance of the Jewish holidays. This includes, but is not limited to, communal meals, Sukkah building, Hanukkah candle lightings, and coordinating Passover sederim across campus.
Have primary responsibility for social and cultural programming as pertains to the Jewish holidays, both within Hillel and without, as well as raising awareness of these celebrations across campus. This includes, but is not limited to, programming for holidays (Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kuppur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, Tu B'shvat, Purim, Shavout, Yom Ha-Shoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha'atzmaut, Lag B'omer, Yom Yerushalyim) and coordinating break-fasts for fast days (Yom Kippur, Tzom Gedaliah [Fast of Gedaliah], Asarah B'Tevet [Tenth of Tevet], Ta'anit Esther [Fast of Esther]).
Communicate with Harvard Hillel's prayer communities, in particular about issues concerning undergraduate programming fo Shabbat and minyan times.
Seek to create a warm, inviting, and educational atmosphere within the Hillel building on the Jewish holidays.
Article XI: Elections
- Elections for the position of President, Vice President for Community Building, Vice President for Community Relations, Vice President for Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice), Vice President for Shabbat, and Vice President for Holidays shall be held during the fall semester, prior to the Winter Recess. The elections may not be help earlier than the third meeting of the semester.
- Nominations of candidates shall take place in the fall semester prior to elections. Steering Committee shall decide on the manner in which nominations are submitted. Nomination is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for candidacy.
Candidates for Steering Committee positions must be at least one of the following:
- Coordinating Council member who will have Coordinating Council privileges by the end of the nominations meeting.
- Member of at least one of Hillel's Programming Committees and have served on that Committee since the beginning of the current semester.
- Member or former member of the following groups who has attended at least ONE Coordinating Council meeting: (a) leadership team of a Harvard Hillel affiliated group as determined by the Harvard Hillel website or the Steering Committee president, (b) leadership team of a Harvard Hillel minyan, (c) a Freshman Fellow, (d) a House Life Fellow. If a member or former member in any of the above categories wishes to run for a Steering Committee position but has never attended a Coordinating Council meeting and has an excused absence for the final Coordinating Council meeting prior to the releveant election cycle, that person must meet with the outgoing holder of the Steering Committee position they plan to run for prior to the relevant election.
The official statement of candidacy is the position paper, which shall be submitted to the Vice President for Communications at a date and time designated by the Vice President for Communications. This date must be at least ten days in advance of the elections meeting. Copies of the positions papers must be made available by the Vice President for Communications to all members of the Coordinating Council. A Coordinating Council member need not have been nominated in order to submit a position papter and become a candidate.
- Steering Committee must make all candidates aware of the format of the elections meeting at least one week in advance of the elections meeting.
- A Coordinating Council member will be allowed to submit an absentee ballot only if the Vice President for Communications determines that that memebr cannot attend the elections meeting because of a scheduling conflict with another activity.
- Immediately following the commencement of the elections meeting, the Coordinating Council must determine by a simple majority whether or not absentee ballots shall be counted towards the vote totals.
- Voting shall be undertaken using a ranked abllot and the Single Transferrable Voting System. Voters shall rank all candidates for a particular office on a single ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of first-place vtes, then the candidtate who receives the fewest first-place votes shall be eliminated, and her/his votes shall be redistributed to those candidates ranked second on those particular ballots. This procedure shall be repeated until one candidate shall have received a simple majority of votes cast, and that candidtate shall be declared the winner. Candidates who run for a particular positino and are not elected may then choose to run for other positions elected at the same meeting.
- The order of elections shall be determined by the Steering Committee, excluding any members who are participating in the elections. The order will be established to maximize all candidates' ability to run for other positions if they are not elected to their first-choice position, by placing contested positions earlier in the order. For example, if a candidate wishes to run for Position A and drop down to Position B, Position A should be placed before Position B in the election order. However, if multiple candidates wish to drop down and the candidates' position preferences dictate conflicting election orders, those positions that are in conflict will be elected in alphabetical order (President, followed by Vice President for Community Building, followed by Vice President for Community Relations, followed by Vice President for Holidays, followed by Vice President for Shabbat, followed by Vice President for Tikun Olam (Community Service and Social Justice), with the uncontested positions elected in the order that maximizes candidates' ability to run as described above. At the elections meeting, the Coordinating Council will determine by a simple majority whether the order established by Steering Committee is acceptable; if a majority of the present voting members of Coordinating Council disagrees with the set order, the elections will revert to alphabetical order.
Coordinating Council memebrs who wish to be considered for the poisition of Vice President for Communications must submit a position paper to the Vice President for Communications at a date and time desginated by the Vice President for Communications. The Vice President for Communications shall be appointed shortly after the elections meeting of Coordinating Council at a meeting of the newly elected and outgoing Steering Committee.
In order to gain voting eligibility, a person must:
- Be a matriculated Harvard undergraduate.
Register themselves as a voter in Hillel's voter registration drive.
- The registration drive will open one month prior to the date of the elections meeting and close after the candidates forum meeting.
- Registration will be available online.
- The Steering Committee must appoint at least one of its members and may at its discretion appoint additional individuals from the community to form a team responsible for publicizing, implementing, and building momentum for the registration drive.
Attend Candidates Forum and Elections.
- The Steering Committee must annoince its criteria for exemption, if any, from either of these events, no later than one week prior to the Candidates Forum.
The Steering Committee must organize a Candidates Forum prior to elections.
- In order to gain voting eligibility, a person must:
- If a Steering Committee position is vacant at any point between Steering Committee elections and candidates forum of the following year, the Steering Committee members shall decide how to conduct mid-term elections to fill the vacant position. Candidates for the vacant position must adhere to the same eligibility guidelines as in the normal Steering Committee election process.
Article XII: Removal of Officers
Members of the Steering Committee may be removed in the following way:
- A 3/4 vote of all Coordinating Council members with voting privileges present at a Coordinating Council meeting is required to set the removal process in motion. This vote shall be conducted by secret ballot. Abstentions are to be counted as votes against the removal process.
- The Executive Director of Harvard Hillel, or the Executive Director's designee, shall then call a special removal meeting, if possible prior to the next regularly scheduled Coordinating Council meeting. S/he must ensure that all students with voting privileges are informed at least one week prior to the removal meeting.
- An officer can be removed from office by a 3/4 vote of all Coordinating Council members present at the removal meeting. This vote shall be conducted by secret ballot. Abstentions are to be counted as votes against removal.
- The Vice President for Communications can be removed frmo the Steering Committee by a unanimous vote of the other Steering Committee members if s/he is being lax in the performance of his/her responsibilities.
- If an officer is removed, then the remaining officers and the Executive Director of Harvard Hillel, or the Executive Director's designee, shall set in motion an election process to fill the vacant position. This shall be done within a short time of the removal. If the Vice President for Communications is removed, then the Steering Committee shall appoint a new Vice President of Communications within a short time of the removal.
Article XIII: Affiliated Groups
Affiliated Groups are student groups whose goals and activities are deemed by the Steering Committee and the Coordinating Council to be in accordance with the mission of Harvard Hillel. They do not all under the auspices of specific Programming Committees, though they may work with members of Programming Committees to implement programming. While Affiliated Groups affiliate with Harvard Hillel and receive advice and resources from Harvard Hillel, neither Steering Committee nor Coordinating Council plays a role in determining their leadership.
A student group may affiliate with Harvard Hillel in the following way:
- The student group shall submit a statement of mission and strategy, along with the signatures of ten Harvard undergraduates, to Steering Committee.
- Steering Committee may approve or deny the affiliate membership of the group.
- Regardless of the Steering Committee's decision, the group's statement of mission and strategy shall be brought before Coordinating Council to be considered for Affiliation.
- If Steering Committee favored the group's affiliation, and the affiliation is approved by a simple majority of Coordinating Council members present at the meeting, then the group shall become an Affiliated Group.
If the Steering Committee opposed the group's affiliation, and the affiliation is approved by 3/4 of Coordinating Council members present at a meeting, then the group shall become an Affiliated Group.
Only an Affiliated Group offically recognized by the Office of the Dean of Harvard College may:
- Sponsor or co-sponsor events on or off campus wihtout the prior approval of Steering Committee.
- Approve its own advertisements to be posted outside the Hillel building.
Speak on its own behalf to members of the news media.
Steering Committee may set policies governing the activities of Affiliated Groups recognized by the Office of the Dean of Harvard Collge, and these policies may differ from the policies that Steering Committee sets for other Affiliated Groups.
Each Affiliated Group shall submit an annual budget to Steering Committee.
The Coordinating Council may make non-binding recommendations to Affiliated Groups.
When Affiliated Groups or Hillel sponsor events that are sensitive, the following procedure shall be followed in order to ensure that Hillel's commitment to pluralism is upheld:
- All posters must clearly indicate the event's sponsorship.
- All emails must clearly indicate the event's sponsorship.
Recognizing that at such an event there may be those in the audience who have differing points of view from the individual(s) presenting, a member of the sponsoring group shall frame the event inviting respectful dialogue from those with a variety of opinons.
All advertisements of Affiliated Groups not offically recognized by the Office of the Dean of Harvard College must be approved by the Steering Committee.
It is the role of Steering Committee and the Harvard Hillel staff to advise Affiliated Groups. Affiliated Group leaders may attend meetings of Programming Committees at the discretion of the members of each Programming Committee.
In order to maintain its affiliation, each Affiliated Group must, on an annual basis, submit to the Steering Committee a letter stating its general goals for the year and listing specific programming plans. Steering Committee may approve or reject the renewed affiliation, subject to the approval of Coordinating Council.
- The affiliation of Affiliated Group smay be severed by a 2/3 vote of Coordinating Council members present at two consecutive Coordinating Council meetings.
Article XIV: Amendments
These bylaws shall be amended by the Coordinating Council if a proposed amendment is approved at two consecutive Coordinating Council meetings by at least 2/3 of Coordinating Council members present.