The constitution of a registered student organization must be specific and detailed enough to guide the operation of the organization in a consistent manner from year to year. The constitution, therefore, should be the primary operational guide for the organization and not simply a document that is filed away and forgotten. The constitution must be specific enough to demonstrate to the University that the group meets the conditions of registration.
Instructions: Your organization constitution MUST include all of the sections below. For ease of updating/developing your constitution, please use the Constitution Template for Student Organizations, which includes all required sections and language.
Specify the official name and any abbreviated name for the organization. The name of registered organizations may not include the name of the University of Pittsburgh in any way. (These guidelines will be updated and enforced in Spring 2021.)
The following statement MUST be included. “The (name of organization) and its membership accept and will fully comply with the requirements and limitations of registration.”
Registered student organizations are student associations and are not official components of the University. Registration does not permit a student organization to use or act in the name of the University, to represent the University, engage in any contractual obligation in the name of the University nor represent the organization as being an official part of the University. Registered student organizations are permitted to have approved external affiliations. Registration expressly permits registered student organizations to only operate on campus. Off-campus activities of registered student organizations are the sole responsibility of the organization, officers and members, unless expressly approved in advance by the University. Membership in a registered student organization and participation in its activities are voluntary and all risks of personal injury, property damage or other losses incidental to membership or participation in activities are assumed solely by the student organization and/or individual member(s) or participant(s).
A registered student organization MUST submit its re-registration application online during the defined re-registration period. You MUST include the following statement. “The (name of organization) will submit its re-registration application once a year during the defined re-registration process.”
State the specific purpose for which the organization has been created. Be complete and precise.
Describe the full range of activities, programs and services the organization will host to fulfill its purpose. Be complete and precise.
Membership Requirements must be explicit and must affirm the organization’s and members’ acceptance and compliance to the University registration policy. The membership section MUST start with the following six (6) standard statements.
Membership is open to currently enrolled Pitt students as defined herein.
All members must accept and comply with all of the requirements and limitations of registration as a condition of membership.
Membership in the (name of organization) is voluntary and all risk of personal injury, property damage or other losses that occur incidental to membership or participation in activities are assumed solely by the student organization and/or individual member(s) or non-member participant(s). Accordingly, the University of Pittsburgh, its officers and agents shall not be responsible nor liable for any claims or causes of action for damage or loss of property or personal injury of any kind or nature which may arise out of or are incidental to the conduct of any organization’s activities or that of any individual’s participation in any group-related activity. it is further understood and agreed that it is the responsibility of the officers of the organization to assure that all of the organization’s members and non-member participants in all activities sponsored by the (name of organization) are fully informed and advised of this ASSUMPTION OF RISK, and in the event any individual member or participant should express or indicate non-acceptance, the organization’s officers shall forbid participation and/or membership of such individual. In regard to the organization member or non-member participant Assumption of Risk, the (name of organization) acknowledges that the University recommends that the organization members and non-member participants make every effort to arrange for the acquisition of liability insurance sufficient to protect all participants against those risks being assumed. For sport-related organizations, the University recommends that each individual have insurance sufficient to allow for any risks by participation, accident or by deficiencies in physical health.
No illegal discriminatory criteria may be used as criteria for membership including those listed in the University of Pittsburgh’s non-discrimination policy. These factors include race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, disability, or status as a veteran. All groups, except those exempt by law, must permit male and female membership. Sport clubs involving physical contact or in which participation is based on competitive skill may limit participation in competition to one sex; provided that, for any for any such sport club engaged in a non-contact sport, unless there is a sport club available for members of the opposite sex, the club must permit try-outs for each sex. Membership can be limited by factors unrelated to status or beliefs and which are also not illegal. Membership can be limited by school, college, department, major and grades, etc. No hazing or illegal discrimination will be used as a condition of membership in the organization.
You MUST state other membership requirements for your organization. Membership can be limited by factors unrelated to status or beliefs and which are also not illegal. For example, membership can be limited by school, college, department, major, grades, year in school and other factors that are not illegal.
The financial obligations of members MUST be clearly defined. If there are none, state that there are no financial requirements for membership.
You MUST define when recruitment takes place, the application procedure, method of selection or approval, the privileges of membership, how members are removed or made inactive, how they can be reinstated and the conditions for maintaining membership.
Only currently enrolled students of the University of Pittsburgh may vote in the decisions of the organization. Your organization’s constitution MUST include the following statement. “Voting privileges are limited to currently enrolled Pitt student members in good standing with the organization.” Then you MUST define any requirements to maintain voting privileges or how they are lost.
The organization may have associate members comprised of Pitt faculty, staff and alumni and other non-Pitt persons. If you want to allow associate membership you MUST define who they are, how they become members, maintain membership and how they can be removed from membership. This statement MUST follow these requirements. “Associate members may not vote, hold office nor serve in a formal leadership role. They may participate in organization meetings and activities. Pitt student membership shall comprise of at least 75% of the total membership at all times.” Delete this section if there are no associate members.
Three student officers currently enrolled and in good standing at the University of Pittsburgh are required for registration. Each organization MUST designate a president, vice president, and business manager, but may have as many officers as needed. Faculty, staff, alumni and external affiliates may NOT serve as officers. In this section identify the title of all of the officer positions in your organization. “The organization shall have the following officers…”
Officer Responsibilities and Duties
You MUST define and specify all of the responsibilities and duties for each officer to distribute the work of the organization and to assign the authority necessary to perform the role.
Election of Officers
The election of officers MUST take place once a year at a specified time and through a defined process. The section on election of officers MUST specify: (1) the nomination procedure, (2) the eligibility requirements for each office, (3) the election process including when, where and how the votes are to be cast, counted and announced, (4) the eligibility requirements for voting, (5) the vote required to elect an officer, e.g. a simple majority of votes cast versus a simple majority of eligible members, (6) whether or not an officer can hold more than one position, (7) whether or not absentee or proxy ballots can be cast, (8) how contests of election results are decided and any other relevant policy or procedure.
When an officer resigns or is removed, the vacancy should be filled. The process by which vacancies are filled and how the decision is made to fill or not fill the vacancy MUST be defined. Also, the term of the replacement officer, generally the remainder of the current term of office MUST be specified.
The name, function, composition, specific purpose and responsibilities for each committee MUST be identified. Who chairs the committee or how the chairperson is selected MUST also be specified along with the powers and duties of the chair and to whom the chair reports. How standing and ad hoc committees are established and terminated MUST also be addressed.
The organization MUST determine how regular meetings are scheduled and specify who may attend the meeting. Quorum requirements MUST be determined to officially conduct and approve the business of the organization. In addition, you MUST state how and by whom special meetings can be called and what kind of notice is required. Lastly, the chairperson MUST be specified along with the powers of the chair and Rules of Order for meetings.
The budget policies and procedures and the authority to spend the money of the organization MUST be defined along with any limitations on how the funds can be spent. If your organization will be participating in fundraising activities, you MUST include the following statement. “The (name of organization) shall fully comply with the University fundraising policies and procedures for registered student organizations.” This statement MUST follow for all organizations. “The organization will not maintain an outside bank account if it receives funding from (name of governing organization).” The governing organization is determined depending on the primary make-up of the group’s membership. Groups who are primarily undergraduates should state Student Government Board and groups that are primarily graduate/professional student should state Graduate and Professional Student Government for this clause.
The following statement MUST be included. “In compliance with the Publications Code for Student Organizations, all publications of the organization will comply with current copywriter laws, be distributed according to policies and procedures, refrain from expressions that are considered obscene or libelous according to current statute, advocate or insight the material interference or physical disruption of the educational process of the peace, order and decorum of the campus, or that advocate or insight imminent, lawless action or the violent overthrow of the government and identify the organization as publisher and specify that the group is a registered student organization at the University of Pittsburgh.”
All organizations MUST have a full-time Pitt faculty or staff adviser. How the adviser is selected and removed and the adviser’s role, responsibilities, duties and authority should be defined.
Any external affiliations MUST be disclosed and should be identified in the constitution. This section MUST specify how the organization relates to external affiliates and the requirements of the relationship.
The constitution MUST provide the means to approve amendments. The procedures and the required vote for amending the constitution must be outlined in detail. This statement MUST follow for all organizations. “All constitution additions, revisions and deletions must be reported to the SORC.”