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How to Prepare a Constitution

The following has been prepared to assist you in writing a constitution for your new organization. You may choose to follow another specific format. To be recognized by the student governments, however, you must include articles that contain the information found in Articles I – IX.

Article I:

The name of the organization comes under Article I. Be descriptive to promote campus community awareness of the organization. In all cases, it is wise to check with CSA to see if the name is already registered with another campus organization.

Article II:

This consists of a few sentences outlining the purpose of the organization. This is the most important part of the constitution because it informs the campus community of the organization’s goals and meaning. Clearly set purposes help to increase active membership.

Article III:

Qualifications for membership should be stated here. Membership should be limited to those people officially connected with College community. Membership may be “open” (anyone can join) or “selective” (membership is limited and/or voted upon). Only clubs that are open in membership can receive funding from the student governments. This article is also an appropriate place to elaborate on the amount of annual due (if any) and the specific terms of payment (monthly, yearly, etc.).

Article IV:

This article specifies the organization’s officers and their duties. The number and types of each office will vary in each organization, but it is suggested that the organization have at least a president/chairperson and a treasurer. Many will also have a vice-president and a secretary. Be specific as to their duties; do not be vague! This is important to avoid future procedural problems. Many organizations have become inactive because of disputes about who has what responsibility. Also, specify any qualifications necessary for each office (year in school, GPA, minimum membership time in the organization, etc.).

Article V:

Any committees that are a permanent function of the organization should be specified with the chairperson’s duties. It may be stated whether the chair sits on the organization’s executive board. Such committees may include membership, newsletters or publicity.

Article VI:

A traditional constitution sets definite rules and procedures for elections in this article. Article IV has already established who can run for an office. Specify a definite procedure for filing, nomination, election and percentage of membership votes necessary for electoral validity. An elections committee is a good idea to hear election appeals. You may want to have elections in the spring. This insures people will be there in the fall, and it gives the officers time to plan and have events ready for the fall.

Article VII:

Every student organization is required to have a full time faculty or full time staff advisor. The nomination and selection procedure should be specified as well as the removal process.

Article VIII:

This article specifies procedures for removal from office. The benefit of this is to give the organization an escape clause for ineffective, incompetent, or unethical officers. Most organizations require a 2/3 majority vote for removal of an officer.

Article IX:

Because an organization must change in accordance with the environment and community, this article permits the constitution to be amended. As in the case of impeachment, a 2/3 majority vote is usually implemented for amendment ratification.

Article X:

This final article specifies the procedure for the initial ratification of the constitution itself. If all procedures have been followed as outlined, there should be no difficulty in gaining approval of a usual 2/3 majority vote of members in the organization.

For further examples of organization and wording, you may review copies of constitutions of registered student organizations on file in the CSA office.

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