Some of the most valuable learning, which takes place during your Albion College career, will result from your participation in a student organization. Your formal classroom learning will be enhanced as you further explore and test your newly acquired knowledge and expertise in an organizational setting.
Effective leadership is crucial for the success of all student organizations at Albion College. Leadership is most commonly described as a process of influencing the behavior or activity of another person towards the accomplishment of a goal. In student organizations, leaders influence the activities of members toward the attainment of organizational goals. The best Albion College student organizations are those that aim to increase the leadership potential of all their members, not just those holding leadership positions. These groups ensure a strong legacy of leadership that stretches beyond the tenure of current members.
Leadership is a Process
The most successful organizations view leadership as a process that simultaneously evolves as a time consuming, challenging, sometimes stressful, and tremendously rewarding endeavor. It is a process that acknowledges experiential learning as a way to bolster the knowledge and expertise of the group. In other words, learning takes place by “doing” rather than by always relying on someone else “doing” something for the group.
Effective leadership is not always a person who is “in charge.” Leadership in an organization may come from within the group rather than in front of the group. Effective leaders are group members who are willing to do their best at all times. They recognize the importance of being positive role models, demonstrating appropriate behaviors and working styles. They are aware that people will as easily learn the wrong way of doing something as the right. Effective leadership involves taking the time to help every group member learn about and reach his or her leadership potential.
Leaders are always willing to listen, both sensitively and critically. They listen to their peers and to trusted advisors. Listening is one way of determining if all other members of the organization are included in activities. Listening is a critical tool for making the group better.
Student leaders identify a variety of personal characteristics necessary for effective leadership. Among them are: Intelligence, Dependability, Belief in Self, Flexibility, Enthusiasm, Insight, Sense of Humor, Confidence, Positive Attitude, Appreciation for Differences.
Few, if any, people possess all of these characteristics at any one point in their lives, but most leaders are aware of the advantages of developing a positive personal style. Your group members, advisor, family and friends, as well as the staff in CPO can help you assess your strengths in these areas.
Styles & Skills
Leaders must develop an effective style. Style is the manner in which the leader uses personal skills and qualities in influencing relationships and goal related activities or tasks in a group. In traditional approaches to leadership, leaders are classified as having one of three styles:
- Autocratic - the leader controls decision-making, is highly directive, and emphasizes the tasks to be accomplished.
- Democratic - the leader shares decision making with the members, delegates when appropriate, and emphasizes both task and the human relations in the group
- Laissez Faire - the leader exercises little (if any) control, provides minimal direction, and allows tasks and relations to work out as they may.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these styles. Experienced leaders know that there is no one best style. Leaders of student organizations often find that having a mix of styles allows them to be effective in various situations. This is accomplished by matching the leader’s level of directiveness and control over the task to be done with the members’ experience and expertise in completing that task and by matching the leader’s level of emotional support with the members’ willingness and motivation for completing the task. Thus, the leader may need to assume different leadership styles with various individuals or subgroups of the organization working on different projects.
For example, if the chairperson of a project really doesn’t know how to get started and is not very motivated to initiate the project, the organization president may find that being highly directive initially and focusing on the job to be done will be most effective. As the chairperson learns the specifics of how to do the job the leader will need to alter the leadership style and be less directive while increasing emphasis on emotional support. At the same time the president is initially using an autocratic style with the chairperson of this project, he or she may have a chairperson of another committee that is highly motivated and has been successful in the past. If the leader is directive with this person, they will probably resent the leader’s control and apparent lack of trust. The leader in this situation would be advised to back off and allow the chairperson to act with minimal direction and interference.
Effective leaders are constantly attempting to enhance the strengths and complement the weaknesses of those members with whom they are working.
Leadership of student organizations is a “people business” and the qualities you develop, skills you learn, and styles you adopt as a student leader will form a foundation for future leadership positions.
Delegating responsibility (the art of spreading the work around) is an indispensable concept that must be grasped by any leader who expects to be successful. Delegation serves a number of purposes that include: allows more people to be actively involved, distributes the work load, and can help the unit run more smoothly.
Many leaders have difficulty delegating responsibility, as often they would prefer to do the job themselves to make sure the job is done correctly. While this method is often more expedient, it can also breed apathy among non-involved members. Sometimes leaders make the mistake of delegating only for themselves. Naturally this can give members the feeling of being used, rather than being important. Following are some simple guidelines in determining when to delegate.
- Tasks that match the skills of members of the group.
- Things that are usually your specified responsibilities, except in emergencies.
- Something you yourself would not be willing to do.
- A task to someone who may not possess the skills necessary to complete.
Community Service Clubs and Organizations
Because the point of everything
isn't me. It's we.
Alpha Phi Omega
A coed, national service fraternity at Albion since 1991. We focus on three areas—leadership, friendship, and service. You can develop leadership as an officer or member, promote friendship as a way of life, and provide service to humanity. And you’ll do all this with like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds. We’re open to all majors.
We're an international nonprofit organization, and our mission is to match college students—you—with people in your community with intellectual disabilities. One-on-one friendships are the goal, and they develop through your commitment to spend time with your buddy on a weekly basis, as well as through monthly group outings. You can truly make a difference in the life of another person—many of the community buddies have few other friends. You’ll help them feel special and build self-esteem as you gain a friend and see into the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Child Ready Educational Activities Transforming the Environment (CREATE)
We live in a place where fun and learning come together. Where children pair with college students to learn about their world. Our focus is on culture and the environment, and we meet for after-school programs at the Whitehouse Nature Center. All majors are welcome.
Global Medical Brigades
Help for Honduras—that’s our mission. We take it seriously by fundraising so that we can provide villages with medical care, dental work, and medicine and take our annual summer trip, when we see approximately 2,500 people in a week. (You don't have to be pre-med to apply.) We take medical professionals with us. And it helps if you speak Spanish, but it’s OK if you don’t.
Habitat For Humanity
We work with the Greater Albion Habitat for Humanity to provide low-cost housing to families who need it. You can work side by side with Albion residents, serving our community as you build and renovate homes in Albion and the surrounding area. Visit our website
The Nwagni Project
The Nwagni Project is an unofficial, student-run, nonprofit organization that focuses on education and community in Batchingou, a small village in the West African nation of Cameroon. We’ve raised over $25,000! And we put it toward building a new school in Batchingou. Now that the school’s complete, our next project is to create a clean water source for the schools in the village.
Service Project Appalachia
Spend your spring break doing a little "voluntourism." We hold fundraisers throughout the fall and winter to keep our costs down, and when spring break comes, we're off to the Appalachian mountain region. Our main focus is to help low-income families by doing light construction work on their homes. And at the same time, we become a tight-knit group and thoroughly enjoy the people and communities we serve.
Strength Beyond Strength
Student Volunteer Bureau (SVB)
Are you a changemaker? Like to make someone’s day? Our enthusiastic, dedicated crew works to develop "service mindedness" in our campus and community. We also support the annual New Orleans trip, regular visits to Cass Community Social Services in Detroit, Walk for Warmth, Box City, and on and on. As Albert Einstein said: "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Visit our website
Guidelines for Writing a Constitution
The constitution of an organization contains the fundamental principles that govern its operation. At minimum, the constitution for an organization should include the organization’s purpose, membership & leadership selection process, and the provision for at least one faculty or administration advisor. Some organizations also create by-laws to outline specific rules of governance by which the group is to function.
The constitution should be written in a language that is easy to interpret by all members of the organization and should be consistent with the needs of the group. If writing by-laws, make sure that they are carefully formulated, clearly worded, and contain a process by which they can be easily amended.
The following outline should be of great help when preparing a constitution and, if needed, by-laws.
Name of organization and any affiliations.
Purpose of the organization. Organizations should take care to include a complete statement of purpose. Programs sponsored by the organization will be expected to be consistent with the organization’s stated objective.
Membership (qualifications, types). Voting membership should be defined as limited to currently enrolled Albion College students. No student organization which categorically denies membership because of sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability will be registered. (Exemption: social fraternities and sororities are exempt by law from the discrimination based gender requirement.)
Officers (titles of officers, terms of office, how officers are selected, and duties). Organizations should have necessary officers to conduct their activities. Be cautious not to create unnecessary officers.
Meetings (regular, special, quorum). It is best to establish only the minimum number required and the approximate time of year in order to avoid creating requirements impossible tofulfill. Additional meetings can always be held. The quorum necessary to conduct official business should be defined.
Advisor (term of service/selection). Each organization must have an advisor from the College faculty or administration/professional staff.
Standing committees (if needed). List names and general duties of standing committees.
Executive Board (if needed). Provide for such a board, how it is selected, and its responsibilities.
Parliamentary authority. The usual statement reads: “The rules contained in Roberts’ Rules of Order revised shall govern this organization in all cases to which they are applicable unless they are inconsistent with the constitution, by-laws and special rules of the organization.
Method of amending constitution (methods of proposal, notice, voting requirements. Generally, proposed amendments are not acted upon immediately and require a majority of 2/3 or 3/4 of those voting or of total membership to be adopted.
An organization need not have by-laws separate from the constitution. Items covered in by-laws by the organization might be covered in the constitution of the organization. On the other hand, by-laws are sometimes desirable since by-laws usually contain more details and are more easily amended than the constitution. They are, however, more permanent than passing a motion at a meeting.
By-laws cannot run contrary to the constitution. Possible topics for by-laws include:
- Membership (selection requirements, resignation, replacement,dropping members)
- Dues (amount and collection procedures, special fees, when payable)
- Duties of officers (power, responsibilities, rules for election, procedures for filling un-expired terms, removal from office)
- Election rules and procedures
- Duties of advisor
- Executive Board (composition, powers)
- Committees (standing, special, formation, chairpersons, meetings, function)
- Order of business and rules about conducting business
- Amendment (means of proposals, notice required, voting requirements)
Albion College Statement of Non-Discrimination
Albion College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability, as protected by law, in all educational programs and activities, admission of students, and conditions of employment.
Organizational & Personal Liability
Advisors and organizational officers occasionally express concern about personal liability for organization related activities. There are few hard and fast rules concerning liability, but the following may be helpful as a general guideline.
Organization members, officers and advisors are subject to the same criminal statutes that govern behavior generally in society. Violation of these laws may result in criminal liability.
Organizational officers, members, and advisors may be civilly liable for harm resulting from either dangerous organizational activities or those that create an unreasonable risk of injury. All persons involved in organizations are advised to plan activities carefully, comply with all laws (including those related to the sale or consumption of alcohol and the use of vehicles and other equipment) and to neither endorse nor participate in activities that could result in injury to participants, bystanders, or property. Participants safety is the number one concern when planning activities.
Organization officers and advisors may to some degree limit their liability and protect themselves by the use of “Waiver of Liability” statements signed by activity participants. (forms are available in CPO)
Additional information is available in the student handbook and the Office of Campus Programs and Organizations.
Conflict of Interest
If you are the treasurer of a group that reports to a second organization/group that oversees the financial operations of the initial group, you may not simultaneously hold the position of President, Treasurer, or Chief Financial Officer in the second monitoring group.
What NOT to Do
Okay, so you have recruited some new members into your organization, now the task is to make them want to stay. Having new members do meaningless, and sometimes humiliating stunts or projects does nothing to build the ties of friendship and commitment. Acts such as these are considered hazing and can lead to a lot of trouble for your organization. Albion College explicitly prohibits hazing of any form and outlines specific guidelines about hazing in the student handbook.
Overnight Travel Policy
All organizations planning overnight off-campus trips or trips 100 miles away are required to provide the information listed below to the Campus Safety Office before leaving campus.
- A detailed travel itinerary.
- Travel roster with emergency contacts.
- Signed activity statement of responsibility and release form for each person traveling.
The necessary forms are available in the Office of Campus Programs and Organizations and here.
All individual participants must travel with proof of personal health insurance.
At least one person on the trip must have a cell phone available in the event of an emergency.
Non-College sanctioned trips for extra-curricular activities should be planned on weekends instead of class days. Students traveling with groups in organizations that schedule trips while classes are in session are not automatically excused from classes. Each student on a trip may request prior approval from his/her faculty members to be excused from class and to be allowed to make up any missed assignments or work. This approval may or may not be granted.
The Student Affairs staff member, office, or student organization advisor must check with the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory prior to organizing or scheduling student group international travel. If travel is restricted by the State Department, the Student Affairs staff member, office, or student organization advisor must check other appropriate country travel advisories, check "on-the-ground" contacts, and then consult with the vice president for student affairs for approval. Approval is subject to cancellation at a later date if travel is deemed inadvisable.
All Albion students traveling outside of the United States on an overnight trip must purchase Study Abroad Medical Insurance through Albion College. To purchase this insurance, contact the Business Office.
Additional information about student travel is available in the Student Handbook.
A contract in its simplest form is a promise. The legal requirements of a valid contract include the offer, the acceptance, and the money or mutual promises between the parties.
Recognized student organizations are encouraged to use contracts when purchasing goods and services. A contract is a legally binding document, therefore, you should use extreme care in negotiating. Always review carefully the entire written document prior to signing to ensure that the terms are what you agreed upon. Until a contract is signed, all items remain negotiable. The contract should be in the organization’s name and a signature should be required from a representative of the organization. As a general rule, student organizations are not authorized to enter contracts in the name of or on behalf of Albion College; it’s faculty, staff, or employees. Exceptions to that rule exist for organizations that receive direct advisement from the Campus Programs and Organizations office (i.e. Union Board, IFC, SVB) and some Liberal Arts at Play Programs. If you are unsure if your organization is included in this category, contact the Campus Programs and Organizations Office. Regardless, members of the Campus Programs and Organizations staff are available to help provide advice and assistance to all registered student groups. Contracts entered into in the name of Albion College and that also involve excessively large financial commitments may require the signature of the Vice President for Finance and Management.
Contracts should be utilized for:
- Speakers, entertainment and movies.
- Purchase of goods and services.
- Exchange of services for goods (i.e., advertising by organization in exchange for a prize to give away).
- Purchases for resale (i.e., buying plants to sell during a campus plant sale).
A basic contract should include:
- Names of both parties involved.
- Place where contract is made (usually Albion).
- Specific statement of agreements of both parties involved.
- Agreed upon exchange or consideration (usually the purchase price) and when payable.
- Statement indicating what will happen should either party fail to do as agreed.
- Statement explaining how the contract may be modified or cancelled.
- Signature of both parties and date.
Contracts do not have to be notarized to be valid.
Non-legal assistance in creating contracts, or in reviewing contacts which your organization is asked to sign, may be obtained in the Office of Campus Programs and Organizations.