NPC Constitution and Democracy

The National Postgraduate Committee notes:

1. The NPC constitution has evolved to its current state over a period of years.
2. Although providing a framework for the running of the NPC, the constitution is ambiguous in many areas.
3. Additionally, the complex language used in the constitution does not allow for an easy understanding or comprehension of its provisions.
4. The complex language may exclude non-native English speakers (e.g. many international students) from participating in NPC.
5. The complex language and ambiguities have led to uncertainty over the correct procedure to be followed in certain circumstances.
6. The complex language and ambiguities have led to uncertainty over officers roles.
7. The situation explained above has led to arbitrary decision-making by NPC officers based upon their own personal interpretation of the constitution and bye-laws without reference to other officers.
8. Consequently, this limits the democracy within the organization and has led to a poor image being portrayed to our affiliates.
9. Indeed, our affiliates are uncertain of much within the NPC and find that gaining an understanding of the constitution is quite hard.
10. Attempts to rectify this situation through the creation of bylaws and regulations have failed and indeed on occasion have led to an even more complicated set of circumstances and contradictions.

The National Postgraduate Committee believes:

1. The constitution has served its purpose in the past but is no longer appropriate for the current situation.
2. That within a modern organization such as the NPC the emphasis should be on providing an easy to access and democratic framework for its affiliates and membership to follow.
3. That widening democracy should be the goal of any representative organisation.
4. That rights and responsibilities go hand in hand and therefore accountability should be transparent and available to all.

The National Postgraduate Committee resolves:

1. That an event entitled the NPC Constitutional Convention will be called for a date (two days) in the second half of 2006 - and be continued if necessary by electronic communication, mailing lists, web fora, etc. and at general meetings in 2007 - inviting all affiliates and interested parties to discuss and propose a new constitution and that the event will consider the following:

Simplifying the NPC constitution to make it easy to understand.
Writing the constitution in Plain English and easy to comprehend forms of other languages understood in the UK.
Removing any ambiguities and creating a presumption towards decision making within its provisions.
Increasing democracy amongst bodies such as the Management Sub Committee.
Increasing democracy for affiliates by widening their participation.
Making all officers and post holders within the NPC accountable to the membership and bodies elected by the membership.
Making the interpretive role of the Chair (or any other officer or Sub Committee) fully accountable to the membership and bodies elected by the membership.
Disscussing the desirability of the direct election of certain office holders by postgraduates.

2. That once the convention has agreed a new constitution it shall be put forward for adoption following the current rules for amending the NPC constitution as soon as is practicable.
3. However, any constitution must be compatible to a wider set of laws in England, Wales and Scotland that as an organization we are subordinate to, for example Scottish Charity Law with which the NPC is constituted as a charity.

Proposer: Duncan Philip Connors, The University of Glasgow
Seconder: Erich Kofmel, The University of Sussex