How to Pass A Resolution
What is a Resolution?
A resolution is an official expression of the opinion or will of a legislative body. The practice of submitting and voting on resolutions is a typical part of business in Congress, state legislatures, and student government associations. It is capable of creating an official stance for your student body, whether the administration agrees with it or not. Resolutions allow the student's voices to be heard, create a change, and to pressure your goverment representatives to listen to your demands as a constituent. Resolutions are different from laws. Resolutions are limited to a specific issue or even, such as LGBT issues, nor intended to be permanent.
Learn about your Student Government System
Why even learn about the structure of the Student Government?
i. Each student government across the nation is run differently. It is important to know youir government so that you can understand teh specific resolution process.
ii. Check your school website to learn more about the different branches of leadership within your university.
- In general, student government is broken down just like the American Government into three braches:
Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
- This is where the resolution is introduced, reviewed, voted on, and passed. -Legislative Liaison enters amendmetns into final copy and notes as "PASSED", "FAILED", or "TABLED" and placed on President's desk for consideration.
- The branch that you want to do the most research on is the voting branch, legislative branch, or council. However, do not rule out the judicial or executive branch because they will come into play after voting branch has made their decision.
Legislative Procedures [Example]- Northern Kentucky University
i. Committee Chair Consulation
- Resolution may be submitted by individual Senator or Committee (represented by the chair)
- Chair reviews research and language of proposed resolution with sponsoring Senator
- Committee Chair meets with Executive Board for review
ii. Executive Board Review
- Executive Board offers advice to Committee Chair on resolution
- Committee Chair consults with sponsoring Senator regarding Executive Board’s review.
- Sponsoring Senator submits resolution to Legislative Liaison via e-mail
iii. Legislative Liaison Review
- Legislative Liaison reviews grammar and spelling as well as format consistency with all legislation
- Returns updates resolution to sponsoring Senator via e-mail
- Sponsoring Senator submits to Vice President of Administration, via e-mail, to be places on Meeting Agenda.
- Must be submitted by certain time before next meeting.
- Vice President of Administration emails Resolution to Senate 24 hours prior to meeting.
iv. 1st Reading
- Committee Chair shall announce resolution, along with comments on resolution, in their report.
- Sponsoring Senator reads before the senate
- Suggestive amendments may be offered prior to 2nd Reading
- Sponsoring senator is responsible for ALL amendments proposed
- The amended resolution must be submitted to Vice President of Administration., who will email amended resolution to Senate prior to next meeting.
v. 2nd Reading
- Committee Chair shall announce resolution in their report
- Sponsoring Senator reads amended copy before the Senate
- Upon a “Call to Questions”, the resolution is read as amended and a “Motion to Accept Resolution as Read may be made.
- Sponsoring Senator must submit final amended copy to Legislative Liaison immediately following the vote.
vi. Resolution Final Formatting
Legislative Liaison enters amendments into final copy and notes as “PASSED”, “FAILED”, or “TABLED
Legislative Liaison places on President’s desk for consideration
No legislation shall be submitted to the President unless ALL other signature on the resolution are made.
Failure by a Senator to sign their resolution may result in a pocket veto
vii. President’s Consideration
- Signs or Vetoes
- If not signed after 10 days of Senate passage, Resolution is pocket vetoed
- If veto occurs, Legislative Liaison shall note as VETOED” until overturned by Senate
How do I write a Resolution?
If you are not an elected official of ANY of the branches, you may not present or introduce a resolution. All legislations must be sponsored by an elected member.
How then, do you go about writing a resolution if you are a student?
- You must work with a voting elected official to draft and introduce the bill. Don’t limit yourself to working with one only one member of the voting council. Meet with as many members as you can to learn their stance on the resolution.
- Language is extremely important when writing a resolution. Word choice can make or break your chances of passing the resolution. You must be specific about your issue. Here is a Template Resolution:
Resolution in Support of the Student Statement on the Right to Research
WHEREAS, writing research papers is a requirement of many [Your College] courses; and
WHEREAS, such assignments require access to articles published in academic journals; and
WHEREAS, student access to scholarly literature is primarily provided by subscriptions through the [Your College] libraries; and
WHEREAS, the high cost of academic journals – in some fields, more than $20,000 per year for a single journal subscription – restricts access to knowledge; and
WHEREAS, the cost of these subscriptions has been accelerating at a rate greater than inflation for the past decades; and
WHEREAS, authors of scholarly articles are not paid for their work, with journal profits accruing solely to the publishers; and
WHEREAS, the majority of research funding comes from public sources, supported by taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, all students deserve access to the full body of published scholarly literature; and
WHEREAS, “open access” is an alternative to the traditional closed, subscription-access system of scholarly communication; and
WHEREAS, open access provides free online access to the results of scholarly research while maintaining quality controls, such as peer review; and
WHEREAS, several national and international student organizations and student governments have developed the Student Statement on the Right to Research to explain student interests in the scholarly communications system and to rally students in support of open access; then
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the students of [Your College] endorse the Student Statement on the Right to Research and open access to academic research; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the students of the [Your College] call on the [Your College] administration, governments and research funders, researchers, and fellow students to support open access to academic research.
An Example from the Faculty Senate of Wake Forest University
How does Voting Work?
Each student government by-laws and constitutions call for a different number of votes to either pass or not pass the resolution.
Normally it is determined by a majority voting or a two-thirds voting. Be sure to read the by-laws carefully.
There are only 4 options to voting:
- In favor → Yes
- Opposed to → No
- Abstain from → Does not Vote (this does not count as a no or yes, it counts towards reaching quorum)
- Petition → this is extremely rare. Often times student governments will allow legislations to be petitioned by at least 10% of the student body, which would then force the voting council to create provisions and amend the legislation.
Where does the resolution go after the representatives have voted?
The executive branch must sign off on the resolution. This is where the executive branch has the chance to veto or pass the resolution. If vetoed, the resolution would then be resubmitted to the voting branch for an option to override the veto with a two-thirds vote. In most three branched governments, the resolution would then continue to the judicial board for final voting. Again, this is dependent on your university’s by-laws and university constitution.
How do I campaign for this resolution?
First and foremost, make a list of arguments that can go against your resolution. Write them up and use your points to counteract the arguments against your resolution.
- There will be a lot of connect the dots with resolution writing.
- Voting officials vote on behalf of their constituents. Each school that is represented has a different agenda. Make sure to find points for each school and customize your research to fit each agenda.
- Find a member from different communities on your campus who can be part of your campaign team to help outreach for testimonies.
- Voting members need to hear from their constituents directly. When you put a room full of concerned students, the voting members will listen and based off of the testimonies and their own research,
Campaigning is exactly like lobbying. Here are the following ways that you can successfully campaign for your resolution:
Individually meet with EACH voting member BEFORE your resolution is voted on and give your elevator pitch- why their constituents would want them to vote for your resolution.
The best way to ensure that you can form a relationship with them for future references is to individually do a follow up with the voting members. This shows that you are invested in their opinions and are open to working with them in the future.
When working on passing a piece of legislation, your goal is to target the whole campus community. You want as many people as you can from different parts of campus to show interest in the bill. The more diversity in the support, the more likely the voting members will positively respond.
Getting people to join your cause is a lot like building a coalition- you should talk to leaders of organizations who you think may support your resolution on your campus to join forces. It never hurts to have more people joining the cause.
- You must either use a graphic that evokes ethos or create a slogan that captures students’ attentions. Statistically, in the college environment where flyers are handed out often, you have a total of 3 seconds to capture your audiences’ attention.
- Simplicity is a very powerful tool. It creates a stigma that makes the audience want to know more.
- Use social media to promote and share your resolution. Social Media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and snapchat are great to make your resolution go viral and have your concerns voiced to a much larger populations of people.