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Independent & University Organizations

Types of Organizations

Cornell has two types of organizations: independent and university. The main telling difference is whether the faculty/staff advisor is a volunteer (Independent) or the organization is affiliated with a specific office or department (University). More information on each type is below.

Unsure which type your organization is? Ask your advisor if they are volunteering their time to help or if it is part of their job responsibilities! You can also go to your organization's page on CampusGroups and it is listed right under the organization title on the title banner.


Independent Organizations

Independent organizations are primarily those organizations that have a volunteer advisor whose duties and responsibilities, and/or university job description does not require service as an advisor to that organization. Advisors work with organizations on their own time.

In addition to the privileges available to all organizations, independent organizations are eligible to use the Cornell University name in their organization name for publicity, uniforms, or other purposes, according to university guidelines regarding the use of the Cornell name, logo, and artwork, and subject to approval through the Cornell Brand Communications. However, when entering into legally binding, contractual agreements, an organization that uses the Cornell name in its organization name must use the university name in a locational sense.

For example, “Cornell Rugby Football Club” should be “Rugby Football Club at Cornell”, or "Rugby Football Club, Cornell." Clubs are not permitted to use the word “team” in their name. For example, “Cornell Ski Team” is not permitted. Only official Cornell University teams under the Department of Athletics may use the word “team” in their name. Student members of independent organizations will qualify for Club Insurance coverage through the payment of the Student Activity fee.

University Organizations

A university organization is affiliated with a university department or unit. That department or unit acknowledges the organization as part of its activities and has assigned an employee or graduate student to advise the group and oversee the organization’s activities.

University organizations sponsor activities that fully relate to the education, research, and community-service mission of the university and to the goals or objectives of the university department or unit to which they are affiliated. The department or unit may, but is not required to, provide office space, a university account administered by the department or unit, a financial allocation and/or faculty, staff, or other administrative support. The membership of university organizations may be comprised of only currently registered Cornell University students, faculty or staff members. Non-members of the Cornell community may be considered volunteers to the organization but not as members.