Chatham University

Creative Writing Program Council

Chatham University MFA Writing Program Council
Governance Document

  1. Preamble
    The purpose of this document is to outline the principles and procedures that pertain to the operation of the operation and management of The MFA Writing Council at Chatham University. Although this council is to be run by MFA students, no rule or procedure will take precedence over the authority of Chatham University.

  2. Mission Statement
    Writing takes place within a community and a place. Chatham University offers a
    place for writing, and it is the duty of the MFA Writing students to make this place a community. In the fall of 2005 it was clear to a group of MFA students that while the graduate writers at Chatham were talented and interesting, the fledgling program offered little in the way of community. In order to rectify this, an MFA Council was established to link the graduate students and ensure communication, which is vital to a community.

    The nature of Graduate Education sometimes inhibits the maintenance of a student community, as the term of study is brief and current students travel from disconnected points. To the extent that we wish to maintain a strong communal connection, we are creating an MFA Council whose purpose is to enrich and sustain the writing community at Chatham University. The MFA Council is a permanent and facile tool that enables consistent lines of communication and acts as a focal point of the MFA writing community.

    We understand the writer’s community to include the following areas, entries to which may be added at any time:
    • Reading Series
    • The Fourth River Literary Journal
    • Workshops
    • Conferences
    • Publication Opportunities
    • MFA Writing Program News
    • Special Programs
    • Social Events
    • Scholarships/ Prizes
    • Alumni Network
    • Community Involvement
    • Treasury

  3. Composition of the MFA Council
    The MFA Council is in no way opposed to individuality, nor is it to be an arm of Chatham University Administration. It merely seeks to create a central point from which all MFA Writing students may access the writer’s community. No single individual can possibly keep the council in operation, nor can this council be effective without a means of operating itself. To this end, we find it necessary to organize and create a governance document. This document will establish a board of members and committees to head the Council to whom we will entrust the maintenance and growth of the writing community.

    The MFA Council may alter the composition of its members and committees as it sees fit with a majority vote.

  4. MFA Council Membership
    Membership to the MFA Council is granted to all matriculated MFA Writing students. Members have the right to voice their opinion at every MFA Council meeting, may participate in any MFA Council committee, and may be nominated to the MFA Council Board. If a vote is called, every MFA Council member has an equal vote.

  5. MFA Council Board
    The MFA Council Board will be comprised of one Senior and one Junior Chair, one Treasurer, one Secretary, one Graduate Student Council Representative, one representative from The Fourth River, and all of the heads of MFA Council Committees. In addition, an MFA Council member may sit on the board as a representative if they would like greater involvement with the council. The Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary positions are elected and each requires a nomination and majority vote. The Graduate Student Council Representative will be an active member of the Graduate Student Council, a separate entity which serves all graduate students at Chatham. The Committee heads and other representatives volunteer their service.

  6. MFA Council Meetings
    During the regular academic year, the MFA Council will meet at least once a month. These meetings will be open to every MFA Writing student and will be announced to the student body. The purpose of these meetings is to distribute information to the MFA community, to recruit membership in committees, and to make decisions that concern the MFA Council.

    All questions will be decided by a majority vote, and proxy votes in writing will be allowed. 2/3 of the Board Members must be present if a quorum is called. In the event of a tie, the Senior Chair may cast the deciding vote. In extenuating circumstances, an interim board member may be appointed by the board to fill in for an absent board position.

    The minutes of each meeting will be posted on the online blackboard by the secretary.

  7. MFA Council Board Duties
    The Senior and Junior Chair are leadership roles that require overseeing the entire MFA Council and running MFA Council meetings. The Chair will use discretion as to which questions must be posed to the entire MFA Community, which will be decided in committee, and which will be decided personally. It is preferable that the Senior Chair be a student that has completed at least one year of study, and the Junior Chair be a first year student. The Junior Chair should be strongly committed to the council, and is the logical choice to succeed the Senior Chair.

    The Treasurer is responsible for keeping records of all income and expenditure of the MFA Council. If there comes a time when the MFA Council has a specific account, the Treasurer will keep it in good standing. The Treasurer will enable use of funds that have the authorization of the board.

    The Secretary is responsible for keeping the minutes of the meetings and making them available to all members via online blackboard, or a suitable facsimile.

    The Heads of MFA Council Committees are to operate their committees and report to the MFA Council.

    The Graduate School Council Representative will be a member of the Graduate School Council, a separate entity from the MFA Council. This representative will act as a liaison between the two councils.

    The Fourth River Representative should be an active member of The Fourth River Literary Journal, and preferably be a graduate student that has secured an internship with the journal, should that position materialize.

    MFA Council Representatives will participate in discussion and potentially assume responsibilities as they arise. The MFA Council Representative must commit to attend MFA Council meetings or risk revocation of their board status.

  8. MFA Council Board Term
    Each member of the board agrees to a term of one year. A special election will be held for a vacated seat, or a volunteer will be called to fill a committee head seat.

    MFA Council Committee Heads will serve through the semester in which their duties begin, and remain in that position until the May semester ends.

  9. MFA Council Committees
    Much of the detailed discussion of MFA Council business will take place in committee. These committees take an active role in sustaining and building the graduate writing community at Chatham, and play the most crucial role in the MFA Council. Committee heads recruit members for their committees and are responsible for overseeing the committee.

    Committees are created as needed, but there are nine standing committees:
    • The MFA Graduate Reading Series
    • Workshops/ Writing Groups
    • Conferences
    • Publication Opportunities
    • MFA News/ Scholarships
    • Special Programs/ Readings
    • Social Events
    • Alumni Network
    • Community Involvement
    Committee Heads volunteer their service, and the Chair confirms their appointment. Should more than one person wish to head a committee, they may share duties. No ad hoc committee will have a life beyond one year unless it is written into the governance document as a standing committee.

  10. Open Meetings Policy
    Every MFA Council meeting is open to every MFA Council Member, that is, the entire graduate community. Members are encouraged to sit in on meetings and participate in committees.