561  Student Organization Operations

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Student Affairs

Responsible Office:  Center for Student Involvement and Leadership
Responsible Officer: Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

I. Purpose

This policy supplements Policy 560 Student Organization Registration and Recognition, which outlines steps and requirements for the registration and recognition of student organizations on the Middle Tennessee (MTSU or University) campus. This policy outlines a variety of guidelines and policies related to meetings, programming, and other activities of student organizations.

II. Procedures and Registration Requirements

A.  MTSU Procedures Governing Student Organizations

This information applies to groups of students seeking registration as organizations. A group must first declare its intention of forming by petitioning for provisional registration at the Office of Student Organizations and Service. This status of provisional registration may be granted to a prospective group for four (4) weeks, which should allow enough time to develop the various documents and comply with other requirements as stated below in Section B. An extension of provisional registration status may be granted, upon request, if a group is unable to complete the necessary requirements during the initial four (4)-week period.

A provisionally registered organization may not engage in activities normally approved for fully registered organizations, such as fundraising, social programs, speakers, etc.

When the prospective organization has fulfilled to the best of its ability the requirements of Section B, it should submit the materials to the director of Student Organizations and Service or designee. The director will review the constitution and/or by-laws and if, in his/her opinion, the documents are vague, poorly written, or incomplete, the director will return them to the organization for correction, improvements, and resubmission. When the director has given due consideration to the documents, he/she will then recommend approval to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. In the event of an unfavorable recommendation, the organization may appeal said recommendation to the Vice President for Student Affairs who will recommend registration or denial thereof to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.

B.  Provisional Registration Requirements. Templates and forms to fulfill these requirements are maintained on the Student Organizations and Service website.

1.  Application for University registration including the purpose of the organization and types of proposed activities (one [1] copy).

2.  Constitution which should include name, purpose, meetings, officers and terms, rules of membership, and other information deemed relevant to the operation of the organization (one [1] copy).

3.  By-laws of the organization (one [1] copy).

4.  Signatures of the members (at least five [5]) and advisor(s) who propose to be charter members (one [1] copy).

5.  Statement of assurance that the organization agrees to comply with all policies, standards, regulations, and procedures established by MTSU and with all federal and state laws and regulations.

6.  Statement of assurance that, consistent with Policy 25 Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Nondiscrimination, the organization has a nondiscriminatory membership policy. Social fraternities and sororities may have sex restricted membership.  Pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-7-156(b), a religious student organization may determine that the organization’s religious mission requires that only persons professing the faith of the group and comporting themselves in conformity with it qualify to serve as members or leaders of the group.

7.  Statement of assurance that the organization will observe responsible use of alcohol guidelines as outlined in part II. Renewal Process, Subsection C of this document.

C.  Advisor Requirements. Each organization shall be free to choose its faculty or staff advisor who, by accepting appointment, agrees to maintain contact with the organization so as to be familiar with its programs and personnel. The advisor shall be responsible for advising the organization as to its programs and personnel, having in mind not only the objectives of the particular group, but also the best interests of the University.

1.  Approved Advisors. An approved advisor shall be one (1) or more of the following:

a.  a person with the rank of instructor or above;

b.  a person engaged in research duties, holding the equivalent rank of instructor or above;

c.  a full-time administrator employed in one of the administrative units of the University;

d.  a director of a religious organization;

e.  a chapter advisor of a social fraternity or sorority appointed by the national organization of that particular group; or

f.  if the advisor appointed does not meet one of the criteria in Items a-c above, an additional advisor must be appointed to meet said requirement.

2.  Additional Responsibilities of Advisors and University:

a.  An advisor should have a working knowledge of Policy 560 Student Organization Registration and Recognition. As part of the advisor's duties, he/she should have a clear understanding of the role of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership in coordinating the student organization's programming and activities.

b.  In carrying out the role of advisor, he/she should have an interest in the student organization for which he/she is an advisor. The advisor should also have an interest in the growth and development of the organization within the structure of the institution and within the international and national structure of the organization, if such relationships exist. The advisor's interest should be as a result of previous or current membership in the specified organization, or as a result of a professional relationship with or interest in the specified organization's subject matter or pursuit or through a desire to take part in the growth and development of a specified organization.

c.  An advisor should be committed to serving the needs of an organization and its members by, but not limited to:

(1)  Attending as many programs as possible that are hosted by the organization;

(2)  Developing a rapport with the membership of the organization, especially the officers;

(3)  Keeping abreast of current developments in the particular areas served by the organization;

(4)  Developing a working relationship with national, state, and/or regional officers of the organization, if any of these exist; and

(5)  Working with the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership staff to inform the organization of University policies, standards, procedures, and decisions that affect the functioning of the organization.

d.  An advisor should acquire a working knowledge of University policies as they relate to fund-raising, accounting protocol, and fund disbursement as outlined in University business policies. The advisor should then assist with the financial duties associated with the organization by counseling and assisting officers, by reviewing financial statements and accounts, and by assisting with institutional procedures designed to safeguard funds.

e.  An advisor should have a reasonable knowledge of current applicable standards in the area of student organizations in higher education and liability issues.

f.  An advisor should attempt to assist in the planning of all organizational functions, whether on or off- campus; the advisor shall routinely appear at planned social functions. Advisors should, in aiding the organization in planning events, maintain consistency with all University policies and standards such as, but not limited to, Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.

g.  An advisor should encourage the development of initiative and leadership within the specified organization, should assist the organization in identifying potential officers and leaders within the organization, and should serve as a resource person for the organization in leadership areas.

h.  The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership staff shall provide support and assistance to advisors of student organizations through the development and implementation of certain activities and programs related to a successful, system-wide approach. These actions are to include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1)  Offer rewards and incentives to advisors and offer formal recognition for diligence and excellence in the area of advising which may include, but not be limited to, such items as public announcements, media coverage, evaluation reports, recognition at award programs, etc.

(2)  The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership staff will develop a well-rounded program designed to train and assist advisors. Key components of the training program shall include: handbook that details current responsibilities, duties, resources, funding guidelines, key staff members, a contact list of institutional officials in case of emergencies, etc.; one or more in-service programs designed to provide training and learning opportunities for advisors; and periodic bulletins or correspondence designed to keep advisors up-to-date regarding new developments, policies, standards, or procedures that affect the organization as put in place by the University. 

III. Renewal Process

A.  Registration. Registration of a student organization for other than a temporary period will be on an annual basis only, effective until the beginning of the next Fall semester, and shall be subject to annual renewal by MTSU for each ensuing year.

B.  Annual Renewal. Annual renewal of registration of an organization shall be dependent upon the organization’s demonstration of compliance with the following: it must adhere to the purposes, aims, and activities as stated in the approved constitution and bylaws; it must continue to meet all of the requirements for initial registration; it must have remained in compliance with all policies, standards, rules, and regulations of MTSU and all federal and state laws; it must maintain a current list of officers, faculty advisers, and sponsors on file with MTSU; it must have submitted all required financial reports to MTSU; and, all debts with the University must be paid in full unless the University has approved a payment plan.

C.  Organization Information and Statement of Assurance Report. Each registered student organization shall complete and submit an Organization Information and Statement of Assurance Report. This report will include a statement of assurance that, consistent with Policy 25 Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Nondiscrimination, the organization has a nondiscriminatory membership policy. Social fraternities and sororities may have sex restricted membership. T.C.A. § 49-7-156(b) provides that religious student organization may determine that the organization’s religious mission requires that only persons professing the faith of the group and comporting themselves in conformity with it qualify to serve as member or leaders. In addition, the report will include a statement of assurance that the organization will observe the following guidelines for the responsible use of alcohol at off-campus functions:

1.  Alternative nonalcoholic beverages are served and are made as available and at least as accessible as alcoholic beverages and in sufficient quantities to provide students with an opportunity to choose to consume a nonalcoholic beverage.

2.  Alcoholic beverages will not be available on self-serve basis; that is, students attending a function do not have open and unlimited access to alcoholic beverages.

3.  Food items are made available in sufficient quantities and are served at the same location as alcoholic and alternative beverages.

4.  Reasonable efforts are made to enforce the legal drinking age.

5.  Drinking games and contests involving alcoholic beverages are not encouraged nor condoned.

6.  Persons who appear to be intoxicated are not to be served alcoholic beverages.

This report must be filed no later than the date designated and advertised by the director of Student Organizations and Service. Registration of the organization will be withdrawn if this report is not filed by the designated date. Officers are also expected to file corrected reports as necessary or appropriate. Specifically, a new report must be filed when there is a change in the current organization president and/or advisor. Failure to file a new report will result in the organization’s placement on inactive status.

D.  Orientation Session. There shall be a mandatory orientation session of presidents of campus organizations (or their designees) to be held during the summer (Presidium) and at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. Standards of expectation for student organizations will be explained. Organizations that fail to attend the orientation session are not eligible to receive funds from the student activity fee for any semester in which the organization is not in compliance with this requirement.

E.  Constitution and/or By-Laws Changes. Changes and additions in the constitution and/or by-laws of the organization must be submitted in writing to the director of Student Organizations and Service within seven (7) days after adoption. Personnel there shall take cognizance of such changes and forward major revisions to the Vice President for Student Affairs when necessary or appropriate.

F.  Financial Reports. All University-approved student organizations must be prepared to submit a financial statement and/or reports concerning programs and activities upon request to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. The University reserves the right to place on probation or withdraw its approval from organizations which operate outside the bounds of sound financial procedure or show other evidence of financial irresponsibility. The University assumes no responsibility for indebtedness incurred by student organizations. Every University-approved organization must submit a statement of fees, dues, and assessments to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs upon request.

G.  Bank Account Requirements. In the event a registered student organization maintains a bank account, at least two (2) signatories, who are members of the student organization will be required for withdrawal or payment of funds from the account. Advisors are encouraged to serve as signers on accounts.

H.  Inactive Status. Organizations placed on inactive status are not eligible to use University facilities, apply for or receive money from the student activity fee, or exercise any other privilege associated with the status of an active registered student organization. Organizations which have been previously registered but are placed on inactive status for more than one (1) year must complete the Organization Information and Statement of Assurance Report and provide an updated constitution in order to be reinstated to active status.

I.  Mailboxes. All registered student organizations are required to maintain a University post office box in the name of the respective organization. Each organization is responsible for paying the annual postal service fee.

IV.  Planning Programs

A.  Scheduling Activities. On-campus social activities sponsored by a registered student organization must be approved a minimum of five (5) working days prior to the date of the event (additional notice may be required based on the complexity of the event). Dances and other events may require custodial, maintenance, and/or security services. The costs of such services are the responsibility of the sponsoring organization. Procedures listed below must be followed:

1.  Any event that involves the use of University facilities must be cleared with the facilities coordinator of the particular building being utilized. Properly executed forms must be filed in that office by an officer of the organization making such application for use of the facility.

2.  Except as provided in Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling, the use of campus grounds that are not directly associated with and reserved through the facilities coordinator of a particular building requires the completion of an Application for Use of Facilities Form, which must be filed with and approved by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.

3.  Events sponsored by social Greek letter organizations must be approved by the director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

4.  Events sponsored by non-Greek registered organizations must be approved by the director of Student Organizations and Service.

5.  Events that require police, custodial, and maintenance services may be denied, if such services are not available on the date requested for the activity.

6.  Events sponsored by registered student organizations and national Greek letter organizations may not conflict with official Connection Point activities. All events that occur during Connection Point must be approved in advance by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs or designee. Student organization events or meetings taking place on study days or during final examination periods will not be approved, unless they are academically related (i.e., study halls, presentations, recitals, etc.) and approved by the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs or designee.

B.  Guidelines for Social Activities. In order to maintain an environment that promotes student- centered learning, social activities must be conducted in accordance with established guidelines.

Social activities include, but are not limited to, open houses, parties, dances, mixers, musical performances, or any other activity of a social purpose planned by registered student organizations. Social activities must be approved for registration by the appropriate University official.

The following guidelines apply:

1.  Social activities are limited to University students with MTSU IDs and/or to persons with written invitations. National Greek letter organizations must comply with policies set forth by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and their national offices.

2.  Social activities with unrestricted access by nonmembers of the organization without specific invitation are prohibited. Specific invitations must be approved by the Office of Student Organizations and Service or the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. An announcement of general circulation to the campus is not considered to be an invitation.

3.  The advertising and promotion of social activities must be limited to the campus.

4.  Organizers of activities that are considered performances where admission is charged may request special permission from the appropriate University official to advertise the event at off- campus locations and not require written invitations.

5.  Organizations planning social activities must comply with all University policies and standards, and with local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

6.  Any student organization which intends to conduct a social activity at an off-campus location at which alcohol will be present must conduct the activity in compliance with the requirements concerning responsible use of alcohol outlined in this policy, and on the Statement of Assurance form. Student organizations must also secure liability insurance in the name of the organization.

C.  Guest Speakers. Any officially registered student organization planning to invite a speaker to the campus for a campus-wide audience must coordinate such event through the Office of Student Programming. Scheduling such events will follow the same procedures outlined for social activities and must comply with Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.

Any organization planning to invite speakers to the campus for an address shall inform the organization faculty advisor before the invitation is extended.

D.  Rallies or Marches. Rallies or marches must be registered with the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Office five (5) working days before the rally or march and must comply with Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.

E.  Other Organizational Programs. All other organization-sponsored programs must comply with all University policies, standards, and procedures concerning the use of University facilities.

F.  On-Campus Publicity

1.  Signs advertising club or organization activities must comply with Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.

2.  Public Address and Loudspeaker Systems. Organizations planning to use public address systems, platforms, and other special equipment should consult the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.

G.  Use of Amplification Equipment. The use of loudspeakers or any other type of amplification equipment for outdoor use must be approved by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs in concert with the filing of the Application for Use of Facilities Form.

Sound equipment must not disrupt normal functions of the University (including residential facilities) or unduly disturb the surrounding community. Band, DJ, or other functions involving the amplification of music are restricted to the following times. Exceptions may be approved by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Refer to Amplified Sound Guidelines for more information. 

The use of amplification equipment or loudspeakers is not permitted in the vicinity of academic buildings or activities during regularly scheduled class hours. This includes the quadrangle in the front of Walker Library during library hours. Exceptions may be approved by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. The University may regulate the placement of speakers and the volume of amplified sound either prior to or during the course of all outdoor functions which utilize amplification equipment. The Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs shall be authorized to make such determinations. Failure to comply with requests to lower sound levels may result in immediate termination of the event and loss of the privilege to host future outdoor events involving amplified sound.

V. Solicitation and Fundraising

The buildings and grounds of MTSU exist for, and are exclusively devoted to, the organized and approved University program of higher education. As such, they are committed to the nonprofit, tax-exempt use of the official program of the University. Therefore, private, unsolicited business activities are not permitted on University premises. However, in certain limited areas, the University contracts with private firms to provide needed on-campus service for students, faculty, and staff that contributes to the accomplishment of the University’s educational purposes.

Apart from prohibiting profit-making commercial business activities, the University also regulates within limits under separate policies and consistent with the above policy, any use of its buildings and grounds for solicitation, including fundraising activities. Fundraising activities must not violate state law by including a drawing, raffle, lottery, game of chance, or any scheme for distribution of prizes among persons who are playing for a chance to obtain a prize.

A.  Solicitation by Unaffiliated Group. Campus property and facilities may not be used by any non-affiliated group, organization, or individual for the conduct of commercial solicitation, on-site sales, or other profit-making activities except when (1) a license or lease agreement exists, (2) the activity is conducted in accordance with any other valid contract or agreement with MTSU, or (3) the commercial solicitation, on-site sales, or other profit-making activity is sponsored by a registered student organization for the purpose of raising funds to support the organization’s activities pursuant to Policy 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.

Failure of a nonaffiliated group, organization, or individual to receive approval for fundraising on University premises will lead to the removal of the solicitor by the appropriate University authorities. Specific procedural guidelines should be sought from the director for Student Organizations and Service.

No unaffiliated group, organization, or individual will be permitted to solicit during the week(s) designated as Connection Point. The only opportunity for this is provided through participation in the Meet Murfreesboro event.

B.  Raising Funds for Student Organizations. An unaffiliated group providing a tangible product or service may be permitted to come onto campus under the sponsorship of a campus department or registered student organization. The fundraiser must exist for the purpose of assisting the department or student organization in some way toward meeting its established goals.

Unaffiliated groups who collect applications for purposes other than educational or career-oriented reasons are restricted from soliciting said applications on campus. In such instances where an unaffiliated group has received the appropriate sponsorship, the sponsoring department or student organization must adhere to the following guidelines:

1.  All fundraising activities by registered student organizations (including occasions when admission is charged or donations are requested), whether on or off campus, must be registered in advance with the director of Student Organizations and Service. Fundraisers must be registered at least five (5) working days in advance of the planned fundraising event.

2.  Registered student organizations may charge membership dues at meetings and conduct fundraising projects on the campus. These activities must support the program of the organization as stated in that organization’s registration material, the educational purposes of the University community, and/or a philanthropic purpose.

3.  Fundraising projects for philanthropic purposes must be directed to nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations and not made directly to an individual or individuals.

4.  The campus department or student organization must share in the proceeds from the sale of the product or service.

5.  A sign that clearly indicates the name of the sponsoring organization must be displayed at all times at the location of and for the duration of the fundraising activity.

6.  A representative from the sponsoring organization must be present at all times at the location of and for the duration of the fundraising activity. This representative must be actively involved in the solicitation of the product or service.

7.  Use of University premises for fundraising activities is permitted only at designated locations and under the following specified conditions:

a.  Use is subject to scheduling arrangements.

b.  Fundraising may be conducted only if the activity does not duplicate the services already provided by MTSU, its contracted vendors, or other lease operations.

c.  Exceptions can be made with approval of the Vice President of Business and Finance. Questions relating to such activities should be referred to the Office of Student Organizations and Service.

Forms:  

Amplified Sound Guidelines 

Revisions: none.

References: T.C.A. § 49-7-156(b); Policies 25 Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Nondiscrimination; 560 Student Organizations; 100 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling.