Writing National Constitution Amendments
The Writing National Constitution Amendments Resource Guide is intended to be a style resource for anyone authoring a proposed amendment to the National Constitution. Following the simple guidelines below will help ensure that the Grand Chapter debates the merit of your amendment proposal, and not the style.
The National Constitution, as a document, employs specific style conventions to promote clarity and cohesiveness. In authoring proposed amendments to the National Constitution, it is helpful to be aware of these style conventions, so that the language in the amendment proposals matches the language prevalent throughout the Constitution.
Because particular terms may have different (albeit related) meanings, Phi Sigma Pi has adopted several textual conventions in our governing documents intended to clarify which specific meaning of the term is being expressed.
Use caps only when needed. The term “Member” (note the capital letter ‘M’ at the beginning of the term) is used throughout the National Constitution to denote membership in Phi Sigma Pi. Occasionally, the term “member” (without the capital beginning) appears in the document, in cases where it does not refer to membership in Phi Sigma Pi.
It is important to differentiate “Membership” in Phi Sigma Pi from “membership” in other senses to avoid confusion. Other terms that follow this convention which have been used erroneously include: “Active” vs. “active” (also “Inactive” vs. “inactive”) and derivations thereof; “Alumni” vs. “alumni,” “Chapter” vs. “chapter,” and “Collegiate” vs. “collegiate.”
Be consistent. One example is the term “Initiated” being used for “Inducted.” Although the terms may be closely related, “Inducted” refers to the conference of Membership through the use of the Ritual. “Initiated” refers to the process of participating in a Collegiate Chapter’s Initiation Program.
Using Parallel Structure
The National Constitution makes use of parallelism in structure. When writing proposed amendments, it is helpful to mirror this parallel structure for clarity.
- Parallelism in Articles: Article VIII: Duties of the National Officers is divided into sections for each office, with duties listed as items within each section. Article XI: Chapter Officers is similarly divided.
- Parallelism in Terminology: Article VIII: Duties of the National Officers lists each duty in a parallel form, starting with the primary verb relating to the relevant duty.
When writing an amendment proposal, think about how you are formatting the new text. Minor formatting issues, such as extra spaces, typographical errors, and misused marks of punctuation, may be corrected by the National Secretary when incorporating the changes into the National Constitution, so long as they do not change the meaning of the amendment.
If you are adding an article or a section, make sure that you are putting it in the right place. Some things to consider:
- Does the new text pertain to an Individual Member, Alumni Chapters, Collegiate Chapters (or both Alumni and Collegiate Chapters), another Alumni Organization, the National Council, or something else? No matter what the answer is, first examine every article containing information pertaining to your amendment proposal.
- Is your amendment proposal general or specific? General items usually come near the beginning of the document, with specific items following.
- Does your amendment proposal address more than one article or section? If you are adding, deleting, or modifying several sections of the document, it may make sense to combine those sections as a block motion, or to reorder other sections of the document.
Help with figuring out where to place new text, or how to combine or reorder articles or sections of the National Constitution can be obtained from the Constitution and Chapter Standards Committee. See the section on Further Resources below.
Time of Implementation
Unless otherwise specified any amendments if passed would take effect immediately. Amendments may be called out of order if the immediate change would not be able to be implemented, such as ones that effect Grand Chapter, e.g. delegate requirements. To address this motions may be accompanied by statements indicating that it will not go into effect until a certain time period, such as at the close of Grand Chapter.
The Constitution and Chapter Standards Committee is always available to assist you in drafting your amendment proposals. Contact Senior Vice President Chris Costantino (SeniorVP@PhiSigmaPi.org) with questions.
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