Student Organization Handbook
- Office of Student Life Overview
- Participation in Student Organizations
- Recognition of Student Organizations
- Elements of a Constitution
- Recognition Through United Students' Government
- Annual Registration of Organizations
- Role of the Advisor
- Organizational Leadership
- College Policies
This handbook has been designed for use by Registered Student Organizations (RSO's) at Buffalo State College. The information contained in this handbook is designed to facilitate the initiation and growth of student organizations and includes pertinent information that affects student organizations and their operations within the College.
In an effort to encourage a formal, organized system of student activities, the College provides certain services and privileges to all Recognized Student Organizations. The recognition process is designed to easily permit students to create a formal organization, which is intended to:
- Fulfill a common purpose.
- Provide opportunities for student interaction through participation in managing the affairs of the group.
- Facilitate the implementation of activities and programs.
- Foster individual student growth and development through responsible involvement in co-curricular activities.
- In some cases, receive funding through the United Students Government budgeting process.
- Entitle the membership to be accorded certain privileges and to assume responsibilities as a group.
Registration of a student organization results when the requirements and conditions outlined in this handbook are met. Organizations that choose to register must complete the registration process with the Office of Student Life in order to take advantage of the privileges accorded recognized student organizations by the College.
The Student Life Staff recognizes the importance of co-curricular activities as an integral part of the college learning experience. Active participation in organizations provides an opportunity for the development of leadership skills, social interaction and a sense of participation in the campus community.
Many studies have shown students who become involved in co-curricular activities in college, benefit personally, socially, as well as academically. We encourage students to become involved in student life on campus and to participate in the many co-curricular activities offered. We believe being involved in the total College community furthers student learning and personal development, and contributes to the overall satisfaction with the educational experience.
The Student Life Staff has an opportunity to work in an advisory, educational, consulting and resource role. With that in mind, the Office of Student Life supports student organizations in a number of ways. They include:
- Assisting students in becoming involved with student organizations which fit their purpose, projects and issues;
- Encouraging successful involvement by providing leadership and skill development opportunities, specialized programs for student organizations and resource information; and,
- Offering professional advising and an array of organizational support services.
The Student Life staff encourages students to become involved in existing organizations or to establish new and different organizations, and is available to assist you in answering any questions regarding student organizations. The office is located on the fourth floor (Room 400) of the Campbell Student Union.
The Office of Student Life believes that participation in an organization is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences in which a student can get involved. Recognized Student Organizations are a vital part of campus life at Buffalo State and affords students the opportunity to interact with students and others at the College, while fostering their special interests outside the classroom.
The Office of Student Life has developed organizational objectives that we feel can contribute to the organizational development of Recognized Student Organizations. Our expectations are that certain developmental outcomes will be realized by fulfilling these objectives.
- The development of social skills through social interaction.
- The development of leadership skills and good citizenship.
- The development of student/community involvement, through volunteerism, to promote positive campus/community interaction.
- The development of activities that reinforce classroom instruction and supplement academics through service learning.
- The development of activities that offer students the opportunity for increased group participation and interaction, while instilling in students a sense of participation and responsibility as a member of the group and campus community.
- The development of activities that promote successful development of students' intellectual and educational capabilities, personalities, and physical skills.
- The development of activities that provide a means of uniting the campus community by promoting positive relations between students, faculty and administrators from various backgrounds.
- The development of activities that bring cultural, intellectual, educational and social stimulation to the campus community.
- Statement of Registration
The purpose of the registration process is to provide the Office of Student Life, USG, the College and potential members with vital information about registered organizations on campus.
- Requirements of "New" Organizations
Students are encouraged to form new Student Organizations. In order to register a new organization, you must complete the following requirements:
- Complete and have on file the appropriate registration forms, and current copy of the organization's constitution and by-laws with the Office of Student Life,
- Have at least one campus Advisor who is a faculty member, administrator or staff member employed by the College.
- Have at least 10 BSC students as members. Organizations with less than ten (10) members will be given a "grace period" of one (1) semester to meet the standard membership requirement.
- Approval of your organization will take place after all of the recognition requirements are met and your paperwork is reviewed by the Office of Student Life.
All recognized student organizations are required to have a current constitution on file in the Office of Student Life. The constitution is the basic framework of an organization and provides more detailed information than is contained on the registration form. Please stop by the USG office for a copy of a constitutional template that can be used to assist you in developing a constitution for your organization
- If funding is being requested from USG, a representative from your organization will be asked to arrange a conference with a representative(s) of United Student Government (USG). The purpose of the conference is to provide an opportunity for the discussion of all registration materials submitted for approval.
Following this conference, the organization president will be asked to appear before the USG to discuss the organizations purpose and answer any questions.
Upon USG approval, the Office of Student Life will establish a file for your organization.
For additional guidance and information regarding funding, contact the United Students' Government office at 716-878-4631.
In the fall of each year, it is necessary to re-register student organizations. The annual registration period for all student organizations is within the first 15 days after the first day of class. This process begins with an application form, which must be completed by the organization's current officers, members and advisor.
Forms and information pertaining to registration will be mailed to existing organization advisors during the registration period or may be picked up at the Union Information Desk or in the Office of Student Life (CU 400).
Forms should be returned to the Office of Student Life, with a current copy of the constitution. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
Failure to register by the designated deadline may cause an organization's recognition status to be withdrawn and scheduling privileges revoked.
Notification of Organization Changes: In an effort to keep files current, recognized organizations are asked to notify the Office of Student Life within 10 days of any changes in the organization's status during the academic year (advisor/officers/ agents/address/phone number/constitution and/or bylaw changes).
Withdrawal of Recognition: An organization's recognition status may be withdrawn by the Office of Student Life for any, but not limited to, the following reasons:
- Violations of College policies, state, federal, or local law
- Failure to pay organization debts to the College (may also result in disciplinary action)
- Falsification of any registration information
- Non-compliance with organization registration procedures and constitution requirements.
Note: The Office of Student Life periodically runs a check on the status of students to verify enrollment. Persons listed on the organization's registration form, who are not currently enrolled BSC students, can result in the withdrawal of recognition for the organization.
Organizations are subject to the Student Conduct Code. Students, College employees, and the general public may initiate disciplinary action against a student organization for alleged violations of College regulations.
Where recognition of an organization is withdrawn, re-recognition is possible upon review and approval by the Office of Student Life.
Programming is the art of creating, planning and implementing activities that help build and provide a sense of community, and addresses the student, organizational and community needs, while providing leadership opportunities for those involved in the planning and implementation. Programs can offer a diversion from academic life while providing a cultural, educational and/or an entertaining experience.
When initiating a program, keep the following questions in mind.
- Who will do the program? Will it be your group alone or will you co-sponsor the program with an academic department, another group or an outside agency?
- How will the program be financed? Will it be paid for from the organization's budget or treasury? Will the revenue from the program cover all the costs?
- Where will the program be held? How many people do you expect? What size room do you need? Does the program fit the facility you'd like to use?
- Who is the intended audience for the program? Will the audience consist of students, the entire College community, members of your organization or academic department?
- What type of publicity will be needed for this program? Who is the target audience?
- What College services will be needed to produce the program? Will you need to have food catered, maintenance, security, a sound system, printing, and transportation?
Assess Needs and Interests through the following activities:
- Word of mouth
- Interest Surveys
- Informal Group Discussion
- Suggestion Box
- Sort and evaluate for quality programs
- Identify objective and formulate rationale for program
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- What needs will be satisfied?
- Solidifying ideas
- Identify possible dates, times, places and budgets for feasibility
- Contact resource people early (artist, speaker, entertainer)
- Check for scheduling conflicts
- Arrange specific time, date, and place
- Reserve room and arrange for equipment
- Involve other people - delegate duties to organization or committee members.
- When planning an event, two primary questions must be considered:
o How much will the program cost?
o How much funding is available for the program?
In answering these questions, let's determine what a budget is.
- A Budget is:
o A forecast or officially recognized program of operation.
o A financial plan for a definite period or program which is based on projected expenditures, needs and income.
o A written guideline for your plan of action. To be effective, a budget should reflect the knowledge gained in past ventures in the area of projecting expenditures, attendance at events or unexpected costs. In essence, writing a budget requires planning, coordination and establishing a system of management controls for the administration of your organization.
- Identify who is responsible
- Identify who you are trying to reach (market)
- Determine type of publicity
o Mailbox stuffers
o Word of Mouth
o Buffalo State Record Newspaper
o Campus Radio (WBNY)
- Finalize Plans
o Check with Resource Person
o Confirm space reservation
o Make sure publicity goes out on time and in proper areas
o Make sure someone is available to greet guests or speakers
- At time of program
o Brief introduction
o Facilitate and direct discussion when needed
o Participate, relax, and enjoy the program
- Evaluation Criteria
o Program relevance
o Were fundamental objectives of specific program met?
o Level of involvement - programmer and participants
o Attendance - compare anticipated attendance with actual attendance
o Student interest in program
o Audience response
o Effectiveness of promotion
o Suitable for presenting in the future
o Overall quality.
When planning a program, you'll be concerned with the best way to inform your audience of the event. Before you can plan a successful advertising campaign, it is important to keep the following in mind:
You and your committee must know your program inside and out before you can convince a stranger that it's worth attending!
Your promotion should be made of an established plan of action based on persuasive communication (including the use of ticket sales, advertising, and publicity) which makes people aware of the program and attracts and convinces them to attend a program.
Know what kind of audience you want. Brainstorm with your committee members to decide what will motivate the public to attend your program and plan your campaign accordingly.
Everyone knows a good promotional campaign is essential for the success of a program, whether it is a concert, film, lecture, dance, or coffeehouse event. Since the right promotion for your program depends on the type of program, it might be helpful to think about the questions below before you start on your promotion.
Why are you programming this event?
Is it recreational, Cultural, or Educational? Do you wish to make a profit, break even, or merely call the community's attention to some neglected area?
What type of program is it?
Can the audience participate, or is it a "sit down and listen" type? (e.g.: is the musical event a concert or a dance?)
To Whom do you want to attract?
Students, (what kind of students?) Resident or commuter students? Faculty, (which departments?) People from the community, or special interest, such as those interested in art, music or cinema?
What time will the event be held?
Events before four or five in the afternoon on a class day usually attract both residents and commuters. At other times, due to work and transportation schedules, either commuters or residents may not be able to attend.
Where will the event be held?
If it is going to be held in one of the major rooms in the Union or in a conference room, the size of the room will determine how many people will be able to attend. This will determine the amount and type of promotion needed. Will it be on campus? If not, you may need to give directions. Off campus events may be a negative factor for those without transportation.
The following may help you sell your program:
Posters, Flyers, and Table Tents
Attract attention with some visual material - a picture, cartoon, logo - and with that design, include the following information: who, what, where, when and how. Always include who is sponsoring the program.
Newspaper and Radio Ads
Be sure to take note of deadlines so you'll be sure to submit the copy in time to have your ads run o when you want them. Your copy should include the name of the program, the time, date and place of performance, the admission prices, the sponsoring organization or committee, and any other appropriate information. If you want a picture or design included in a newspaper ad, submit glossy photos or art-work along with instructions on reducing or enlarging such work.
The Office of Student Life can direct you to resources available that can help you plan an appropriate campaign.
The list of techniques below is by no way complete. Instead, it is hoped that this list will spark other ideas or gimmicks which will promote your events more efficiently.
Web Events Calendar- Visit the Office of Student Life web page www.buffalostate.edu/studentlife/x605.xml to view events.
Logo - A logo is a trademark or symbol that is consistently associated with a product, event or series. An example would be a strip of film or a projector silhouette for events in the film series. A logo should be used consistently on all visual publicity materials that focus on one event or program of a series.
Giveaways - Giveaways always attract attention and provide the individual with a souvenir to take home as a reminder of the event. These may include: bumper stickers, bookmarks, posters, blotters, pocket calendars, etc.
Displays - Set up displays at tables in the Union lobby, student lounges, or other approved locations. Obtain or compile press kits from agencies, which may include photos and reviews, biographies, sample records, books, newspaper articles, etc. Set up an attractive display in a well-traveled area.
Living Displays - Use sandwich boards to publicize events; hang them on people and have them walk around on campus. Have a graphic artist make posters for an upcoming event in the middle of a well-traveled area. Use costumed people to pass out information. Publicity stunts can be used to double a program's publicity. Create "extemporaneous happenings" and while the crowd forms, pass out leaflets and spread the word. Create a core group of people with extensive information about the program who will then speak to campus clubs and other organizations. One-to-one contact is time consuming but is often the most productive means of publicity.
Utilize Other Programs - Have the master of ceremonies at an event make an announcement about your program. Have a lucky ticket drawing with the winner receiving a ticket to your program. Co-sponsor some events with other organizations--there are more people to get the word out.
Teaser Campaigns - Use teasers in the form of ads, posters, buttons, pins, radio announcements, newspaper ads, etc. to begin a publicity campaign. A teaser campaign usually is begun several weeks before the program and is calculated to arouse curiosity by being mysterious -such as leaking one word a week until the entire program title is complete.
Other Gimmicks - Use the corner of a blackboard in classrooms for your program information. Make huge banners and hang them in approved locations.
Contact faculty members and have them read a program announcement at the beginning of class (focus in on faculty whose interest may lie in the program area).
Make table tents of advertising to place in eating areas and reading lounges around campus. For variety, use different designs, odd sizes, etc. Issue invitations to the faculty via e-mail or personally delivered invitations.
Word of mouth is still perhaps the best - talk to faculty and students. Inform them personally.
Visual and Printed Media - It is important to develop a good working relationship with the College staff. Obtain press kits and use the photos for both ads and feature articles about coming attractions in the campus newspaper.
Use cartoons, which are always welcome, and which are both funny and informative. Focus on one or two programs that would appeal to the general campus. Make use of educational TV, video tape facilities and closed circuit television for previews and commercials. TV and radio stations offer free public service announcements. Use displays that include slide presentations, posters, etc. at approved, well traveled areas.
Technical Tips - Use odd shaped posters (triangles, hexagons, ovals, etc.).
Integrate artwork with the printed message to achieve uniqueness. Realize that some posters will become wall decorations in student dorm rooms. Make the rounds several times before an event to re-hang posters to ensure adequate publicity.
It is an honor to be asked by a student organization to serve as the faculty/staff advisor. Such a request implies respect, friendship and trust on the part of students. The faculty/staff member should recognize that this responsibility carries with it additional time demands. However, advising a student organization brings with it satisfying rewards since an advisor has the opportunity to contribute to student learning outside the formal classroom setting.
Each student organization is required by the college to have a faculty/staff advisor. Your role as advisor is recognized as part of your contribution to Buffalo State College.
The relationship of the advisor to the group will vary, not only with each organization, but from time to time with the same group. The advisor may be concerned with three primary areas. They are 1)responsibility to the group, 2)responsibility to the individual and 3)responsibility to Buffalo State College. These are outlined in the following guidelines:
- The advisor uses "teachable moments" to contribute to the educational and personal development of students who participate as members of student organizations.
- The advisor is well informed about all plans and activities of the group. This may be achieved through regular attendance at meetings and/or frequent consultation with student officers.
- The advisor is concerned with group process. At meetings or events, the advisor observes how students interact, encourages all members to communicate their opinions and ideas, and discourages domination by any individual or group. Following meetings/events, the advisor facilitates reflection/evaluation.
- The advisor is responsible for providing long-term continuity within the group, and should be familiar with its history.
- The advisor assists in the orientation of new officers.
• The advisor attends events sponsored by the group and assists in setting the tone of the occasions.
- The advisor acts as a facilitator when the group is problem solving and assists group members in identifying the central cause of problem situations. The advisor attempts to structure the problem solving environment so that as many alternatives as possible are considered.
- The advisor is familiar with the organization’s constitution/rules and those of any governing bodies and encourages the group to act in compliance with these documents.
- The advisor urges the student group to utilize campus resources such as the Student Life Office.
- The advisor assists the group in the annual filing of the Student Organization Registration form, a requirement of the college.
- The advisor encourages the group to recruit and accept new members from all segments of the campus community.
- The advisor seeks to assist students in maintaining a balance between the academic and co-curricular aspects of student life.
- The advisor encourages students to accept responsibility for specific parts of the program, helping them to recognize the importance of their roles in relation to group goals.
- The advisor gets to know the students belonging to the organization and builds a rapport with them so that communication can be open and honest.
- The advisor works with individual students contributing to their personal growth and development of leadership skills.
- The advisor is aware of the organization’s financial status and encourages accurate record keeping.
- The advisor is familiar with guidelines, policies and procedures related to student organizations and assists the college in enforcing them by advising groups related to their rights and responsibilities.
Running an effective meeting
Your organization meetings need to be structured, productive and rewarding for those in attendance. Keep the points identified below in mind when running a meeting.
- Start on time - Executives should be early!
- Plan the ending time for the meeting.
- Review the minutes from the previous meeting and have them approved by the membership.
- Give proper introductions; acknowledge recognition.
- Limit your meeting time. Use your time effectively!
- Set agenda and follow Roberts' Rules of Order.
- Restrict debates to 15 minutes maximum.
- Let committee heads or program leaders lead discussions, not the general group.
- The chair of the meeting should not add his/her own opinions. If they want to add something, they should pass their gavel. The chair should not try to railroad his/her own opinions or ideas.
- Add variety to your meetings.
- The atmosphere, climate, place and space, should all be looked at when deciding where to hold your meeting.
- Try to end your meetings on a positive note.
- Plan follow-up action. Who will do What/ When/How/Where?
- Don't Forget to Follow Through - then evaluate!!
Provide agendas for all members. It is easier for members to feel involved when they can see the plan of the meeting.
• Invite and facilitate communication. Formal classroom style seating gives members the non-verbal clue that all action and wisdom comes from the front of the room.
• Plan an activity for those who arrive early. This may include a question for discussion, paired interview, etc.
• Avoid long introductions of speakers, consultants, etc. by providing printed information on anyone who you feel needs a long intro. When possible, give a short, warm, relevant welcome.
• Outline in advance any time limits that speakers, reporters, etc. have when making presentations. It is better for them to know before hand what the limits are than to cut them short.
• Utilize all your resources. Have more than one resource person available, so alternatives can be more openly and fully identified.
• Deal with the feelings of participants. Often groups are so task oriented that they skip even obvious feelings that need to be dealt with in order to more effectively complete the task.
• Keep minutes. Minutes serve as a record of the proceedings that can then be used as a reference. These can then become the history of the organization.
• Be sure decisions and commitments are followed through. This will carry the group "into the future" and guarantee a pay off.
• Undoubtedly, you can add additional tips from your experiences with meetings that will be helpful in ensuring better meetings for you, your participants, and your program.
An agenda is an outline for an organizational meeting that should be written and distributed before the meeting, or at least at the beginning of the meeting. It contains the order of items that will need to be covered during the meeting. It should be in APA Style (Roman numerals, large letters, Arabic numbers, small letters). The following is a sample agenda:
Call To Order
Chairperson calls meeting to order
In some cases, an invocation is a formal part of an organization's meeting (i.e., Fraternities/Sororities)
II. Roll Call/Attendance
Roll Call can be time consuming but must be done for accountability -use creativity and different methods (i.e.: assigned seats, passing around a sheet of paper, and getting signed in or signing in at the front door.)
III. Approval of Minutes of Last Meeting
Can be expedited by having minutes distributed before the meeting or as members enter the meeting.
The chairperson must ask for any corrections or additions. If there are changes, usually these can be dealt with through a friendly amendment. If there are none, the chairperson can state "They stand approved."
IV. Officers Reports
Secretary (If Applicable)
Parliamentarian (If Applicable)
V. Standing Committee Reports
This will help the organization to keep track of committee progress, while reminding committee chairs that they have an important role in the completion of business outside the meeting.
Special/Ad Hoc Committee Reports
VI. General Orders/Unfinished Business may contain the following:
• Questions that were pending at the last session when it was adjourned.
• Any unfinished business that did not come up at the last session.
• Any general orders from the last session that were not reached.
• Matters made general orders by a majority vote (tabling)
VII. General Orders/New Business
VIII. Advisor's Reports
Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules for conduct at meetings. It allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion. Parliamentary procedure is important because it is a time tested method of conducting business at meetings and public gatherings, and it can be adapted to fit the needs of any organization. Today, Robert's Rules of Order is the basic handbook of operation for most clubs, organizations and other groups. They insure efficient observance of democratic principles and guarantee full discussion prior to the vote on motions. Most important, they make it possible to keep the meeting on track, so that business can be conducted.
Hazing, most commonly associated with Greek lettered and athletic groups, is defined and prohibited by both college regulations and New York State law. These regulations apply to all groups and organizations operating on campus.
Students joining recognized student organizations which require a membership education program must be second semester freshmen before beginning the membership education process. Hazing, commonly associated with Greek letter groups, is defined and prohibited by both college regulations and New York state law. These regulations apply to all groups and organizations operating on campus.
New York State Anti Hazing Law (Education Law S.6831-B or A.11012B)
"The trustees or other governing board of every college chartered by the regents or incorporated by special act of the legislature shall adopt rules and regulations for the maintenance of public order on college campuses and other college property used for educational purposes and provide a program for the enforcement thereof. Such rules and regulations shall prohibit, among other things, any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers mental or physical health or involves the forced consumption of liquor or drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with any organization. Such rules and regulations shall govern the conduct of students, faculty, and other staff as well as visitors and other licensees and invitees on such campuses and property. The penalties for, violations of such rules and regulations shall be clearly set forth therein and shall include provisions for the ejection of a violator from such campus and property, in the case of a student or faculty violator, his suspension, expulsion or other appropriate disciplinary action and, in the case of an organization which authorizes such conduct, rescission of permission for that organization to operate on campus property. Such penalties shall be in addition to any penalty pursuant to the penal law or any other chapter to which a violator or organization may be subject…."
New York State Penal Law (Paragraph 120.16 and 120.17)
A person can be found guilty of hazing in the first degree (Class A Misdemeanor) if, in the course of a person's "initiation into or affiliation with any organization," that person "intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk or physical injury to such person or a third person and thereby causes such injury" (Penal Law, paragraph 120.6). A conviction of this offense now carries a potential penalty of up to fine up to $1,000, one year in jail, or both. A new offense designated as hazing in the second degree (a violation) incorporates a nearly identical definition except that no actual injury to any person need to be proven (Penal Law, paragraph 120.17).
Any suspected violations should be reported to the Dean of Students by calling extension 716-878-4618 or the Director of Student Life at extension 716-878-4631. Sanctions imposed against both individual students as well as Recognized Student Organizations for violations of College policy (including the Hazing policy) are outlined in the Student Conduct Code (Paragraph G- "Sanctions").