Student Organization Basics
The information provided should assist you in making contacts around campus, in meeting the demands of University fiscal and operational policies, and in performing a variety of other tasks associated with your position.
Office of Campus Activities (OCA)
204 Pryzbyla Center
(202) 319-6198 (fax)
GChat: firstname.lastname@example.org (OCA Front Desk)
Katie Jennings - Associate Vice President of Student Engagement
Megan Reilly - Assistant Director (Finance)
Emily Scanlon - Program Coordinator (Student Org Management & Program Board)
Ana Lincoln - Assistant Director (Events and Marketing/Nest)
Conferences and Pryzbyla Management (CPM)
207 Pryzbyla Center
124 Pryzbyla Center
Ashley Rodriguez - Catering Manager
Student Organization Registration
Each group seeking status as a student organization must register annually with OCA. Organizations that have already registered (recognized organizations) must renew their registration each year. As part of this process, officers and the staff/faculty advisor information must be provided in the online portion of registration and must be updated each time new officers/advisors are chosen. This is done to ensure that OCA has the most accurate contact information in order to provide you with important information and updates. Contact OCA with any registration related questions.
All student organizations must complete their student organization registration by the end of the Spring Semester in order to be considered an active student organization over the summer. Any groups failing to register by the end of the spring will be removed as an active group until they complete their registration.
To register an organziation for the next school year, student organization officers should visit The Nest and complete the re-registration form found on their organization webpage. During this process you will be required to update the following information:
- Organization Photo/Logo
- Organization Interests
OCA & University Policies
All students and student organizations are responsible for knowing and abiding by all University policies. To review all CUA policies visit the CUA policies website at http://policies.cua.edu. Below you can find details of some specific policies and additional OCA policies related to student organizations.
Student Organization Related Policies
Event Approval - No student organization is permitted to hold any event without first getting approval from OCA. To obtain approval you need to submit your event through The Nest on your organization page. Our staff will review your event and notify you of any concerns. Please note that if you change your event on The Nest after initial approval that event will need to be reviewed again for additional approval. Event approval will happen in 1-2 business days of submission.
Event Scheduling - Student Organizations are required to reserve any on-campus space prior to advertising their event (including requesting approval for the event from OCA). To submit room reservation requests an organization should visit the University Calendar and Scheduling website at http://events.cua.edu. Events posted to The Nest that are scheduled for unreserved on campus space will not be approved.
Posting Policy - All student organizations must have all flyers, posters, and handouts approved by OCA prior to distribution. To receive approval please bring all copies of each design to OCA.
Presentations Policy (Speakers Policy) - For the full text of the University Presentations Policy visit the policy listing on the university policies page at http://policies.cua.edu/studentlife/organizations/presentations.cfm. The most important thing to note is that under no circumstances can a performer, speaker, or any other type of presentation be scheduled without first receiving approval from OCA. For more information on Presenter approval please visit The Event Planning Resources Section
Alcohol Policy - Student organizations are not permitted to have alcohol at any event without receiving prior approval from OCA. To learn more about this policy and to request permission to have alcohol at an event please schedule a meeting with an OCA staff member.
Officer Eligibility - The University requires that a student who holds a leadership position (i.e. President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc.) within a student organization maintain a 2.25 GPA and be in good standing with the University. Period checks of eligibility are done in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Students. A student organization may require a higher GPA as part of their constitution if desired.
Policy on Reasonable Accommodations at University Events - All student organizations are required to follow this university policy which can be found at http://policies.cua.edu/eeo/AccommodationsEvents.cfm. One of the important things to note about this policy is that for any events where a person with a disability may require some accommodations to participate all marketing must include an acommodations statement. At a minimum this statement must include the following:
For disability accommodations please contact (event organizer) at _____ (phone and e-mail)
Student Organization Travel - Any student organization taking any overnight trips off-campus are required to submit all trip approval forms to OCA at least 2 days prior to the first day of travel. Trip Forms can be found on the SORC website at http://sorc.cua.edu/forms.cfm in the "General Student Organization Forms" column.
Financial Management and Processing - All student organizations are required to process all financial transactions through the University. Student organizations are not permitted to have any outside bank accounts. All deposits of fundraised money are expected to be made within one business day of receipt through OCA. For more information on how to spend money please visit the Online Finance Guide.
Student Organization Advisors
As outlined in the registration process, each registered student organization must have a full-time CUA Faculty/Staff member to serve as an advisor. Below are some of the expectations of the student organization and the advisor with regards to the relationship between the two.
Responsibilities of the Organization
- Discuss with the advisor the needs of your group, and outline your organization’s expectations of an advisor.
- Arrive at a mutual understanding of the advisor’s level of involvement in your organization.
- Keep the advisor informed of the organization's plans, problems, and successes.
- Make use of the advisor's background and experiences.
- Allow the advisor to help solve problems. The advisor should be the first contact when problems arise.
- Take the initiative to arrange regular meetings with the advisor.
- Invite the advisor and his/her family to all events. His/Her attendance should not be taken for granted; be understanding of possible prior commitments.
- Make the advisor feel like an integral part of your organization.
- Extend appropriate courtesies to the advisor and his/her guests at special functions.
- Show an appreciation for the advisor's services at meetings and programs.
Responsibilities of the Advisor
- Discuss with the organization the needs of the group and outline expectations of them.
- Arrive at a mutual understanding of the level of involvement with the organization.
- Stay informed of the organization’s plans, problems, and successes.
- Ensure that the organization is following all appropriate policies and procedures.
- Approve or deny funding requests and purchase requests using the Nest.
- Provide knowledge, expertise, and guidance to the organization when appropriate.
- Meet periodically with the leaders of the organization to assess their needs and progress.
- Try to ensure that all members have opportunities to make significant contributions.
- Attend the organization’s meetings and events when it is appropriate and time permits.
- Maintain periodic communication with OCA Staff regarding the organization’s progress and any problems that may arise.
Van Training (Vehicle Certification)
Certification to drive any vehicle on behalf of the University (CPM Vans or Rental Vehicles) is required annually. Find out more information about this process at http://ehs.cua.edu/RiskMgt-Driver-Program.cfm.
Conferences & Pryzbyla Management (CPM) has a number of 12 passenger vans available for student use. More information about this service can be found at http://pryzbyla.cua.edu/eventplanning/requests/van.cfm.
For trips where a CPM van is not available CUA has rental agreements setup with Wheaton Nextcar. You can rent all sizes of vehicles at drastically discounted rates. More information can be found at http://sorc.cua.edu/financeguide/carrentalrates.cfm.
Starting a New Student Organization
Learn more about starting a new student organization at CUA here.
Starting a New Club Sport
To learn more about starting a new club sport at CUA please visit http://www.cuacardinals.com/information/club_sports/newsportcriteria.
Tips for Recruiting & Retaining Members
- Know and understand your vision - The current members should understand the vision of the organization so they can communicate its purpose to potential members.
- Set some recruitment goals - Recruitment goals should not only include how many members you want involved, but also the kinds of members. As a group, ask yourselves questions like: how many members can we reasonably assimilate into our group? What common interests should our members have? Remember, quality of membership is just as important as quantity.
- Get everyone involved - Have current members contact people they know who might want to get involved. Word-of-mouth is the best and least expensive type of publicity you can utilize.
- Utilize a visual element - Visual publicity is often vital to a recruitment campaign. Have members with artistic talents work on posters, flyers, and banners.
- Attend recruitment programs - Make sure that you register your organization for the Fall Fiesta Student Involvment Fair and participate in and attend the events held during Orientation Extended. In addition to the Student Involvement Fair, your group should tailgate at one of the Capture the Cardinal events for first year students. You might also want to hold an information session, inviting people to attend in order to hear about your organization and meet its current membership.
Tips for Retaining New and Old Members
- Plan a special welcome meeting - Plan a special ceremony or meeting to welcome the new members to the group. Group participation in some form of official initiation process is one way to make your members feel wanted, needed, and appreciated. It helps to form a memorable bond between old and new members and will hopefully give them a sense of belonging to the group.
- Teach them - It is important to orient new members to your group’s goal and objectives, organizational structure, rules and norms. Proper orientation leads to better understanding, more commitment and less frustration.
- Give them responsibilities - To be sure that their first organizational experience is a positive one, assign new members tasks that are well within their skill level and that they can successfully accomplish.
- Have fun! - Make time to socialize and celebrate your achievements. If all you do as a group is work, it will become a burden to participate and your members will quickly lose interest.
Successful Officer Transitioning
A smooth transition is the responsibility of both the outgoing and incoming officers. It's important to work together to have an effective transition. By utilizing some of the tips and steps below before the old officers have left campus for the summer or perhaps for graduation your organization can be prepared for the start of the next year. One important thing to remember is that your organization's advisor has likely been in his/her position for a few years now and can be a great resource through this transition period. They can help you with understanding the past experiences of the organization and help you navigate through the university policies and procedures.
- Register your Organization: Organization registration is required every year. If you register during the end of the year it removes one extra step from when you return to campus in the fall. In addition it ensures that OCA knows who the new officers are. Registration can be done online through the SORC website.
- Update your officer information in Campus Groups: In addition to this automatically updating your officer listing on your group website, it also ensures that any emails to student organization officers will go to the new officers. This will ensure that your group is kept up to date on any information sent out over the summer.
- Have a Transition meeting or retreat: Have a meeting or a retreat with both your new and old officers to discuss all of the topics in the "transition resources" below.
- Share/Create a Transition Binder: Transition Binders are a great tool not only for new officers to learn about the organization but also for the outgoing officers to reflect on everything they've accomplished. More information on suggestions for what to include in a Transition Binder can be found below.
- Review/Create an organization calendar: This calendar should include a to-do list for the new officers for immediate action items. In addition be sure to consider the following:
- When/how does recruitment occur?
- When/where are meetings usually held?
- Is there a timeline for traditional events and programs?
- Begin Planning for the Fall Fiesta Involvement Fair: Every year Program Board hosts CUA's Fall Fiesta which includes an involvement fair promoting student organizations and other opportunities for students to be involved. Begin planning how you want to make your first impression on the new students right away. That way you're ready when the school year starts and you can have a strong recruiting push.
- Submit Meeting Room Requests: If you know the days and times you want to have your meetings next year, go ahead and submit a request. If it's an academic space it won't actually be scheduled until the fall, but if you put the request in now you'll be towards the front of the list and it'll be one less thing to worry about later. Room requests can be done at http://events.cua.edu
- Attend a Spring Student Organization Orientation: While OCA will be providing Student Organization Orientation sessions in the Fall why not get a jump on your planning and training and attend a session in the Spring? This way you can already know all of the ins and outs of being a student organization officer before you even leave for the summer. If you attend in the Spring you won't be required to attend in the fall (although it might be a good idea to get a refresher in the fall).
As discussed above, transition binders are an invaluable resource for your organization. If you maintain an ongoing binder throughout the year the task of transitioning much smoother. However, if you do not already have a Transition Binder you can easily create one using some of the tips below. Every organization is different and your group might require a few different things in your binder. The list below is a comprehensive list of what most groups should include in a Transition Binder.
- Copy of Constitution and/or By-laws
- Mission, Philosophy, Goals, and/or Purpose of group
- Position description for officers
- Committee descriptions
- Membership Roster
- Contact Information for important people on/off campus
- Financial Records
- Evaluations of past events and projects
- Meeting minutes and/or agendas
- Any other historical records for your group
In addition to the specific documents and lists above it is a good idea to include reflective content from the outgoing officers to the incoming officers. Providing insight from the outgoing officers is an opportunity for the outgoing officers to share what they've learned with the new officers. Some of this information can help the group avoid past mistakes or capitalize on past success. Some ideas of questions that an outgoing officer can answer for an incoming officer are as follows:
- Before I started, I wish someone had told me...
- My transition to leadership would have been easier if...
- The resources I found most helpful during my tenure were...
- What worked well this year?
- What didn't work as well this year?
- What roadblocks or unexpected challenges did you face?
- What tips can you provide about the culture of the organization?
- What ongoing commitments does a new leader need to know about?
- Who have been your key allies?
- What are your standard annual operating expenses?
- What are the long term goals that are still in the process of being accomplished?
Constitution Resources (Updating Existing & Writing New Constitutions)
- Constitution Guide - Use this guide to review all of the sections of a constitution and as a checklist for exactly what is required. This guide discusses all of the required sections and the different decisions that you need to make to effectively write your constitution. Please note that Articles X, XI, XII need to appear verbatim in your organization's constitution. If you have any questions about the requirements in a student organization constitution and whether you fulfill those requirements contact OCA at email@example.com.
- OCA created a template that you may use for your constitution. Download the PDF to access the fields.
- Guidelines for a Mission Statement in a Student Organization constitution - Use this to craft your organization's mission statement. Be creative, be informative, and define your organization!
Student Organizations may send any student organization related faxes from the OCA office in 125 Pryz. In addition OCA has a fax machine that can support local faxing for any student whether the fax is related to a student organization or not.