Constitution of Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs (AGS) (Download PDF)
Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs (AGS)
Student Organization Constitution
Texas A&M University
The name of this student organization shall be known as the Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs. The organization will also be known by its acronym, AGS.
The purpose of AGS shall be to educate about, fundraise for, and promote the training and use of guide dogs and service dogs in order to increase awareness about how these animals help the individuals with disabilities who use them.
The major goals of AGS shall be the following:
1) Increase campus and community awareness about guide dogs and service dogs
and how these animals help the individuals with disabilities who use them
2) Raise funds for the AGS puppies in training
3) Recruit future members for AGS
4) Develop student leadership on the Texas A&M University campus
5) Raise puppies that are suitable for formal training by nationally recognized guide dog and service dog organizations
Membership into AGS will be open to all Texas A&M University students and faculty as well as residents of the Bryan/College Station community. To be an officer, trainer, or sitter, members must be a current student at Texas A&M University. To achieve active membership status, members must pay dues and attain the required number of points determined by the officer team for a given semester. Allotment of points will be determined per event by the AGS officers. Dues are to be paid in the spring semester for all persons not maintaining an active membership in the fall semester as well as any new members. Spring dues will equal half of the amount paid per individual in the previous fall semester.
At the end of the Spring Semester, one member will be honored with the title of Member of the Year. In order to receive this title, this member must earn the most membership points throughout the year. Member of the year will receive the Novotney Streck Award, named after AGS’ founders Shelley Novotney and Marci Streck, as well as a gift at the end of the year banquet that will be determined by the current officer team. In order to be eligible for this award, the person in question must be a paid, active member who is not an officer or a current puppy trainer. The Member of the Year will be announced at the annual End of the Year Banquet.
Section 1. The officers of this organization shall be vested in:
President, Director of Administration, Senior Trainer Supervisor, Junior Trainer Supervisor, Trainer Liaison, Director of Communications, Director of Fundraising, Director of Programs, Director of Publicity, and Co-directors of Events. The President, Director of Administration, Senior Trainer Supervisor, Junior Trainer Supervisor, and Trainer Liaison shall comprise the board of executive officers. The board of executive officers shall be selected no later than the last week of March. The remainder of the officer team shall be elected within the first two weeks of April. The entire officer team shall serve a term of one year, working together to promote unity throughout the organization.
Section 2. The President shall (1) preside at all meetings (2) represent AGS or otherwise designate an appropriate representative to act as a liason to the Texas A&M University campus, the Bryan/College Station community, guide dog and service dog organizations, and any other groups deemed necessary (3) oversee all operations of the organization and delegate responsibilities to members and officers (4) overtake responsibilities of other AGS officers when deemed necessary (5) maintain regular contact with the AGS faculty advisor (6) submit all forms and reports required by the University (7) call special meetings in case of an emergency (8) write thank you notes to donors & work with the Director of Administration to direct correspondence between donors and trainers for monthly letters (9) arrange, conduct, and oversee elections and officer transition with assistance from the officer team and advisor, where applicable (10) maintain president email and Google Team Drive and transfer ownership to following president during officer transitions.
Section 3. The Director of Administration shall (1) serve as treasurer and secretary of the organization (2) pay invoices & collect dues (3) oversee other monetary transactions, including fundraising activities and donations (3) maintain contact with the faculty advisor (4) interpret, explain and guarantee observance of university financial policies and guidelines to members and the officer team, as necessary (5) sign all forms related to billing or SOFC alongside the advisor or president (5) formulate a budget with officer team input, obtaining final approval from advisor (6) approve expenditures by officers before they occur and reimburse accordingly (7) maintain the AGS online store through Marketplace and oversee merchandise distribution (8) work with designated shirt designer and the AGS officer team to create AGS’ annual t-shirt (9) change bank signature card information after a new President and Director of Administration have been selected and within two weeks of officer transitions.
Section 4. The Senior Trainer Supervisor shall (1) supervise the selection of puppies from humane organizations (2) supervise the puppy trainer selection process (3) communicate with the Trainer Liaison when receiving approval from the President and Advisor for entrance of a new puppy into the AGS training program (4) notify officers when a new dog enters the AGS training program (5) supervise the training and socialization of puppies (6) make recommendations to faculty advisor and officers for removal of puppy from assigned puppy trainer if necessary (7) evaluate puppies between 12 and 18 months of age to determine placement options (8) supervise placement of retired (VIP) dogs into loving homes (9) respond to emails from the public requesting a service dog from our organization (10) maintain adequate food stock for distribution among current AGS dogs in training (11) facilitate communication between trainers and the faculty advisor for the distribution of flea and heartworm preventatives.
Section 5. The Junior Trainer Supervisor shall (1) observe the Senior Trainer Supervisor at the beginning of his or her term (2) acquire progressively a number of the Senior Trainer Supervisor responsibilities listed above in preparation for the transition into the role of Senior Trainer Supervisor (3) work alongside Senior Trainer Supervisor and Trainer Liaison to ensure the success of the puppy and trainer teams (4) keep inventory of all AGS training equipment.
Section 6. The Trainer Liaison shall (1) find veterinary sponsors for AGS dogs (2) maintain communication on AGS' behalf with local veterinarians (3) research and compile a list of breeders suitable for donating an AGS puppy (4) respond to emails regarding puppy donation requests (5) maintain positive relationships with AGS’ regular breeder donors (6) coordinate temperament tests for service dog prospects (7) obtain all trainer and dog ID’s as well as dog tags (8) ensure trainers deliver thank-you gifts to veterinary sponsors and deliver the official AGS sponsorship thank-you gift when the sponsored dog has graduated (9) work alongside Senior Trainer Supervisor and Junior Trainer Supervisor to ensure the success of the puppy and trainer teams.
Section 7. The Director of Communications shall (1) maintain and update the AGS website (2) keep a yearly scrapbook of AGS events (3) check the AGS email regularly and respond or forward emails to the appropriate officer in a timely manner (4) maintain and update the email list-serv (5) send announcements and weekly emails via list-serv (6) receive approval from President for mass communications.
Section 8. The Director of Fundraising shall (1) organize and coordinate AGS fundraising events, including but not limited to profit shares (2) receive approval for fundraising events from President (3) attend and preside over fundraising events (4) transfer funds to the Director of Administration in a timely manner.
Section 9. The Director of Programs shall (1) plan general member meetings (2) schedule and coordinate any guest speakers for general member meetings (3) mail hand-written thank you notes to guest speakers (4) preside over general member meetings in the president’s absence (5) plan food and drinks for each general meeting (6) coordinate the transport of food and drinks to each general meeting, delegating to other officers when necessary (7) create presentations for educational outreach programs (8) receive approval on all presentations from President (9) take notes at all officer meetings and share them with the faculty advisor.
Section 10. The Director of Publicity shall (1) maintain and update AGS social media accounts (2) create and print the newsletter for each general meeting (3) update and manage trifold (4) create and distribute promotional materials, such as flyers and business cards (5) receive approval from president for all promotional materials (6) take attendance at AGS events (7) collect receipts from profit shares for the purpose of tracking attendance (8) keep track of membership points and work with Director of Administration to maintain a list of active members (9) create and mail AGS Christmas cards to trainers, officers, donors, and others on the mailing list (10) maintain said mailing list.
Section 11. The Co-Directors of Events shall (1) organize and plan all other AGS events, including but not limited to socials, banquets, and on-campus events (2) schedule, plan for, and organize the AGS booth set-up at public events, including but not limited to MSC Open House and Vet School Open House (3) receive approval from President for all events.
Section 12. Subcommittees
There shall be additional subcommittees established as deemed necessary by the AGS officer team.
Section 13. Chain of Command
All officers with the exception of Junior Trainer Supervisor and Trainer Liaison shall report directly to the president. Junior Trainer Supervisor and Trainer Liaison shall report to Senior Trainer Supervisor. In the event that Junior Trainer Supervisor or Trainer Liaison is not comfortable reporting to Senior Trainer Supervisor, these two officers shall contact the president.
Section 14. Removal of an Officer
In the event that any officer fails to perform his/her duties in a manner which benefits the organization, that officer shall be subject to review by the President and the faculty advisor. Should an officer’s position be reviewed for possible removal, he/she will be notified by email stating the reason for their removal and will be given an opportunity to account for their situation to the President and faculty advisor. The officer’s status will be reviewed after hearing from the officer in question. A decision will be made expeditiously, and the officer will be contacted as to the outcome of the situation. If it is decided the officer should be removed, he/she will be asked to resign, and a new officer will be elected or appointed as outlined in Article V. Any officer that does not maintain active membership or attend at least 2/3 of the officer meetings will come up for immediate review. Once an officer is removed from their position, they forfeit the right to hold any future officer positions.
Section 1. Requirements for Officer Team positions
Subsection A. Enrollment and University Standing
All candidates must be in good standing with the university and enrolled:
(i) at least half time (six or more credit hours), if an undergraduate student (unless fewer credits are required to graduate in the spring and fall semesters) during the term of office. Students enrolled in the Blinn TEAM program are also eligible to hold an office, as long as the student is meeting all applicable Blinn TEAM requirements and is in good standing with the program.
(ii) at least half time (four or more credits), if a graduate level student (unless fewer credits are required in the final stages of their degree as defined by the Continuous Registration Requirement) during their term of office.
(iii) Be a student at Texas A&M University during the semester/year they will be holding the position. However, if they were elected to be an officer in the fall, and graduate in the fall, then they can be grandfathered into the position for the spring semester, only.
Subsection B. GPA
All candidates must have a minimum cumulative and semester grade point ratio (GPR) as stated below and meet that minimum cumulative and semester GPR in the semester immediately prior to the election/appointment, the semester of election/appointment and semesters during the term of office.
(i) For undergraduate students, the minimum cumulative and semester GPR is 2.00. In order for this provision to be met, at least six hours (half-time credits) must have been taken for the semester under consideration. In one limited circumstance, summer semester hours may be applied to this provision. In order for summer coursework to qualify toward a grade point ratio prior to election/appointment, at least six credit hours must have been taken during the course of either the full or two summer session(s).
(ii) For graduate level students the minimum cumulative and semester GPR is a 3.00 and for first professional students the minimum cumulative and semester GPR is 2.50. In order for this provision to be met, at least four hours (half-time credits) must have been taken for the semester under consideration. In one limited circumstance, summer semester hours may be applied to this provision. In order for summer coursework to qualify toward a grade point ratio prior to election/appointment, at least four credit hours must have been taken during the course of either the full or two summer session(s) unless fewer credits are required as they complete the final stages of their degree.
Section 2. Time of Selections/Elections
As stated in Article IV, Section 1, the board of executive officers shall be selected no later than the last week of March. The remainder of the officer team shall be elected within the first two weeks of April.
Section 3. Nomination Procedure
Self-nominations shall be sent to the president in the form of an email declaration by a designated date before the selection/election. No other nominations will be accepted prior to the selection/election.
Section 4. Selection Process
Upon receiving a candidate’s self-nomination, the president shall notify him or her any position-specific requirements or pre-selection assignments. Any current officer, past/current trainer (unless not meeting the guidelines stated in Article V, Section 1) who has served as an officer or trainer for at least one full, regular semester (i.e. fall and/or spring), & is an active member, may be eligible to run for the positions of President, Director of Administration, Senior Trainer Supervisor, Junior Trainer Supervisor, or Trainer Liaison. These offices shall be voted on by the current officers, and the candidate who receives a ⅔ majority vote shall assume the position. These selections shall take place on the same day prior to officer elections. The Advisor shall be contacted and vote in the event of indecision.
Subsection A. Special Provisions
(i) Current puppy trainers that are officers are allowed to run for presidency. A current puppy trainer’s dog must be graduated and left for secondary-phase training prior to taking office. No potential puppy trainer elected President still be eligible to receive a puppy during his or her term.
(ii) The Senior and Junior Trainer Supervisors must have gone through all puppy trainer training. It is preferred that former AGS puppy trainers fill this position to best adapt and meet the need of the current puppy trainers and the organization. It should be a last resort to have this position held by someone who has gone through the training but not trained a dog. The position of Senior Trainer Supervisor is transferred from the Senior to the Junior, now new Senior, at officer transitions.
(iii) The position of Trainer Liaison must have gone through all necessary puppy trainer training. It is preferred that former AGS puppy trainers fill this position to better adapt and meet the needs of the current puppy trainers and the organization. It must be the last resort to have this position filled by someone who has gone through the training but not trained a dog.
Section 5. Election Process
All officer positions not selected shall be elected by the general active membership in order of their listing in Article IV, Section 1. Any member who was active during the semester of elections and meets the requirements listed in Article V, Section 1 is eligible to run for an officer position. Floor nominations are allowed on the day of the election and will loosely follow Robert’s Rules of Order. Upon receiving a candidate’s self-nomination, the president shall notify him or her of any position-specific requirements or pre-election assignments. In the event there are not enough active members running for the open positions, the current officers will vote to decide if non-active members may declare and run. In this case, those non-active members must be paid members.
Section 6. Voting
For each officer position, voting will take place at the conclusion of the last candidate’s speech for the purpose of allowing dropdowns. All voting shall be by secret ballot. Digital or hand-written ballots are allowed. A simple majority shall decide the election. Where there is a single candidate for a position, the vote may be via voice. There shall be no proxy voting.
Section 7. Term of Office
All officers, selected or elected, shall serve a term of one year.
Section 1. Expectations
Advisors for Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs have the following requirements and responsibilities:
a. They must be a Texas A&M University employee as defined by the Human Resources Department and must be a faculty member, professional or associate staff member, or graduate assistant. They must be familiar with the activities of the organization and have (or be willing to obtain) an appropriate level of experience, resources, and knowledge related to those activities and the mission of the organization.
b. They must meet with the officers or the president of AGS in order to stay connected with the organization’s activities.
c. They should be aware of the University Student Rules and other institutional guidelines that establish expectations for student behavior and activities and ensure that the group and its officers are adhering to the rules. They must also be familiar with the organization’s constitution and all other governing documents in order to advise effectively.
Section 2. Replacement
If for any reason the advisor is no longer willing and/or able to fulfill the responsibilities, they will formally communicate this to the student organization and the Department of Student Activities in writing. The organization will then determine the appropriate course of action for replacing the advisor. If the AGS officers feel that the advisor is no longer fulfilling their responsibilities adequately, they will vote to remove the advisor. This vote will take place after discussing the issues with the advisor and done only if the problem is not resolved. The vote to remove an advisor must be unanimous. A new advisor must be selected within 6 weeks and all necessary paperwork including a new signature card and online updates will be completed at this time. The new advisor will be responsible for attending an advisor development seminar.
General meetings shall be held bimonthly with officer meetings held during the weeks between general meetings.
Section 1. Dues
Dues shall be determined per academic year and will be collected from all members of this organization excluding officers.
Section 2. Monies
All monies belonging to this organization shall be deposited and disbursed through a bank account established for this organization at the Student Organization Finance Center and/or the Fiscal Office. All funds must be deposited within 7 days of collection. The advisor to this organization must approve and sign each expenditure before payment.
Puppy Training Program
Section 1. Goals
The goals of the AGS Puppy Training Program are to obedience train and socialize puppies from a young age until the puppies are about 12 - 18 months old. At the end of this period, the well-trained, healthy, and good-tempered puppies will be donated to a nationally recognized service dog organization for formal training and eventual placement with a disabled partner.
Section 2. Supervision
The Puppy Training Program shall be presided over by the Puppy Training Supervisors. The Puppy Trainer Liaison must receive approval from both Supervisors, President & the Advisor to add a dog to the program in order to prevent overtaxing AGS resources; to prevent dogs from entering the program, except under the proscribed methods; and to insure the officer's knowledge of each new dog.
Section 3. Puppy Selection
Puppies may be obtained from humane organizations, breed rescue organizations, or private donors. All puppies accepted into the Puppy Raising Program shall be free of major health
problems and pass the required AGS temperament test. Puppies should ideally be a minimum of weeks old to a maximum of 16 weeks old.
Section 4. Puppy Trainer Selection
Puppy Trainers will be chosen from the AGS general membership. Selection shall be based on an application, interview, and residential evaluation process. Puppy Trainers shall be chosen by the Puppy Trainer Supervisors and shall gain and retain active membership while training the AGS puppy. Puppy Trainers are required to attend all AGS events, unless their absence is excused by the Puppy Trainer Supervisors. Before a potential puppy trainer receives a dog, a meeting must be held with the potential Puppy Trainer, Puppy Trainer Supervisors, the President, and the Advisor.
Section 5. Evaluation
Puppies and Puppy Trainers shall be subject to monthly evaluations by the Puppy Trainer Supervisors. If, at any point, the Supervisors determines that the puppy's progress is unsatisfactory or that the Puppy Trainer is not fulfilling his/her duties as determined by the Puppy Trainer contract, the Supervisors (with the approval of the President, the Advisor and at least one other officer) may take steps to resolve the problem, up to and including placing the puppy with a new Puppy Trainer or withdrawing the puppy from the Puppy Trainer Program.
Section 6. Puppy Trainer Contract
The Puppy Trainer and the Puppy Trainer Supervisors shall both sign an agreement laying out the expectations for the puppy and the responsibilities of the Puppy Trainer. This contract must be signed before the puppy is placed with the Puppy Trainer. The Junior Puppy Trainer Supervisor will hold all original contracts. In the case that the Junior Puppy Trainer Supervisor is also a puppy trainer, the Senior Puppy Trainer Supervisor will hold their paperwork.
Section 7. Final Evaluation
When the puppy is about one year to 18 months old, the Puppy Trainer Supervisors shall evaluate it for placement options. If deemed suitable, the puppy will be donated to a nationally recognized service dog organization for formal training. If deemed unsuitable or if not permanently accepted by a nationally recognized service dog organization, the Puppy Trainer Supervisors and other officers will determine if there is another organization such as police dog network, search and rescue network, etc. that the puppy would be suitable for. If not, the puppy will be retired from the program and adopted to either an approved community member that could use a well trained dog for therapy or companion work, its Puppy Trainer, or an approved community member as a pet. The new owner will be encouraged to continue the dog's training and enroll it in a therapy dog program.
Amendments and Revisions
Section 1. Amendments This constitution may be amended by a 2/3 majority vote of approval held at an officer meeting. In the event that a ⅔ majority cannot be reached among the officer team, the vote will be taken to the general membership. A ⅔ majority of the general membership must be present for an amendment to pass. The amendment will not become effective only after the faculty advisor approves the voted-on changes.
Section 2. Reviews
This document is subject to review by the Department of Student Activities annually and/or when it is amended.
Signature of Advisor Date
Signature of President Date
Approved: ________________________________ ________________
Department of Student Activities Date