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Drafting a Constitution for Your Organization

Constitutions are a great guide to running a Student Organization. Not every Student Organization needs one, but for those who hold regular business meetings or are a chapter of a larger organization, constitutions provide a definition of the policies, procedures and set guidelines for the organization and authority of the Student Organization. 

If you decide to create or amend a constitution for your Student Organization, please give a copy of the final constitution to the Center for Student Involvement to be placed in your organization’s file as a reference for future leaders of your organization. 

To create or edit a constitution, a special committee should be established. After the creation or changes have been made, the entire organization should then vote to approve the constitution. 

If your Student Organization is a chapter of a larger organization, contact the organization to see if it offers a sample constitution that you can use to draft your own. If not, the guide below can help you. Remember that constitutions are specific to the organization, so use this as a guide but feel free to add information that is relevant to your Student Organization. And remember that the Center for Student Involvement is here to help. If you have any questions or need assistance, stop by the CSI in COM 309 or email the Manager of Student Life and Leadership Development.

Article I.    Name of Organization
Article II.   Purpose of Organization
Article III.  Membership Qualifications

A. Eligibility
B. General Membership
C. Active Membership
D. Voting Rights
E. Non-Discriminatory Clause: The organization will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin, religion, color, age, gender, marital or parental status, veteran status, disability, or sexual orientation.

Article IV. Officers

A. How many officers? Title of officers?
B. Who qualifies for office?
C. What are the officer’s duties? For example, the President’s responsibilities should include having regular contact with the Center for Student Involvement and attending Inter-Club Council meetings, including Student Organization Orientation. The Treasurer’s responsibilities should include managing, maintaining records, and balancing all financial transactions.
D. What is the procedure if an office is vacated or an officer is impeached?
E. How can an officer be impeached?

Article V.  Organizational meetings

A. Regular meetings: How often will regular meetings be held?
B. Officer meetings: How often will the officers meet?
C. Special meetings: Who has the authority to call emergency meetings?

Article VI. Elections

A. How long does someone have to be an active member of the organization before he/she is eligible to run for office?
B. How far in advance are elections announced and members notified?
C. When do elections occur?
D. How and when are nominations made?
E. How are elections held? (Who votes, who counts the votes, etc.)
F. What happens in the event of a tie?
G. How and when are the club members notified of the results?

Article VII. Committees: Standing or Ad Hoc (applies mainly to larger organizations)

A. Description of each committee
B. What are the committee’s duties and responsibilities?
C. Who appoints committee chairpersons?

Article VIII. Bylaws (applies mainly to larger organizations)

Specific rules and regulations upheld by all members. Depending on the size of the organization, bylaws may or may not be necessary. The purpose of bylaws is to clarify any parts of a constitution that can be interpreted in different ways. For example, an officer’s term of office or a designated forum to hold an official meeting are two rules that apply specifically to each organization. Bylaws can be suspended only if there is a provision for suspending bylaws. Bylaws should be easier to amend than the constitution. Bylaws are usually included within the context of the constitution prior to the articles specifying the methods by which the constitution can be amended.

Article IX. Method of Amending the Constitution

A. How will the organization accept amendment proposals for the constitution?
B. When will the organization meet to review amendment proposals?
C. How many times will an amendment be read before it is voted on?
D. How many active members must be present for a vote to take place?
E. How many votes or what quorum percentage is required to amend the constitution?

Article X.  Ratification

A. When does the constitution go into effect?
B. When will the constitution be revised?

Article XI. Club Advisor and Role