Constitution

The Cambridge Student Constitution was last amended and approved by CUSU Council in October 2014.

A. Name

A.1 The Cambridge Student (referred to in this constitution as 'the Paper') shall be an editorially independent student paper supported by Cambridge University Students' Union for the benefit of all students at Cambridge.

A.2 The Paper shall be run in accordance with this constitution.

B. Aims

B.1 The Paper shall aim:

  1. To provide high quality news, features, sport and other coverage of events and issues of relevance to the student body.
  2. To give a platform for open debate and discussion.
  3. To provide an opportunity for students to gain and develop experience in journalism and newspaper management.

C The Board of Directors

C.1 There shall be a Board of Directors ('the Board') comprising:

  1. The Current Editor
  2. The Editor for the previous ‘Print’ editorship (see Article E.), or, if not in Cambridge, a former Deputy Editor as confirmed by the previous Board of Directors, who will serve as Chair of the Board, and be responsible for most of the organisational duties of the Board
  3. In Michaelmas Term (only), the Editor for the previous ‘Online’ editorship (see Article E.), or, if not in Cambridge, a former Deputy Editor as confirmed by the previous Board of Directors
  4. The CUSU Coordinator
  5. A CUSU Staff Role, as appointed by the CUSU Trustee Board
  6. Two students elected by CUSU Council to serve for one year
  7. No more than two invited members (lacking the vote) at the request of the Editor; these will usually be the Deputy Editor(s) or Associate Editor(s), and may be asked to absent themselves from confidential discussions at the discretion of the Chair

C.2 The Board of Directors shall have overall responsibility for:

  1. Safeguarding and promoting the aims of the Paper
  2. The long-term future of the Paper
  3. The selection of the Editor and her/his team
  4. The handling of all complaints (see Article H.)
  5. Any other non-financial issues relating to the management of the paper
  6. Any large changes to the format of the Paper proposed by the Editor that carry implications for its long-term future
  7. Ensuring that full handovers occur at every change of Editors, and that the Editor receives any necessary training, and is clear on when matters should be referred to Board, as they enter their term of office

C.3 The Board shall seek to support and advise the Editor through regular meetings, which should be no more infrequently than one meeting for every two print issues during term time. It shall be the responsibility of the Chair of Board to give notice of at least one working day to all members of the Board, including designated invited members, when calling a meeting.

C.4 The Chair shall have no special powers to make executive decisions. In the event that the Board is required to decide on a course of action, but cannot reach consensus, any member can request a vote, to be binding with a two thirds majority of voting members.

C.5 The Board shall have power to remove the Editor from office, a decision that may be overturned by a simple majority of CUSU Council.

C.6 Any member of the Board or the Board as a whole (save for the Editor and Business Manager) shall be able to be removed from office by a two-thirds resolution of CUSU Council when they:

  1. Have acted in a manner seriously detrimental to the long-term future of the Paper
  2. Have failed to carry out their duties in a manner consistent with the aims of the Paper

In such a case all vacancies on the Board including ex-officio ones will be filled by election at Council. Complaints relating to the conduct of the Business Manager will be handled in line with CUSU's staffing procedures.

C.7 No Board member, during their time on the Board, shall

  1. be a member of the CUSU Executive (apart from the Coordinator).
  2. be on the editorial team of Varsity or the Tab, or sit on the board of directors for these publications.
  3. write for, take photos for, or otherwise contribute to Varsity or the Tab, except by writing letters to the editor or board of directors.

If any of i-iii above are breached, the other members of the Board will have the power to remove the Board member in question by a simple majority.

In this event, the position will be filled in a by-election at the next available CUSU Council, the new board member being elected to serve the remainder of the removed member's turn.

C.8 If a Board member does not turn up for three consecutive meetings without sending apologies in advance to any of them, then they will be deemed to have resigned their position. In this event, the position will be filled in a by-election at the next available CUSU Council, the new board member being elected to serve the remainder of the removed member's turn.

C.9 If a Board member is removed under any of provisions C.7 to C.8 and the next possible CUSU council at which to elect a replacement would fall within the Easter Term then the Board may choose to continue in its depleted state until the beginning of the next Michaelmas Term for the election of new member(s).

C.10 In all of provisions C.7 to C.9 the term 'Board member' shall not apply to the CUSU Coordinator or designated CUSU Staff Role.

D The Editor

D.1 In practice, "the Editor" will usually consist of two co-Editors who apply together. A sole Editor will not be disadvantaged in the application process or thereafter, but will be required to appoint at least two Deputy Editors, or one Deputy Editor and one Associate Editor (who has previously served as an Editor-in-Chief).

D.2 In the case of a sole Editor with Deputy Editor(s):

  1. The Deputy Editor(s) shall be required to cc the Editor-in-Chief in to all TCS-related email correspondence. It is expected that this shall be reciprocated, apart from with exceptionally confidential information.
  2. The Deputy Editor(s) shall be required to cc the Editor-in-Chief in to all TCS-related email correspondence. It is expected that this shall be reciprocated, apart from with exceptionally confidential information.
  3. Initially, only the Editor-in-Chief shall be permitted to publish articles online. If (s)he wishes to delegate some of this responsibility to the Deputy Editor(s), this step must be approved by the Board. It is expected that the Board will wish to determine for itself whether it has the necessary confidence in the Deputy Editor(s) to allow this increased responsibility.

D.3 The Editor is responsible for all copy that goes to print, including online copy. This legal responsibility cannot be delegated to the Deputy Editor(s), a fact that should be made clear to the Editor when discussing division of labour.

D.4 The Board has ultimate control of appointments to position on the paper.However, it is expected that this power would normally be delegated to the incoming Editor; it is also expected that, following these appointments, the Editor will provide the Board with a list of appointees, for comment and reference.D.5 The Editor shall have the power to remove any individual from their position following consultation with the Board. An individual who feels they are removed without due reason, and wishes to return to their role, shall be entitled to ask the Board (or any member of the Board) to mediate in discussions with the Editor.

E. Appointment of Editor

E.1 The Editor shall be appointed by the Board of Directors.

E.2 The selection timetable shall be agreed by the Board and shall be open to all students.

E.3 The Board shall be responsible for ensuring that the relevant dates for the appointment procedure are widely known. This shall normally include the placing of at least one half-page advert in the Paper.

E.4 The new Editor shall be confirmed by the votes of a majority of the Board. All members shall have one vote. If a majority in favour of one candidate cannot be established then the appointments procedure shall be re-opened.

E.5 The Editor will be appointed to serve one of the following terms of office, although there shall be no restriction on applying to be Editor at a later date for an additional term (or terms) of office:

  1. Michaelmas, a ‘Print’ editorship: September - December. This shall encompass responsibility for nine print issues, including one prepared in advance of the Freshers’ Fair, as well as online content.
  2. Lent, a ‘Print’ editorship: January - April. This shall encompass responsibility for nine print issues, including an issue in the first week of Easter term, as well as online content.
  3. iii. Easter, an ‘Online’ editorship: May - August. Although content will primarily be online only, the Editor will also be responsible for one print issue, to be published during May Week. Members of the Board who have experience of working on a print edition are obligated to assist in the production of this issue.

F. Editorial Independence

F.1 Editorial content shall remain entirely the responsibility of the Editor. Whilst the Board shall advise and give feedback, all questions relating to the content of articles, comment or any other copy shall be solely decided by the Editor.

F.2 In the event that an article is published online which either the Board or CUSU feels may leave the Paper vulnerable to legal complaints, any member of the Board shall be entitled to temporarily remove the article from the website, provided they immediately contact the Editor to explain their reasons. The Editor shall give the Board a minimum of twelve hours, to discuss the article and provide feedback to limit any risk to the Paper, before attempting to republish. The CUSU Trustee Board shall also be entitled to remove such an article where its publication places undue legal, financial or other risk on the organisation.

G. Finance and advertising

G.1 The Sabbatical Team, acting through the Coordinator, shall be responsible for all financial issues related to the Paper.

This shall include, but not be limited to:

  1. The employment of a Business Manager with part or all responsibility for advertising or sponsorship.
  2. Decisions relating to production arrangements with financial implications.

G.2 The Sabbatical Team, acting through the Coordinator, shall set a budget for the Paper, after consulting the Editor, at the start of a new Editor's term of office. This will usually be one third of the overall budget for the year, arranged at the AGM (see Article I.), but the termly budget shall take precedence over the yearly budget.

G.3 The Editor shall produce a list of expenditure for presentation at each Board meeting. The Editor is responsible for balancing the budget over the course of their term of office.

G.4 All advertising must be confirmed by the designated CUSU Staff Role, who shall notify the Editor of the number and size of the adverts for the coming issue (this is normally to be done at least three days before the issue is due to come out).

G.5 The appointment of a typesetter shall be done in accordance with Article D.2 in a manner consistent with other posts on the paper.

G.6 Decisions relating to the quantity of adverts in each issue shall ultimately be the responsibility of the Coordinator, but will usually in practice be decided by agreement of the Editor and designated CUSU Staff Role.

G.7 CUSU shall normally be provided with space for CUSU-related material amounting to an average of half a page per issue, excluding special supplements. Such material shall be booked through the designated CUSU Staff Role in the same manner as an external advert. CUSU must give as much notice as for advertisements (see G.4); if not, or if the content is not provided at least 24 hours before going to print, then the Editor shall be permitted to re-allocate the space.

G.8. Any proposed special supplements shall normally be agreed between the Coordinator and Editor, although the Board shall retain ultimate control over such decisions.

H. Complaints

H1. Complaints will generally be allowed on the following grounds:

a. TCS has misrepresented an individual or organisation

b. TCS has unduly caused offence to its readership

c. TCS personnel have acted unprofessionally, immorally or illegally in the pursuit of a story

d. TCS has violated the standards of journalism, especially those standards enshrined in the UK Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice

H2. Procedure for handling complaints

a. All complaints should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief or to the Board of Directors, or both, and not to individual section editors, writers and reporters, or other members of the team. A notice to this effect must be included in each issue of the Paper (ideally on the page where letters and apologies are usually published, or else alongside the Editorial or team list) and on the website.

b. Reporters, sub-editors, and the Editor should retain all notes related to TCS' stories for a period of at least three months or, if related to a complaint, for the duration of a complaint until it is fully resolved, whichever is the longer. It shall be the responsibility of the Editor to inform members of the team as to this requirement.

c. The Editor should keep a log of all contacts made to the paper that could be considered complaints.

d. Any contact that the Editor thinks may constitute or develop into a complaint should receive an individual reply.

e. To make a formal complaint, a complainant should submit to the editor a text in any reasonable format noting:

- their desire to make a complaint

- the specific story or TCS operative with which the complaint is concerned

- the details of any offensive material, misleading statements, or unprofessional behaviour concerned in the complaint

- the details of any specific harms caused by the actions of TCS

- a method by which the complainant can be reached for correspondence

TCS should have a Complaints Form for this purpose that is easily accessible.

f. The first reply to any complainant or potential complainant should include a copy of or link to the TCS Complaints Procedure and a copy of or link to the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice, physical copies of those documents or written references to where they can be found.

g. The Editor should investigate complaints to see if they can be informally resolved.

h. If the informal resolution includes the printing of an apology, the exact wording of this must be confirmed with both the Complainant and the Board before publication. The same process should apply to the printing of any letters; it should be clearly established whether a letter (or email) to the editor is intended for publication, or merely for personal reference.

i. Any article which is edited or changed following online publication, with the exception of very minor changes to correct spelling and grammar, must include a disclaimer to explain the reasons behind the changes.

j. Informal resolutions should be summarised and reported in writing to each Board meeting.

k. If the Editor and a complainant cannot agree on an informal resolution, or if the resolution would involve a serious admission of civil or criminal liability, the complaint should automatically be passed to the Board. The complainant should be notified that their complaint is sitting with the Board and of when they should expect to receive a reply.

l. The Board (with the Editor lacking a vote) shall have seven actual days from receiving a complaint to investigate the complaint and either render judgement or seek additional time. The Board may take up to 20 additional days on the grounds that:

(i). Professional legal advice must be sought on the matter

(ii). The Board is unable to meet for reasonable logistical reasons (i.e., it is mid-summer and several members are abroad) and must work more slowly.

(iii). Additional evidence related to the complaint must be gathered and cannot be found within the fourteen-day limit for a specified reason.

When taking additional time under i.i-i.iii above, the Board should advise the complainant on the reasons for delay and on when they should expect a reply. Any delay beyond five working days for reasons not specified in i.i-i.iii above or beyond twenty-seven days for reasons including i.i-i.iii above must be agreed with the complainant.

m. Complainants should be advised of all of their avenues for appeal of the Board's formal judgement at the time when that judgment is rendered.

H3. Considerations for the Editor and Board

a. TCS should consider their judgments on complaints on the basis of fairness and not simply on the minimum action required to avoid liability or public embarrassment.

b. TCS should not harass, threaten, or otherwise unduly dissuade a complainant from proceeding with a complaint and should volunteer procedural information helpful to making a complaint.

c. TCS should be transparent in its operational practices and in how it handles complaints. It should, at the same time, protect confidential sources and methods of information-gathering.

d. TCS should maintain accurate records of complaints and judgements and use these to educate its editors and reporters in order to avoid the repetition of harmful mistakes.

e. At every stage in the editorial process, contributors to TCS (including writers, section editors and sub-editors) should be made aware of the possible bases for complaint and asked to take due care; any concerns should be raised directly with the Editor or the Chair of the Board as early in the process as possible, and certainly before publishing.

H4. The decision of the CUSU Board of Trustees shall, in the event of a complaint appeal, have the power to reject the Board's decision by resolution of a two thirds majority. In such an eventuality, the Trustees would be able to:

  1. Censure the Board of Directors
  2. Remove the Editor
  3. Remove the Board, or particular members of it, in accordance with C.5

I. Annual General Meeting (AGM)

I.1 The Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall be held once yearly, during Easter term, and shall be called by the serving Chair of the Board.

I.2 Membership of the AGM shall consist of:

  1. The Editor(s) of Michaelmas; if this was a joint editorship, the two co-Editors will share one vote between them
  2. The Editor(s) of Lent; if this was a joint editorship, the two co-Editors will share one vote between them
  3. The Editor(s) of Easter; if this was a joint editorship, the two co-Editors will share one vote between them
  4. The CUSU Coordinator, or a substitute member of the CUSU Sabbatical team
  5. The CUSU designated CUSU Staff Role, or a substitute member of the CUSU Administrative team
  6. The two serving Board members elected by CUSU Council, who will have one vote each

I.3 The AGM shall be required to confirm this constitution, or else propose amendments to keep the constitution updated and robust, on a yearly basis. Amendments may be passed by a simple majority, but will also require the agreement of the CUSU Board of Trustees to come into effect.

I.4 The CUSU Coordinator will be asked to present a proposed budget for the next year at the AGM. This is normally to be produced following consultation with the Board, during the meeting previous to the AGM, and will be open for discussion at the AGM, but the final decision shall rest with the Coordinator.

J. Constitution

J.1 This constitution shall be only amended by resolution of a simple majority of the AGM (see Article I) and the decision of the CUSU Board of Trustees.

J.2 Up-to-date copies of this constitution will be prominently displayed on the website and in the offices of the Paper. Each member of the Board will be provided with a copy when they enter their term of office, and prospective members of the Board (including prospective Editors) will also be made aware of the constitution.

J.3 The implementation of this Constitution shall, unless otherwise stated herein, be the responsibility of the Board of Directors, and, in the final instance, of the Chair of the Board.