Bylaws of the Central Indiana DSA

[Adopted, June 14, 2020]

ARTICLE I. Name

The name of the Local (henceforward referred to as “Chapter”) shall be the Central Indiana Democratic Socialists of America (CINDSA), also known as the Powers and Mary Hapgood Local, a not-for-profit corporation.

ARTICLE II. Purpose

The Chapter seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.

The Chapter rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, medical conditions, including pregnancy, marital status, religious status or beliefs, social economic status, age, and other forms of discrimination against historically marginalized groups, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.

The Chapter envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.

Our conception of socialism is a profoundly democratic one.  It is rooted in the belief that human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, that public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation, and that individual liberties should be carefully safeguarded.  It is committed to a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent, to a freedom to organize independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations — recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state.  It is committed to a freedom of religion that acknowledges the rights of those for whom spiritual concerns are central.

We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision.  In the present, we are building a visible socialist presence within the broad democratic left.  In the long run, we hope to build a majority movement capable of making democratic socialism a reality in the United States.  Our strategy acknowledges the class structure of U.S. society.  This class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.

ARTICLE III. Membership

Section 1. Membership

Members of the Chapter, will be those individuals defined as members under the National DSA Constitution, Article III, who reside and/or work in the Central Indiana Area. This area includes the following counties in the State of Indiana: Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Clay, Clinton, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Fountain, Franklin, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Union, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren, and Wayne. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Chapter chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee (NPC) of DSA.  

Section 2. Removal of Members

If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if he/she/they is found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if he/she/they is found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, the Chapter may vote to expel him/her/them from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally prefer written charges against the member in question to the Chapter Steering Committee (see Article VI), which shall set the date of a Chapter meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Chapter meeting.  An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee (NPC) of DSA.

Chapter Officers must be recalled before they can be removed.

Section 3. Dues

The Chapter chapter may establish a Chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. This is not a substitute for dues to national DSA. Any amount of dues paid to national DSA, as allowed through sustainership, shall satisfy this requirement.

ARTICLE IV. Chapter Meetings

Section 1. Annual Meeting

The Chapter will hold a minimum of one Annual  Meeting, and all members of the Chapter will receive three weeks written (or electronic) mail notice and an agenda of the Annual  Meeting.  The Annual  Meeting will elect Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Chapter.

Section 2. General Meetings

The Chapter will hold General  Meetings at least four times annually, and all members of the Chapter will receive two weeks written (or electronic) mail notice, and an agenda within 48 hours of the General Meeting.. The General  Meetings will set Chapter policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions. At least one of these meetings should be face-to-face, and all meetings should take reasonable steps to be virtually accessible.

The Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Chapter.

Section 3. Emergency Meetings

The Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Chapter on two days notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.

Section 4. Quorum

A quorum of 11 members, including four members of the Chapter Steering Committee is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business. 

ARTICLE V. Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties

Section 1. Officers and Terms

The officers of the Chapter will be the two Co-Chairs, Secretary, and Treasurer. The term of office will be two years, and shall run from February 1 to January 31 or until their successors are elected. At least one of the four officers must be a one woman or queer or genderfluid person and at least one must be a man.  

Section 2. Vacancies

In the event of a vacancy in any Chapter office, the Chapter Steering Committee will appoint an interim replacement until an election can be held, according to the timeline established by Article XI; an Emergency Meeting replacing either the General Meeting for electing the Nominations Committee, or the Annual Meeting for electing officers, whichever ensures the required month-long nominations period.

Section 3. Co-Chairs

a)  The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Chapter. They will preside over Chapter and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Co-Chairs will fulfill or solicit the duties of public spokespersons for the Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Chapter’s general welfare may demand. In the event that the Co-Chairs are unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, the Secretary will serve as replacement. 

b)  The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Chapter’s branches and committees.

c)  The Co-Chairs will report to Chapter General Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.

Section 4. Secretary

a)  The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Chapter, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Chapter. He/she/they will ensure effective communication with the national DSA. he/she/they will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chairs, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.

b)  The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Chapter and Steering Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Chapter. He/she/they shall transfer official records in good condition to his/her/their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.

Section 5. Treasurer

The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Chapter. All funds collected by the Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a credit union under the name of the Chapter. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Chapter budget, and deliver the Chapter financial report to the Annual Meeting of the Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Chapter. The Treasurer at their and the Steering Committee’s discretion shall form a Finance committee with the express purposes of fundraising and maintaining the Chapter’s accounts.

Section 6. Additional Duties

The Chapter Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Chapter, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.

ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee

Section 1. Composition

The Chapter Steering Committee will be composed of the four officers of the Chapter, the chair(s) of Chapter Youth Sections, the chair(s) of any Chapter Branches, and the chair(s) of any Standing Committees. The Chapter shall have the option of expanding and/or reorganizing the Chapter Steering Committee as needed and warranted.

Section 2. Duties

a)  The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Annual and General Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the Chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Annual and General Meetings.

b)  The Chapter Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Chapter meetings.

Section 3. Meetings

The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of the Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances. Chairs of Standing Committees and Ad-Hoc Committees may be invited to Steering Committee meetings at the Chapter Steering Committees’ discretion.

Section 4. Quorum

A quorum of three members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.

ARTICLE VII. Branches

Section 1. Establishment

Branches may be established by a majority vote of full members at a General Meeting of the Chapter upon request from five or more DSA members in a particular region that would reasonably fall under the purview of the Chapter. If their regional relationship to Chapter is ambiguous, a member of the Steering Committee should reach out to relevant other Chapters to discuss whether the Branch’s connection to Central Indiana is reasonable and not encroaching on the operations of other Chapters.

Section 2. Maintaining Status

An established  branch (see VII.1)  will retain its status provided it maintains at least five full members in good standing with national DSA.  The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Chapter Steering Committee.

Section 3. Youth Sections

Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called Chapter Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Chapter Youth Sections will hold membership on the Chapter Steering Committee. 

Section 4. Branch General Meetings

Each branch will hold General Meetings at least four times annually, and all members of the branch will receive two weeks written (or electronic) mail notice and an agenda within 48 hours of the General Meeting, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by a Branch Co-chair or another delegated branch member. At least one of these meetings should be face-to-face, and all meetings should take reasonable steps to be virtually accessible.

ARTICLE VIII. Committees

All activities in which members will be formally engaged as DSA members and/or which shall use the DSA Chapter’s/Branch’s name must be endorsed by a committee if they are not directly sanctioned by a majority vote of the Chapter’s/Branch’s membership in attendance at a meeting or the Chapter’s Steering Committee, thus ensuring accountability through democratic process.

Section 1. Standing Committees

1. Establishment

Standing Committees may be established by a majority vote of full members at a General Meeting of the Chapter.

2. Duration

Standing Committees exist until they are dissolved. The process to dissolve a standing committee first requires an initial vote by the Chapter to suspend the proceedings of the committee and a second vote by the Chapter to either reinstate or dissolve the committee held at either the same or the next Chapter meeting. Both votes will require a 2/3rds majority vote. The Chapter shall have the option of expanding and/or reorganizing committees as needed and warranted.

3. Composition

Standing Committees will have two  co-chairs and subcommittee leads selected by a majority vote by the members of the entire committee. When possible gender parity should be achieved across the committee’s / subcommittee’s leadership. Rules for joining and remaining a member of a Committee may be provisionally decided or provisionally amended by majority vote of the current members in attendance at a meeting of that committee, and subsequently ratified by majority vote of the Steering Committee at the next Steering Committee meeting. Current Committee members will be given written (or electronic) mail notice at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting where membership rules changes will be debated. Membership rules changes will be presented to the Steering Committee through written (or electronic) notice within 48 hours of the meeting at which they were passed. Specific duties will be determined by the nature of the committee.

Each Standing Committee will create a duties and responsibilities framework upon establishment, which may take the form of a strategic plan. Chairs of Standing Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the General Meetings of the Chapter apprised of the activities of the committee.

4. Meetings

Each committee will hold Committee Meetings at least four times annually, and all members of the committee will receive two weeks written (or electronic) mail notice and an agenda within 48 hours of the Committee Meetings, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by a committee Co-chair or another delegated committee member. At least one of these meetings should be face-to-face, and all meetings should take reasonable steps to be virtually accessible. Committees that can not report meetings for a full year will be dissolved and / or reassigned to Chapter members solicited by the Chapter Steering Committee.

5. Procurement of Funds

Funds of $50 or less may be requested of the Treasurer, while requests for greater amounts must be approved by majority vote at a General Meeting of the Chapter. 

Section 2. Ad Hoc Committees

1. Establishment

Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a majority vote of full members at a General Meeting of the Chapter or by five members through a petition to the Chapter Steering Committee, in which case procurement of funds is limited (See Article VIII, Section 2. 4. [Below]). An Ad Hoc Committee established in the second manner may, at any General Meeting of the Chapter, be re-established in the first manner to remove this limitation on funds.

2. Duration

Ad Hoc Committees will exist for a limited and explicit duration.

3. Duties

Specific duties will be determined by the nature of the committee. Each Ad HocCommittee will create a duties and responsibilities framework upon establishment. Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the General Meetings of the Chapter apprised of the activities of the committee.

4. Procurement of Funds

Funds of $50 or less may be requested of the Treasurer, while requests for greater amounts must be approved by majority vote at a General Meeting of the Chapter. Only Ad Hoc Committees established by a majority vote of full members at a General Meeting of the Chapter may request Chapter funds.

ARTICLE IX. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

Section 1. National Convention

Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Chapter.  Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization. Nominations for Chapter members as delegates to the national convention shall be opened at least 3 months before the date of the convention at a General Meeting. Nominations will be closed one month before the deadline for providing national DSA the names of the convention delegates, to provide time for the vote. Whenever possible efforts should be made to have at least one representative from each branch comprise the delegates to any National or Regional Convention.

ARTICLE X. Prohibited Activity

The Chapter, as well as its constituting Branches and / or committees, shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Indiana. Nor shall the Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

ARTICLE XI. Nominations, Elections, and Recall of Chapter Officers

Section 1. Nominations Committee

A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by majority vote of a General Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.

Section 2. Nominations Process

1. Chapter Officers

Nominations for Chapter officers shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the Annual Meeting.  The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA in advance of the General Meeting.  

Section 3. Uncontested Positions

If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.

Section 4. Recalling an Officer

An officer shall be considered recalled should a complaint be filed against them through the grievance process and the Oversight Committee, or that committee’s assigns, find them unfit for office.

ARTICLE XII. Amendments

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Chapter, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of an Annual or General Meeting.  The Steering Committee is required to provide the Chapter membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments.  The amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote of Chapter members in good standing at the time they voted, taken at two consecutive (Annual of General) Chapter meetings.

ARTICLE XIII. Rules of the Chapter

Section 1. Rules

The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern this Chapter in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws.  Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order upon the request of a member.

Section 2. Code of Conduct

Members of the CINDSA shall abide by the national DSA Code of Conduct. Violations of the Code of Conduct will result in violator’s reference to the Harassment and Grievance Officers (HGOs) and pursued according to the grievance policy..

Section 3. Grievance Policy

a) Purpose

The Chapter follows the guidelines outlined by the National DSA Harassment Policy written by the Harassment Working Group. Members shall not engage in harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, or profession. Harassing or abusive behavior, such as unwelcome attention, inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, or jokes, physical or verbal intimidation, stalking, inappropriate physical contact or proximity, and other verbal and physical conduct constitute harassment when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a member’s continued affiliation with DSA; submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for organizational decisions affecting such individual; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment interfering with an individual’s capacity to organize within DSA. Harassment based on categories not encompassed by those listed will be evaluated at the discretion of the HGOs and Oversight Committee representatives.

b) Positions
i. Harassment and Grievance Officers (HGOs)
1) Positions

HGOs must be DSA members in good standing and must not be under current investigation for any charges within the organization. There shall be at least one HGO identifying as a woman or queer or genderfluid person and one HGO identifying as a man. HGOs must submit a candidate questionnaire when announcing their candidacy. HGOs may not hold any other elected positions within the organization. HGOs are elected for two years. The removal process of an HGO follows officer recall guidelines. HGOs may be recused from particular cases due to a conflict of interest determined either by them, the accused, or the accuser, in addition to the Oversight Committee. If both grievance officers must be recused, a replacement will be selected from the Oversight Committee. If none of the Oversight Committee members are satisfactory, the case is then taken to the NPC. Upon election, HGOs must undergo a training process developed and administered by the Oversight Committee or its assigns.

2) Responsibilities

The HGOs will receive, acknowledge receipt of, and archive accuser reports; Contact the accused to notify them of the accusations, request their written/recorded response, and archive any written/recorded response; Conduct any necessary investigation of the claim; and Present their findings to the Oversight Committee with a written report and, if necessary, a recommendation for disciplinary action. If necessary, HGO(s) may recommend that parties do not contact each other for the duration of the investigative process. HGOs are also responsible for compiling a yearly report detailing how many reports were made; how many were taken to the disciplinary process; how many disciplinary actions were taken; and any recommended changes for making the reporting system more effective. This report will not include personally identifying information of any parties in any dispute. The Chapter HGO(s) will send the yearly report to the national HGO(s) no later than January 1 every year.

ii. Oversight Committee
1) Positions

Oversight Committee Members must be DSA members in good standing and must not be under current investigation for any charges within the organization. Oversight Committee Members are elected for two years. The removal process of an Oversight Committee Member follows officer recall guidelines. An Oversight Committee Member may be recused from particular cases due to a conflict of interest determined either by them, the accused, or the accuser, in addition to an HGO. If no Oversight Committee Members remain after recusal, an independent third-party may be elected to carry out the committee’s responsibilities by membership at a meeting of the Chapter.

2) Responsibilities

Oversight Committee Members will fulfill their duties as outlined in the Grievance Process, as follows, with restorative justice as their ultimate goal.

c) Process

Members may follow the standard DSA complaint process as set out in the following sections if they believe they have been harassed by another member. There will be no time limits requiring the accuser to file a report within any amount of time after the alleged harassment has occurred. 

i. Members filing a formal complaint must contact a DSA harassment grievance officer (HGO) by filling out a complaint form. Complaints may not be filed on another’s behalf without their consent. Public statements or publication (as opposed to statements or messages made privately to individuals) of the complaint, or any details about the issue(s) under investigation, made by the accuser may be grounds for nullification of the complaint.

ii. After a written report has been submitted, the HGO(s) responsible for the reporting channel used by the accuser will contact the accused member within seven days to notify them that a report has been filed against them and request a written response to the report either affirming or denying its substance.

iii. The accused will submit their written response within seven days of being notified. Public statements or publication (as opposed to statements or messages made privately to individuals) of the complaint and/or written response, or any details about the issue(s) under investigation, made by the accuser may be grounds for disciplinary action in itself. If the accused does not meet this deadline, the HGO will recommend the Oversight Committee move to take appropriate disciplinary action.

iv. If the accused denies the substance of the report, the HGO overseeing the dispute will have the option to investigate the report by interviewing other members with direct knowledge of the substance of the report; requesting documentation from either the accuser or accused or any other parties directly involved; or employing any and all other means deemed necessary, with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the parties, within a time period not to exceed ten days.

v. The HGO(s) responsible for adjudicating the dispute will determine whether the report is credible and, if necessary, make a recommendation to the Oversight Committee of the need for appropriate disciplinary action as soon as practicable, but ultimately within thirty days of the report being filed. This is to ensure the timely, efficient, accurate, and discreet adjudication of all reports. The HGO(s) may notify Oversight of the accuser’s report and its substance at any time after the report is filed, but must give written notice to both the accuser and the accused member before doing so.

vi. All reports will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the HGO(s) and Oversight Committee. The ultimate disposition of each report will be made by the chapter’s Oversight Committee after that body reviews the written report and recommendation of the HGO(s). The chapter’s Oversight Committee or, in the case of DSA National, the NPC will find the factual allegation in a report is “credible” if it more-likely-than-not occurred using the process of determining just cause.

vii. If a chapter’s Oversight Committee finds the report to be credible, they are authorized to carry out the following remedies and penalties:

  • A formal discussion between the accused and the Oversight Committee to develop a plan to change the harassing behavior(s);
  • Suspension from committee meetings and other chapter or organizational events;
  • Removal from chapter committee(s);
  • Removal from DSA; and
  • Any and all other relief deemed necessary and just by the chapter or national leadership.
  • DSA national is authorized to enforce certain remedies and penalties in accordance with Article III, Section 4 of the DSA Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of DSA Bylaws including removal from DSA; and any and all other relief deemed necessary and just by the chapter or national leadership.
  • The decision on whether to involve the police for offenses serious enough to warrant their interference is left to the victim of the crime.

viii. Sentencing will embrace tenets of restorative justice. The appropriate form of relief will also take into account the request of the accuser; the severity of the offense; the response of the accused; the accused’s relevant behavioral histories; and the power dynamics between the parties involved.

ix. Either party may appeal the form of relief determined by the Oversight Committee, by filling out an appeal form and submitting it to DSA national. Appeals must be filed within thirty days of receiving written notice of the Oversight Committee’s decision. The limited grounds for appeal are:

  • Either party believes the behavior was not interpreted using the standards for harassment set out in Section 3.a;
  • Procedural errors, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affected the fairness of the outcome; and
  • The remedy or penalty determined by Oversight was grossly disproportionate to the violation committed

x. This policy prohibits retaliation against any member for bringing a complaint of harassment pursuant to this policy. This policy also prohibits retaliation against a person who assists someone with a complaint of harassment, or participates in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a complaint of discrimination or harassment. Retaliatory behaviors include threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse actions related to organizing. If any party to the complaint believes there has been retaliation, they may inform the HGO who will determine whether to factor the retaliation into the original complaint, or treat it as an individual incident.

Section 3. Action Out of Order

Any action taken by an officer or member of the Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.