Georgetown University is built on a two-hundred year commitment to a Jesuit, Catholic understanding of undergraduate education. In this tradition the appropriate context for undergraduate education is a community. A community is characterized by an ethos, a shared, common vision, in our case as a shared set of moral commitments and a shared understanding of the nature of undergraduate education. As a Jesuit, Catholic university Georgetown is committed to an understanding of education that comprises not merely the transmission of knowledge and skills, but the cultivation of virtues and the formation of character respectful of the Catholic vision.
It is our hope that our extra and co-curricular programs will provide opportunities for the development of knowledge and skills, the cultivation of virtues and the formation of character. We hope they will be the source of community building and an opportunity for celebration. Through the content of the activities the members share, through the process of leading and managing a club, through the shared experiences of the members, these hopes can be realized.
The following guidelines intend to provide a framework for the responsible distribution of University resources while building a community that is consistent with the moral vision upon which this University was founded.
Student organizations wishing access to university benefits must meet the following eligibility criteria. Access to student club and organization benefits does not indicate University recognition or endorsement of the merits of any activity or objective.
Because of the University’s commitment to inclusiveness, membership in a student organization must be nondiscriminatory and open to the entire Georgetown University undergraduate student community.
An exception to this policy will be granted for performing arts groups that wish to select members for performances based on special criteria such as talent and individual merit, academic councils which require enrollment in a particular college, or class committees which require attainment of a particular class standing. Any other group that believes selective membership is warranted must receive the approval of the Director of Student Programs and the appropriate advisory board. All such groups will be required to demonstrate that their selection process is integral to the success of the group, is openly advertised and fair and is non-discriminatory. This process will be reviewed annually.
A group must have a minimum of 12 currently enrolled full-time undergraduate student members in order to be considered eligible for benefits. In order to preserve opportunities for undergraduate students to gain leadership experience, other individuals within the University academic community may participate in a group’s activities or programs but may not be members or otherwise attempt to direct, lead or inappropriately influence the group’s activities. Only members of the University academic community are eligible for participation in a student organization.
A group may not duplicate the purpose and/or activities of an existing student organization. This provision safeguards limited resources and encourages students to work cooperatively when their interests and intentions are similar.
In order to provide for basic democratic principles and ensure the integrity of the organization, a group must demonstrate that it has developed a sound constitution as shown by inclusion of the following:
- purpose clearly articulated and accurately descriptive of the group’s function
- free election of officers
- clearly articulated election process
- clearly articulated procedure for removal of officers
- voting membership and officers limited to currently enrolled students
- specific definition of voting members
- procedure for amendment of the constitution
- reference to bylaws or other relevant documents that will govern the group’s activities or functioning
Compliance with University Policy
Groups must agree to comply at all times with any and all relevant University policies, procedures, rules, regulations and guidelines. Since the views and activities of student organizations are not necessarily reflective of the University, all organizations are expected to include in all publications issued (newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, etc.), except those specifically approved, an appropriate disclaimer. For example, an appropriate disclaimer would read: “The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the administration, faculty or student body of Georgetown University unless specifically stated.”
Groups will not be eligible for access to benefits if their purpose or activities:
- are unlawful or in violation of University policy;
- endanger or threaten to endanger the safety of any member of the University community or of any of the University’s physical facilities;
- disrupt or obstruct the functions of the University or threaten such disruption or obstruction;
- foster hatred or intolerance of others because of their race, nationality, gender, religion or sexual preference, or are inconsistent with acceptable conduct at an American university committed to the Roman Catholic moral tradition;
- are conducted secretly or as a fraternity or sorority (e.g. groups with discriminatory, secret or ritualized membership practices);
- are purely commercial or financially profitable to group members.
The following benefits are available to student groups that meet the eligibility criteria and are given access by the appropriate advisory board (PAAC, Media, SAC, CSJ-Advirsory Board for Student Organizations [ABSO], or Advisory Board for Club Sports.) Special eligibility requirements or conditions on the scope or nature of a group’s activities may be imposed by each advisory board, or the Vice President of Student Affairs, where appropriate.
Benefits which are routinely granted when access is granted:
- Advice and counsel from the appropriate board
- A mailbox in the SAC Office
- Access to the university mailing service
- Use of computers, copier, and fax machine in the SAC Office
- Information about opportunities and events for student organizations
- Inclusion in the SAC Fair and applicable university ceremonies
Benefits which require an application and administrative staff approval:
- Ability to apply for CSJ-ABSO vehicles
- Access to university computer label service
- Ability to apply for fund raising project
- Privilege to apply for a liquor license
- Support for events scheduled off campus
- Access to university facilities (indoor and outdoor) for events and activities
- University hosted website
The process and criteria used to determine access to administrative benefits are published in the Student Organization Guide.
Benefits which require an application and Board or Lecture Fund approval and final approval of the Vice President of Students Affairs:
- Annual organizational budget allocation
- Office space
- Approval for selective membership
- Mid-year funding requests
- Budget revisions
If you would like to gain access to benefits for your group, visit the Center for Student Programs web page to obtain information on the New Club Development Process including guidelines for, and a sample constitution, etc,.
Georgetown University Constitution Guidelines
The following outline and questions are designed to help you write or update a constitution for your organization. The constitution should contain statements concerning enduring aspects of the organization. Items that are subject to frequent revision should be included in the By-Laws.
This section should be a statement of the group’s establishment. The preamble should contain the name of the organization. The preamble should include the date on which the Constitution was ratified or amended.
Article I. Name
Section 1: What is the exact title of this organization?
Article II. Purpose
Section 1: What is the purpose? Is it fostering a broad educational goal? Does it have a social, cultural or political aim? Why was the group founded? Be precise enough so that a non-member would understand the group.
Section 2: This section should be a statement of the group’s willingness to abide by all university policies.
Article III. Membership
Section 1: How does one become a member? How are voting members identified? Voting members must be full-time undergraduate students at the University. What is the date in any one year by which one must join to still be able to vote? Who keeps the official membership list?
Section 2: Voluntary withdrawal of membership may be provided for. Can a member remain in the organization if she/he fails to pay dues?
Section 3: Membership must be open to all Georgetown University full-time undergraduate students.
Article IV. Officers
Section 1: How many officers are there? What are their titles and duties? Will the officers constitute an executive committee? Will your structure be hierarchical or flat?
Section 2: Officers must be full-time undergraduate students at the university.
Section 3: The only officer required is a Treasurer.
Article V. Operations
Section 1: How are officers elected? What constitutes a quorum? What type of ballot? Who may vote? When are they elected, and for what period? Who is eligible for office? When do officers assume office? How may officers be removed? How will mid-year vacancies be filled? You may wish to clarify the role of your advisor.
Article VI. Finances
Section 1: Will there be membership dues?
Section 2: The organization will seek funding by application to the appropriate advisory board ( Select the appropriate one: SAC, Media Board, CSJ-ABSO, PAAC or Advisory Board for Club Sports.)
Section 3: The group must express willingness to comply with all financial policies, including placing all funds in its University account.
Article VII. Amendments
Section 1: How are amendments to be proposed and by whom? Usually they are proposed at one meeting and voted on at the next after notifying members. What majority is needed for amendments to pass? What is a quorum for this meeting?
Your constitution may also include a “Provision for By-Laws” article or a clause pertaining to the establishment of by-laws. The by-laws might include some of the following items:
- Standing committees of the organization
- Ad-hoc committees of the organization which are established for a single purpose, or 1-year commitment. Such committees will be eliminated from the by-laws once abolished or defunct.
- Policies pertaining to the time and location of organizational meetings.
- Structures/purposes of committees.
Center for Student Programs Sample Constitution
A Constitution reflects the policies and procedures of organizations. Since every organization is different, constitutions will vary in their content. The following sample constitution contains areas typically addressed in constitutions and possible wording. When writing a constitution, however, student organizations should be sure that their constitution reflects the policies and procedures of their particular organization.
CONSTITUTION OF “Name of Organization”
We, the members of “Name of Organization” do hereby establish this Constitution on (date ratified or amended.)
Article I. Name
The name of the organization will be “Name of Organization,” henceforth referred to as “Name of Organization.”
Article II. Purpose
- Name of Organization” is established for the purpose of developing leadership skills and an awareness of the responsibility to participate in public affairs.
- Name of Organization” understands and is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities of abiding by Georgetown University’s policies.
Article III. Membership
1. Voting membership shall be limited to persons officially connected with the University as enrolled full time undergraduate students. In addition, the following requirements are necessary to constitute voting membership.
- Payment in full of financial obligations as determined by organization.
- Attendance at 75% of all meetings during a given semester.
- Active participation in all activities sponsored by “Name of Organization” unless the activity interferes with either a class or job.
2. “Name of Organization” openly admits undergraduate students to its membership and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, disability, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion or sexual orientation.
Article IV. Officers
- Officers of “Name of Organization” must be full-time undergraduate students enrolled at Georgetown University.
- Name of Organization” will be governed by the following means:
- An elected President (or other designated officer) will preside at all meetings of “Name of Organization.” The President will maintain the power to appoint all committee chairpersons, shall present all motions to the body present, and shall be present at 90% of the meetings of “Name of Organization.” The President is responsible for communication between “Name of Organization,” its advisory board (insert name,) and the Office of Student Programs.
- Name of Organization” shall also maintain a Vice President. The Vice President’s duties shall be to preside at all meetings and functions that the President cannot attend.
- Club members shall also elect a Treasurer who will keep the lists of voting and active members, handle all dues, accounts, expenditures, new members, rule observances at stated meetings, protocol, etc.
Article V. Operations
- Voting Eligibility
Those members meeting all requirements of active membership by (date during the year) as set forth in Article III will be eligible to vote.
- Election Process
- All officers shall be elected by a majority vote of eligible voting members of “Name of Organization.” All elections will be held on an annual basis by February 15 of each academic year, at a meeting comprised of quorum (50% + 1) of “Name of Organization’s” members.
- The President will take nominations from the floor, the nomination process must be closed and the motion seconded. The nominated parties will be allowed to vote if they are eligible voting members.
- All voting shall be done by secret ballot to be collected and tabulated by the Secretary-Treasurer and one voting member of “Name of Organization,” to be appointed by the outgoing President.
- Newly elected officers will assume office on (date), except in the case of mid-term elections. Officers elected mid-term will assume office immediately after their election.
- Any officer of “Name of Organization” in violation of the Organization’s purpose or constitution or failure to fulfill duties as stated may be removed from office by the following process.
- A written request by at least three members of the organization.
- Written notification to the officer of the request, asking the officer to be present at the next meeting prepared to speak in their own defense.
- Written notification to the membership.
- 75% of the voting membership must be in attendance to vote on removal of an officer. A two-thirds (2/3) majority is necessary to remove the officer.
Should an officer resign or be removed, a special election will be held one week after written notification to all voting members. Mid-term elections shall be conducted as specified in Article IV, Section 2.
All meetings will occur on a weekly basis or other regular basis at a time selected by “Name of Organization” and will follow the procedure set forth below:
- Report by the President
- Committee Reports
- Vote on all committee motions and decisions
- Any other business put forward by members of the club
- Dismissal by the President
Article VI. Finances
"Name of Organization” will finance the activities it engages in by the following means:
- Membership dues (appropriate amount set by “Name of Organization”.)
- “Name of Organization” will submit a budget to the (insert one-SAC, CSJ-ABSO, Media Board, PAAC or Advisory Board for Club Sports) on an annual basis and request funding appropriate for the effective operation of the organization for each year.
- “Name of Organization” will conduct all financial activities in accordance with university policy and place all funds in its university account.
Article VII. Amendments
- Amendments to the constitution may be proposed in writing by any voting members of “Name of Organization” at any meeting at which 2/3 of the voting members are present.
- These amendments will be placed on the agenda for the next regular meeting of the executive council or other officer grouping.
- Proposed amendments will become effective following approval of two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of voting members.
(Date ratified or most recently amended.)
Georgetown University Student Organization Standards
Central to the character of Georgetown University is a rich and diverse campus life outside of the classroom. Students come together to pursue interests, gain leadership skills and serve the community. Extracurricular life should be characterized by the same commitment to excellence reflected in academic life at Georgetown.
Authority over student organizations and activities is vested in the Vice President of Student Affairs. The Vice President is assisted by the Center for Student Programs and is advised by student and faculty boards. Student organizations may receive access to benefits not available to the individual student; in turn student leaders are responsible for meeting all policies, rules and standards associated with the access. The advisory boards (Media Board, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Student Activity Commission, Center for Social Justice's Advisory Board for Student Organizations or Advisory Board for Club Sports) serve and monitor student organization activities. It is the responsibility of the boards to act in the best interests of both the organizations and the community, addressing violations of standards in an educational manner. The ultimate authority over all matters concerning student organizations, including all violations by student organizations of any University or board policy, rule, or standard is the Vice President.
The following prescribes the standards to which leaders and their organization members are held. An important part of assuming a leadership position is understanding the responsibilities of leadership and communicating these effectively to members.
Respect for Others
Respect for every person is at the core of Georgetown’s Catholic, Jesuit identity. In a university it is particularly necessary that this respect encompass diversity and difference of opinion. A student organization may be held accountable for actions that violate the dignity of another member of the university community.
The following actions are specifically prohibited:
- Discrimination. (Any act that distinguishes or excludes an individual on any criterion other than individual merit.)
- Hazing. (Any ritual of membership that demeans, humiliates, injures or weakens a student or otherwise interferes with the pursuit of an education by a student.)
- Interfering with another group’s freedom of expression. (Protesting an event or activity in such a manner that the speaker’s right to free speech or others’ right to see and hear a speaker is violated.)
- Disruption. (Activity that endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community or of any of the community’s physical facilities, or any activity that disrupts or obstructs or imminently threatens such disruption or obstruction.)
Use of University Resources
Through student organizations, University resources are used to enrich the university community and reflect its diversity. Student leaders agree to follow university procedures in the use of university resources and not to misuse those resources.
The following actions are specifically prohibited:
- Spending organization funds for purposes other than those authorized; incurring unauthorized financial obligations.
- Failing to deposit revenue according to the cash handling procedures.
- Making payments from undeposited cash. (All revenue must first be deposited and accounted for in the University system.)
- Failing to adhere to proper financial procedures as outlined in the Student Organization Guide.
- Maintaining outside bank accounts. (Student organizations that receive university funding and/or operate from University accounts are expressly forbidden to maintain any financial resources outside of the university account, and all resources must be deposited into their university account.)
- Providing partisan political support. (Using university resources or the university name to fund a political campaign or political action group or committee is strictly prohibited.)
- Using university vehicles for other than the specifically approved vehicle request.
- Advertising off campus without permission. (University facilities and resources are intended primarily for the use of the members of the university community, and special authorization must be received to advertise off campus.)
- Using the name or privileges of a student organization to conduct a non-university profit-making enterprise.
- Damaging university property through negligence or intentional action.
- Taking organizational or university resources without permission.
Georgetown University is committed to fostering the integrity of its student organizations. Groups are encouraged to follow their own constitutions, to remain true to their purpose, and to represent their activities to others properly.
The following are specifically prohibited actions.
- Signing someone else’s name without authorization.
- Supplying false or misleading information on an application or request form.
- Knowingly accepting or using false identification.
- Allowing non-members to direct, manipulate or improperly influence an organization’s structure, activities or decisions.
- Failing to follow the organization’s constitution.
- Holding improper elections; attempting to give any candidate an unfair advantage in an election.
- Failing to comply with the directive of a university official.
- Misrepresentation. (Any attempt to use the name or privileges of a student organization for other than the expressly stated purpose of an organization or its activity or event.)
- Fronting. (Misrepresentation specifically designed to gain access to university benefits, especially facilities, for any person or group that would be otherwise ineligible for such benefits or eligible at a less favorable rate.)
- Soliciting outside funding without prior approval. (Development efforts must be coordinated through the Center for Student Programs and the Office of Alumni and University Relations.)
Specifically Prohibited Groups
The freedom to associate with others who share common interests is an important part of the university community, and students are free to join and form lawful associations. Some types of groups have either activities or principles that are inconsistent with accepted values at the University. For this reason, the following types of organizations are expressly prohibited from having access to university benefits, and existing groups that are found to represent any of these types of organizations will be subject to loss of benefits.
- Organizations with discriminatory membership practices: any organization that excludes members on an illegal basis. (Exceptions will be granted for performing arts groups that wish to select members for performances based on special criteria such as talent and individual merit.)
- Fraternities and sororities: single sex groups with ritualized, demeaning or secret membership practices, and specifically those organizations affiliated with the national Intrafraternity Council, Pan Hellenic Association, and Pan Hellenic Council.
- Secret societies: groups that do not disclose their purpose, membership or activities, or whose purpose, membership or activities are discriminatory.
- Commercial groups: groups whose purpose and activities are designed as private profit-making endeavors for the benefit of their members.
- Groups that endanger or threaten to endanger the safety of any member of the University community or any of the University’s physical facilities.
- Groups that foster hatred or intolerance of others because of their race, nationality, gender or sexual preference, or are inconsistent with acceptable conduct at an American university committed to the Roman Catholic moral tradition.
- Groups that are unlawful or in violation of University policy.
Compliance with University Policies
Many policies govern the activities and events of student organizations. Leaders and organizers are expected to be familiar with all relevant policies. Copies of all policies may be obtained in the center for Student Programs. All members are expected to comply with all university policies, including, but not limited to:
- alcohol and substance abuse policy
- outdoor events policy
- policy on speech and expression
- facilities use policies
- vehicle regulations
- risk management regulations
- revenue management policies
The University reserves the right to modify and to add policies and to hold students accountable for abiding by such policies. The University also reserves the right to hold groups or individuals accountable for inappropriate actions not specifically listed in these standards.
VIOLATIONS OF RULES AND POLICIES BY STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
The Vice President for Student Affairs has the authority to investigate student organizations and their conduct and to sanction organizations for violations of the above-referenced rules and policies. In any given case at the Vice President’s discretion, the Vice President may delegate this authority, for example, to the Director of Student Programs or may request a recommendation from the Director or other designated University official.
Sanctions for violations may, without limitation, include the following:
- short term loss of some or all benefits
- long term loss of some or all benefits
- permanent loss of benefits
- community service projects
- removal of individuals from the office
- other sanctions as deemed appropriate
Authority for selection of specific sanctions is vested ultimately with the Vice President for Student Affairs.
In cases in which the Director of Student Programs will make decisions, the following guidelines will apply:
- Complaints may be filed in the Center for Student Programs by students, faculty, staff (including the Director) or community members.
- For alleged violations in which the conduct is not contested, the Director or other designated University official may fashion a procedure on case-by-case basis to discuss concerns and to impose sanction(s).
- For alleged violations in which the conduct is contested, the case will be referred to the appropriate advisory board. The board will conduct a hearing, according to procedures that it devises consistent with this paragraph, to make recommendations to the Director or other designated University official concerning factual determinations, responsibility, and sanction(s).
- Notice of the hearing will be given to the respondent through at least one of its officers at least three working days before the hearing. Both the complainant and the respondent organization will have the opportunity to present information and argument at the hearing.
- Formal rules of evidence will not apply. Legal counsel will not be permitted to participate in the hearing. The advisory board will provide its recommendations to the Director or other designated University official within two working days after the hearing. The Director or other designated University official can accept, reject or modify the recommendation.
- When an alleged violation by a student organization also involves conduct of any student in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, referral may be made to the Student Discipline System. Such referral will not preclude sanctions against the organization as outlined above.
- For organizational violations, generally the aim of any response to such violations will be to preserve the integrity of the group and educate the group or individuals involved. Violations of Student Organization Standards and sanctions imposed by the Center for Student Programs or advisory boards will not become part of any individual’s student record.
Questions about this and other policies or programs regarding student organizations may be addressed to:
Erika Cohen Derr
Director of Student Programs
316 Leavey Center
Washington, DC 20057