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Student Organization Policies & Processes

University Liability

Student organizations, although registered or otherwise permitted to operate on or near university property and even though required to conform to certain prescribed university procedures in some cases, are not in any way or manner operated under the general supervision of the University or its Trustees, officers, administrators, or employees. Neither the University nor any of its Trustees, administrators, officers and employees are in any way or manner liable for acts or failures to act on the part of such organizations. It is especially noted that the University is not responsible for bodily harm or death to participants in voluntary organizations or activities.

Categories of Student Organizations

With the exception of social fraternities and sororities, whose relationship with the institution requires a more detailed and exacting peer and administrative review, any group of students may seek to register as either a Continuing or Temporary Registered Student Organization.

Continuing Registered Student Organizations

Any group of at least (ten) 10 students meeting the requirements contained herein and whose purpose for existing is presumed to endure beyond ninety days is considered a Continuing Registered Student Organization.

Temporary Registered Student Organizations

Any group of at least (ten) 10 students meeting the requirements contained herein and whose purpose for existing is presumed to be less than 90 days is considered to be a Temporary Registered Student Organization.

Student Political Parties

Any group of at least (ten) 10 students meeting the requirements contained herein and whose purpose for existing is presumed to endure through elections for the Student Government Association will be considered a Student Political Party.

Department Sponsored Organizations

These are registered student organizations that are advised and supported by a campus department.  In these cases, the student organization works with the department in a direct way in fulfillment of the department mission.

Sororities and Fraternities

Any group seeking to establish a social fraternal organization on campus must contact either the Interfraternity or Panhellenic Council for procedures and policies relative to this action. The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life manages the process for establishing a social fraternal organization. After the group completes the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life’s process for expansion, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life in consult with the corresponding Greek Council may recommended registration be granted. Registration is granted by the Provost on the recommendation of the Student Life staff. Once registration is granted, the social fraternal organization will then complete the process of becoming a Registered Student Organization. Withdrawal of registration of social fraternal organizations may be initiated by the University administration or the respective governing body with the final decision being the responsibility of the University administration.

Social fraternities and sororities shall not be required to reveal their secret rituals provided these rituals do not conflict with local, state or federal law or with University regulations.


Registration Policy

At The University of Tennessee, voluntary associations of students are an important part of the educational process. The University has a positive responsibility to encourage such associations as a means by which students can learn and develop outside the classroom. In doing so it neither endorses nor disclaims any particular idea, system of thought or point of view.

When groups of students wish to have a continuous association causing them to congregate for activities on the campus, requiring from time to time the use of the University facilities and holding themselves out to the general public as a group centered on the campus, it is proper that they be registered by the University. All registered associations shall be accorded the same privileges and bound by the same obligations. Registration by the University does not constitute endorsement of the purposes or activities of an association by the faculty, administration, or student body.

Registration Process

Prior to beginning the registration process to form a new student organization, interested students will be requested to schedule a brief meeting with a designated staff member in the Center for Student Engagement.  The purpose of this meeting is to fully inform students of University policies and procedures pertaining to organizations, as well as to discuss the registration and approval process. It is recommended that this meeting take place before a student submits information to begin the new student organization registration process. However, at the latest, this meeting must occur before a proposed organization can be voted upon for approval by the Advisory Committee on Student Organizations (ACSO).

New organizations may begin the registration process by submitting the New Student Organization Application found on VOLink. New organizations may register any time during the year except during the last two weeks of an academic term. Organizations are required to submit a constitution along with their application. Local chapters of regional or national organizations will be required to submit their local constitution and, in addition, any statements of their parent organization to which their local constitution refers or which determine local policy above and beyond that which is stated in the local constitution. The local constitution must contain the following:

  1. Name of the organization
    The phrase “the University of Tennessee” is regarded as a trademark and consequently cannot precede the name of a campus organization; however, the phrase may follow the name, e.g., Chess Club at the University of Tennessee.
  1. Statement of purpose
    Said purpose must include aims and activities legal under local, state, and federal law, and this statement of purpose must be in conformity with written University regulations. It is required that the actual purpose of a student organization conform with the purposes stated within the organization’s constitution.
  1. Membership eligibility requirements
    Registered student organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, shall be open to all students unless the organization, by its nature, exists explicitly for a certain subgroup in selecting its membership. There must be no discrimination with regard to race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, or disability. This statement must appear verbatim in organization constitutions.
  1. Officers
    Officers must be full-time students, except for organizations where membership is composed of both faculty and student members, and a faculty member may serve as an officer. To be eligible to serve as an officer of a registered student organization, a student should be in good academic standing at the time of his/her election or appointment and during his/her term of office. In addition, a student may be judged ineligible for the office if found responsible for violating a University Standard of Conduct. When an election is held in a registered student organization, the names of the new officers must be updated online in the Student Organization System within one (1) week.
  1. Statement of the terms of officers and the time and method of election
    The individuals within the organization have the discretion of setting terms of officers, time, and method of election
  1. Frequency of meetings
    The individual within the organization have the discretion of establishing the frequency of meetings
  1. Financial Statement
    A statement of any membership dues, including amount and frequency of payment as well as a process for receipting; an agreement that all funds will be received and disbursed through the Student Organizations Business Office if the organization receives Student Programs and Services Fee Funds; and a provision for the disposition of funds remaining in the event of the dissolution of the group must be included.
  1. Provisions for a faculty or staff advisor
    All registered student organizations must choose one or more advisors, and a provision for this selection must be included in the constitution, but the name of the advisor(s) should not be listed. Except for local chapters of national social fraternities and sororities, which may have alumni advisors, the advisor shall be a full-time faculty or staff. In procuring an advisor, questions regarding faculty or staff status should be referred to the Center for Student Engagement. Advisors are responsible for being familiar with the constitution and purposes of the student organization they are advising and with University policies regarding student organizations. Advisors may counsel their organization in the exercise of responsibility, but they do not have the authority to control the policy of the organization. The officers of the organization are responsible for keeping their advisors aware of the policies and actions of their organization. Financial records must be available to the organization’s advisors at all times.

A listing of the names and titles of all officers as well as the names of at least ten (10) petitioning members shall be submitted with the organization’s application via the student organization system found online via VOLink. The ACSO will review the constitution and any other information available in order to determine whether the organization conforms to the policies and regulations established for the registration of student organizations.

Recommendation for Registration

If the ACSO determines that the organization should be registered, it will make a recommendation to the Dean of Students in writing and inform the petitioning group by email. The group may begin operation ten (10) days after receipt of the email unless notified in writing that the Dean of Students has rejected the recommendation. All petitioning groups are allowed five organizational meetings in University facilities within 90 days of submitting the application and prior to action of the ACSO.

Denial of Registration

A refusal by the ACSO to recommend registration of a student organization or a refusal by the Dean of  Students to register an organization must be based on one or more of the following grounds:

The statement of purpose is illegal under local, state, or federal laws or does not conform with written University regulations.

The organization would, in the opinion of the ACSO or the Dean of Students, constitute a danger to the continued or proper functioning of the University.



Any decision by the ACSO to withdraw or deny registration to a student organization may be appealed to the Dean of Students by the affected organization. When a decision by the ACSO is appealed, the Dean of Student shall abide by the following procedures in hearing the appeal:

The ACSO has the burden of proving the charges against the organization, including the presentation of a detailed statement of why the organization should be denied registration or registration should be withdrawn under the University’s policy governing student organizations.

The organization may be represented by an advisor of its choice.

The organization may present a defense against the charges. A copy of the charges must have been provided to the organization a reasonable time in advance of the hearing, along with all information available to the ACSO in drawing up the charges.

The Dean of Students is the final decision on all appeals.

Advisory Committee on Student Organizations

The Center for Student Engagement shall utilize an Advisory Committee on Student Organizations (ACSO) in the procedural review of constitutions of proposed organizations. The ACSO may also formulate and recommend rules, regulations, and policies regarding registered student organizations.

Matters pertaining to policies within an organization shall be the concern of the organization and its advisory council. Matters pertaining to the relationship of an organization to other organizations or to the University shall be the concern of the ACSO.

Student members of the ACSO shall be appointed by the President of the Student Body with the approval of the Student Government Association. A member of the Center for Student Engagement staff will serve as a committee advisor and liaison to that department.

Terms of Registration

An updated list of registered student organizations is available online via VOLink. Organizations must update their information, including:

Names of current officers;

Complete membership roster;

Name and contact information of the current organization advisor

An updated organization constitution.

The annual update form is located found on VOLink. The annual re-registration process opens on May 1 each year and must be completed by May 30. Organizations which do not fully complete the process by August 1 will be deemed “frozen” and must be re-activated. New organizations may register any time during the year except during the last two weeks of an academic term. Failure to update information with the Center for Student Engagement may result in a student organization losing its active status and all rights and privileges such status entails. A student organization may be removed from the list of registered student organizations by the ACSO or the Center for Student Engagement if:

The organization does not show a reasonable amount of activity in promoting the ends and purposes specified in its constitution, as evidenced by membership meetings and other activities. Student organizations are expected to comply when requested to provide a brief report on their year’s activities.

The organization violates University regulations, including those governing student organizations, or local, state, or federal laws.


Registered student organizations may be affiliated with an off-campus organization, where such affiliation is:

  1. Clearly indicated, either by the title of the organization or its constitution at the time of registration, or by specific statements in connection with any activities growing out of a later affiliation.
  2. Consistent with the purposes set forth in the constitution.
  3. Not such as to change significantly the nature of the organization as primarily an association of students on campus. Affiliation with an extramural organization does not of itself affect the right of a student organization to operate on the campus. When seeking registration, the student organization must make clear those obligations imposed on the local chapter by extramural affiliation.

When there is a conflict between the policies and procedures of the extramural organization and those of the University (e.g., policies pertaining to member ship eligibility or voting privileges), the obligation of the student organization is to the University and its policies.

Organization E-mail Accounts

Organizations are eligible to submit information requesting a student organization e-mail account through the OIT website. Passwords can only be reset for registered organizations that are listed in the public A-Z list. Organizations that have been inactive for three (3) or more years will have their e-mail accounts disabled.

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