Student Organizations Policy

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Sam Houston State University is guided by the precept that in no aspect of its program shall there be differences in the treatment of persons because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity, gender expression, affectional or sexual orientation, or disability. It is reflected in policies governing programs of co-curricular life and activities. In accordance with this principle along with other published student policies, all organizations will refrain from conducting any pledging, initiation, or other co-curricular activities that will in any way be detrimental, defamatory, ridiculing, or embarrassing to any race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity, gender expression, affectional or sexual orientation, or disability. All organizations should be well aware of the state of Texas Statute on Hazing.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Sam Houston State University recognizes both the right of students to form into organizations and the benefits which can result from membership in groups having similar or common interests or purposes.

    It is the purpose of this document to set forth the procedures by which student organizations can be officially recognized, to establish the rights and responsibilities of students acting in a group capacity, and to establish policies and regulations governing all group activities. In addition, administrative and judicial procedures are set forth whereby those officially recognized student organizations and groups accused of violating the policies will be afforded due process, and if appropriate, fair and just penalties. The university may issue regulations governing the eligibility of students for participation in student organizations.

  2. Definition of a Student Organization

    A student organization consists of at least five members joined together for a common lawful purpose and formally registered and recognized by the university.

  3. Rights and Responsibilities of Student Organizations

    General rights of student organizations are the same as those granted to every citizen of the United States of America under the Bill of Rights. Individuals are subject to the penal and civil statutes of the city, state and federal government; regulations of the Board of Regents; and regulations of the university. The university may suspend recognition of a student organization for a stated period of time for violating the Student Organization Policy. The following are the general rights and responsibilities of recognized student organizations.

    1. General Rights
      1. Right to use university facilities under conditions established by the university Facilities Use Policy.
      2. Right to seek faculty and administrative advisement including a faculty/staff advisor.
      3. Right to freedom of choice in the selection of members, providing there is no discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity, gender expression, affectional or sexual orientation, or disability.
      4. Right to use campus news and publicity media including the right of public recognition in university catalogs, newspapers and other publications.
      5. Right to use campus news and publicity media including the right of public recognition in university catalogs, newspapers and other publications.
      6. Right to indicate that the organization is officially registered and recognized by the university.
        1. If an organization is not officially registered and recognized by the university, it is not allowed to represent themselves as such. Representing a student organization as being officially recognized by the university, when not officially recognized, will result in disciplinary sanctions for all involved individuals (adjudicated by the Dean of Students’ Office) as well as the student organization itself (adjudicated by the Department of Leadership Initiatives and/or Department of Recreational Sports), as necessary.
      7. Right to invite off-campus guests to appear for scheduled meetings and events. If the off-campus guest will speak at an organization event that is open to the public, students must submit an Off-Campus Speaker Request Form to the Dean of Students’ Office 14 business days prior to the date of the proposed speaking engagement.
      8. Right to distribute organizational literature under conditions specified by the policy for the Posting & Distribution of Printed Materials in the Student Guidelines.
      9. Right to hold profit-making activities and to solicit funds for organizational activities in accordance with university regulations.
    2. General Responsibilities.
      1. The responsibility to manage itself and carry out its activities in accordance with its own constitution: local, state, and federal laws, and university regulations and policies.
      2. The responsibility to conduct its business and fiscal operations in accordance with normal standards of good business management and practice, including, but not limited to, prompt discharge of all obligations.
      3. The responsibility to be cognizant of the special role it enjoys as an integral part of the academic community of Sam Houston State University, and to act accordingly in the best interest of its members and the university.
      4. The responsibility for any damages or injuries that occur during their events.
    3. Specific Limitations on Rights and Responsibilities of Student Organizations.
      1. While recognizing rights of student organizations, the university does not grant to organizations the right, expressed or implied, to speak for the university.
      2. The activity of student organizations or their individual members, taking place off university-owned or controlled property, are entirely the responsibility of the student organization. The university accepts no responsibility for off-campus activities by allowing advertising of such activities on the campus. However, the university will not ignore any activity off-campus that reflects adversely on the university or the community and will investigate/adjudicate situations as necessary.
      3. Activities of student organizations are subject to the provision of the university Facilities Use Policy.
      4. Membership in an organization is limited to Sam Houston State University students, faculty, and staff. The holding of offices is limited to currently enrolled SHSU students except when national regulations require that an office be held by a faculty member. Student membership in an organization must be no fewer than five. Membership is not denied to anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity, gender expression, affectional or sexual orientation, or disability. Membership rosters on OrgLINK are required to be updated by student organizations on a semesterly basis. Failure to update rosters to accurately reflect membership will result in suspension of recognition for a stated period of time.
      5. Officers or student leaders representing the university in an official capacity (e.g., university committees, Board of Regents’ Advisory Committees, off-campus conferences or programs, etc.) must be current students; or they must be members of the faculty or university staff. To be eligible to serve as an officer in a recognized student organization, a student must be enrolled full-time (12 hours undergraduate or 9 hours graduate), have and maintain a 2.0 SHSU grade point average (GPA) cumulatively, and must not be on disciplinary probation. Advisors of student organizations are required to assist with the verification process for determining organization officer eligibility.
      6. When an election is held in a recognized student organization, the names of the new officers must be transmitted to the Department of Leadership Initiatives within three days after the election via updating the organization’s page on OrgLINK.
      7. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements at the time of elections may not serve in a leadership capacity. In the event a student is elected to office without the minimum GPA requirements, the organization must hold a re-election immediately. Organizations not meeting the above requirements will be placed on probation and may have their recognized status revoked for a stated period of time.
      8. Each recognized organization is expected to include within its constitution and/or bylaws officer eligibility requirements, which must at least match those required by the university. An organization may require additional academic requirements it deems appropriate to hold office or membership.
  4. Procedure for Formation and Registration of New Organizations
    1. Permanent Organizations
      1. Any group of students having a purpose within the policies of this document may seek recognition with the university. Recognition of a campus organization does not constitute endorsement of its program or purpose, must be approved by the Department of Leadership Initiatives, and is simply a charter to exist on the university campus and may be withdrawn by Leadership Initiatives according to the specifications of this document.
      2. The group will file the Sam Houston State University Student Organization Registration Application online at shsu.edu/orglink with the Department of Leadership Initiatives. The application shall include the organization’s name (cannot include Sam Houston, Sam Houston State, Sam Houston State University, SH, or SHSU), constitution, statement of purpose/description of organization, name and contact information for president and advisor, number of members, and intent to affiliate with on/off-campus organizations (if applicable).
      3. At the time of filing, the president or contact person for the organization will electronically sign a statement indicating that he or she is familiar with and will uphold the Student Organizations Policy, Posting & Distribution of Printed Materials, Risk Management Guidelines, and Hazing Act sections of the SHSU Student Guidelines.
      4. Organizations with high levels of inherent risk or organizations with the primary purpose of providing a program of instruction, recreation, or competition in a specific sport, may be required to become a Club Sport upon recognition and report to the Department of Recreational Sports for additional oversight of organizational activities.
        1. The Department of Leadership Initiatives will evaluate an organization’s risk level in consultation with the Texas State University System, as necessary. The Department of Recreational Sports will also be consulted if an organization meets the definition of a Club Sport (i.e., organizations with the primary purpose of providing a program of instruction, recreation, or competition in a specific sport or for a group of students who share a common interest in physical activity, along with promoting and developing the skills necessary for a particular sport).
        2. Organizations may be required to be recognized for a stated period of time before they are eligible to petition for Club Sports status with the Department of Recreational Sports.
        3. Once an organization gains Club Sports status, the organization must remain as a Club Sport. If the organization loses its recognition as a Club Sport, it will also lose status as a recognized student organization.
      5. When the required application forms have been filed, a professional staff member from Leadership Initiatives will review the application ensuring completeness and that the new application does not duplicate any other student organization or university program in existence at the university. After review, Leadership Initiatives will notify the president and faculty/staff advisor whether the application has been approved or denied.
        1. Upon approval of registration, the application will be signed by the professional staff reviewer from the Department of Leadership Initiatives and the Vice President for Student Affairs or their appointed designee and returned to the organization within 10 days as formal notification of official university recognition. A copy of the approved application will be filed with Leadership Initiatives indicating that the group is eligible for all of the rights of recognized student organizations.
        2. Should the Leadership Initiatives professional staff reviewer feel that the petitioning organization does not meet the requirements for recognition, they will notify the pending organization with the recommendations and the decision regarding their status. This notification will be stored on file in Leadership Initiatives. The organization may then work with Leadership Initiatives to review the requirements for registration and recognition established herein.
        3. If a new organization application is denied for university recognition, and the applicant feels a need to appeal, they may do so by formally appealing, in writing, to the Director of Leadership Initiatives. The Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee will review the appeal and application and make a final decision regarding the approval/denial of the application.
    2. Recognition for a Limited Purpose (Ad Hoc Recognition).

      Recognition for a limited purpose (ad hoc recognition) is available for groups that want to organize with some short-term goal in mind, that is, one which can be accomplished in less than one academic year. Their recognition will expire on the date indicated on the registration form. It is anticipated that few ad hoc recognitions will be granted. Leadership Initiatives decision will be contingent upon the extenuating circumstances of the application.

    3. Maintenance of Recognized Status.
      1. At the beginning of each fall semester, all student organizations wishing to maintain their recognized status for that academic year will submit to Leadership Initiatives (no later than the twelfth class day) a formal online registration that includes: list of the officers, number of members, and the faculty/staff advisor. Each student organization’s roster on OrgLINK must also be updated (no later than the 12th class day of the fall semester) and contain no fewer than five (5) students and one (1) advisor. Rosters must include the following officer positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Primary Contact, and Advisor.
      2. Student organizations must also satisfactorily complete required annual training through the Department of Leadership Initiatives as outlined in Texas Education Code §51.9361
      3. Once registration and training completion have been processed, recognition will be confirmed or denied. If an organization does not meet the requirements for continued recognition, Leadership Initiatives will provide notification of suspension of recognition to the student representatives and the organization advisor.
      4. Failure to complete any of the requirements listed in Section 4.3a or 4.3b will result in suspension of recognition
        1. The first offense shall result in a suspension of recognition for a period of at least one (1) semester.
        2. The second offense in the same academic year shall result in a suspension of recognition for a period of at least two (2) semesters.
    4. Administrative Discipline.
      1. Any member of the university community may file a complaint against a recognized student organization when they feel that the organization has failed to comply with the Rights and Responsibilities of Student Organizations. The complaint may be registered with Leadership Initiatives or the Dean of Students’ Office or their designee. The Director of Leadership Initiatives or designated appointee will investigate the complaint, and if a hearing is requested, they will hear the case or refer it to the Student Disciplinary Hearing Committee.
      2. If the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee chooses to hear the case, the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee will review the report, investigate the alleged violations and notify the student organization in writing of the charge against it. The organization will then have the opportunity to review evidence against them and provide any relevant information on their behalf. The organization may be requested to set up a meeting to review all evidence and information pertaining to their case. At the conclusion of the review, the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee will determine if the group is responsible for any violations of the Student Organization Policy or other policies listed in the Student Guidelines. If the group is found responsible, the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee may impose sanctions against the group including the following:
        1. Suspensions of the rights of the organization to:
          1. Use university facilities;
          2. Sponsor any activity;
          3. Participate in campus affairs;
        2. Suspension of Recognition – This penalty shall be for a stated period of time. An organization placed on Suspension of Recognition may not function on or off campus in any manner and the general rights of recognized student organizations are withdrawn.
        3. Revoke the action that prompted the complaint and instruct the organization to either present an acceptable solution or implement a solution that has been dictated by the Department of Leadership Initiatives.

          The organization shall be informed, in writing, of the decision by the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee. A meeting may also be requested to review the decision. A copy of the decision shall be made a part of the organization’s discipline file in the Department of Leadership Initiatives.

      3. The organization will have the opportunity to accept or appeal the decision made by the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee. The group may not appeal if it is determined that the allegations against the accused organization are true, but the only sanction assessed is verbal or written warning or probation. In those cases, the determination of the Director of Leadership Initiatives or their designee is final. However, in all other cases, the organization may appeal to the Director of Leadership Initiatives. If the hearing officer who made the initial decision in the case has been an appointee designated by the Director of Leadership Initiatives, the appeal will be made to the Director of Leadership Initiatives. If the Director of Leadership Initiatives has served as the hearing officer, the appeal will be made to the Vice President of Student Affairs or to the Student Disciplinary Hearing Committee. Written notice of appeal must be received by the appeal officer within five (5) business days after the decision. An appeal is not simply a rehearing of the original case. An appeal must be based on: 1) whether or not a fair hearing was afforded. A fair hearing includes notice of the alleged misconduct, and an opportunity to present evidence; 2) whether or not the sanctions levied were appropriate to the offense; 3) whether or not the finding was supported by the evidence; and/or 4) whether or not new evidence is introduced that was not available at the time of the hearing. Both parties, at the discretion of the appeal officer, may submit oral or written arguments, to support their positions. In order for the appeal to be considered, the appealing party must submit all necessary documentation, including written arguments, when appropriate, to the appeal officer within five (5) business days after giving notice of appeal. The appeal officer may approve, reject, modify the decision, or remand the matter to the original hearing officer for reconsideration. The appeal officer shall respond to the appeal within 10 business days after all the documentation was received and all testimony was heard.
      4. The Department of Leadership Initiatives reserves the right to adjudicate matters not outlined in the Student Guidelines and may adjudicate the matters as necessary.
      5. For all of the above sections, the Dean of Students’ Office shall serve as the adjudicating office for all administrative discipline related to all Greek Life organizations as recognized by the Greek Life Office.
      6. Any matters related to hazing will be investigated and adjudicated, as necessary, by the Dean of Students’ Office.
    5. Organization Changes.

      Recognized organizations are required to submit to Leadership Initiatives any changes in officers or advisors of the organization within three class days of such a change via updating the organization’s page on OrgLINK. Failure to do so may result in suspension of recognition.

  5. Solicitation

    The term “solicitation” as used herein means the sale or offer for sale of any property or service, whether for immediate or future delivery, and the receipt of or request for any gift or contribution.

    1. Organizational Solicitation. Organizations soliciting on campus must comply with the guidelines below.
      1. Organizations may solicit, with approval of their advisor, for their own projects or charitable activities. If solicitation occurs in/around the Lowman Student Center, proper LSC Reservation Forms must be completed by the organization and approved by the Director of the Lowman Student Center.
      2. Any organizations collecting financial donations for which there is no exchange of merchandise or services shall keep accurate accounting records and deposit/use the funds according to the organization’s financial procedures.
      3. Any organization failing to comply with Section 5.1a and Section 5.1b above may be denied future solicitation privileges.
  6. Distribution of Printed Materials. Officially recognized campus organizations may distribute materials on campus provided they adhere to the Posting & Distribution of Printed Materials Policy as printed in the SHSU Student Guidelines. Failure to comply with the policy and procedures may result in the cancellation of this privilege and/or the suspension of the organization. Distributing students and campus organizations will be responsible for cleaning up any litter that may result from such distributions.
  7. Procedure for Amendment

    Amendments to the Student Organizations Policy may be initiated by any member of the university community through the Department of Leadership Initiatives. The department will forward the amendments through the appropriate channels with final approval granted by the university president.

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