Creating a Constitution

Creating a Constitution

The constitution is the heart of your organization. It provides the structure by which your group will function, and it secures a professional operating environment that Penn State prides itself upon. There are 11 articles that must be included in your constitution by mandate of the Office of Student Affairs. Within these articles are statements that must be included with that article. You are not limited, however, to just these stipulations.

You are free to personalize your organization’s constitution to suit your specific needs.

The required articles and statements, and what they mean is delineated below. You'll find a sample constitution here, including the required articles and the most common way of organizing them, to aid you in the application process.

Required Constitutional Elements

Heading

  1. All information must be centered.
  2. State the full name of the organization and its acronym, if applicable.
  3. Under the name, state the original date that the organization first met on the confines of the Brandywine campus.

Body

  • Any statements that must be included in the constitution in some fashion will be prefaced by the word “state” or in boldface.

Article I: Purpose

  • Clearly state the purpose of the organization. This is the singular most significant part of the document, as it is the mission statement of the organization. No organizations with duplicate or highly similar purposes of those existing organizations will be considered for registration.
  • State the purpose in sentences, or by using numbers or bullets.

Article II: Membership

  • State that only currently employed faculty, staff and currently registered students are eligible for active membership. State that there must be at least 8 active student members at all times. State that only active members may vote, preside, officiate or solicit funding on the organization’s behalf.
  • University regulations state that:
    No organization with restrictive membership clauses discriminating on the basis of race, religion, sex, physical handicap or creed shall obtain or maintain University registration. Special consideration will be given to the merits of groups founded for the purpose of religious practice.
  • New Membership and Recruitment:
    All members, including but not limited to new members and recruits, reserve the right to refrain from participating in any activities without consequence, based upon personal/religious beliefs, personal values or moral reserve as defined by the member.
  • Any and all interaction/activity between members and/or new members will be limited to guidelines stated by University policy, as well as local, state and federal laws.
  • Membership Removal:
    Please draft a "Membership Removal Policy" subsection within the Membership Section that you feel is appropriate for expelling members from your organization. Please be sure to include reasonable guidelines for what is a condition for expulsion.
  • Supreme Court regulations state that:
    No organization may restrict membership based on characteristics of a student, which are intrinsic to the identity of that student, and are not essential to the potential value of that student as a member of that organization and the Penn State University community at large.

Article III: Officers

  • State that only full-time, officially registered active student members shall be eligible to serve as appointed or elected officers in your organization.
  • State all officers, elected or appointed, and their appropriate duties and powers. If officers form the executive committees, an odd number of officers are recommended. Avoid shared offices.
  • State the procedures that will be followed to fill unexpired vacancies. These include the meeting at which nominations and elections will take place (if applicable), the process by which a candidate will be nominated, etc. You must have an officer responsible for your organization's funds. This officer will be the only active member with access to your SGA account, and will most likely be your treasurer.

Article IV: Meetings

  • State that adequate advanced notice must be given to all members.

Article V: Voting

  • State what will constitute quorum. Different quorums may be used for voting, elections, amendments and other items. If you wish to require different quorums for different voting events, they must be specified.
  • State what shall constitute a majority; likewise if different types of majorities will be required for different voting events, they must be specified.

Article VI: Finances

  • State that all organizational funds are to be handled exclusively through the SGA and the Office of Student Affairs.
  • State whether or not the payment of dues is a necessary condition for membership. If it is, state how they will be determined. Do not specify a specific amount, and it is recommended that the amount is kept reasonable. State how often dues are to be collected.

Article VII: Elections

  • State the meeting at which nominations and elections will take place.
  • State how and when these meetings will be publicized.
  • State that no one involved in conducting the elections may be an official candidate.
  • State the procedure for nominations and elections, along with how ties will be handled.
  • State when new officers begin their terms of office. A transition period is recommended so that the new officers may learn their responsibilities, along with the organization’s business and University regulations.

Article VIII: Amendments to the Constitution

  • State the procedure for the introduction and passage of amendments.
  • State who may propose amendments.
  • State that all amendments are subject to approval by the USG Supreme Court/GSA Judiciary Committee.
  • State when the approved amendments are to take effect.

Article IX: Accessibility of this Constitution

  • State that copies of the constitution will be available to anyone upon request.

Article X: Adviser

  • State that the adviser must be a Penn State Brandywine full-time faculty or staff member, and he/she should be chosen by the organization. Do not mention a specific name.

Article XI: Safety Considerations (if your organization is high-risk)

  • State that no member will use any undue force in any contact activity.
  • State that no member will use weapons in conjunction with your organization’s activities.
  • State that all members will wear safety equipment as outlined in the Participation Waiver during all activities.
  • State that your organization will abide by the Penn State Department of Health and Safety’s current version of Safety Considerations for Registered Organizations.
  • State that all members are required to acknowledge and abide by all of the above safety considerations.
  • State that any violation of stated guidelines is grounds for immediate dismissal from your organization.