How to Prepare Your Organization's Constitution and By-laws:
As a student organization, one of your main responsibilities will be to set up a constitution and by-laws that works for your organization. A constitution and by-laws should provide order, purpose, rules and continuity for your group.
What is in a constitution?
A constitution basically states how the group will be organized. It should contain:
- Name and purpose of the group.
- Qualification of members.
- Officers and procedure for their election.
- Meetings of the group (including only what is essential, leaving the details to the by-laws).
- How to amend the constitution and by-laws.
An example of a basic constitution is as follows:
ARTICLE I: Name
Section 1 - The name of this club shall be the Outdoor Club of Youngstown State University.
ARTICLE II: Purpose
Section 1 - To promote student awareness of outdoor activities and sports.
Section 2 - To provide students with the opportunity to experience the outdoors through activities (hiking, camping, climbing).
Section 3 - To teach students to respect the outdoors.
ARTICLE III: Membership
Section 1 - Membership is open to all YSU students who are in good standing.
ARTICLE IV: Officers and Election
Section 1 - The officers of this group shall include the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
Section 2 - The executive committee of this group shall consist of the above mentioned officers.
Section 3 - The officers of this organization shall be elected by the regular members of the club and shall serve a one-year term.
ARTICLE V: Meetings
Section 1 - This group shall meet the first and third Tuesday’s of each month (September-June).
ARTICLE VI: Amendments to Constitution and By-laws
Section 1 - Amendments to the constitution and by-laws shall be submitted in writing one week prior to their consideration to the president.
Section 2 - These amendments will be discussed at the next scheduled meeting of the group.
Section 3 - All amendments will require a two-thirds (2/3) vote for passage.
ARTICLE VII: Officer Duties and Responsibilities
Section 1 - President
- Run all meetings of the group.
- Be the official spokesman for the group.
- Appoint special committees of the group.
- Administer the budget with the aid of the treasurer.
- Meet twice a month with the advisor to review programs.
Section 2 - Vice-President
- Takes over the role of leader in the absence of the president.
- Assists the president in all areas necessary.
- Heads up all special projects of the group.
Section 3 - Secretary
- Records all business of the group at its meetings.
- Distributes copies of the groups’ minutes at each meeting.
- Handles all correspondence of the group.
- Familiar with all University regulations for student organizations.
Section 4 - Treasurer
- Maintains all financial records of the group.
- Collects dues and distributes financial records of each member’s financial standing in the group.
- Submits to the president at each meeting a financial report of the group.
- Prepares student government annual budget request and is familiar with student organization funding regulations.
What are by-laws?
The by-laws of an organization are specific rules of the organization. By-laws should include all the rules not already in the constitution that are of such importance that they cannot be changed in any way without previous notice.
The by-laws of a student organization should be detailed rules that explain for the members their responsibilities, limitations and expectations as they pertain to the group. By-laws may include the meeting time and locations, dues to be paid, attendance requirements, election procedures, etc.
By-laws should be divided into headings such as dues, attendance or meetings with by-laws pertaining to them listed below. This makes your by-law system more organized and easier to use when the need arises.
Example of by-laws:
- Dues will be $5 each month.
- Dues will be paid at the first meeting of each month.
- Failure to pay dues will result in suspension from all group activities until the dues are paid.
- Meetings will be at 2:00 p.m. at the Outdoor Club’s office.
- Attendance is required at all regular and special meetings of the group, unless excused.
- Members may be excused by submitting a written excuse to the president prior to the meeting they will be missing.
- Three unexcused absences will result in expulsion from the group.
- Elections shall take place the first week of May.
- Any regular member having one semester in the group may be nominated for an executive office.
- Elections will be by secret ballot.
- All ties will be decided by the president
When you have completed your organization’s constitution and by-laws, you must present the Student Activities Office with a permanent copy. Everyone in your group should also receive a copy of them.
This information will hopefully assist your organization in preparing a basic constitution and by-laws. If questions do arise when you begin to develop your constitution and by-laws, please contact us in the Student Activities Office at (330) 941-3575 and we’ll be happy to help!