Starting a Student Organization

Students wishing to establish a new organization at Plymouth State University should begin the process by meeting with Chris Slater, Assistant Director for Student Activities, to discuss the need for the proposed organization, its benefits, the number of individuals interested, and the recognition process. The date you meet with the Assistant Director, the group will enter emerging status (PDF).  During the next eight weeks (while classes are in session) the focus should be on recruitment and writing the constitution. Once 8 weeks have passed, you are eligible to meet with the Judiciary Committee and continue moving through the remainder of the process to become an organization recognized by the Student Senate and University President.

***PSU is no longer allowing social greek letter organizations as there is a permanent moratorium. This means no new social greek letter groups are allowed to colonize or start at PSU.***

  1. Meet with the Assistant Director for Student Activities, Chris Slater (click to email).
  2. Constitution – write an acceptable constitution (see template).
  3. Judiciary Committee – upload the constitution to your OrgSync ‘Emerging Group’ page for review by the Judicial Chair and their Committee.
  4. Student Senate – the full Senate will review the Constitution, upon its acceptance by the Judiciary Committee, and will ask for a representative from your group to be present to answer questions regarding issues such as the nature of your group and the need for such an organization on campus. The Senate will then vote on the proposed organization’s request for recognition. If the vote is in favor of the organization’s recognition, the group will move on to the next step in the process.
  5. Advisor – at this time, the potential organization must submit to the University President a letter requesting approval of an advisor for the organization. This individual must be a faculty, administrator, or staff person at the University. Make sure, before submitting the letter, that the individual you are requesting as an advisor is fully aware of the duties associated with advising and wishes to devote the time to your organization.
  6. Final Approval, University President – the President will review the senate’s decision to recognize the group and the organization’s request for approval of their advisor.  A letter will be sent to the group, granting approval by the University President or a suggestion for an alternative action.

Each step must be satisfied and completed before you advance to the next. At steps 3, 4, and 6, the people involved often request that revisions be made before they give their approval. This process has been established to insure that all student organizations are strong and viable. Be prepared to defend the need and purpose of your organization.

With final approval from the University President, a letter recognizing your group and appointing an advisor will formally initiate your group as a recognized student organization. At this time, the student organization may submit a written request to the Student Senate Treasurer, for a start-up budget.

Those approved during the fall may request up to a $300 start-up budget and are asked to observe the allocation process during the spring of that academic year. The group will be eligible to make their first annual allocation request the following spring. For example, if a group becomes recognized during the fall of 2009, they observe the allocation process during the spring 2010, and they present an allocation request in spring 2011 for funds they can use during the 2011/12 academic year.

For those approved during the spring, they may request up to a $375 start-up budget and are asked to observe the allocation process during the spring of the following year. The group will then be eligible to make their first annual allocation request during the spring of the next academic year. For example, if a group becomes recognized during the spring of 2010, they will observe the allocation process during the spring of 2011, and they present an allocation request in spring 2012 for funds they can use during the 2012/13 academic year.

Example Constitution Content & Layout

Why was your organization formed? What is its purpose? Who will make decisions in your organization, and how will they be made? How will you attract members and what will their responsibilities be? Which office positions will you need, and which responsibilities will be associated with each one? How and when will officers be elected? How much will it cost to operate your organization, and where will the funds come from?

These are some of the questions you are encouraged to discuss and answer in a proactive manner with as many members as possible. The answers will be the foundation for a constitution.

Many organizations can function effectively for a period of time without a constitution. This is especially true when the group consists mainly of the original members. Eventually, however, questions like “Who gets to be president now that you are graduating?” or “How was it decided that we have to pay $10 in dues each semester?” begin to arise. Drafting a constitution will let members discuss and decide what the organization is and how it operates in a deliberate manner, rather than shooting from the hip when a question arises or a decision needs to be made.

Download Constitutional template in Microsoft Word format.

Download Constitutional template in PDF format.

REMINDERS:

1. You may wish to add Articles depending upon the nature of your organization. These additional articles should appear after the article dealing with “Advisors” and before the article dealing with “Amendments”

 

2. In all cases, clear, simple, and precise English must be used. Work to avoid misspellings and grammatical errors-these will delay acceptance of your Constitution.

 

3. Try your best to cover all possible questions that might arise.

 

4. Amendments are best added to the Constitution in the form of “Articles of Amendment”, appearing as a supplement to the original document. The Amendment Article or section is labeled for instance: “Amended: October 1, 2005”.

 

5. The body of your Constitutions format should be justified.

 

6. Inactive members have no voting rights but they as well as outside community members must pay to be part of group activities.