group of students at a tableBylaws

Bylaws establish the specific rules of governance by which the organization is to follow and implement. They describe how the organization is structured, how it is organized and its methods of operation. Most student-fee funding sources require student organizations to submit their bylaws along with funding requests in order for them to receive funding for operations, events and travel.

Bylaws are a requirement for funding.

The bylaws of a society are its own basic rules relating to itself as an organization, and which:

  • Should have essentially the same form and content whether or not the society is incorporated
  • Defines the primary characteristics of the organization-either establishing an unincorporated society, or conforming to the corporate charter if there is one
  • Prescribes how the society functions
  • Includes all the rules that the society considers so important that they
    • cannot be changed without previous notice to the members and a vote of a specified large majority (such as 2/3 vote)
    • cannot be suspended (with the exception of clauses listed in Robert's Rules of Order).

Article I: Name. List the full name of the organization (student organization name).

Article II: Objectives. List concisely the objectives and purpose of the student organization.
Example: The (organization name), serving the University of Colorado, is committed to (purpose of organization). The organization accomplishes its mission by (list objectives).

Article IIIMembers. List the eligibility for membership. Include the application and acceptance procedures with the method of reviewing and voting on applications. Indicate whether the organization is open to all students and whether dues are required. Discuss attendance requirements here (member eligibility, who can vote).

Article IV: Officers. Specify the required officers and how they shall be elected or appointed. Next, rank the officers in the order listed. The method of nominating officers may be prescribed in this article (qualifications for each office, terms of office, duties, selection, replacement and removal).

Article V: Meetings. List the frequency of meetings, biweekly, monthly, each semester, etc, and discuss quorum and the process for calling special meetings.

Article VI: Executive Board. If there is to be a board entrusted with administrative authority and responsibility, then 1) specify the board's composition; 2) delineate the powers of the board; and 3) set forth any special rules for the board to conduct its business.

Article VII: Committees.

Article VIII: Handling of Funds. State who is responsible for handling organizations funds, keeping track of balances, expenses and making deposits.

Article IX: Amendment of Bylaws. Prescribe the procedure for the amendment of bylaws, usually with advance notice to members, and approval of two third's vote.

Additional Articles: Some national groups and societies have additional articles to address the officers, finance, etc., however most local ones will find additional articles to be unnecessary.

Meeting management

Meetings are essential to communication between student organization members and the overall development of an organization. Creating a meeting agenda, prioritizing tasks and managing time are important steps to successfully managing a meeting. We encourage you to think about the Four P’s when planning a meeting. 

Preparedness

  • Who should be in the meeting? Why?
  • What information do they need from me (or others) to be prepared?
  • By what date should they get the information?

Purpose

  • Is this meeting important? Why?
  • What will people get out of meeting in-person?
  • Is a meeting the best way to accomplish what needs to be accomplished?

Process

  • How will we accomplish what needs to be accomplished at the meeting?
  • How will the meeting time be maximized?
  • How can everyone at the meeting feel valued and important?

Payoff

  • How does this meeting payoff  for others?  
  • How does this meeting payoff for the organization?
  • How does this meeting payoff for me?

Minutes and records

Accurate minutes and records are important to the ongoing success and year to year continuity of a student organization. Meeting minutes are often referred to by members as a reminder of finished and unfinished business, what actions or next steps were taken and what still needs to be completed. Minutes and records also provide future organization members and leaders with insight into past decisions and events. It is important that a student organization assign the process of managing minutes and records to a specific position to ensure continuity. 

  • The type of meeting (general meeting, executive board meeting, etc.)
  • Time, date and place of the meeting
  • Length of the meeting (time meeting begins and ends)
  • List of attendances and absences
  • Reports from the various members, committees, executive board members, guest speakers, etc.
  • General matters
  • Summary of discussion, voting, resolutions, motions, or proposals
  • List of action items