Registered Student Organization Constitutional Standards & Guidelines

Constitutional Standards & Guidelines

The information on this page will help you draft your student organization constitution. The University of Iowa has standards for student organization constitutions and the information below will aid you in the successful creation of the document that will govern your organization.

A constitution contains the basic, fundamental principles and procedures regarding the organization’s structure. By-laws outline, in more detail, the rules of procedure by which a group’s membership govern their organization. Your constitution should be simple, concise and comprehensive. However, it should be more difficult to amend, this means most procedural rules should be placed in your organization’s by-laws.

These guiding principles are designed to assist groups with their formation and help groups anticipate any future issues.  Prospective student organizations should use these principles to assist them with the drafting of their constitution and by-laws.  Any constitution not in accordance with this document will not be accepted, and recommendation for registration will be delayed until the constitution meets University standards. 

Please note the two sections in Italic TYPE.  They must appear in all Constitutions EXACTLY as they are written in this document.  These two clauses are the UI Human Rights Clause and the Financial Clause. The financial clause provides you with specific instructions regarding your organization. Remember to alter the financial clause so it contains the specifics regarding your organization and dissolution. You need to remember to include an organization where funds are to be sent if your organization dissolves.

DO NOT copy and paste text from these guidelines directly into your organization constitution or just provide answers to questions in this document. The questions should prompt your organization to create text to address what is being asked. You must thoughtfully think about the future of your organization and its existence when crafting your constitution. You may not think you need to address certain issues within your organization but, you should not overlook them as the ultimate goal is for your organization to outlast your time as a student. Provide forward-thought about what the future may hold for your organization. Consider what problems may arise, and include other processes regarding your organization’s future.

Your constitution should not contain specific names or list certain individuals in the membership or advisor section. These areas should be general and define different classes of membership or if an advisor exists and what the advisor’s role is within the organization.

If your organization is affiliated with a national organization, you must submit a constitution that is unique to your University of Iowa chapter. This must include the mandatory clauses specific to the University of Iowa. You will be required to submit the national constitution as well as the constitution of your UI chapter.

If you require further assistance with the preparation of your constitution or by-laws, please contact the Coordinator for Student Organization Development in the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership (CSIL) at (319) 335-3059 or

Sample Constitution

Title: “Constitution of (Insert official name of the organization)” The name as it appears in your Constitution must be used in any advertising or business done by the organization, and should reflect the nature of the organization.

Date Submitted: Date of submission to Center for Student Involvement & Leadership 

 Article I - Purpose 

State the mission and purpose of the organization. The purpose statement should explain why your organization exists as well as its objectives and goals. Your organization's activities should be related to this purpose statement. You want to think about why your organization exists, who will it serve, and group activities. 

Article II - Membership

a) Required UI Human Rights Clause must be included in all student organization constitutions and must be written EXACTLY as follows (updated 10/15/14)

In no aspect of its programs shall there be any difference in the treatment of persons on the basis of  race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification which would deprive the person of consideration as an individual.  The organization will guarantee that equal opportunity and equal access to membership, programming, facilities, and benefits shall be open to all persons. Eighty percent (80%) of this organization’s membership must be composed of UI students.

b) State different classes of membership and the description/requirements for and the privileges of each class, if any.

  • Executive Board (must be a member in good standing)
    • President (Primary Representative)
    • Vice-President (Secondary Representative)
    • Treasurer (Authorized Signer 1) and must be a different individual than the President
    • Secretary/Recorder
  • General Members:
    • UI Students (must comprise 80% of the total organization membership) are eligible to vote and hold office within the Organization. 
    • Non-UI Students (cannot exceed 20% of total organization membership) are not eligible to vote or hold office within the organization.
  • Members in Good Standing:
    • To be a member in good standing, one must have paid dues (if applicable), met GPA requirements as set forth in By-Laws (if applicable), and met meeting attendance requirements as set forth in the By-Laws (if applicable). Members in Good Standing have the right to vote as well as seek and hold an elected/appointed office or position.

Things to think about in this section: Is there an executive council composed of officers (officer duties are explained in Article III, you only need to mention the existence of the council and the titles in this section). Are there general members, what is their role? What does it mean to be a general member? What does it mean to be a member in good standing? What are the rights and privileges of both classes of membership? Are voting privileges different? Voting privileges are limited to UI students only. What are the different limitations of each membership classification?

c) State the procedure for selection of membership.

Example 1:
  • Membership will be granted in one of three categories: Full Membership, General Membership, Resting Membership. 
  • All University of Iowa students are entitled to full membership in the organization.
  • All faculty, staff, and interested community members will receive general membership in the organization.
  • Members who will be unable to participate in the club for an extended time will be granted resting membership. Resting membership can be due to situations including but not limited to study abroad programs, etc.
Example 2: 
  • Membership in this chapter is open to anyone officially connected to the University of Iowa as students, faculty, or staff as well as those from the community such as alumni and the general public, as long as 80% of the active members of this organization are currently enrolled UI undergraduate or graduate and professional students.

d) State the procedure for the addition or revocation of membership.

Example 1: 
  • The organization shall admit as a member any person who expresses interest, contacts the organization officers, and provides their name and contact information. Membership may be revoked for reasons including but not limited to: inappropriate behavior, being delinquent in paying dues without explanation, and one year inactive membership (not attending or being involved in communication with the officers or the organization). Revocation of membership may occur due to situations that arise both outside of club functions and those that arise during club functions.
  • All situations of revoking membership will be evaluated on a case by case basis by the officers of the club, who are in charge of the revocation process.
  • Revocation of membership occurs after two written warnings in one semester and will involved a written notice. 
  • Individuals may appeal the revocation of their membership by contacting an officer and will appeal to a committee of members supervised by either an advisor, an officer, or a combination of officers, members, and the advisor.
  • A person may not regain membership after having it revoked until a period of no less than six months after the last written notice or appeal has passed. The officers of the organization will evaluate the situation before a person may regain membership, and situations of regaining membership will be handled on a case by case basis.
Example 2: 
  • To be removed from this organization, a member must miss three consecutive meetings with unexcused absences. When this occurs, that individual's membership status will be voted on by the organization and must obtain a majority vote in favor to stay a member. Membership can also be suspended if one acts unrepresentative of the organization.

Things to think about in this section: Who can suggest the removal of a member? What are the exact processes for removal? Is there a certain voting procedure required for removal or addition? Removal of members may not seem necessary when creating your organization, but this section may prove valuable at some point during the life of your organization. 

Article III - Officers/Executives and Duties

a) Officers or executives must be enrolled University of Iowa students. They represent the organization membership. These individuals are selected from the ranks of the organization's voting membership. 

b) List the positions available, titles, term lengths, and the duties and responsibilities associated with each. Include any qualifications an individual must possess in order to be considered for that position.

Example 1: 
  • The elected officers of the organization shall be:
  • Chair: The duties of the chair include calling and chairing all meetings, preparing the agendas, representing the official position of the organization to the University and all external individuals and groups, delegating responsibilities, and any other duties that the membership might assign.
  • Vice-chair: The Vice-chair shall fulfill the duties assigned by the Chair. In case of a vacancy in the Chair, the Vice-chair will assume the duties of the chair until a special election can be held to fill the Chair position.
  • Secretary: The Secretary shall record and keep the minutes of all meetings and shall make those minutes available to any member upon request. The Secretary shall make and distribute copies of the minutes according to policy established by the elected officers. The Secretary shall be responsible for the design and maintenance of the organization's website.
  • Treasurer: The Treasurer shall handle all financial transactions, keep the financial records of the organization, ensure the organization is meeting all University policies, and federal and state laws. The Treasurer will also make periodic reports to membership.
  • Special Events Coordinator - The Special Events Coordinator shall lead and facilitate the planning and implementation of group social, educational, and service activities. The Special Events Coordinator shall fulfill other duties as assigned by the Chair.
  • The elected officers of the organization shall constitute the Executive Council.
  • Appointed positions shall be created and/or filled by the Executive Council with the approval of a majority vote of those members present at any official meeting.
  • All members are qualified to hold elected or appointed office. Any person is limited to holding no more than two one-year terms in any office.
  • All offices will be filled annually.
  • Offices vacated will be filled in a special election. The Executive Council will present a nomination to the membership for their approval by a majority vote of those present at the next meeting.
  • Procedure for removal of an officer will follow the procedures outlined in Roberts' Rules of Order (latest edition).
Example 2: 
  • The following officers shall be elected every academic year per guidelines in Article VI.
  • President: All candidates running for presidency shall have had at least one year of experience on the organization's Executive Board and approval to return per the guidelines outlined in Article VI. If no individual on the Board is available to return as President, the candidate must have had at least two semesters as an active Member. The duties of the President shall include, but shall not be limited to:
        • Maintaining the Constitution and University registration of the organization
        • Keeping in contact with the organization('s) advisor(s)
        • Organizing and conducting periodic board meetings
        • Preparing meeting agendas and collecting information from board members on projects/tasks
        • Announcements prepared for meetings
        • Settling disputes with the organization's Executive Board
        • Assisting Officers with excessive duties
        • In the event of an emergency and in the absence of the Finance Director, signing appropriate financial documents.
  •  Vice President: The duties of the Vice President shall include, but shall not be limited to:
        • Sending weekly mass emails for all upcoming organization events, as well as, additional reminders the day preceding or day of an event
        • Assisting with meetings and matters concerning the organization
        • Working with the President to complete tasks and succeeding the President in the event he or she is unable to perform assigned duties.
  • Public Relations Director: The duties of the Public Relations Director shall include, but shall not be limited to:
        • Updating the organization's website, social media, and other forms of communication weekly
        • Designing and distributing materials pertaining to upcoming group events to group members and advisors
        • Recording, typing, and distributing minutes of board and group meetings
  • Finance Director: The duties of the Finance Director shall include, but shall not be limited to:
        • Preparing and presenting balance reports as necessary
        • Authoring and acquiring vouchers for supplies and any other purpose
        • Assisting with the formal budgeting procedures through student government, including supplemental budgeting if necessary
        • Handling all revenue and making deposits regularly
        • Keeping records including all receipts and balance statements
        • Ordering of supplies and items for the organization
  • Programming Director: The duties of the Programming Director shall include, but shall not be limited to:
        • Coordinating and confirming a schedule of speakers for meetings
        • Reserving rooms for all meetings and social events
        • Providing the President and Vice President with information about upcoming meetings to be sent to members
        • Providing the Public Relations Director with information about upcoming meetings to be advertised
  • Social Activities Director: The duties of the Social Activities Director shall include, but shall not be limited to:
      • Setting up events to promote camaraderie and relationship building between organization membership
      • Organizing study groups during exam weeks 
      • Assisting others in planning events related to their duties
  • All Executive Board members are expected to attend all meetings each semester unless a previous arrangement has been made or an pre-existing engagement prevents them from attending. All members of the Executive Board are strongly encouraged to attend other activities and unofficial meetings.
  • Should an Executive Board Member need to be removed from office, a meeting of the Executive Board shall be held and a vote taken, with removal occurring as the results of a majority vote. A reason for removal includes, but is not limited to, failure to comply with officer duties.

Article IV - Advisors

a) Advisors of registered student organizations must be members of the University of Iowa faculty or administrative professional staff or they must be affiliated with a local, regional, national, or international affiliate of an organization.

b) What are the duties of an advisor?

Example 1:
  • The Executive Board shall be responsible for selecting an advisor. It is anticipated the advisor will be a member of the faculty or staff at the University of Iowa. The advisor shall:
  • Serve for at least one academic year and shall attend the meetings of the organization and and aid and advise the organization on matters under consideration.
  • The advisor shall be responsible for the continuity of records and other property of the collegiate chapter.
  • Additional persons, faculty and/or non-faculty or staff may be asked to join the appointed advisor whenever tasks involved make it feasible to have additional representation. Only the appointed advisor may vote as a board member if he or she is granted that right.
  • The advisor may serve as the official advisor and contact with the organization's local, regional, national or international affiliate or headquarters.
Example 2: 
  • The position of advisor may be filled by the Executive Board with the approval of a majority of those members present at any official meeting.
  • The duties of the advisor shall be determined by the Executive Board.

Things to think about in this section: What are the responsibilities/duties of the advisor? How are advisors selected? If you don't have an advisor and don't currently plan on having one it still may not be a bad idea to plan for the future and add this section, so you don't have to amend your constitution later.

 Article V - Meetings

a) What kind of meetings will your organization have? Executive Board Meetings, Business Meetings, General Membership Meetings?

b) How often will meetings be held? Is your organization required to hold a certain amount of meetings per semester?

c) When will membership be notified of meetings or special meetings? How many days? What form of communication(s) will be used to notify members?

d) What constitutes a quorum at a meeting? Quorum is the minimum number of members present in order to conduct official business. Would it be 2/3 of members present? 2/3 of members in good standing? 3/4 of Executive Board Members? 

e) Who has the authority to call meetings? The President? Any member of the Executive Board? Members?

f) Is there a minimum number of meetings members are required to attend each semester to be considered a member in good standing? Does a member lose group affiliation and membership privileges by not attending a minimum number of meetings?

Article VI - Elections

a) Your organization should have a democratic process outlined for the election of officer positions in this section. Your organization needs to identify by what means and how far in advance members be notified of any upcoming elections.

Example 1: 
  • Membership will be notified of upcoming elections at least two weeks in advance by announcement at a previous general meeting and by email communication.

b) Your organization needs to identify when and how frequently elections will be held?

Example 1:
  • Elections will occur each November
Example 2:
  • Elections will occur each April
Example 3:
  • Elections will be held in accordance with our national affiliates policies. 

c) Is there an attendance/specific membership requirement in order to participate in elections?

Example 1: 
  • Must be a member in good standing to participate (see Member in Good Standing Clause above).
Example 2: 
  • Must have attended three organization meetings.
Example 3: 
  • There is no attendance or specific membership requirement to participate in elections. 

d) What are the nominating processes for elections?

Example 1:
  • Officer elections will be a three step process:
    • At the third to the last meeting of the spring semester, nominations for the various officer positions will be submitted.
    • At the next meeting, nominated candidates who wish to accept their nomination status will be given two minutes to justify their nomination.
    • At the final meeting of the spring semester, members will vote for candidates that completed the nominations/elections processes.
Example 2: 
  • Student Organization Leadership shall be elected during the fall semester to serve one year until the next fall election. Chapter officers may run for re-election if they will continue to be at the University of Iowa for at least one more year.
  • All  elected officers shall be chosen by secret ballot, and nomination shall be made from the floor. The candidates receiving a plurality of all votes cast shall be elected.

e) What is the election process? Is there a certain threshold that must be met to be elected (i.e., 50%+1, 2/3rds vote, etc.)

Example 1:
  • Elections will be conducted in person by secret ballot with the winner receiving 51% of the vote at a general meeting.
Example 2: 
  • Elections will be conducted by virtual vote (i.e., OrgSync poll, email, etc.) with the winner receiving 51% of the vote.
Example 3:
  • If no candidate receives 50% of the vote a run-off shall be held between the top two vote receivers. 

Article VII - Finances

a) Are there dues in your organization? If so, how will the amounts be determined? What is the process for changing due amounts (i.e., vote by committee, vote by membership, etc.)

Example 1:
  • There are no dues for membership.
Example 2:
  • Dues will be determined and voted on by the Executive Board prior to the beginning of the academic fall semester. Members will be notified of dues payment and expected to pay dues to participate in organization activities. 
Example 3: 
  • Membership dues shall be $25.00 per year, payable in advance, which includes fees to the national association/organization, and the remainder to the University of Iowa Chapter. Membership dues may vary from year to year based upon the national association/organization changing its required membership dues. The Executive Board may change chapter dues as deemed necessary.

b) Who is in charge of financial affairs? Your organization's President/Primary Representative cannot be in charge of financial affairs; the responsibility must be delegated to a separate Executive/Officer. The President/Primary Representative can have signing authority, but should not be delegated as the one in charge. Please consider both administrative (i.e., collection of dues, disbursement of funds, budget application processes) and authoritative (i.e., expenditure authorization) responsibilities.

Example 1:
  • The Treasurer shall be responsible for all collection of dues, budget application processes, disbursement of funds, and payment authorization. The Treasurer is also responsible for following all University of Iowa cash-handling and accounts payable polices are followed. 
Example 2:

The Treasurer shall be responsible for the budget application processes, disbursement of funds, and payment authorization. The organization Secretary shall be responsible for the collection of dues. The Treasurer is also responsible for following all University of Iowa cash-handling and accounts payable policies are followed.

c) The financial clause listed below must be included in every student organization constitution. It is not optional. Please remember to make the clause unique to your organization by specifying where money should go if your organization dissolves. The University of Iowa and student governments are not responsible for the division of revenue generated dollars. It is the responsibility of the organization to include this information. 

Required Financial Clause:

(INSERT ORGANIZATION NAME HERE) is required to deposit all receipts in and make disbursements through the Student Organization Business Office, Fraternity Business Services, or Recreational Services. Upon dissolution, state money and mandatory student fees revert back to the granting organization.  Inactive organizations will be considered dissolved after five years of no account activity.  Revenue generated dollars or “00 funds” must be divided as stated in this Constitution and carried out by our leadership. Our organization’s remaining revenue generated dollars or “00 funds” will be divided or disbursed to (INSERT OR OUTLINE THE NAME OF AN ORGANIZATION WHERE YOUR STUDENT ORGANIZATION’S REVENUE GENERATED DOLLARS OR 00 MONEY SHOULD BE DIVIDED OR DISBURSED).  If this organization has dissolved and revenue generated dollars or “00 funds” have not been divided as stated in this Constitution by five years from last account activity, funds in our “00 account” will revert to an account specified for this purpose within student government(s). These funds will then be available for distribution through student government(s) guidelines in accordance with University of Iowa policy.

Article VIII - Amendments 

a) Amendments are formal alterations to your organization's constitution. It can include the addition of material and the removal of excess, invalid, or outdated text. Constitutions should not be amended easily or frequently. 

Example 1: 
  • Proposed amendments to this constitution must be submitted in writing by membership to the Executive Board. Amendments shall not be acted upon during a general meeting of the organization membership. Amendments should be read again at a specified number of subsequent general meetings and then the general meeting in which votes will be taken.
  • There will be three readings of a proposed amendment before a vote will be taken to adopt changes to the organization's constitution. 

b) How will eligible voting members be informed of the amendment?

Example 1:
  • Members will be notified of a proposed amendment by two consecutive readings at a general membership meeting.

Example 2: 
  • Members will be notified of a proposed amendment by a posted notification, email communication, or mail. 

c) What vote is required to ratify an amendment? 

Example 1:
  • A 2/3 vote is required by members in good-standing to ratify an amendment.
Example 2:
  • A 3/4 vote is required by members in good-standing to ratify an amendment.

d) All amendments or changes to this constitution must be reflected in an updated constitution that must be submitted to the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership located at 145 Iowa Memorial Union.

Article IX - Ratification

a) Ratification is the final date the founding membership agrees on the final draft of the organization's constitution before submitting it to the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership via OrgSync.

  • This constitution is ratified on (insert date). 


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