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Policies for Organizations

Guidelines for Writing a Constitution

A constitution and by-laws are written to guide an organization in its operations and activities.  These documents should be clearly worded, intentionally structured, and kept up-to-date to meet the needs of the student organization.  Constitutions should include the organizations purpose, membership and leadership selection process and include a provision for at least one faculty and staff administrative advisor.   Typically the Constitution articles establish the broad structure and fundamental principles of the organization, while by-laws outline rules, procedures.  Each Constitution and By-Laws must include the Albion College’s statement of non-discrimination to become a recognized organization. 

The following sample constitution and by-laws are provided as a guideline to assist you in writing or revising your organization’s constitution.  There are many ways to structure an organization, so feel free to write your constitution and by-laws to meet the needs of your organization.  However, asterisked (*) sections below must be included in your constitution and by-laws to be considered a recognized student organization.  For further assistance, contact the Campus Programs and Organizations office at 517-629-0433 or email

Sample Constitution:

Constitution of ___________  (Name of your group)
Article I: Name

Section 1:              The name of this organization shall be… (Provide actual name which will be used for all official business), hereafter referred to as…

Article II: Purpose

Section 1:              The purpose of this organization shall be… (State the purpose, aims, and function of the organization)

Article III: Affiliations

Section 1:              This organization is affiliated with… (Indicate if your group has an affiliation with an Albion College department and/or any other campus, local, state, national, or international organization and explain the relationship.  Organizations with inter/national affiliations must submit their inter/national constitution or statement of purpose.  If your organization has no affiliation, this section may be omitted.)

Article IV: Membership

*Section 1:            Voting membership should be defined as limited to currently enrolled Albion College students

*Section 2:            This organization… (All registered student organizations must include in their constitution a non-discriminatory policy statement that is consistent with Albion College’s non-discriminatory policy statement.  An example would be: “This organization and its members shall not discriminate against any individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.  

Section 3:              Membership in this group shall be open to all who are interested and… (List the criteria for membership to your organization, if you have any)

Article V: Officers

Section 1:              The officers of the organization shall consist of… (State all officer titles and duties – examples below)

  1. President – The President shall…
  2. Vice President – The Vice President shall…
  3. Secretary - The Secretary shall…
  4. Treasurer - The Treasurer shall…
  5. Etc.

Section 2:              The qualifications for each office… (State the qualifications, if any, for the offices)

Section 3:              The term of each office shall be… (Example: Academic year (May – May) or Calendar year (January – January)

Section 4:              Should an officer’s position become vacant during his/her term, the following will take place…

Article VI: Advisor

*Section 1:            This organization… will have and advisor who must be a current member of the faculty, administration, or staff of Albion College.  

Section 2:              The duties and responsibilities of the advisor shall be… 

Section 3:              Should the position of advisor become vacant during the year…

Article VII: Meetings

Section 1:              Regular meetings of the organization shall be held… (Consider how often you would like to meet, who calls the meeting, etc.)

Section 2:              Special meetings of the organization shall be held… (Consider who has authority to call these meetings, how much notice is required, etc.)

Article VIII: Amendments

Section 1:              This constitution shall be amended by a vote of (2/3, 3/4, etc.) majority of the membership at any regular or special meeting. (Note: The constitution should not be amended easily or frequently)

Section 2:              Provision for advance notice of amendment shall be… (Explain how eligible voting members will be informed of the proposed amendment such as posting, notification by email, announcement at meetings, etc.  Amendments may be made at one meeting but voting on those amendments must wait a minimum of 7 days or the next meeting after those 7 days.)

Date Ratified        (Insert date the constitution is initially ratified)

Date Revised        (Insert date the constitution is revised)

Date Revised        (Insert date the constitution is revised)

Date Revised        (Insert date the constitution is revised)

 

Sample By-Laws: 

By-Laws of _______________  (Name of your group)
Article I: Membership

Section 1:              The procedure for selection of membership…

Section 2:              Dues for this organization shall be… (Indicate amount, if any, and how often they are paid)

Section 3:              Membership responsibilities shall include…

Section 4:              Membership shall be terminated by…

Article II: Selection of Officers

Section 1               The selection of officers shall be done by… (Clearly state election rules and voting procedures, eligibility for each office, and when the elections take place during the academic year)

Section 2:              The provisions for removal of an officer include…

Article III: Selection of Advisor

Section 1               The selection of the advisor shall be done by…

Section 2:              The provisions for removal of an advisor include…

Article IV: Committees

Section 1:              All permanent committees shall be formed by… (Clearly list each committee and the function and specific duties of each)

Section 2:              All ad-hoc committees shall be formed by… (Clearly list each committee and the function and specific duties of each)

Article V: Rules of Order

Section 1:              This organization shall be governed by… (Specify source of parliamentary procedure for your organization.  Most groups use “Robert’s Rules of Order” in cases when it is applicable and consistent with the organization’s constitution and by-laws.)  

Article VI: Amendment

Section 1:              These by-laws may be amended by a vote of … (Should be similar to constitution, but tend to be easier to amend.  Example: simple majority vote, 2/3 vote, etc.)

Date Ratified        (Insert date the by-laws are initially ratified)

Date Revised        (Insert date the by-laws are revised)

Date Revised        (Insert date the by-laws are revised)

Date Revised        (Insert date the by-laws are revised)

 

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.

Note: 

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.

International Travel

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.

Negotiating Contracts

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.

 

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