Writing Congress Motions

USI Congress motions can take three main forms:

Mandate

A motion calling on the leadership of USI to do something once it has been agreed by the Congress

This has argument paragraphs followed by a mandate paragraph which tells the Executive Team what to do.

Policy

A motion calling on the Congress to adopt a strategy or policy (and to tell the world about it)

This has argument paragraphs followed by a resolution paragraph which tells the world that USI Congress has decided a position on something. It refers to a document which is too large or complex to reasonably be included in a Mandate motion and which must be submitted at the same time as the motion – or in any case a month before the start of Congress.

Constitutional Amendment

A motion seeking to amend the Constitution of the Union of Students of Ireland.

This has no argument paragraphs and simply contains the detail of the section of the USI Constitution you would like to amend.  It should state the whole text of any new part of the Constitution.

The information below goes into detail on how motions are written – or there are some simple Template Motions to check out as well.

How do I submit a 'policy' motion as opposed to a 'mandate' motion?

A policy motion is simply one which references a document which isn’t part of the text of the motion. For Congress to fully consider that motion, the document must have been submitted at the same time as the motion and must be submitted to be published on this website one month before the commencement of Congress.

Otherwise, it’s the same thing as a mandate motion, but including the mandate:

Congress Therefore Adopts

the {insert policy document name here}

If you’re confused about this, the Congress Director is here to help – contact him via email on  congress@usi.ie

What's an Argument Paragraph and a Mandate?

 

What is an ‘argument paragraph’?

An argument is anything which establishes the facts or opinions you’re asking Congress to agree with in order to vote to adopt your idea as its policy. The very best motions provide a piece of information, some back-up of the information and eventually a ‘thing to do’ for Congress.

For instance:

“Smoking causes cancer, so students should not smoke” is probably best argued in the following form:

Congress notes

That medical research of a high and credible standard has established that smoking increases the risks to smokers of contracting cancers, including but not limited to cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs and stomach  (International Agency for Research on Cancer. Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions: A Review of Human Carcinogens. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol. 100E. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2012)

Congress believes

That as an organisation which wishes to promote healthy living to students, USI should warn students of the dangers of smoking

once the argument has been made, the motion can then move on to the ‘thing to do’ which is usually a mandate to the member of the executive team responsible for the policy area.

The whole motion might then look like:

Congress notes

That medical research of a high and credible standard has established that smoking increases the risks to smokers of contracting cancers, including but not limited to cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs and stomach  (International Agency for Research on Cancer. Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions: A Review of Human Carcinogens. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol. 100E. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2012)

Congress believes

That as an organisation which wishes to promote healthy living to students, USI should warn students of the dangers of smoking

Congress therefore mandates the Vice President for Welfare

To design and develop a campaign aimed at providing useful and actionable advice to students to help them quit or never take up smoking

In this way, we see the proposer giving all the best reasons why the congress should take a particular decision, and then indicates the decision they think would be best taken.  This is the simplest, most ‘standard’ type of motion.

What are prefixes?

Understanding Prefixes

A motion is a series of paragraphs which lead to an action to be taken by the Congress.  Each paragraph is itself an ‘action’ of the Congress, which the delegates to Congress can agree or disagree with.  The ‘prefix’ tells us what the action is.  It tends to contain a stative verb, so it might be:

Congress believes:

or

Congress recalls

or

Congress notes with interest

Almost all motions contain a final:

Congress mandates

The prefix is therefore more than stylistic – it is a flag for the importance of the paragraph.  Any stative verb will do – so have fun with it.

A full motion might have five (or more, or fewer) such argument-setting paragraphs, then a final ‘mandate’ paragraph.

Congress recalls

That in 1997, it was declared that X was better than Y

Congress notes

That in 2019, the use of Y was banned by several third level colleges

Congress further notes

That the restriction in uses of Y really messes up a tight game of Scrabble

Congress therefore mandates

The President of USI to resist unnecessary restrictions on the use of the letter Y

The prefix establishes what the paragraph is arguing or asking for, so that the reader and delegates can understand the think the proposer wants.  The best motions walk the delegates through all the things they need to know in easy steps, so they can feel confident they understand and can support the motion.

Template Constitutional Amendments

Note that Templates are based on sections of the constitution which do not exist!

Constitutional Amendment

Title: Leaving the Federation of Non-Existent Organisations

From Article 8 of the Constitution, delete:

Article 8.6 : USI shall be a member of the Federation of Non-Existent Organisations

This Constitutional amendment simply removes a part of the constitution.  Note that it has no argument paragraph.  it simply states what the outcome of the Constitutional Amendment would be if adopted.

Constitutional Amendment

Title: Leaving the Federation of Non-Existent Organisations

From Article 8 of the Constitution, replace:

Article 8.6 : USI shall be a member of the Federation of Non-Existent Organisations

with:

Article 8.6: USI shall be a member of the International Fraternity of Non-Existent Organisations

and add:

Article 8.7: USI shall review the membership of all Non-Existent Organisations at least once per five years

This Constitutional Amendment replaces an already existing part of the constitution with