The organization for which this is the constitution shall be called: The Graduate English Students Association.


The Graduate English Students Association (GESA), established in 1975, is the primary graduate student organization within the University of Virginia’s English Department. GESA advances the interests of all graduate English students to departmental and university administrators, fosters and supports a vibrant intellectual community, and provides valuable resources to members at every phase of the University’s program in English.


As it is GESA’s goal to advance the interest of all English Department graduate students, any person currently pursuing an advanced degree (MA, MFA, PhD) in the Department of English at the University of Virginia will be considered a de facto member of GESA.

Membership shall be permitted to any members of the University community regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, or status.

Membership dues, assessed annually, are at present GESA’s primary source of funding. All GESA constituents are strongly encouraged to pay dues, though the non-payment of dues shall not prevent them from voting in GESA elections or from running for GESA office. The rate for dues will be determined by the GESA board prior to the beginning of each fall semester. Dues may be paid by check, cash, or credit card, the method for which shall be determined by the Board.

ARTICLE IV: Officers and Representatives

All Officers, Representatives, and Delegates at Large shall be registered students of the University during their period of tenure. All Officers and Representatives are to be elected in accordance with Article VI and shall perform their duties as described in this Article.

IV.i) GESA Board

a) Shall consist of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, Treasurer, and M.A. Representatives; they may otherwise be known as Officers
b) Executive and legislative powers shall be vested in the Officers of the GESA Board
c) Shall call meetings as it sees fit for the planning of GESA-sponsored events, the allocation of GESA funds, and other GESA business (see Article VIII)

IV.ii) The President

a) Shall preside over meetings of the Association and its Officers, propose legislation, supervise activities and oversee the Association in all ways
b) Shall act in accordance with the advice and consent of the other Officers
c) Shall register GESA with all and every University organization necessary for the good functioning of the organization
d) Shall represent GESA as a member, ex officio, of the Graduate Committee of the Department of English, the Departmental Administrative Committee, and other committees as permitted by the Department
e) Shall appoint Officers to any vacancies that might arise for any reason prior to the expiration of the prescribed terms
f) Shall coordinate mock oral exams for those PhD or MA who wish to take one
g) Shall assist the Faculty Admissions Committee in coordinating any events for admitted prospective graduate students’ visits
h) Shall prepare an agenda for discussion at GESA meetings

IV.iii) The Vice-President

a) Shall assist the President
b) Shall succeed the President in the event that the office falls vacant for any reasons prior to the expiration of the prescribed term, in which case a new Vice-President shall be appointed by the new President within two days of this assumption of office, and which appointment shall be subject to the approval of the remaining Officers
c) Shall represent the English Department on the Gradate Student Council for the College of Arts and Sciences (GSASC)
d) Shall oversee the formation and progress of ad hoc GESA Committees formed in the course of the year
e) Shall coordinate any of the annual social events that GESA holds, including the fall and spring picnics and the holiday party

IV.iv) The Secretary

a) Shall keep records and minutes of GESA meetings; minutes shall be posted on GESA website or otherwise communicated to members
b) Shall perform correspondence as the other Officers shall prescribe
c) Shall preside over and coordinate the use of space in Bryan Hall and related venues for member use, including but not limited to office hours, mock oral exams, and reading groups
d) Shall coordinate the voluntary pairing of incoming graduate students with current graduate student mentors in early August, before the beginning of the academic year
e) Shall maintain, edit, and update the GESA website

IV.v) The Treasurer

a) Shall keep accounts, make deposits, disburse monies, collect dues and supervise the finances of GESA in every way
b) Shall ensure that all monies, grants, donations and gifts presented under any guise shall be used according to the wishes and instructions of those making such presentation and in no other way
c) Shall present statements of GESA’s account whenever two of the other Officers shall so request, and shall keep accounts in good order at all times
d) Shall follow the requirements and procedures described in Article IX Masters of Arts (M.A.) Representatives

a) Shall work in the interests of Masters of Arts degree candidates within the English Department
b) Shall call meetings of the M.A. students and form committees in the interests of M.A. students as necessary

IV.vii) ABD & Career Development Representative(s)

a) Shall be served by no more than two representatives
b) Shall work in the interests of ABD doctoral candidates within the English Department
c) Shall call meetings of the ABD students and form committees in the interests of ABD students as necessary
d) Shall maintain a list of potential sources of funding (including both under-tapped resources around the university, and outside sources) for ABD students
e) Shall work closely with GSASC Representatives
f) Shall advocate for the professional career development of all graduate students as a necessary part of their graduate training
g) Shall coordinate panels on non-academic or alternative-academic job opportunities and job preparation throughout the year
h) Shall maintain on the GESA website a body of resources devoted to career development.
i) Shall maintain a network of contacts at UVA and in the professional world
j) Shall survey faculty and each graduating class to maintain up-to-date contact information and to assess potential candidates’ willingness to speak to current graduate students

IV.viii) Writing and Composition Representative

a) Shall work in the interests of graduate students in their capacity as instructors of writing and composition
b) Shall attend curriculum and planning meetings for the Writing Program, representing the interests of graduate students

IV.ix) MFA Representatives

a Shall be served by no more than five (5) members
b) Shall attend all GESA meetings
c) Shall be responsible for advocating for needs of MFA students, as well as informing GESA about events, programs, and goings-on in the Creative Writing Department
d) Shall conduct elections to determine successors consistent with Article below

Article V: Other GESA Delegates

V.i) The Elections Officer

a) Shall be appointed by a vote of those present at the March GESA meeting
b) Shall, in a discrete, fair, and confidential manner, collect nominations and votes via email, tally votes, and report election results in a timely fashion according to a schedule set by GESA Officers
c) Shall adhere to all policies outlined in Article VI

V.ii) The First Year Series Panel Coordinator

a) Shall coordinate at least two panels for first-year graduate students during the academic year on topics having to do with professionalization
b) Shall extend the invitations to the speakers, and moderate the panels

V.iii) The Graduate Conference Coordinators

a) Shall be served by two members
b) Shall coordinate the annual GESA-sponsored graduate conference
c) Shall select next year’s conference co-chairs from among the first-year (rising second year) PhD class

V.iv) The GESA Book Sale Coordinators

a) Shall be chosen by the GESA Board at the first meeting of the fall semester by virtue of volunteer
b) Shall hold at least one book sale during the academic year with donated books
c) Shall ensure proceeds from the book sale(s) are safely transferred to Treasurer and deposited into the GESA bank account

V.v) Bowers Library Coordinator

a) Shall maintain and help build a useful collection in the Library
b) Shall help coordinate events in the Library
c) Shall maintain cleanliness of Library

ARTICLE VI: Elections

All Officers and Representatives shall be chosen at an election held in April of each year, the date to be publicized by the Officers over e-mail and/or on the GESA website. An Elections Officer shall be appointed by those present at the March GESA meeting (see Article V.i) Candidates for all offices shall be nominated by members from the student membership or shall nominate themselves, via e-mail to the Elections Officer. MFA Representatives are to be elected separately; see Article below.

VI.i) Each member shall have one vote for each office

VI.ii). Those candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected, no majority being necessary

VI.iii) Newly elected Officers and Representatives shall assume office within one week after their election

VI.iv) Officers and Representatives shall serve for one year from the time they assume office and may succeed themselves

VI.v) While members may run as a candidate for any number of offices, they may hold only one office during any given year and shall, in the event of being elected to more than one office, choose one office in which to serve, the office so made vacant going to the candidate with the next highest number of votes MFA Representatives shall be elected by separate ballot consisting exclusively of votes from enrolled MFA graduate students. Such elections shall be carried out each spring by outgoing MFA Representatives. In all other matters, MFA elections shall adhere to this Article

ARTICLE VII: Committees

Officers may create various committees from among the members and shall describe their duties as Delegates at Large. Any member wishing to form a committee may do so by notifying the Officers. Any committee generating or requesting funds shall do so in accordance with the regulations set forth in Article IX.


The GESA Board shall convene at their discretion, typically once a month, during the academic year. They shall call general meetings of all the members, typically once a month. However, the Board shall call at least three general meetings per semester.

VIII.i) All four Officers of the GESA Board must attend any meeting whatsoever in order to pass any policy concerning legislation of finances.

ARTICLE IX: Finances

All decisions concerning finances shall be the collective responsibility of the Officers, of whom at least four must approve any and every decision concerning expenditures. Every expenditure shall be made in accordance with current University policy regarding the finances of Student Organizations.

IX.i) Self-Generating Funds

a) The cost of annual membership dues shall be determined by the Officers then in charge and announced to the members at large by the end of September of each year
b) The Treasurer shall be responsible for collecting and recording dues, and shall issue receipts for membership dues to those requiring them for taxation purposes
c) Except by law, those paying dues shall not prescribe how the dues shall be used except at an authorized general meeting by proposing legislation
d) The Treasurer shall collect and record any other self-generated funds and shall be responsible for their keeping

IX.ii) Expenditures

a) Expenditures of any and all funds shall be made in a non-discriminatory fashion
b) Only those Officers whose signatures are registered with the bank where GESA monies are held may pay out monies from GESA funds
c) The Treasurer shall keep receipts for all expenditures whatsoever

ARTICLE X: By-Laws and Amendments

Amendments to this constitution shall be made by three of the Officers or by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the membership. Amendments may be proposed by any member. This constitution shall be interpreted by four of the Officers of the GESA Board or by a two-third (2/3) majority vote of the members.

The original constitution was passed by a unanimous vote of the Association membership, September 1979.

This version of the constitution was voted into effect on 29 April 2020.