PHSA Constitution


With the firm belief that student participation in the University of Michigan School of Public Health is important in improving the quality of student life and representing students in decision making processes, the students of the University of Michigan School of Public Health hereby create this Constitution which shall be the bylaws of the Public Health Student Assembly of the University of Michigan.

Article I - Assembly Foundation

  1. Source of Power. All power under this Constitution is derived directly from the students encompassing the School of Public Health (SPH).
  2. Public Health Student Assembly. The Public Health Student Assembly (hereinafter referred to as "PHSA") shall consist of the Executive Board, the Departmental Board, the Committee Chairs and the General Assembly. The Executive Board, Departmental Board, and Committee Chairs shall together be referred to as the PHSA Senate. PHSA shall operate as the central student government and the representative and coordinating organization of the students of the University of Michigan SPH.
  3. Affiliation. PHSA is affiliated with the SPH at large, the Office for Student Engagement and Practice, and any student organization within the SPH.

Article II - Mission and Vision

  1. Mission. PHSA fosters interdepartmental collaboration by engaging School of Public Health students in initiatives that inspire excellence in service, diversity, and community. PHSA represents student interests, needs, and welfare in order to affect positive change and build upon the University of Michigan's tradition as the "Leaders & Best."
  2. Vision. PHSA will contribute to students' personal and professional growth, enhance the student life experience, and cultivate community across academic disciplines and interests.
  3. Equal Opportunity Policy. PHSA is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in its membership or activities unless permitted by university policy for gender specific organizations.

Article III - Assembly Powers and Functions

  1. Policy. To propose and implement rules derived from the attitudes, suggestions, and concerns of students within the SPH.
  2. Dean's Fund. To administer the process of awarding financial resources from the Dean's Fund to student organizations, via senate vote, in support of those organizations' respective activities within the SPH.
  3. Lobbying. To lobby for the interests of SPH students within the school, campus, and other venues.
  4. Recognition, Coordination, and Calendaring. To support the student organizations within the SPH by helping to coordinate activities of these organizations and to calendar student sponsored events.
  5. Appointments. To serve as the appointing body for members of PHSA committees, such as Service and Social Committee, and the selection of student representatives to special committees as needed. The PHSA Senate has the right to remove delegates if they do not fulfill their required duties. Removal of a delegate must be voted upon by all members of the Senate and must be passed with a two-thirds majority.
  6. Service, Professional Development and Social Events. To organize school-wide opportunities to participate in service events, social activities, and professional development.

Article IV - Membership

Every graduate student enrolled within the SPH is a member of the PHSA. Dues to Public Health Student Assembly are included within the tuition of each student within SPH. Members may attend general assembly meetings as desired. Upon joining the organization, all members agree not to undermine the purpose or mission of PHSA. Students, as members of the General Assembly, are not removed from PHSA unless they graduate or leave the SPH for other reasons.


  1. Positions. The PHSA Senate elections will be held to appoint positions within the Executive Board and the Departmental Board, as well as the Committee Chairs. The President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary will make up the Executive Board. Representatives from Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Behavior and Health Education, Health Management and Policy, Environmental Health Sciences, Health Informatics, Nutrition, the Doctoral Program, as well as an International Representative, Diversity Chair, American Public Health Association (APHA) Representative, and First-Year Representative make up the Departmental Board. The Social Chair and Service Chair make up the permanent Committee Chairs. The entire student body will vote for the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Service Chair, Social Chair, APHA Representative, Diversity Chair, and International Representative. Each department representative will be elected and voted on by graduate students enrolled in that specific department. The Doctoral Representative will be elected and voted on by doctoral students. The First-Year Representative will be elected and voted on by first-year students.
  2. Eligibility. Any graduate student in good academic standing (as determined by the registrar) and enrolled full-time in the SPH may run for election to the PHSA Senate.
  3. Administration. The Executive and Departmental Boards of PHSA Senate will coordinate and administer the PHSA Senate elections during the Winter term. The collective shall also be responsible for creating and disseminating information regarding candidacy for PHSA Senate to the General Assembly and for creating an electronic ballot.
  4. Nominations. Any eligible student within the SPH can nominate individuals from any department for any Senate position; however, departmental representative nominees must be students from within their respective departments, Doctoral Program Representative nominees must be in a doctoral program, and First-Year Representative nominees must be incoming students. Individuals are permitted to nominate themselves. Nominations for the Fall term election shall be submitted by the Friday of the third full week of class during fall semester or shall be considered invalid unless the nomination period is extended by a majority vote by the Senate. Nominations for the Winter term election shall be considered during the Winter term as determined by the existing Senate.
  5. Election Date. Elections for the Executive Board, Department Representatives, Diversity Chair, APHA Representative, and International Representative shall be open to the entire SPH student body and shall be held in the month of March and positions elected by March 31st. Elections for the First-Year Representative, Community Service Chair, Social Chair, and Doctoral Program Representative shall be held in the month of September and positions elected by September 30th. A schoolwide email shall be sent by the Executive Board to the General Assembly and shall contain links to candidate information and to an electronic ballot. The existing Executive Board as well as the Office of Student Engagement and Practice shall oversee the election.
  6. Candidates-Elect. Candidates winning a majority vote shall be appointed to Senate positions. If there is no winner of the majority vote, then the two candidates with the majority vote will have a run off in order to determine the winner. Once elected, the Senate member will serve a term equivalent to one academic year (September to April). Members of the PHSA Senate may hold only one position per academic year.
  7. Resignation or Removal of President. In the event the PHSA President resigns his or her office or is removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the PHSA Senate, the Vice President shall assume the office of President, the Secretary shall replace the Vice President and the position of Secretary shall be offered to a member of the Senate via an internal vote. At the end of the academic year, the interim President shall step down.
  8. Resignation or Removal of Vice President. In the event the PHSA Vice President resigns his or her office or is removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the PHSA Senate, the Secretary will replace the Vice President and an internal vote will be held to designate a member of the Senate as Secretary.
  9. Resignation or Removal from Other Offices. In the event any PHSA Senate member other than the President or Vice President resigns his or her office or is removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the PHSA Senate, the runner-up for that position from the Fall election shall be offered the position. If that individual declines, a special election shall be held to elect a replacement or the position shall remain vacant as determined by the Senate. If applicable, only the members of that representative's department shall be permitted to vote in the special election.

Article V - Internal Structure of PHSA Senate

1. Executive Board: Powers and Functions

  • President. The President shall be the chief executive officer of the PHSA, and shall preside at General Assembly meetings with the power to vote. The President will serve as the presiding officer of the Executive Board. The President has the ability to call for a special meeting of the PHSA Senate. He or she is also responsible for distributing information to the General Assembly regarding the activities of the SPH and shall coordinate PHSA activities. The President shall serve as the representative for PHSA in any or all SPH activities and is responsible for delegating representation. The President or Vice President must second any motion for removal of a PHSA Senate member from office.
  • Vice President. The Vice President shall be the chief operations officer and coordinate administrative functions of PHSA and shall serve as the presiding officer of the Departmental Board. The Vice President shall prepare the agenda for each General Assembly meeting and the Senate meetings, including all motions presented by General Assembly members and constituents for consideration. In the event of a tied vote, the Vice President's vote shall be considered the tie-breaking vote, except as outlined in Article V, Section A, Part 3, below. The Vice President shall preside over any outside guests who would like an opportunity to speak at the Senate meeting. The President or Vice President must second any motion for removal of a PHSA Senate member from office.
  • Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be the chief financial officer and develop annual budgets. The Treasurer shall generate and maintain records of all financial activity including fundraising, bookkeeping and disbursement, as well as submit periodic budget reports. The Treasurer bears ultimate responsibility for administration of the Dean's Fund, including the review of requests and the dispersal of funds. The Treasurer and First-Year Representatives shall coordinate fundraising events throughout the academic year. All financial records of the PHSA shall be open to public inspection. In the event of a tied vote regarding the distribution of PHSA funds, the Treasurer's vote shall be considered the tie-breaking vote.
  • Secretary. The Secretary shall maintain all records of PHSA and be responsible for the appropriate documentation of meetings. He or she is responsible for calendaring events and organizing meetings, as well as working with the Executive Board to set board meeting agendas. The Secretary is responsible for maintaining the PHSA website. This person is also responsible for creating any special communications materials such as table tents and flyers to promote PHSA-sponsored events.

2. Departmental Board

  • Departmental Chairs, First-Year Representative, Doctoral Program Representative, Undergraduate Representative Diversity Chair, and International Representative. The Departmental Board consists of eleven members: seven Department Chairs representing each of the seven departments within the SPH, one member representing doctoral students, one member representing undergraduate public health students, one member representing international students, one member representing students from minority groups, and one member representing first-year students. All members of the Departmental Board are voting members and responsible for being an intermediate between students from their departments or student subset they represent and the PHSA Senate. They are responsible for voicing relevant concerns or ideas from their department or student subset to the PHSA Senate, and are also required to disseminate relevant information from the PHSA Senate to their department or student subset. All members of the Departmental Board, along with the rest of the PHSA Senate, are expected to support and assist other PHSA Senate members in the coordination of PHSA events. In addition, each Departmental Board member is responsible for coordinating at least one PHSA event.
  • Additional Responsibilities for First-Year Representative. The First-Year Representative will be a voting member and a liaison between the first-year students and PHSA, as well as advocate for the needs of the first-year class. The First-Year Representative will have a large role in planning and coordinating fundraising opportunities for PHSA. The funds raised through these events shall go towards schoolwide events for the purpose of creating a better experience or environment for SPH students.
  • Additional Responsibilities for International Representative. The International Representative will be a voting member and the voice of the international community at the SPH. The role includes but is not limited to: serving as a liaison between international students and the student government; promoting and executing events pertaining to greater cultural awareness, diversity issues, professional development, career guidance, counseling; and supporting international students towards reaching academic, personal, and professional goals. The representative will also support the PHSA Senate and can serve on other committees to promote activities specifically endorsed by the PHSA. S/he will also be expected to coordinate with existing international student organizations to ensure that PHSA is meeting the needs of the international student population at SPH.
  • Additional Responsibilities for APHA Representative. The APHA Representative will be a voting member. They will disseminate knowledge about APHA events and happenings to the student body. They will coordinate SPH events or activities to further the reach of APHA and related professional development opportunities. They will also share information with representatives from other schools of public health. The membership fee associated with this position will be subsidized by PHSA.
  • Additional Responsibilities for Diversity Chair. The Diversity Chair will be a voting member and a voice for minority students at the SPH. They will serve as a liaison between minority students and the student government and be responsible for promoting and executing events focused on promoting diversity and addressing the needs of minority students in the SPH. The representative will also support the activities of the PHSA Senate by serving on pertinent committees within SPH, coordinating with existing student organizations that serve minority students, and partnering with the Office of Student Engagement and Practice on events intended to foster diversity.

3. Permanent Committee Chairs

  • Service Chair. The Service Chair heads the Service Committee. He or she is responsible for organizing and developing opportunities for the SPH student body to serve the community.
  • Social Chair. The Social Chair heads the Social Committee. He or she is responsible for organizing and creating social events for the entire student body for the purpose of creating a sense of community among students.

4. Committees

  • Creation of Committees. The Senate will determine the creation of committees. Once a proposal for a committee has been received, the Senate will discuss the merits of the said committee and vote on its implementation. Once created, at least one member of the PHSA Senate should be staffed on each committee.
  • Permanent Committees. The two permanent committees of PHSA are the Service and Social Committees. The Service and Social Committees are to be overseen by their respective elected chairs.

Article VI - Motions

A. Presentation of Opinions, Item, Etc.

Any individual associated with the SPH wishing to bring a topic into discussion, must first contact the Senate through email or by presenting at a Senate meeting. Once an item has been placed on the agenda, the Senate will discuss possible actions in addressing the opinion. From this point, any member of the Senate, with the exception of the President, will make a motion resulting in the following options:

  1. Direct Action. A motion can be made by the Senate to take a direct action resulting in a specific decision.
  2. Deferral. A motion can be made to postpone decision and action on an opinion until further information is available.
  3. Referral. A motion is delineated to either the General Assembly or a second party.

B. Voting on Motions

  1. Second. Once a decision on a motion has been offered, another member of the Senate, with the exception of the President, must second the motion. If the motion is not seconded, the motion will be dropped. Exceptions to this are outlined below in Article V, Sections C and D.
  2. Voting.
    1. Direct and Deferral Motions Voting should be conducted through roll call of the Senate, and each member will answer 'Yea' or 'Nay'. In order for a motion to pass, a majority must approve the motion.
    2. Referral Motions. A ballot vote will be distributed amongst the General Assembly, or the second party, and voted on. If a two-thirds majority exists the motion is passed.
    3. Quorum. At least two members of the Executive Board and a total of eight Senate members must be present to vote on any motion.
    4. Secret Ballot. Any member of the Senate may move to vote on any issue by secret ballot. The motion must be seconded by any other member of the Senate in order for the vote to proceed. If seconded, the vote shall be made via secret ballot, to be tallied by the Secretary.
  3. Conflicts of Interest. If a member of the Senate believes there is a conflict of interest, those persons involved must refrain from voting.

C. Motions for Removal from Office

Any PHSA member may move for the removal of another PHSA Senate member from office. However, this motion must be seconded by a member of the PHSA Senate and must be tabled and discussed at the following meeting. All members of the PHSA General Assembly are permitted to participate in the discussion. Motions for removal must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the PHSA Senate.

D. Motions to Amend the Constitution

Any PHSA member may move to amend the PHSA Constitution, but this motion must pass a two-thirds majority of the PHSA Senate in order for the amendment to be added.

E. Unconstitutional Actions

Any member of the PHSA Senate or General Assembly may submit a written letter of protest to the PHSA President in the event that the member feels an action taken by PHSA Senate is unconstitutional. In such a circumstance, each member of the PHSA General Assembly shall have the opportunity to submit one vote as to whether said action was or was not unconstitutional. If a majority agrees that the action was unconstitutional, that action shall be rescinded by PHSA.

Article VII - Meetings and Assemblies

A. Meetings

  1. Motion to Meet. Each Senate meeting must be called into session with the passing of a motion to meet. Once a member, with the exception of the President, calls a motion to meet, and said motion is seconded, the meeting can proceed.
  2. Motion to Dismiss. Each Senate meeting must be called to an end with the passing of a motion to dismiss. Once a member, with the exception of the President, calls a motion to dismiss, and said motion is seconded, the meeting can end.
  3. Agenda. The President will set the agenda for each Senate meeting. Senate members may add items to the agenda by a specified time before the meeting.
  4. Presiding at Meetings. The President will be in charge of presiding over the meeting.
  5. Open Session of Meetings. Students, organizations, faculty, and other persons connected with the school can ask for an invitation to meet with the Senate. The total time allotted for each invitation will be at the discretion of the Senate.
  6. Setting of Dates. Meetings will be held at the discretion of the current Senate, having previously been held weekly, and scheduling of meeting times will be determined at the first gathering of each term by the entire PHSA Senate. Meeting times and days shall be set such that all members are aware of their responsibility to attend.
  7. Special Sessions. Only the President may call a special session of the PHSA Senate. However, absences from a special session shall not count toward a PHSA Senate member's unexcused absences.

B. Assembly

  1. Appointment. The Senate will set the General Assembly meeting times. The Secretary is responsible for inviting individuals to attend the assemblies. The PHSA Senate shall hold at least one General Assembly meeting in the Fall semester and at least one in the Winter semester. General Assembly meetings shall be held before the beginning of the eighth week of each semester.
  2. Agenda. The President will set the agenda for each General Assembly meeting.
  3. Preside. The President will be in charge of presiding over the General Assembly.
  4. Open Session of Assembly. Students, organizations, faculty, and other persons can bring a topic into discussion at the end of each General Assembly meeting. Each group will have five minutes to present at the meeting.

C. Attendance

  1. Excused Absences. Excused absences include all instances of meeting nonattendance approved in advance by the Executive Board.
  2. Unexcused Absences. All instances of nonattendance, that do no fall under excused absences, shall be considered unexcused and subject to disciplinary actions. Only two unexcused absences will be permitted for the year.
  3. Disciplinary Actions. If a Senate member accrues two unexcused absences within an academic year, the Executive Board will meet with the individual to review the attendance policy and discuss issues relating to absences. If a third unexcused absence occurs, the Senate member will be given the option to resign from his/her position or have the Senate vote to determine whether the individual shall remain on the Senate or be replaced. A two-thirds majority vote is required in order to remove a PHSA Senate member from his or her office. If the individual resigns or the Senate votes in favor of the individual's removal, the proper process shall be followed as outlined above in Article IV, Sections G, H, and I.

Article VIII - Ratification

This constitution must be ratified by two-thirds of all active members to take effect and shall be reviewed every three years.

Ratified: July 25, 2017


Amendment I: Policy on Dean's Fund for Public Health Student Organizations

A. Request Submission

Student organizations wishing to request monetary assistance from the Dean's Fund for Student Organizations must complete and submit the following items for consideration:

  1. Student Organization Funding Request Form
  2. Itemized event/activity budget of anticipated expenditures
  3. Itemized contributions from other funding sources

B. Decisions Process

Requests may not exceed $250 per semester per organization. Upon receipt of a request, the treasurer will forward these materials to the full PHSA Senate for review. Approval of the request requires affirmative votes from at least eight full Senate members, including at least two members of the Executive Board.

C. Deadlines

Dean's Fund requests will be reviewed on a rolling basis in the order they were received. The initial request must be submitted to the PHSA Treasurer prior to the event taking place. Dean's Fund requests must be submitted by Friday at 5 P.M. prior to the last full week of classes. Requests received after this deadline will not be eligible for consideration.

D. Timeliness

PHSA will work to ensure the timely processing of all funding request decisions. However, the SPH finance office, which is ultimately responsible for transferring funds directly to a student organization's account, requests at least 2 weeks of processing time. Accordingly, PHSA strongly recommends that all funding requests be submitted as early as possible in order for organizations to receive funds prior to when they are needed.

E. Funding Criteria

The Dean's Fund is intended to support special events and activities that promote collaboration, networking, and scholarship across all departments and individuals within the SPH. The following guidelines will be used in evaluating requests:

  1. Open to all. The event or activity shall be open and advertised to all students, faculty, and administration within the school. The event shall allow the participation of at least 50 attendees. Enrollment for any event shall open to all students and faculty of the SPH simultaneously. No pre-enrollment by members of a student organization is permitted.
  2. Promote Mission. The event or activity should promote the mission of the organization, and more broadly, the mission of the school itself:
    "The University of Michigan School of Public Health seeks to create and disseminate knowledge with the aim of preventing disease and promoting the health of populations worldwide. We are especially concerned with health equity and thus have a special focus on disadvantaged populations who suffer disproportionately from illness and disability. We serve as a diverse and inclusive crossroads of knowledge and practice, with the goal of solving current and future public health problems."
  3. Outside of Normal Operations. The event or activity should not be a part of normal operations and regular meetings of a student organization.
  4. Multiple Funding Sources. Student organizations are encouraged and expected to seek out multiple funding sources, including individual fundraising. However, in the instance where an individual such as a speaker has donated his or her time to participate in the event, this donation of time shall be considered as an alternate funding source. The event or activity should not rely entirely on the Dean's Fund for support, aside from exceptional circumstances. The student organization will be expected to submit all other sources and amounts of funding when applying. In the instance an organization is partnering with PHSA for an event said organization would be responsible for submitting the Dean's Fund request.

F. Allocation per Semester

The total sum of $4500 shall be divided into two allotments of $2250 (per semester). If a total of $2250 is not used in the Fall semester, the remaining amount shall be carried over into Winter term.

G. Disciplinary Action

Failure to abide by these guidelines may result in a student organization being referred to the SPH Office of Academic Affairs for potential disciplinary action.