The Manchester Debating Union Constitution

Last updated at the 2021 Annual General Meeting.

Scope of the constitution

The constitution defines the aims and decision-making processes of the society. It also sets out the rules governing the election of committee members and describes the minimum composition of the committee. Any interpretation of the constitution shall be consistent with the Mission Statement of the MDU.

Mission Statement

The MDU is a place where all the students of Manchester are welcome to engage in free speech, debate and merriment. We aim to produce competitive debaters of high calibre while ensuring that membership of the society is a pleasurable experience for all. We also aim to be a positive non-politically affiliated force within Manchester, fostering partnerships with both the university as a whole and the wider community.

1. The Committee

1.1 The purpose of the committee is to further the mission of the MDU.

1.2 The minimum composition of the committee consists of a Chair/President, Secretary, Treasurer who shall be elected (2) for 1-year terms. This will be known as the Executive. No person may hold more than one Executive position at any one time; and only one person may hold an Executive position at a time.

1.3 The elected member of the committee may only be dismissed by a motion of no confidence passed by either 2/3 of the committee or 2/3 of the membership at a meeting attended by at least 30 members of the MDU.

1.4 The elected committee members may appoint or dismiss extra committee members as they see fit by a simple majority of the elected committee members with the chairman having the deciding vote. A non-elected committee position may be filled by more than one person, e.g. two social secretaries.

1.5 Any proposal, which is approved by a simple majority of the committee, becomes the policy of the MDU. In the case of a tie the Chair/President shall have the casting vote. In the case of a position filled by more than one person, the position receives one vote, split between the people filling it; all people in the position must be in agreement, or else their vote is counted as an abstention.

1.6 The committee should maintain a role analysis detailing the key responsibilities of all committee members, which shall be a separate document to the constitution.

1.7 Committee meetings shall be held, as far as is possible, separate from general meetings to maximise committee interaction with the wider society.

2. Elections

2.1 Before the terms of the Committee expire there will be a general election for the positions detailed in 1.2. at a public meeting. The Chair/President will preside over the election, unless standing for election or unavailable; in this case, the first person available and not standing for election in the following order: President, Treasurer, Secretary, Committee member selected by the Executive, member selected by the Executive, will preside over the election. A member of the society, not currently on the Committee, will act as returning officer. The positions will be elected in the following order: Chair/President, Treasurer, Secretary. Members successfully elected to positions become the Executive Elect and appoint non-Executive Committee members elect in the manner described in 1.4. The current Committee must resign by the end of the academic year.

2.2 Should an elected position (1.2) become vacant for any reason a by-election shall be held under the same conditions.

2.3 All elections in the MDU are by secret ballot, first past the post with the chairman wielding a casting vote in the case of a tie.

2.4 All members of the MDU in attendance are allocated one vote. No other persons shall be entitled to a vote.

2.5 Notice of elections shall be given to all members of the MDU three weeks in advance of elections. Nominations shall be received by the Chair/President from that date until the election.

2.6 Qualifications for elected positions

2.6.1 Any candidate must be present at the election, a member of the MDU and a student at any of the Manchester-based Universities.

2.6.2 Any candidate for the position of Chair/President must have attended and debated at two IVs.

2.6.3 Any candidate for the position of Chair/President must previously had a role on the Committee.