The Constitution, or CON, is our group’s supreme law and is binding upon every member, irrespective of rank. It provides a solid framework around which UFOP is built and is singularly our most important document. The CON is supported by more specific bylaws, which go into more detail about rules or procedures.
The CON, however, is a long and complex document which covers the most important UFOP rules and sets out the bare bones structure of our administration. It is deliberately not very specific so that it will remain functional for years to come. Bylaws are created to fill in the gaps left by the CON. Think of it a bit like saying that the CON tells us WHAT we have to do and bylaws tell us HOW exactly to do it.
As the CON is our most important document, it’s important that all our members know what information is in it. The CON is an extensive document (15 pages of A4 sized pages) and is specifically written like a legal document. It is done this way so that it is specific on important matters but gives flexibility for UFOP to interpret its rules, especially as times and situations change (which they always do). So basically the CON is like one of those legal agreements you always have to click ‘I accept’ next to when you open a new web-based email account. It’s important but it can be a bit of a struggle to get through, especially if you are new to the group or are not involved in its administration.
Purpose of the Summary
The purpose of this document, the Constitution Summary, is to give you a rough idea of the contents of the CON. It is designed for people who have just joined UFOP and want to get a few weeks or months of simming under their belt before reading through the CON itself, or for junior officers who don’t really feel they need to fully understand the CON right down to the letter as long as they understand the ‘gist’ of it. It is particularly useful to read this guide as you look at the CON itself, although you can read this guide alone for now if you prefer. Let us make two important points before launching into our look at the CON though:
With that all being said let us move on and begin to summarize the CONSTITUTION in layman’s terms.
This is UFOPs mission statement and basically describes UFOP as a Star Trek role-playing group and as being not-for-profit. It also states that should either of these key points change then those alterations would be so major that the CON would no longer be an appropriate supreme law for the group and so would be considered abolished.
This section deals with circumstances when something ‘goes against’ the CON whether it be a new rule or a member. Basically anyone who breaks the rules laid out in the CON will be punished as set out later in the CON and any new bylaw, rule or command decision which goes against the CON will be rendered void.
This is all legal-type stuff defining terms and expressions used in the CON. It also states that UFOPs main form of communication is email. The most important part of this section, though, is that it states Captains have autonomy over the daily running of their vessels (apart from any specific issues dealt with in the CON).
This section deals with how to make amendments to the CON itself – basically everyone of Commander rank or higher has to approve them.
This section covers rules on how members join and are subsequently treated within the group. It promises that UFOP won’t discriminate against people due to ethnic origin, gender, sexuality, (etc.) but that applications will be processed on ability. It states that applicants only become members after completing an initial training mission and thereby reaching the rank of Ensign. From that moment on the character’s ‘real player’ will always hold a rank within the group, even if they play a civilian. It lays down the procedure for taking a leave of absence (basically by informing your Commanding Officer [CO]). An important rule in this section is that you can only start a ‘second character’ when you reach Lieutenant rank and even then you can only have a maximum of two characters in the group (this doesn’t include non-playing characters [NPCs] or temporary characters). Only one of these characters can ever hold the rank of Captain or above. It also states that you can’t permanently pass on a character to someone of a lower rank. This section also importantly brings up the subject of disciplining members right up to a court-marshal (being expelled from the group) and gives members the right to appeal such decisions.
This is all about how UFOP is run as a group. Basically, as well as having all our ships we have two main councils: the Executive Council (EC) and the Captains Council (CC). The EC is the senior of the two councils and its members vote to decide issues about how UFOP is run. This section of the CON describes how to make the EC and how it should run. The EC should contain 5 members who are of flag rank (above Captain) or who have been a Captain for at least a year. There is also a Captain-At-Large (CAL) who is an elected member from the CC. The CAL may discuss issues but cannot vote unless there is a tie in a decision. This article says that the EC makes important group decisions such as when to create a new ship or promote or discipline a flag officer. It also says that the CC decides issues like adding or removing UFOP awards or creating new alien races. This section finally describes how voting is carried out on both councils.
This section basically says that all officers of Commander rank or higher are part of the CC and outlines powers the CC has, which mainly deal with governing our fleet's in-character lore as well as overseeing awards and serving as the appeals body for disciplined members ranked commander and below.
An important section for all members. Here the CON states that up to the rank of Lieutenant Commander the disciplining of officers is handled by their CO. Above that rank the rules differ slightly (see the CON for more information). If you feel that you have been treated unfairly then you can appeal to the CC (up to Lieutenant Commander and non-CO Commanders) or the EC (COs, captains and above). The article then goes on to outline some causes for disciplinary action such as being publicly rude, discriminating against fellow members, or publicly being disrespectful of a superior officer. The punishments available for such breaches range from a private letter of reprimand right up to expulsion from the fleet.
This section goes into more detail about the group’s administration and so isn’t really important to new members. It says that the EC and CC can ask each other to participate in votes or offer advisory votes to guide the other council. It also outlines procedures for creating committees and defines the procedure for officer promotion to any rank (up to and including Lieutenant Commander it is at your COs discretion).
Sometime in January of each year the EC must write an annual review for members to read. This review will cover any important issues from the previous year.
This article tells us what to do if for some reason the EC can only muster two or less members to vote on an issue within 30 days. We go into a state of emergency and create a temporary council of the most senior officers to run the group until the EC returns to normal.
This article says that records should be kept of all EC and CC decisions and other important events.
Bylaws supplement the main Constitution by way of further explicating the most important sections and are just as binding as the rest of the Constitution. Enacted by the Executive Council, they don't override the original clauses in the Constitution but provide clarification on them.
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