The constitution guides an organization in its operations and activities and, accordingly, is intended primarily for the organization’s benefit and use. The constitution contains the fundamental principles and structure of the organization and outlines the basic rules of procedure by which a group’s leadership govern their organization.
In essence the constitution is an outline of the goals and the purpose of the organization, as well as the rules of the organization.
The constitution should be carefully formulated, clearly worded, and kept up-to-date so that the needs of the organization can be met. Furthermore, our office recommends that each member of an organization have a copy of the constitution. All members of the organization should know the purpose and goals of the organization as well as abide by its rules.
The following outline is provided to assist in the preparation of your organization’s constitution. Use this guide to prepare the constitution for your new student organization. An up-to-date copy of the constitution is required to be kept on file, in Word document format, in the Office of Student Life.
Note – Some organizations desire a structure that is fundamentally different from the guidelines printed here. Under these circumstances, the organization should contact the Office of Student Life to assist in the design of an alternate structure to their constitution. The goal would be to incorporate basic principles important to the University while promoting the ideology of the organization.
The constitution should include specific procedural rules. When amending the constitution, notification of proposed changes must be provided to the membership. The constitution should not be altered in the same meeting in which the changes are proposed.
Article 1 – Name and Purpose
Section 1: Name: If your organization has “The Ohio State University at Newark” or “Central Ohio Technical College” in its title, it must follow the main portion of the name. For instance:
Acceptable: Chess Club at The Ohio State University at Newark or Chess Club at Central Ohio Technical College.
Unacceptable: The Ohio State University Chess Club or Central Ohio Technical College Chess Club.
Ohio State Newark and COTC can be used in the name; however OSU cannot be used due to the confusion it may cause with other Ohio State campuses.
The Newark campus is a unique institution in that two distinct colleges share all resources. The Student Government requests that all organizations not discriminate or exclude members based on their school.
Remember: The Ohio State University always has a “The” in front of it, while Central Ohio Technical College never does.
If your organization is affiliated with a national or international organization, details of the affiliation should be adequately described.
Section 2 – Purpose: Organizations should take care to include a complete statement of purpose and objectives. Programs sponsored by the organization must comply and be consistent with the organization’s stated purpose and objectives.
Section 3 – Non-Discrimination Policy: All student organizations desiring to benefit from student organization status with The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College must include in their constitution a non-discrimination policy statement that adheres to and is at least as broad as the Newark campus’ Non-Discrimination policy statement.
For information purposes, the campus’ policy is quoted as follows:
“The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, color, veteran status, and/or disability. Accordingly, equal access to employment opportunities, admissions, education programs, and all other Newark campus activities is extended to all persons; the campus promotes equal opportunity through a positive and continuing affirmative action program. General information, questions, concerns, or complaints related to these matters are to be directed to the Title IX Coordinator, John Berry. Dr. Berry is located in the John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center, Suite 226; Ohio State Newark/COTC; 1179 University Drive; Newark, Ohio 43055-1797; (740-364-9578) or the ADA/504 Coordinator, Connie Zang, at the same location.”
Section 4 - Parliamentary Authority: Most organizations use Robert’s Rules of Order to govern their organization’s decision making except when these rules are inconsistent with the constitution of the organization. These rules are of Western cultural origin and based on the premise that “though the minority shall be heard and absentees protected, the majority will decide.”
Article II – Membership
Section 1 – Qualifications: Voting membership should be defined as limited to currently enrolled students of Central Ohio Technical College and/or The Ohio State University at Newark. Other members such as faculty, alumni, and professionals are encouraged to participate as non-voting associate or honorary members. [For education and leadership development reasons, student organizations are to be student initiated, student led, and student run.]
Procedures for becoming a member should be described in detail. These procedures may vary by membership category, amount of dues (if any), how often dues should be paid, termination of membership, and so on.
Section 2 – Rights and Responsibilities of Members: Rights, such as to vote, hold elective office, and participate in events, should be detailed in this section. Responsibilities regarding attendance and contribution toward events, projects, and programs should also be detailed in the Rights and Responsibilities section.
Section 3 – Membership Year: The membership year of student organizations generally runs from the start of autumn semester through the last day before the start of the next autumn's classes; however, the membership year can be determined by each organization based on its own structure and plans.
Section 4 – Membership Dues: Most student organizations do not have a membership fee for their members. A general phrase such as “The annual dues for this organization shall be established annually,” may be included in this section. Inclusion of this statement allows an organization to determine each year whether there is a need for membership dues, without the necessity of proposing an amendment to the constitution.
Article III – Organization Leadership
Section 1 – Title of Officers: Organization leaders represent the Executive Committee and general membership and are elected or appointed from the ranks of the organization’s voting membership. The titles of organization leaders should be listed in this section.
Section 2 – Terms of Office: The length of terms, specifications as to which leaders are elected or appointed and by whom, as well as the requirements for Executive Committee meetings should be detailed. The Executive Committee generally determines which standing committees will be needed to carry out organization programs and events as stated in its definition of purpose.
Section 3 – Election Procedures: Election rules and procedures, including eligibility for office, the nominating process, design of ballots and balloting procedures should be specified as well as appointment and ratification procedures. The timing of elections and/or appointments should be specified along with procedures to cover special circumstances (resignation, impeachments, etc.).
Section 4 – Impeachment Procedures: Impeachment procedures to be followed when an officer has neglected duties or otherwise acted in a manner considered detrimental to the name or purpose of the student organization should be included in detail.
Article IV – Executive Committee (if needed)
Section 1 – Definition of Membership: This Committee (like a Board of Trustees or Directors) represents the general membership and conducts business of the organization between meetings of the membership, reporting its actions at the general meetings of the membership. In many organizations, this Committee is comprised of the organization leaders, chairpersons of the standing committees, and sometimes ex officio positions from related student organizations.
Section 2 – Officer Duties: This section contains an explanation of the specific responsibilities and duties of each officer by position to the committee and to the general membership.
Article V – Standing committees (if needed)
Section 1 – Names: These committees serve the organization leadership, Executive Committee, and general membership and are permanent and designed to carry out the basic functions of the organization. The need for Standing Committees will be based on the planned events and programs of the organization. If the organization plans to have ongoing yearly events for which Standing Committees will be established, this section of the constitution allows for listing and naming those regular committees. Text should be included to allow for addition and deletion of committees as necessary, determined by each year’s officers, membership, and advisor.
Section 2 – Purposes:
Committees can be set as the need develops during the planning of events and programs. The organization leadership often appoints chairpersons of these committees. In this section, provide specific duties of each committee and their responsibilities to the organization leadership, Executive Committee, and general membership. Suggested text: “Standing committees shall be formed by the Executive Committee and the Advisor based on the ongoing needs of the organization.”
Section 3 –Composition: Based on the event or program for which a particular Standing Committee is established, the composition of a Standing Committee will be determined by the Executive Committee.
Article VI – Advisor(s) or Advisory Board
Section 1 – Qualification Criteria: Advisors of student organizations must be full-time members of the Newark campus Faculty or full-time salaried Staff. If a person serving as an advisor is not a member of one of the above classifications, a co-advisor must be chosen who is a qualified member of the campus staff.
Section 2 – Advisor Duties: Responsibilities and expectations of advisors should be clearly and adequately described. Detail the expectations and responsibilities of the organization’s advisor (e.g., availability, meeting attendance, second signer on checks, etc.).
Article VII – Meetings of the Organization
Section 1 – Required Meetings: Required meetings and their number are specified here. For instance, two general meetings of the membership may be required each academic term except summer. Regular, special, size and determination of quorum (number of voting members required to vote on decisions placed before the general membership, executive, and standing committees).
Section 2 – Notification of Meetings: Establishing a method and defining who is responsible for advertising and notification of required and specially-called meetings should be defined.
Section 3 – Specially-called Meetings: Determining who has authority to call meetings for a special purpose should be detailed in the constitution. Many times, the advisor and/or any officer are permitted to call a meeting in addition to required meetings.
Article VIII – Method of Amending Constitution: Proposing Changes, Notification, and voting requirements
Section 1 – Proposing Amendments to the Constitution: It is essential for every student organization to determine during the process of writing the constitution the procedure for proposing amendments and who will have authority to do so. Proposed amendments should be in writing, should not be acted upon in the general meeting in which they are read and proposed, and should be read again at a specified number of subsequent meetings (including the meeting in which the vote will be taken).
Section 2 – Notification of the Membership: The text of the proposed amendment should be printed and sent to all members before a final vote will be taken. Determine the method of notification – electronically, making a copy available in a public location for viewing, or by sending hard copies through the mail – as well as the length of time that should be allowed for review before voting.
Section 3 – Quorum Requirements: Amendments should either require a two-third or three-quarter majority of voting members (a quorum) being present or a majority or two-thirds of the entire voting membership of the organization, present or not. The constitution should not be amended easily or frequently.
Section 4 – Effective Dates of Revised Constitution: Amendments should generally take effect at the beginning of the membership year following their adoption. Language can be included to include the ability to alter that adoption period when there is a specific reason to do so. Again, such an allowance should be not be readily made and the design of the wording should make that variance difficult.
Article IX – Method of Dissolution of Organization
Requirements and procedures for dissolution of the student organization should be stated. Should any organization assets and debt exist, appropriate means for disposing of these assets and debts should specify that any funding not utilized by June 1, or upon dissolution, will be returned to the Office of Student Life to the Student Development student fund account.
Article X – Affiliation
All student organizations desiring to benefit from Student Organization status must include in their constitution a statement of affiliation with The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College. Included in this article are details on standards to be met as an approved organization.