Starting new clubs is much easier than it may initially seem. It takes some work, but it can be done within a few weeks if you do it right. Now, it's not essential that your association of students is formally recognized, but it does make it much easier to reserve spaces, access tools like a school email for your club, and apply for club funding. The protocol to be recognized can be downloaded here, but it contains errors. In this article, we will be going through what is actually required step-by-step and providing some tips and additional resources to help you navigate the process.
The rules that outline how a club is recognized are found in the SGA Constitution. They are very long and quite dull, but if you want, you can read them here:
Article X, Section 1.
Student Group SGA Recognition
Any student group interested in seeking Student Government Association recognition shall be eligible to apply by conducting and completing the following requirements:
a. Complete the recognition intent form and submit the completed form to the Student Activities Coordinator. Completion of this form entitles organizations to receive limited use of University meeting spaces during formative process. The organization must present to the Organization Summit within six months after completion of this form. Noncompliance will result in loss of meeting space.
b. All student groups interested in forming a club must announce their club idea to all interested students by:
- Conducting an all campus mailing or contacting the entire student body through newsletter or email
- Posting or sending an announcement of their organization meeting prior to their first meeting
c. Conduct at least one organizational meeting, notifying SGA through campus email, at which the following must be completed:
- Draft and approve a constitution
- Affix all interested students’ signatures to a petition requesting (must consist of at least five full time Susquehanna students)
- Conduct tentative officer elections selecting the required minimum officers of President/Organizational leader and Treasurer
d. Each group must submit all this information to the Coordinator of Student Engagement and Leadership and the SGA Parliamentarian for review
- In the event the material submitted is questionable and/or unacceptable, it shall be returned to the tentative officers along with rationale for rejection or revision
- Upon its return the second time, the chairperson shall then submit the information and his/her report to the Senate for a majority vote for approval
e. The club interested in receiving recognition or approval must correspond with the Parliamentarian and must send representatives to the Organization Summit to present their constitution and a brief summary as to the benefit the club will provide to Susquehanna’s community. A vote to approve a club or organization will take place at the Summit meeting. If the Summit finds each club worth of recognition, a final list of pending organizations will be presented for a vote at the following Senate meeting. The SGA Parliamentarian will speak on behalf of each club as needed
Step 1: Before The First Meeting
To get started, you will need to do a few things.
Firstly, you need to find at least five students who are interested in starting the club. These can be your roommates, friends, classmates, or anyone else, as long as they are full-time SU students. You will also need to find a member of SU faculty or staff to agree to be your advisor.
Secondly, the club has to announce its first meeting to the student body. While the rules say this has to be done via campus mail or mass email, posting the event on Presence, in the Weekender, on posters in Deg, or via Instagram is typically accepted as well. It's a good idea to include the meeting date, time, and location in this announcement.
Prior to this meeting, you should have a draft of your club's constitution prepared. This can take a while since it needs to meet a set of requirements that are listed in the SGA Constitution. Rather than starting from scratch, we suggest modifying an existing club's constitution. We've provided one below that satisfies all current requirements if you add in the club name and expand on the mission statement:
To make certain that your constitution is acceptable, you can check it against these rules from the SGA Constitution:
Article X, Section 2.
Constitutional Requirements for Campus Clubs
All SGA recognized clubs must meet the following requirements in their constitution:
a. All club constitutions must state their purpose and must be:
- Beneficial to the campus community and club members
- Contribute to the educational mission of the University
- All club constitutions must state membership rules which include:
- No discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation or physical disability
2. No requirement other than ability to attend meetings
- At the discretion of the club, they may include faculty, staff, alumni, and their spouses as members
c. All club constitutions must include:
- A minimum requirement of two (2) student officers which are:
- A President or Organizational Leader
- A Treasurer
- Students must hold both officers and no one student shall hold both offices simultaneously
- Only full time SU students may hold office
d. All clubs must in their constitution, include in detail, all guidelines concerning:
- Annual elections
- How constitutions and by-laws may be changed
- Guidelines for impeachment and resignation processes
- Name of a faculty/staff advisor
Once the draft is ready, get it proofread by some of the members. Now you're ready for your first meeting!
Step 2. Your First Meeting
Your first meeting can be very brief, but a few things need to happen there:
- The attendees should tentatively elect a president and a treasurer for the club. They cannot be the same student.
- The constitution should be read through, amended if necessary, and then approved by the attendees.
- A list of students who are interested in the club and their emails should be written down. It should have at least five students, (they do not all have to attend that first meeting).
Now it's time to really get the ball rolling! The next two steps can happen at the same time, so there's no need to wait to complete them.
Step 3. The Organization Registration Form
On Presence, you can find the Organization Registration Form. It is fairly easy to fill out if you have all the information you need. You will need to enter the following:
Organization Name: The name you want people to call the organization.
About: A blurb about the organization and its mission. You can repurpose the mission statement from your club constitution.
Categories: Most clubs are categorized as "Special Interest" but there may be one that suits your club better.
Cover Image: Upload a logo, otherwise use the search button to find something that relates to your club.
Advisor: Enter the name of your faculty or staff advisor. Make sure they know you are doing this since they will have to accept the position.
Constitution: Upload your approved constitution either as a PDF or Word file.
Officer Terms: We recommend selecting Academic Year, but this is up to you.
Roster: Enter the names and emails of at least five interested members. Be sure to designate two as the President and the Treasurer.
Everything else is optional, but if you have it, now is a good time to enter that information. Once complete, submit it for approval.
Step 4. Present to Organization Summit
At least twice a semester, the Organization Summit is held. At this event, leaders from every club on campus attend to elect delegates to the Senate, socialize with other leaders, and approve new clubs for recognition.
To attend this meeting, you must inform the SGA Parliamentarian that you or another member of your club will be presenting at Summit. (If you have slides for the presentation, it's a good idea to send those to them as well).
Once at the meeting, you or your presenter will present the club's constitution and a brief summary of the benefits the club will provide to SU's community. Once concluded, the presenters should remain for questions, discussion, and voting. At the following Senate meeting, the Parliamentarian will present the list of approved organizations to the Senate, which should approve them when all recognition requirements are met.
With that, your club should be officially recognized! You still have a lot of work to do to run your club, but now you can get funding and reserve meeting spaces!
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.