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How to Start a Student Organization

Your opportunities for involvement at Colgate are truly endless. If you don’t see the activity you’d like to participate in, explore starting a new student organization.

Student clubs and organizations support sustainability

Step One- Exploring Options

The first step in proposing a new student organization is determining which of the advising departments at Colgate is the best fit for your idea.  These advising departments are as follows:

Step Two- General Criteria

Review the general criteria that all student organizations seeking recognition must follow.
All student organizations seeking recognition must fulfill the following general recognition criteria:
  1. The organization must be open to any Colgate Student who wishes to participate; and
  2. The organization must be beneficial and necessary to the enrichment of the Colgate community; and
  3. The organization must fill a unique niche within the Colgate community; and
  4. The organization must be sustainable over time; and
  5. The organization must align with the mission of its desired Advising Department.

Step Three- Advising Department Criteria

Review the specific criteria for recognition required by your desired advising department.

The Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI) and the Student Government Association (SGA):
The organization must answer the following questions as a part of their recognition application:
  1. How is your organization beneficial to the campus community?
  2. How does your organization foster personal growth and the development of professional competencies that members may use while at Colgate and beyond?
  3. How does CLSI recognition aid your organization in accomplishing its individual mission?)

The Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (Max Shacknai COVE):
The organization must must develop and present an action plan to fulfill the four phases of the Max Shacknai COVE philosophy:
  1. Direct Service.
  2. Campus Impact.
  3. Student Growth.
  4. Social Change.

The ALANA Cultural Center:
  1. The organization must provide a mission and vision statement that incorporates a component of diversity, as it relates to the ALANA mission statement.
  2. The organization must define how its members share interest, issues, a common bond or background.
  3. The organization must define how it will support the members of the organization.

The Office of the Chaplains:
The organization must develop and present an action plan to fulfill the five tenets of the chaplaincy philosophy:
  1. Worship/Prayer.
  2. Service.
  3. Fellowship.
  4. Education.
  5. Interfaith Cooperation.

Step Four- Check In

Arrange a meeting with your desired advising department to ask any questions and to present a rough draft of your potential petition for feedback.  This process is most important as it can help speed up the petitioning process.

Step Five- Petitioning

Founding members of an organization must petition their desired advising department using the petition form.  The petition will be submitted directly to the Advising Department through which the prospective organization is seeking recognition.  Please Note: Only one petition can be made by a prospective organization at a time. The organization seeking recognition may meet as needed with staff or student advisors within its desired Advising Department to review the petition and make adjustments as appropriate. 

All organizations in their petition must include:
  1. The name of the proposed organization.
  2. The mission of the proposed organization, and how that mission would advance the Living the Liberal Arts goals described in Appendix A to the Colgate University Student Organization Relationship Statement (the “Relationship Statement”).
  3. To the extent that the proposed organization anticipates seeking funding through the student activity fee, a proposed budget describing the amount of fees to be sought and how those fees would be used.
  4. A list of proposed officers, all of whom must be Colgate students on active status.
  5. A written agreement by all founding members of the proposed organization that:
    • The proposed organization will adhere to the terms of the Relationship Statement, all applicable University rules and regulations, including, without limitation, the University’s Policy on Hazing, the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, and the Policy on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, Sexual  and Other Forms of Harassment, and any requirements established by the Advising Department; Membership in the proposed organization will be limited to fully matriculated Colgate students;
    • The proposed organization will adhere to appropriate risk management practices and insurance requirements as established by the University;
    • The proposed organization will not discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identity or expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability.

Step Six- Process of Recognition

 New organizations are ordinarily granted recognition in either the third full week or the final week of each semester. The Advising Department will review and make a determination with respect to a prospective organization’s petition as soon as reasonably practicable following receipt of all necessary information. The Advising Department will make its determination based on its evaluation of the petition, the availability of resources to support the proposed organization, and its determination as to whether it is reasonable to expect that the organization will adhere to all applicable requirements and agreements.

Each Advising Department follows its own process for review of petition:

Step Seven- Up and Running

If the organization is approved, you will need to create a page for your new group at Get Involved. Calendar submission and funding requests from the BAC are tied to this system. Once you are logged on select My Involvement and select the button for Register a New Organization and follow the steps.

You will need the following information to register:
  • An uploadable copy of your constitution and by-laws
  • A list of all formal officers as outlined in your constitution
  • A membership roster
  • The name and contact information of your organization advisers
After that, the group is up and running! Congratulations!