The American Indian Student Union is a cultural CIO that strives to increase awareness of the American Indian community on Grounds, holds cultural events relating to American Indians, and provides an organization where all students and community members can gather to explore Native American heritage and identity.

Last updated on Monday, September 17, 2012.

Article I: NAME

The official name of the Organization shall be the American Indian Student Union at the University of Virginia. It shall be referred to by the acronym AISU.


The American Indian Student Union at the University of Virginia is a cultural and educational organization for self-identifying American Indian students of tribes from (but not limited to) Canada, Mexico, and the United States, self-identifying Native Hawaiians, as well as any other student or community member interested in American Indian issues and culture. AISU is dedicated to building a community among its members and to enriching the diversity of the University community.

AISU Chief Objectives are to provide:

1)    Social and education events for AISU members. AISU is a resource for University students looking for an opportunity to learn more about American Indian cultural traditions in a community setting.

2)    A schedule of sponsored events aimed at increasing awareness on Grounds of the major issues facing contemporary Native America.

3)    Participation in campus-wide programs and events that focus on issues related to diversity. American Indian interests have not been actively represented at the University of Virginia for some time now. AISU’s goal is to fill that role.

4)    An American Indian point-of-view by participating in campus debates on diversity and voicing support concerns on actions of both student government and the University administration. AISU recognizes that it does not speak for all Native peoples nor does the participation of certain officers in policy debates necessarily reflect the views of all members of the Organization. AISU only hopes to add to the richness of discussion on issues of concern to all students.


The Organization will not restrict membership and/or activity by reason of age, citizenship, color, disability, gender, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam eras. Notwithstanding these requirements, the Organization may restrict membership based on an ability to perform the activities related to the Organization’s purpose. All members must have full- or part-time student status, be enrolled in a credit-earning degree program, have attended at least two meetings for each traditionally-scheduled (ie. fall and spring semesters), and show a genuine interest to the advancement of American Indians to be voting members. AISU may include several faculty and community members in their meetings and activities. These participants will most often be Elders and interested community members that are essential to the life and learning of the American Indian community. These participants will not be members for the purposes of voting on matters of governing this University of Virginia CIO, but their advice may be sought on a regular basis.

Members that wish to be recognized as American Indians of AISU of a particular tribe or of multiple tribes should notify the president upon joining AISU. Federal recognition (either from the American or Canadian Governments), being a “visible minority”, or certain blood quanta are not necessary to self-identify as an American Indian or Hawaiian Native. Members who do have proof of American Indian or Hawaiian Native decent, such as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s “Certificate of Indian Status” ( « Certificat de statut d’indien » ), are encouraged to provide the president a copy of this documentation. This will better allow the president to identify possible scholarship monies available for certain tribes in Canada and the United States. Tribal information of members may be publicized unless otherwise indicated to the president by a member that wishes to keep his/her tribal affiliation confidential.


The following officers (“the officers”) shall guide the policy-making powers of AISU and will control the powers of expenditure for the Organization. All officers must have the prerequisites required to be a voting member. Only undergraduate students may run for an officer position. All officers will be responsible for actions taken during the summer proceeding the year they are elected and for the fall and spring semesters of that designated year of service.  The officers do not necessarily need to be American Indian.

1)    President – The president shall be the chief officer of the organization. The president shall call the meetings of the organization, and represent AISU in front of the University administration, student government organizations, and other CIOs and organizations. The president may authorize expenditures for the organization but will seek approval from the membership for these expenditures when reasonably possible to do so or when the expenditure exceeds $500 United States Dollars. The president may delegate any of the above functions to other officers of AISU and may appoint any member of the organization to represent AISU to the community at large.

2)    Vice President – The vice president shall assist the president in the execution of general administrative duties of the Organization. The vice president shall also keep the minutes of AISU meetings and will record any votes on policy actions and expenditures taken at a meeting. The vice president shall be authorized to make expenditures from AISU’s accounts when the president delegates such power.

3)    Treasurer – The treasurer shall be responsible for tracking and keeping records related to all expenditures of the organization. The Treasurer shall, with the assistance of the President and Vice President, prepare budgets at least once a year, but preferably once each in the fall and spring semesters. The treasurer shall also be authorized to make expenditures from AISU’s accounts as well as represent AISU as an organization when seeking funds from external organizations when the president delegates such power. The president may appoint the treasurer to write reports with assistance either from the president, vice president, or another member regarding expenses when required by an external organization to gain funding.


Elections shall be held once each year in the month of April. This regular election will serve to elect the officers who will serve beginning on the day following the end of the spring academic semester. Officers will serve from the day following the end of the spring academic semester until the same date the following year.

A resignation will result in an election being held to fill the vacancy two weeks following the date of the resignation by the officer. If the president deems necessary, he/she may fill an open position by appointing a person who will serve until the end of that academic semester. After the end of the said semester, elections to fill the vacancy must be held.

If the president resigns, the vice president is automatically made the acting president. The acting president may choose to hold the position of president for the remainder of that current academic semester or hold elections in two weeks time and resume the position of vice president after elections. In the case that an acting president chooses to serve out the current academic semester, he/she may either appoint a replacement for the vice president’s position or hold elections to fill the position within two weeks after his/her taking over as acting president.

An officer shall be removed only be either a two-thirds vote of the organization’s membership or by accumulating four un-excused absences from announced official meetings in an academic semester. The president will deem whether an absence is un-excused, but he/she will be guided by principles of fair play. If a student absent for reasons of academic preparation, career placement, or job duties, absences will generally be excused, but advance notice to one of the officers is strongly encouraged. When an officer’s removal is proposed, they shall be afforded the opportunity to speak about the reasons for the removal vote prior to the vote taking place. In the case of the an officer accumulating four un-excused absences, the removal is automatic unless the officer appears at the next meeting and explains his/her absences within reason (as decided by the president).  Assuming the president’s absences are in question, their validity will be decided by the vice president.


The only standing committee of AISU shall be the Executive Committee. The officers described in Article IV shall comprise it. The Executive Committee is authorized to make emergency policy decisions without the approval of a majority of the membership. When such emergency decisions are made, the Executive Committee will make every effort to poll the membership by phone or e-mail and will in all cases present the decision for ratification or reversal within four weeks.

The President may from time to time appoint temporary committees to organize activities for AISU. These committees may or may not have authority to authorize expenses, as deemed by the President when commissioning these temporary committees.


There is no standard meeting time or place for AISU but every effort will be made to keep regular meetings every month a regular time and place. Optimally, AISU will meet every two to three weeks in an academic semester. A quorum is present for the purposes of voting on policy or expenditures when three members are present. Notification of meetings to the membership and officers will be done, for the most part, by e-mail to their respective addresses. Participants or Elders of the Charlottesville community or other persons that request to be notified when meetings occur will be sent notifications via e-mail or will be notified by phone. Members are strongly encouraged to check their e-mail inboxes daily. Meetings must be announced to the membership and officers at least twenty-four hours in advance to the scheduled meeting. If a meeting is deemed as an “emergency meeting” by the President, this meeting only requires twelve hours notice to the membership and officers.


Expenditures may be made by the President. The Vice President and the Treasurer may make expenditures when authorized by the President. The President will make every effort to seek approval of expenditures from a majority of the membership when reasonably possible. In the event that an expense will exceed $500 United States Dollars, a vote of approval from a majority of the membership present at a meeting is required.


In the event that an off-Grounds activity is held, that is, an activity held outside of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville campus, each member releases liability of bodily injury and/or property damage of AISU and its officers while in transport to the activity or at the activity’s location. Non-members of AISU must agree to these same terms by written release when attending an off-Grounds activity. Unless otherwise said by the President, non-members are required to cover their own expenses.


While AISU respects the traditions and cultures of all indigenous peoples of the Americas, the official language shall be American English at all meetings and events.  Proposals written to Canadian government agencies or Canadian organizations for funding may need to be written in Canadian French but will otherwise be printed in Canadian English.  Any documents of AISU that are written in a language outside of American English or Canadian English must be translated into American English for archival purposes.


The following words are the near-equivalent, according to AISU standards, of “American Indians”, and are somewhat interchangeable, varying sometimes by current country of a tribe:

•    Aboriginals

•    Aboriginal, Indigenous, or Original Americans / Canadians / Etc.

•    Aboriginal Peoples

•    American Indians

•    Amerindians

•    Amerinds

•    Autochtones [Canadian French terminology]

•    First Nations

•    First Peoples

•    Indians

•    Native American [Canadian English: Native-American]

•    Native Canadian [Canadian English: Native-Canadian]

The following words, though not exactly similar in meaning to “American Indians” and their related words, genetically speaking, are in reference to indigenous peoples of North America and the Hawaiian Islands and thereby in scope of the AISU:

•    Inuit

•    Métis

•    Native Alaskans

•    Native Hawaiians


Amendments and changes to the language of this Constitution and the addition of by-laws will require a vote of two-thirds of the membership present at an officially announced meeting of AISU. Amendments and by-laws may be proposed by any member of the Organization, but must be submitted in writing to the President one week prior to the date of the meeting where they will be considered. This allows the membership time to consider the proposed changes or by-laws. Members, by joining AISU officially as a CIO, implicitly agree to the terms set forth by the Articles of the AISU Constitution.


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