Why Have a Constitution?
The process of writing a constitution will clarify your purpose, delineate your basic structure and provide the cornerstone for building an effective group. It will allow members and potential members to have a better understanding of what the club/organization is all about and how it functions. It will provide a structure to aid future leaders of your club/organization to ensure that the group continues on a sound course. If you keep in mind the value of having a written document that clearly describes the framework of your club or organization, the drafting of the constitution will be a much easier and more rewarding experience.
What Should be Covered by a Constitution?
The following list includes the required information to be included in a constitution in order to be consistent with University guidelines. In addition to these requirements, it is important to think through what is written so it reflects your club/organization's purposes and needs and includes University requirements. The primary objective is to draft a document that covers these topics in a clear and concise manner.
- The date of adoption
- A clear statement of objectives/goals which are consistent with the mission and educational goals of the University
- Identification as a campus-based and student-led group, with active membership limited to students of California State University Channel Islands
- Reference to the University as CSU Channel Islands, California State University Channel Islands or CI
- Democratic procedures for nominations, elections and removal of officers
- Democratic provisions for policy making, including amendment of constitution
- A clear statement of reasonable dues or other financial obligations of members (when applicable)
- A statement of not-for-profit status
- Statement of financial responsibility for any debts accumulated at CSU Channel Islands by the organization not covered by funds on deposit. Sample: "A specific member or members designated by this club/organization shall be responsible for payment in full of all debts accumulated by the student organization not covered by funds on deposit."
- Meetings: Student organizations shall indicate what is necessary to achieve a quorum, the necessary voting percentages to conduct business, and the frequency of meetings.
- Officers: State how the officers are selected and replaced, the qualifications for office, officer duties, method of election, type of vote, term limits, and methods for filling vacancies.
- Assurance that the petitioning student organization is willing to work in a democratic manner within the framework of University policies and procedures. If the petitioning group is a member of a national or regional organization, the University reserves the right to examine the record of the parent organization or of affiliates on other campuses.
The following statements listed word for word:
- Open Membership (not applicable for Sports Clubs or Honor Societies) “Membership in the organization shall be open to all those regularly-enrolled CI Students who are interested in membership. There shall be no other requirements for admission to regular membership. Each regular member has equal rights and privileges.”
- Non Discrimination ”Eligibility for membership or appointed or elected student officer positions shall not be limited on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability. The organization shall have no rules or policies that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability.”
- Hazing "This student organization will not engage in hazing or conspire to haze. Hazing is defined as any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or study body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university or other educational institution in this state (Penal Code 245.6), and in addition, any act likely to cause physical harm, personal delegation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm, to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university or other educational institution. The term “hazing” does not include customary athletic events or school sanctioned events. Neither the expressed or implied consent of a victim of hazing, nor the lack of active participation in a particular hazing incident is a defense. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing is not a neutral act, and is also a violation of this section.”
- Policies "This student organization shall comply with all University and campus policies and regulations, in addition to all local, state, and federal laws."
There are articles, sections and clauses in the constitution. This is a brief example of the structure of a constitution that you can use for reference. It is not necessary to follow the structure exactly, but it is important to include all areas that apply. The student organization may include other areas that members deem necessary. The constitution may include disciplinary action, behavior, absence from student organization meetings, and so on. In order to have a well-written constitution, you must include anything of importance to your student organization.
Model Student Organization Constitution