Starting and Running a Magazine

by Jordan Hylden, Harvard ’06

Jordan Hylden was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Harvard’s Ichthus.

Step 3: Writing a Constitution

The goal of a constitution is to make clear the name, purposes, and operational guidelines of your organization. For most colleges it’s a required part of the application for college recognition and they’ll give you a template when you apply. It can be a bit tedious to write but it’s important for maintaining a consistent way of operating, especially when elections roll around. Below is what we wrote.

Constitution of the Harvard Ichthus

Article I. Name

The name of the organization shall be “The Harvard Ichthus.”

Article II. Purpose

The Harvard Ichthus is a journal of Christian thought. It exists for the purpose of fostering deep Christian thought among the members of the Harvard community, taking seriously the motto of Harvard University: “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae,” in English “Truth for Christ and the Church.” It adopts these words of the Rev. Prof. Peter J. Gomes, preached at the Memorial Church, as its mission statement:
“There is a rumor about, and fanned in certain quarters, that this University has long since abandoned its ancient motto and is conformable only to “Veritas.” That simply is not true. The seal by which the President and Fellows of Harvard College continue to conduct their business is still the seal that says: “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae.” One cannot undo the past, and in this particular case one should not undo the past. The university—and this University in particular—is in the business of goodness and virtue personified, and not simply in the bottom lines of fairness and excellence. Christ and the Church were an essential part of that truth to which Harvard and the generations of its children were committed. …Truth for Christ and the Church is not here by accident or by sufferance; it is here by design and intent. …Indeed, as a symbol of Christian truth, we are here to remind Harvard of a dimension beyond its own self-interest and self-perception… We Christians must never forget, nor must we permit our College or our University ever to forget, that knowledge without virtue is a destructive danger that produces arrogant technocrats who are a danger to all that is holy, hopeful, lovely, and true, and who must be resisted. Our pious ancestors understood this, and thus they dedicated this small, fragile College in the wilderness to a truth that was seen in and for Christ and the Church. Veritas—that is, true Veritas, and not simply correct information—can never be separated from the one in whom it is most perfectly and fully seen: Jesus Christ. Not everyone may believe that, but those of us who do must not be intimidated by those who don’t, and we must be emboldened to claim that truth not only as our own but as one that is essential to the definition of a University and College worthy of the name.” (Strength for the Journey, pgs. 56, 60)

Article III. Membership

1. Membership in this organization shall be open to all students in good standing currently enrolled in Harvard College, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, or physical disability.

2. Membership shall be retained until the student severs relations with the University whether by graduation or otherwise. Membership shall be retained during that vacations and recesses of the University.

3. Any member may resign at any time by filing a written resignation with the editor-in-chief.

4. Membership shall be granted to any student who has published an article, story, review, poem or other piece of work in the Harvard Ichthus, or who has been elected to a position on the editorial board of the Harvard Ichthus.

Article IV. Officers

1. The officers of the Harvard Ichthus shall consist of an editor-in-chief, a business manager, and other officers as may be designated by the Harvard Ichthus, who will together constitute the editorial board of the Harvard Ichthus.

2. All officers shall be registered undergraduates in Harvard College.

3. The editor-in-chief shall be the chief executive officer of the Harvard Ichthus and shall have general supervision and control of its activities and programs.

4. The business manager shall have general charge of the financial affairs of the Harvard Ichthus. He or she shall keep accurate records of these affairs.

Article V. Elections

1. Officers shall be elected annually by the members of the group. Elections shall be held during the month of December. The term of office shall start on the first day of Christmas recess and terminate on the day before Christmas recess the following academic year.

2. Any undergraduate, member or not, may run for elective office. Applications to run for elective office must be filed with the editor-in-chief before the date appointed for elections. All members shall have one vote by secret ballot. Members may vote by written proxy if necessary. The editor-in-chief shall be responsible for informing all members of the election date and candidates.

Article VI. Meetings

1. Meetings of the Harvard Ichthus shall be held on a regular basis for the purpose of determining the content of the Harvard Ichthus, the activities of the Harvard Ichthus, and other business. The editor-in-chief shall be responsible for calling regular meetings of the Harvard Ichthus.

2. The editor-in-chief shall chair all meetings. In the absence of the editor-in-chief, meetings shall be chaired by such person as the editor-in-chief shall designate.

3. Notice of regular and special meetings shall be communicated to all members of the group by the editor-in-chief or such person as the editor-in-chief shall designate.

Article VII. Amendments

1. This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Harvard Ichthus.

2. Any three members of the Harvard Ichthus may propose an amendment. Proposals shall be filed in writing with the editor-in-chief prior to the annual election of officers, at which time members of the Harvard Ichthus may debate and vote on the proposed amendment.

Next Step: Organizing Your Staff.