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 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 indicate that the organization is officially registered and recognized by the university.
      6. Right to invite off-campus guests to appear for regularly scheduled meetings and assemblies. Meetings and speakers must be scheduled in accordance with the Speech and Assembly Policy as approved by the Board of Regents.
      7. Right to distribute organizational literature under conditions specified by the policy for the Distribution of Printed Materials and Subsection 6 (in the Student Guidelines) of the Student Organizations Policy.
      8. 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.
      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 registered 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.
      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 strongly encouraged to assist with the verification process for determining organization officer eligibility.
      6. When an election is held in a registered student organization, the names of the new officers must be transmitted to the Department of Leadership Initiatives within three days after the election.
      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.
      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, the 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. If formation of the organization is not complete at the time of filing of the Sam Houston State University Student Organization Registration Application, Leadership Initiatives will assist in making arrangements for the organization to use university facilities for a limited amount of time for organizational purposes on a meetingto-meeting basis until the organizational process is completed and the required information can be filed.
      4. 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 aforementioned Rights and Responsibilities of Student Organizations (Section 3, Student Organizations Policy)
      5. When the required application forms have been filed, a professional staff member from Leadership Initiatives review the application ensuring completeness and that the new application does not duplicate any other student organization 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 , the Application reviewer, Director of Leadership Initiatives, and the President of the University 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 registered student organizations.
        2. Should the Leadership Initiatives professional staff reviewer feel that the petitioning organization does not meet the requirements for recognition, s/he will notify the pending organization with the recommendations and th 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 an 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 Dean of Students’ Office. The Dean of Students or their designee will review the appeal and application and make a final decision regarding the approval/denial of the application.
    2. Registration for a Limited Purpose (Ad Hoc Recognition).

      Registration 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. Once the information has been processed, recognition will be confirmed or denied.
      2. If an organization does not meet the requirements for continued recognition, Leadership Initiatives will provide the necessary information to the student representatives and the organization advisor
    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 designate. The Dean of Students or designated appointee will investigate the complaint, and if a hearing is requested, s/he or their designated appointee will hear the case or refer it to the Student Disciplinary Hearing Committee.
      2. If the Dean of Students or their designate chooses to hear the case, the Dean of Students or their designate 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 Dean of Students, or their designate 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 Dean of Students or their designate 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 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 Dean of Students’ Office.

          The organization shall be informed, in writing, of the decision by the Dean of Students or their designate. 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 Dean of Students’ Office.

      3. The organization will have the opportunity to accept or appeal the decision made by the Dean of Students. 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 Dean of Students or his/her designate is final. However, in all other cases, the organization may appeal to the Dean of Students. If the hearing officer who made the initial decision in the case has been an appointee designated by the Dean of Students, the appeal will be made to the Dean of Students. If the Dean of Students has served as the hearing officer the appeal will be made to the Student Disciplinary Hearing Committee or the Vice President of Student Affairs. 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 ten (10) business days after all the documentation was received and all testimony was heard, or they may postpone a decision for good
    5. Organization Changes.

      Recognized organizations are required to submit to Leadership Initiatives any changes in officers or advisers of the organization within three class days of such a change. Failure to do so may result in withdrawal 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 be accountable for funds received to the organization’s advisor within five class days of the completion of the drive.
      3. Any organization failing to comply with Section 6.1(1a) and Section 6.1(1b) above may be denied future solicitation privileges.
    2. Distribution of Printed Materials. Officially recognized campus organizations may distribute materials on campus provided they adhere to the Procedures for Distribution of Printed Materials Policy as printed in this handbook. 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.
  6. 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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