In recent years, student organizations have been increasingly requesting assistance reviewing and improving their constitutions. A strong constitution can help student organizations clearly articulate their mission and goals, establish a positive culture and code of conduct, and protect members from discrimination and undue process. To help address these needs and to further improve student organizations at Yale, the Yale College Dean’s Office has launched a constitution evaluation project that will take place during the 2019/2020 academic year.
During the 2019/2020 academic year, all student organization constitutions will be reviewed by a constitution specialist. The constitution specialist will be looking to ensure that constitutions meet the minimum requirements and for possible improvements. After the constitutions are reviewed, the constitution specialists will invite the officers of organizations that need additional support in improving their constitution in for a meeting. The constitution specialist, the organization officers, and the organization’s assigned SOC will discuss and implement any required modifications to the constitution. The meeting is meant to provide a space for student organization officers to receive help and assistance in creating a strong document that reflects the language and the culture of that particular organization while still meeting the requirements. Once a finalized constitution is drafted, the student organization will upload the document to their Yale Connect portal.
The YCDO aims to have all constitutions reviewed and updated by May of 2020. Since constitutions may need to adapt with time, a plan has been put in place to ensure that constitutions will be reviewed every four years by an organization’s SOC.
All student organization constitutions should include the following sections:
- Group’s Mission and/or Vision
- A Description of the Group’s Activities
- Membership Requirements and/or Selection/Induction Process*
- Leadership Selection Process*
- Conduct Code and/or Internal Group Conduct Process*
- A Dissolution Clause
- i.e. in the case of your organization’s dissolution, who receives your funding?
*Keep in mind that your organization must be inclusive and meet Yale University’s Equal Opportunity Statement policy: https://equalopportunity.yale.edu/policies-and-programs. Organizations that are application/audition based must clearly state the criteria for being admitted into the organization and the timeline. Except in rare circumstances, membership to an organization must be skills based and cannot be based on personal characteristics and or a specific gender. Registered student organizations should have a clear selection process that is outlined in the constitution, open to everyone, and fair.
Organizations with members who undergo an induction must outline their induction process and timeline. Please read through this website for information about what the state of Connecticut defines as hazing: https://yalecollege.yale.edu/ct-general-statutes-sec-53-23a-hazing. Please also visit Yale’s website for information about hazing on campus: https://yalecollege.yale.edu/deans-office/policies/policy-against-hazing. Keep in mind the induction process for any organization should be very far from this line.
Need More Help?
The YCDO has also developed a list of guiding questions that may help you draft a strong constitution, which you can access here. If your organization would like assistance with improving your induction process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to provide you with assistance or connect you to other resources.