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Student Organization Policies & Processes

Categories of Student Organizations

Student organizations are voluntary associations of University of Tennessee students, which are legally separate entities from the University.  Student organizations are student initiated and student run.  Student organizations that are registered with the University through the Center for Student Engagement may have access to certain University-controlled benefits and resources, such as facilities use and funding eligibility.  Varying opportunities and mandates exist depending on the type of registered student organization.

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 that agree to meet University set expectations in order to maintain registration with the University of Tennessee and whose purpose for existing is presumed to endure beyond ninety days is considered a Continuing Independent Registered Student Organization (ISRO).  IRSOs are required to have a President, a Treasurer, and an updated Constitution/Bylaws.  All IRSOs are required to complete the Annual Renewal Process with the Center for Student Engagement to maintain an active organization status.  Additionally, the Advisor and Organization may be required to meet certain provisions, such as trainings and workshops, in order to maintain registration status.  IRSOs are required to have their contact information updated in VOLink at all times.

Temporary Registered Student Organizations/Student Government Association Campaigns

Any group of at least (ten) 10 students meeting the requirements contained herein and whose purpose for existing is presumed to be temporary.  During registration, these groups will include an end date for their organization.  If such an organization wishes to become an ISRO, it will need to follow the registration process outlined under registering a new student organization.

A registered student organization whose purpose for existing is less than 90 days is considered to be a Temporary Registered Student Organization.

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 only 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.  A Department Sponsored Organization will be either a Continuing Independent Registered Student Organization or a Temporary Registered Student Organization depending upon the length of time it is presumed that the organization will endure.  Department Sponsored Organizations are considered to be Continuing Registered Student Organizations.

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

New Student Organization Registration

To register a new student organization, students and Advisors must follow the process below:

  • Attend an Organization Registration Information Session: Student Organizations wishing to register a student organization will be required to attend an Organization Registration Information Session. The Organization Registration Information Session will be offered monthly and will discuss the registration process, campus policies and procedures, funding sources, and strategies to lead and start a successful organization.
  • Student Organization Advisor Online Training: The Center for Student Engagement has established online training modules available on Canvas. The Training Modules address campus policies, space reservations, microcounseling topics, and more topics to help advisors be successful in their role as an Advisor. The training is optional for all advisors.
  • Complete Online Registration Form on VOLink: Student Organizations wishing to register a student organization will be required to complete the online registration form on VOLink. The online registration form is a form a student will complete to have their organization officially registered by the University of Tennessee.

Once the Registration Form is completed and submitted on VOLink, the Advisor Committee on Student Organizations will review the registration form and provide complete any necessary approvals. The student organization President will be notified via email regarding whether or not they have been approved. Once approved, the student organization can immediately begin operations.

Additional Provisions to the New Student Organization Registration Process:

Temporary Organizations: If a temporary student organization would wish to become a registered student organization. The organization would need to complete a Student Organization Reclassification Form and meeting with a staff member in the Center for Student Engagement.

Sport Clubs: An organization wishing to become a Sport Club must seek approval from the Sport Club Coordinator in the RecSports Department

Social Fraternities and Sororities: Any group seeking to establish a social fraternal organization on campus must contact either the Office of Sorority or Fraternity Life for procedures and policies relative to this action. After the group completes the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life process for expansion, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life in consult with the corresponding Greek Council may recommend an invitation for campus recognition be granted. The invitation is granted by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the Student Life staff. Once invitation for recognition 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.

Campus Ministries Council: An organization wishing to gain support from the Campus Ministries Council should contact the President of the Campus Ministries Council.

Application Process

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:

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.

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.

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, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, age, or disability. This statement must appear verbatim in organization constitutions.  A registered student organization may restrict membership based on the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

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.

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.

Frequency of meetings
The individual within the organization have the discretion of establishing the frequency of meetings

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.

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.

Annual Renewal

Each year, the student organization President will need to renew their organization.  The process updates the Center for Student Engagement and VOLink with officer contact information, bylaws/mission/purpose statements update, and current organization rosters.

  • Complete the Renewal Form on VOLink : Student Organization President will be required to attend an Annual Presidents Meeting. The following will be discussed at the meeting:
    • Campus Policies and Procedures – including reservation information

Student Programming Allocation Committee Funding and other university funding opportunities

  • Hazing Prevention, Sexual Violence Prevention/Title IX, and Student Conduct
  • What the CSE offers student organizations

Renewal Form on VOLink will be approved following the President’s Attendance at the Meeting.

If a student organization President  does not attend an Annual Presidents Meeting, the organization will become inactive. An inactive status results in the organization being unsearchable in VOLink and all VOLink abilities will be frozen. Inactive organizations are not able to access other benefits, such as reserving campus rooms until they gain active status. Organizations can become active after attending an Organization Registration Information Session.

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.

Appeals

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.


Affiliations

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

  • 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.
  • Consistent with the purposes set forth in the constitution.
  • 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.


Non-Discrimination

A student organization is eligible for registration if it does not deny membership on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, sexual organization, gender identity, or gender expression.  A registered student organization may restrict membership based on the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.


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 voluntary associations of students and 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.


Further Information

Further information regarding student organizations can be found in the University’s Regulation 1720-4-2 (available at http://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1720/1720-04/1720-04-02.pdf).  In case of any conflict between the University’s Regulation and Hilltopics, the University’s regulation will govern.

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