When AMSA members want to change one of AMSA’s policies, they submit a resolution. A resolution is a proposed change of AMSA’s policies that is considered by AMSA’s House of Delegates at National Convention. Every member of AMSA can write and submit resolutions to the HOD. Resolutions are a fundamental way in which the members of AMSA express their ownership of the association. Every member’s voice is heard and anyone can change AMSA.
Resolutions are of vital importance to AMSA because they form the policies in the Preamble, Purposes and Principles (PPP), the official policy document which guides AMSA. The Board of Trustees uses the resolutions passed in the HOD from the previous year as a compass for action in the following year. AMSA’s national leaders use the PPP to prepare and present testimony, lobby Congress or advise other medical groups about the opinions of medical students. Position papers and policy summaries are based on the PPP. AMSA chapters often share the PPP with their deans, medical schools and other local organizations. Your resolutions will play a major role in directing AMSA for years to come. The following are some guidelines for writing a resolution.
1. The different types of resolutions
There are three different types of resolutions:
a. Constitution & Bylaws
If members want to change the internal policies governing the way AMSA is structured or operates, they may write a resolution that proposes an amendment to the Constitution or Bylaws. These amendments require five authors and a two-thirds vote to pass in the HOD. View a sample amendment to the Constitution & Bylaws.
b. Internal Affairs
If members want to amend the “IA” section, they may write a resolution of Internal Affairs. These resolutions deal with the details of AMSA’s internal policies and procedures. These resolutions require one author and a majority vote to pass in the HOD. View a sample Internal Affairs amendment.
c. Preamble, Purposes and Principles (PPP)
The last type of resolution is the one that most members write, a resolution of Principles. This type of resolution seeks to amend the “Principles” section of the PPP, the section that lists how AMSA members feel about various issues. Members interested in changing our policy on handgun control, for instance, can look through our PPP section on handgun control and write a resolution that spells out exactly how to change this section. These resolutions require one author and a majority vote to pass in the HOD. View a sample amendment to the Principles.
2. A resolution proposes a specific change in the AMSA’s governing documents.
A resolution is a written proposal to the HOD asking AMSA’s membership to consider changing one of the policies in our governing documents. If the CBIA or PPP already contains a section that addresses the topic in question, the resolution needs to spell out exactly how the section should be changed. If there is nothing in the CBIA or PPP about the topic, a resolution may propose that AMSA add a new section. Before writing a resolution, members should always read through the CBIA and/or PPP to see if any sections pertain to the topic of their resolution. Any member who needs help finding a particular topic in the PPP may contact AMSA’s Vice President for Internal Affairs at email@example.com.
3. The parts of a resolution
The format of a resolution is not complicated. Each resolution includes:
- The names and affiliations of the authors (their medical schools and any AMSA position they hold).
- The title of the resolution.
- The type of resolution it is (Constitution and Bylaws, Internal Affairs or Principles).
- Preamble tells the membership any needed background information about the resolution. This information may include why the resolution is being proposed and important background events, recent scientific studies or the scope of the problem. They should be brief and include all documentation that the delegates will need in order to understand the resolution and its context. The preamble should represent a brief but persuasive argument as to why the members should approve your resolution. The preamble is not printed in the PPP or CBIA and is not binding. Footnotes may be used in this section to support specific statements or claims being made.
- “BE IT RESOLVED” or operative clause. This is the “resolution proper,” as it describes the proposed change. This part of the resolution should specifically designate the actions that you wish to accomplish, what you’ve argued for in the preamble. The operative clause is printed in the PPP or CBIA.
4. Ask for help, ask for help, ask for help
HOD Chair & Vice President for Internal Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) and HOD Vice Chair & National Secretary (email@example.com) are available to answer any questions about the HOD process. Please don’t hesitate to email them!
5. Deadlines & Submission Process
All resolutions must be submitted online no later than 60 days prior to the opening sessions of the House of Delegates. Click here to submit a resolution.
After the deadline, certain “late-breaking” resolutions can be accepted into the HOD by the Board of Trustees (BOT). These late resolutions must be ruled “emergent” by the BOT, meaning that they should pertain to matters that developed after the deadline. The HOD usually cannot consider late-breaking resolutions that are lengthy and complicated because delegates will not have had the chance to review them adequately before the House opens. In addition, the BOT must approve the resolution as truly a late-breaking matter. Resolutions to amend the Constitution and Bylaws section of AMSA’s CBIA cannot be accepted less than 60 days before the resolution will be debated in the HOD. It is mandatory that you speak with the Vice President for Internal Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to submit a late-breaking resolution.
At Convention, authors of resolutions can work to get their resolutions passed. On Friday, authors are encouraged to attend the open session of the reference committee considering their resolution. At these sessions, authors may speak in support of their resolutions. They may also speak in support of their resolutions on the House floor during the Saturday afternoon business session.
DETAILS OF RESOLUTION WRITING
All resolutions must be submitted online. The general form of the resolution is described in the main House of Delegates section, but below are specific pointers on the writing and organization of a resolution, section by section. The resolution is, in general, written as a memo, with the CAPITALIZED topics coming first, and then paragraph form for the Preamble and Operative Clause.
INTRODUCED BY: Name(s) of author(s) of resolution. The authors must be members of AMSA. For constitution amendments, there must be five authors. Only one is needed for other types of resolutions.
SCHOOL: School of author(s). The school(s) of each author(s) needs to be recorded.
SUBJECT: The title of your resolution. It should be appropriate to the action proposed. Examples are “Amendment to the Bylaws Regarding Quorum,” or “Policy Statement on Essential Drugs and Vaccines.”
TYPE OF RESOLUTION: Classify as one of the following:
- Constitution or Bylaws Amendment
- Resolution of Internal Affairs
- Resolution of Principles
Resolutions can be used to create a study group, an ad hoc committee of the BOT or any other change that is deemed necessary to move an issue.
PREAMBLE: This is a concise summary of supporting evidence documenting the need for, feasibility of, or interest in all activities and policy contained in the resolution. The preamble has no specific heading; it simply represents the argument for the action proposed. As such, effective preambles are brief, to the point and cite relevant references when necessary (please include all references at the end of the resolution). One copy of each reference cited must be included with your submission and emailed along with your documents. Inappropriate preambles are those that are excessively long; contain inflammatory language; and make bold assertions of fact without referenced support. The preamble should contain no specific language for action, though it may cite relevant language from the PPP.
OPERATIVE CLAUSE: This clause contains the specific action recommended and includes the exact language to be included in the PPP. There should be a line separating the preamble from this clause. By tradition, ALL OPERATIVE CLAUSES BEGIN WITH THE WORDS, “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED.” The clause should specifically state where the language should be included in the PPP. The clause should not refer to the preamble, which will not go into the PPP; it’s freestanding. Any specific deletions of the PPP may be accomplished by simply asking for deletion of the relevant section. However, if only certain words are to be changed then the clause should recommend a change to the new wording. When wording is changed or added, please include the WHOLE SECTION changed, not just the words changed. If you’re suggesting additional “BE IT RESOLVED” clauses, begin them as follows: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT…” Also, see the sample resolutions.
A fiscal note must be included at the end of the resolution if the proposed amendment or resolution will require a financial commitment from AMSA. The fiscal note estimates the cost to the organization. It often requires contacting the national office to determine operating expenses.
The process for writing a resolution is vital to AMSA and we encourage you to seek help with any questions you might have about the process or the specific formatting. The best contacts are the Vice President for Internal Affairs and National Secretary. We are eager to hear from you and guide you through this important process.