Writing a Motion for USI Congress

Writing policy for USI should be a simple process.

In order to speed up the time between the close of submissions and the release of the policy document, motions should be correctly formatted and named. This will reduce the processing required for each document and reduce errors on the Congress documents.

There are three things to consider:

  1. Type of motion and appropriateness to the type
  2. Actual text format (specifications) of the document
  3. Name of the document.

Note that there’s an older version of this document at https://congress.usi.ie/writing-congress-motions/ which you should consult if this guide isn’t clear enough.

Type of motion and appropriateness to the type

There are two types of USI motion: policy motions and constitutional amendments.

Type 1: Policy Motions

A policy motion should lay out the reason for a proposed action (the Argument) and the actual action to be taken (the Mandate).

Argument clauses state facts, beliefs and positions. These clauses each begin with a ‘Congress [does]’ which is highlighted, followed by the fact, belief or position. The Mandates simply give instructions to the members of the Executive team to carry out.  In the example below, the first two clauses are Argument and the last clause is a Mandate.

Example:


Using only recycled paper in the USI photocopier

Proposed by Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union

Congress notes

That paper waste is injurious to the environment

Congress further understands

That it is possible to buy recycled paper, which is less injurious to the environment

Congress therefore mandates

The President to ensure that only recycled paper is used in the USI photocopier


In the above example, I have the key elements of the motion: the title, the name of the proposing Union, the argument and the mandate. You can see how the first clause of the argument establishes the problem, the second clause establishes a route to the solution, and the third clause of the motion contains the mandate which specifies the action to be taken by USI.

There are other ways to write motions, but this formula allows for the reader to easily understand what you’re saying and what you would like to come of your concern.  You may of course have many clauses, all of which should be posed in the style ‘Congress [does]’.

Importantly, USI Steering Committee has historically refused to allow motions to pass into policy without a mandate.


Time sensitivity

If your motion contains an element of time sensitivity, you must write in a ‘sunset clause’ (according to Article 4.1.6.1 of the USI Constitution which allows for the motion to be removed from the policy file at a specific time before the three years of its natural life elapses.  For instance, if a motion calls only for the President to write a letter to a person, it will cease to have any effect at the point at which the President posts the letter – but it would still be the policy of the organisation – and in theory the President might be considered mandated to send an infinite number of letters for three years. If this is the sort of motion you’re writing, add to your mandate clause a line like:

This mandate shall lapse upon a report by the President to the National Council that the mandate has been complete.

Keep it simple

Congress is a large number of clever people, but even the cleverest person can be confused by complex writing. When writing your motion, it helps to write it as simply as possible, and to have a few friends or colleagues read it before you submit it on the site, to ensure it’s easily understood and achieves what you think it will.


Type 2: Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional Amendments do not contain an argument.  They contain only the instructions to the Constitutional drafter, which will be implemented if the motion passes.

Example:


Replacing Vice President for the Moon with Vice President for all Extra-Terrestrial Territories

Proposed by Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union

Remove: Article 403.1 and replace with:

“403.1 The Vice President for all Extra-Terrestrial Territories shall represent the interests of students on the Moon, on the International Space Station and on all other planets who are members of students’ unions in Ireland”

Insert: Article 403.1.1:

“References elsewhere in this constitution to the Moon shall also include all Extra-Terrestrial Territories.”


Actual text format (specifications) of the document

Actual Text Format of the Document

Motions should be submitted with the following specifications:

  • Motion Title (Heading 1)
  • Proposed by (Heading 2)
  • Clause Header (Heading 3)
  • Body Text (Normal)

 

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