Constitution and By-Laws of the Wichita Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America
Article I. NAME, LEGAL STATUS, TERRITORY
Section 1. Name
The name of this organization is the Wichita Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, hereinafter referred to as Wichita DSA or the Local.
Section 2. Legal Status
This organization is recognized as a legal subsidiary of Democratic Socialists of America, a non-profit corporation registered in the state of New York, hereinafter referred to as DSA or the National.
Section 3. Territory
The territory covered by the Local is the 4th Congressional district of Kansas in addition to Reno county. See Addendum 1.
Article II. PURPOSE
The purpose of this organization is to organize, direct, and facilitate political education and
advocacy of issues for members of DSA who reside within the territory defined in Art. I, Sec. 3,
and DSA members-at-large throughout Kansas who choose to join the Local. It is further the
purpose of this local to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the local chapter, to
elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to
make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of
We are Socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor,
gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex, disability, or any other factor,
and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are Democratic Socialists because
we believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human
needs, not to make profits for a few.
Article III. MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Definitions
A Member of Wichita DSA shall be defined as a) any member of DSA (determined by paying dues) who resides within the territory listed in Article 1 Section 3; and b) any at-large member of DSA who resides anywhere else in Kansas and asks to be a member of Wichita DSA.
Section 2. Rights and Privileges
Any Member of Wichita DSA, who is in good standing with DSA, has the right to vote in a legally held membership meeting on all motions and in all elections. These include election of delegates to DSA conventions, election of officers, motions to amend this constitution, or any other duly moved issue that affects the actions or structure of Wichita DSA.
Section 3. Determination of Status
At Wichita DSA Membership meetings, the Social Secretary shall sign in participants as voting
Members by checking their name on the official list. Non-members shall sign in on a separate
list, giving contact details which will be kept by the Social Secretary.
Section 4. Upgrade to Member at Membership Meeting
It shall be the policy of Wichita DSA to permit a non-member to apply for membership and pay dues to the DSA via the Social Secretary or via the national website at any Membership meeting, and be immediately granted the status, with rights and privileges, of a Member at that meeting.
Section 5. Termination of Status
If a Member ceases to pay dues to DSA and in time is no longer in good standing with DSA, the Social Secretary shall, after reminding and encouraging them to pay dues and regain membership, move their details to the contact list of non-members.
If a Member is removed from membership in DSA due to actions under Article I, Section 3 of the National DSA bylaws, the Social Secretary shall strike their name from the record and they will not be allowed to attend meetings of Wichita DSA.
Article IV AMENDMENT OR DISSOLUTION
Section 1. Amendment
The Constitution of DSA may be amended in the same manner as Bylaws are amended. This is set out in Item VI of the Bylaws.
Section 2. Dissolution
Wichita DSA may be dissolved as an entity either by the National or by a two-thirds (⅔) vote of the Members of Wichita DSA at a legally called membership meeting. If there is not enough participation to gain a quorum (Bylaws Item 1, Section 6) at three successive membership meetings, the Steering Committee may, at their discretion, dissolve the organization by a majority vote at a legally called Steering Committee meeting. At dissolution, any assets of the organization will revert to the DSA.
Item I MEETINGS OF Wichita DSA
Section 1 Annual Member Convention
Wichita DSA shall hold a Convention/Meeting for all Members annually in the month of April.
This meeting shall elect officers and may set program priorities through motions and resolutions for the coming Fiscal Year. Amendments to these Bylaws may be considered at the Annual Convention.
Section 2 Notice requirement for Annual Member Convention
Notice of the meeting and a draft agenda shall be delivered either by mail or electronically or
both to all members no more than seventeen (17) and no fewer than ten (10) days before the
meeting. All members for whom a mailing address is available shall receive the mailed notice,
and members who “opt in” for email will receive email notice. The Social Secretary is
responsible for this notice, and also for posting notice on Social Media as described in Item V
Section 3 Regular Membership Meetings
Wichita DSA shall hold at least three additional membership meetings, the time and place of which shall be determined by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee shall set the agenda for the membership meeting, based on input from the members if any. Amendments to these bylaws may be considered at a Membership Meeting.
Section 4 Notice Requirement for Regular Membership Meetings
Notice of each meeting and a draft agenda shall be delivered, either by mail or electronically or
both, to all members no more than seventeen (17) and no fewer than five (5) days before the
meeting. All members will receive such notice by electronic mail by default, unless the Social
Secretary receives either an in-writing (either via paper, mail, or electronically) request for such
notices by United States Postal Service mail OR the Social Secretary does not have any
electronic mail address on file for the member. The Social Secretary is responsible for this
notice, and also for posting the notice on the Official Wichita DSA Website (ictdsa.org) and on
Social Media as described in Item V below.
Section 5 Emergency Meetings
The Steering Committee may call emergency meetings of the membership with five days’ notice
in cases of extreme urgency. Except for the shorter notice, these meetings will be called and
conducted in the same way as regular meetings.
Section 6 Quorum
For any membership meeting, including the annual convention, a quorum is constituted by 10%
of the number of members on the membership list maintained by the Social Secretary. DSA at-
large members in Kansas shall not be counted for purposes of determining a quorum or if a
quorum exists unless they have asked to be put on the Wichita DSA member list. The Social Secretary shall compute the number that constitutes a quorum before the meeting. The
calculation will be rounded UP to the next whole number. If any non-member chooses to join
DSA at the meeting, the Social Secretary will calculate if the new member affects the quorum
number. Before the first vote of any meeting can be taken, the Social Secretary must declare
whether or not a quorum exists.
Section 7 Program Meetings
Wichita DSA will hold at least four (4) program meetings annually. These will be in addition to
membership meetings, and business will not be conducted at these meetings. Program
meetings can be simple social gatherings, public forums, strategy meetings for the purposes of
advocacy actions, teach-ins, book clubs, or movie viewings for the purpose of political
education, or any other type of program the members want. Program meetings can be hosted
by Committees, Branches, or Working Groups, by allied external groups, by Members, or by the Political Education Coordinator. In the absence of anyone else wishing to host a viable program meeting, it shall be the responsibility of the Political Education Coordinator to plan, schedule and host them. Notice requirement is not as stringent for program meetings, but hosts and planners should coordinate with the Social Secretary to maximize participation.
Item II OFFICERS OF Wichita DSA
Section 1 Definition
The officers of the Wichita DSA shall consist of two (2) Co-chairs, designated Chair 1 and Chair 2, a Recording Secretary, a Social Secretary, an Activities Coordinator, and a Political Education Coordinator. The Co-chair positions have specific gender requirements. For the officers’ slate as a whole, the members of Wichita DSA are encouraged to strive for balance in race, class, sexual orientation and other factors relating to relative power in the community at large. Members nominated for officer positions shall self-identify as they see fit.
Section 2 Co-chairs
The Co-Chairs are the chief executive officers of Wichita DSA, and will ensure that all orders and resolutions of the members and the Steering Committee are carried out. The Co-Chairs will preside at all meetings of the Steering Committee and will sign or countersign all certificates, contracts or other instruments of Wichita DSA except where otherwise designated in these bylaws. The Co-Chairs will perform such other duties as are incident to the office required of them by the Steering Committee.
The Co-Chairs will also act as, or appoint, the official representatives of Wichita DSA to the National Organization, national working groups, and to other DSA Locals. This does not apply during official business at the National DSA Convention, when Local Delegates may act independently on behalf of the Local's membership.
Chair 1 will be elected in the odd years, so the first Chair 1 will serve one year only. Chair 2 and all future Chair 1s will serve two-year staggered terms. Chair 2 will be elected in the even years.
At no time can the two Co-chairs be people who identify as the same gender.
If the number of dues-paying members as of the date of the election drops below 50, clause D will not apply.
Section 3 Recording Secretary
The Recording Secretary is responsible for the agendas and minutes of all membership (business) meetings and all Steering Committee meetings. The recording secretary will build the proposed agenda based on business from the previous meeting and consultation with the other officers. They will take notes at all meetings of the membership or the Steering committee and present minutes at the next meeting for approval.
The Recording Secretary will also keep an archive, either on paper or preferably electronically, of all previous meeting agendas and minutes, for at least two (2) years. Minutes of all membership and Steering Committee meetings will be shared electronically with the Steering Committee as soon as possible after the meeting. Members may have access to the archive of minutes upon request. If a division or a paper ballot is needed at any meeting, the recording secretary will carry this out, delegating the count to volunteer tellers if desired.
The Recording Secretary is responsible for the income, expenses, and budget of the Wichita DSA. The Recording Secretary will receive any money donated to the Wichita DSA (but not member dues owed to the National, which will be received by the Social Secretary if paid at a meeting) and will account for all received money. Wichita DSA will maintain a checking account at a credit union and the signatories will be the Recording Secretary and at least one Co-chair. If Wichita DSA engages in any business causing taxes, rents, or fees to be due, the Recording Secretary will be responsible for paying these. If Wichita DSA engages in any electoral activity, the Recording Secretary will be responsible for any campaign reporting that becomes needed.
Section 4 Social Secretary
The Social Secretary is responsible for the membership lists, KS DSA member at-large lists, contact lists, and all social media and email accounts owned by Wichita DSA. (note: Except for matters of public record, these lists are confidential.) The social secretary, with volunteer help if desired, sends required notice for membership meetings, calculates the quorum number, registers attendees, and determines if there is a quorum. The social secretary will always have membership materials, including means of payment, available at membership meetings so that non-members may join. If a division or paper ballot is needed, the social secretary will assist the recording secretary by determining eligibility of all who vote.
Section 5 Political Education Coordinator
The Political Education Coordinator shall be responsible for prioritizing, planning, and follow-through on all chosen programs of political education for Wichita DSA. The Political Education Coordinator will be responsible for insuring that four (4) or more program meetings as called for in Item I Section 7 are held each year.
The Political Education Coordinator will be the head of the Education Committee.
Section 6 Activities Coordinator
The Activities Coordinator shall be responsible for prioritizing, planning, and follow-through on all chosen programs and events for Wichita DSA. The Activities Coordinator will be, along with the Co-chairs, the liaison with any external groups that Wichita DSA shall choose to affiliate with, assist or collaborate with.
The Activities Coordinator will be responsible for notifying members and the public (where applicable) regarding Wichita DSA meetings and events via email, social media, and the website calendar.
The Activities Coordinator will be the head of the Events Committee.
Section 7 Nominations
In the month before the Annual Meeting, the Steering Committee shall appoint a Nominations Coordinator. Members may nominate other members or themselves using a nominations form to be provided by the Steering Committee along with the Call for the Annual Meeting and submitted to the Nominations Coordinator via paper form or email as well as any additional methods allowed by the coordinator. At the Annual Meeting, only candidates nominated via the form may be considered. If any candidate is unopposed for an office, that candidate may be elected by acclamation. Otherwise, voting shall occur by voice or ballot at the Annual Meeting, and the candidate with a plurality of votes shall be elected.
Section 8 Terms of Office
The terms of office for officers will be one (1) year, with the exception of co-chairs who serve two (2) year terms, and will run from May 1 to April 30 of each year. Officers may serve up to six (6) consecutive years in the same position, but then must stand down, although they may run for a different position.
Item III STEERING COMMITTEE
Section 1 Composition
The Steering Committee shall consist of the six (6) officers defined in Item II above, plus the elected representatives of any Branches or Working Groups formed as part of Wichita DSA.
Section 2 Functions, Powers, Duties
The Steering Committee, in addition to the individual responsibilities of the officers, oversees the functioning of Wichita DSA in line with its stated purpose, including implementing decisions made at membership meetings, proposing policies and actions to the membership for consideration, receiving reports from committees, branches and working groups, advising committees, branches and working groups on policy, and calling emergency membership meetings when deemed necessary. All actions of the Steering Committee must be disclosed to the members at the next membership meeting, and are subject to ratification or amendment by members, if any members should make a motion to do so.
Section 3 Meetings of the Steering Committee
The Steering Committee shall meet at least monthly. Each fiscal year, the co-chairs and the social secretary shall publish, both by mailed document if requested and electronically, a calendar of the year’s Steering Committee meetings. All members of the Steering Committee must be given written or electronic or verbal notice of any meeting date or time or venue change, and of any additional meetings not on the calendar, at least seven (7) days before the meeting. Meetings of the Steering Committee will be open to members who are not officers, but they can speak only at the discretion of the chair, and are not entitled to notice of the meetings.
Section 4 Quorum
Attendance of 50% of the Steering Committee members comprises a quorum and is needed to do business. If the Steering Committee holds an odd number of members, the number will be rounded UP for calculating a quorum.
Section 5 Vacancies
a. If a member of the Steering Committee misses three (3) consecutive meetings, the Steering Committee will cause notice to be sent to that member, either by mail or electronically, that the Steering Committee intends to declare their position vacant and replace them. The notice must include the date, time and place of the Steering Committee meeting at which the committee will vote on declaring the position vacant. If the member attends that meeting and expresses a desire to remain in the position, no vote will be taken and no vacancy will exist. But if the person does not attend that meeting, a vote will be taken and if the vote passes, a vacancy exists.
Vacancies may be created if an officer or branch or working group representative loses status as a Member, or resigns from the office, or is removed by the rule in Sec. 5a.
If the vacancy created is of an officer, the co-chairs may at their discretion appoint an acting successor, and then a special election will be held at the next usual membership meeting, or a special membership meeting may be called to elect someone to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy is a branch or working group representative, it will be up to the branch or working group to replace them as soon as they can, by whatever democratic means they choose.
Item IV DELEGATES TO DSA NATIONAL CONVENTIONS
Section 1 Nomination and Election of Delegates
Wichita DSA shall hold an election for delegates to each National Convention called by DSA. If a Youth Section exists within the territory of Wichita DSA, the Youth Section will also elect delegates to any YDS Conventions. Nominations will be made in the same manner as nominations for officers. Voting will take place at a Regular Membership meeting. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
Item V BRANCHES, COMMITTEES, AND WORKING GROUPS
Section 1 Definitions; How Formed
A branch or committee may be created by any group of at least five (5) Members who have something in common and wish to form a branch or working group. The group can choose whether it wants to be called a branch or a committee. Branches and committees can be based on geographic area (including a political unit), a common identity, a common interest, or a common institution (such as a labor union or advocacy group or even a political party.)
Working Groups may be formed by the Steering Committee or it may be formed by any group of at least three (3) Members in order to work in an area of responsibility together.
Section 2 Branches and Committees; Structures; Rules; Dissolution
Branches and committees shall be primarily autonomous, as long as they act in conformance with the DSA Constitution and Bylaws and these Bylaws. Branches and committees do not have separate treasuries or funds, but instead must have an accounting line in the Wichita DSA treasury and budget. All officers and leaders of the branches and committees must be elected democratically, including the representative on the Steering Committee. If a branch or committee ceases to meet or act for a period of six (6) months, or if it has been acting in a way to bring disrepute or harm to Wichita DSA or the National DSA, the Steering Committee may vote in a Steering Committee meeting to dissolve said branch or committee. The representatives of the branch or committee must be notified at least seven (7) days before this meeting in the usual manner, and they may attend the meeting to defend against dissolution. Once a branch or committee is dissolved, it may appeal the dissolution at the next membership meeting. After final dissolution of a branch or committee, any property and records must be turned over to the Wichita DSA Steering Committee.
Section 3 Working Groups
Working Groups exist for the purpose of accomplishing work on a project or action. The length of time the working group exists may be determined by its need; it is possible for a working group to be ongoing, or purely ad hoc. At their discretion, the Steering Committee may appoint a working group representative to the Steering Committee. Working Groups shall report on their activities to the Steering Committee on a time basis to be determined by the Steering Committee, which will in turn report working group actions to the membership at membership meetings or by other means.
Item VI SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE ASSETS
Section 1 Definitions and Purpose
Social media is defined as all current platforms on the internet that allow for exchange of information between registered “accounts.” Online assets refers to organizational email accounts, websites, and opt-in mass email platforms, and other similar tools for using the internet, whether paid-for or free, that the Wichita DSA may “own.” Social media accounts and online assets such as websites and opt-in email newsletters allow Wichita DSA and other organizations to communicate with their members in new and often better ways than the traditional methods of postcards, flyers, and phone trees. Wichita DSA embraces the use of new media to further its organizing and advocacy.
Section 2 Ownership and Control
Social media accounts and online assets set up in the name of Wichita DSA are the virtual property of Wichita DSA and as such, the content of these assets will be under the control of the Wichita DSA Steering Committee or its delegates. The co-chairs, the recording secretary, the social secretary and at least one other officer will hold the keys and passwords to all social media and online assets as a security measure.
Membership or association with Wichita DSA does not confer on any individual member the right to control or dictate or censor online content. Officers of Wichita DSA will self-educate about libel laws, best practices, security, and privacy considerations in order to responsibly control online content.
Section 3 Adjunctive to Legal Notice Requirements
Use of social media accounts and online assets are not a replacement for legal notice requirements as set out in these bylaws. The Social Secretary or the Activities Coordinator, on behalf of the Steering Committee, shall use social media accounts and online assets to publicize membership meetings, program meetings, actions, and events of Wichita DSA.
Item VII AMENDMENTS TO BYLAWS
Section 1 Amendments
These bylaws may be amended by the membership at any legally held membership meeting, including the annual convention. The amendment may be brought to the meeting in one of two ways:
The Steering Committee may propose the amendment, to be voted up or down at the next membership meeting. The text of the amendment and the intent to vote on it will form part of the notice requirement for the meeting.
A Member may move to amend the constitution or bylaws at a membership meeting, in which case it will be voted on in the next membership meeting. It may be discussed and debated in the meeting where proposed, at the discretion of the chair. Again, the text of the amendment and intent to vote on it will be included in the notice for the next meeting.
Section 2 Super-Majority Rule for Passing Amendments
A two-thirds (2⁄3) super-majority vote of the members present, assuming a quorum exists, is required for the amendment to pass. The membership will be notified of the amendment and a new copy of the Constitution and Bylaws posted whenever an amendment is made.
Item VIII MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Section 1 Rules; Construction of Language
In any business meeting conducted by Wichita DSA, where neither these bylaws nor the DSA National bylaws dictate parliamentary procedure, Robert’s Rules of Order (most current edition) will be the prevailing rules of procedure.
Members are expected to familiarize themselves with these rules. If there is any conflict
between these bylaws and Kansas state law governing nonprofit organizations, the state law
Section 2 Fiscal Year Accounting
The fiscal year for Wichita DSA will run from May 1 to April 30. In producing financial reports and budgets, Wichita DSA will use accounting principles generally accepted for small nonprofit organizations.
Section 3 External Relationships
Wichita DSA will work in community with organizations that share, at least in part, our vision and principles. This can include socialist or communist organizations under the discipline of democratic centralism, or liberal advocacy organizations that we may disagree with on other issues. Such associations must be understood to be free and mutual on both sides and not to create any obligations or restrictions.
Section 4 Prohibited Activity
Wichita DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Kansas. Nor shall Wichita DSA engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
Section 5 Accessibility and Class Consciousness
Wichita DSA shall strive to make all of its meetings, forums, and actions accessible and safe spaces for all. This consideration will extend to such things as the accessibility and safety of the venue, the type of food offered, accommodations for differences in sight, hearing, mobility and stamina, child care offerings, the avoidance of high cost venues that will essentially exclude some members, and religious and other identity considerations. Socialism is historically built on class consciousness, specifically on lifting up the working class. Wichita DSA will take care not to subtly exclude or censor working class viewpoints or viewpoints of any traditionally disempowered group.
Section 6 Conflicts of Interest
If any action taken by the Steering Committee or Wichita DSA under the governance of the Steering Committee may potentially benefit materially a member of the Steering Committee, that member is said to have a conflict of interest, and will recuse themselves from voting on that action.
Section 7 Arbitration or Mediation
If a conflict should arise within Wichita DSA between any member or entity and another member or entity that threatens to harm Wichita DSA or prevent it from accomplishing its aims, the Steering Committee is empowered to first attempt mediation between the parties. If the Steering Committee itself is one of the entities involved, or if it fails to mediate the conflict, it shall seek the services of an independent mediator to resolve the conflict.
Section 8 Ratification of this Constitution and these Bylaws
This Constitution and these Bylaws shall be submitted to the membership for ratification at the Annual Membership Convention of Wichita DSA to be held in April, 2018.
List of counties in the KS-04 Congressional District:
Pawnee County (partial)