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Club Constitutions & Bylaws

FAQ #1: What is a constitution?

A student organization’s constitution provides a foundation to govern the purpose and future actions. This document should be used to refer back to when discussing your organization's operations, such as meeting structure, member recruitment, and elections. It allows a group and its members to be held accountable. If an organization is connected with a national affiliation, the national governing documents take priority, and all other documents are secondary. 

Constitution Template - Click here for the constitution template to create or update your organization's constitution. The green sections are mandatory for the organization to operate and be recognized at Cornell University. An active constitution is required during the annual re-registration process and, once uploaded, signifies the validity of the governing document. 

If you are working with a National organization, the constitution you upload to your registration form should consider the national constitution for the organization, if one is available. The National organization's governing documents take priority over anything the organization may create internally (Cornell University policies always apply).

FAQ #2: Why is a constitution required for all organizations?

Writing a constitution serves as a guide to clarify the organization’s purpose, create a basic structure, and build a foundation for an effective organization. It gives members a more transparent, holistic understanding of the organization's functions. An updated and accurate constitution is required to be an active registered/recognized student organization at Cornell University. 

FAQ #3: What is the difference between a constitution and bylaws?

Constitutions contain the fundamental principles that govern an organization’s operations.

Bylaws establish specific rules by which the group is to function. Bylaws detail the procedures a group must follow to conduct business and provide further definitions to articles in the constitution. Bylaws tend to be a more fluid document that can be adapted as needs change for the organization.

FAQ #4: Does my group need a constitution and bylaws?

No. Each group is required to have a constitution. A separate bylaws document helps flesh out details if a group finds it necessary.

FAQ #5: How can Campus Activities support my organizations regarding a constitution?

Campus Activities (CA) works with many organizations, especially new ones, to create and update governing documents. We offer advice but do not determine the style of a constitution. A few mandatory items must be included in the organization's governing documents, as outlined in the template link above. Additionally, CA has facilitated many organization meditations when a constitution is not followed as outlined, confusion or contradictions occur, or general disagreement regarding processes outlined in the document. CA's primary goal is always to support student leaders in creating, outlining, and implementing the most equitable process. 

FAQ #6: Are there specific requirements needed in our constitution?

Yes, there are specific University Policies that are required to be embedded within your organization's governing documents. Please review the template above to see the required language.