Independent & University Organizations
Classification of Organizations
Cornell has two types of classifications: 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, department, or academic college (University). More information on classification is below.
Unsure which classification your organization is? The Campus Activities page Student Organization Directory has the past academic year organization classification.
Why "classification" necessary?
Defines which groups are acting as the institution.
- Defend policies and procedures across institution for consistent application (including risk management and liability).
- Create clear guidelines for financial operations.
- Different than categorization, as categories describe the style of experience the RSO provides, such as dance, academic, sports, etc.
Independent organizations are formed by students based on a shared interest or activity. The members of each organization adopt a constitution, select officers, and establish a meeting schedule suitable to meet the goals of the organization, as determined by its members and consistent with applicable university policies. Each independent organization is advised by volunteer staff or faculty 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.
Registered Independent student organizations are eligible to use the Cornell University name in their organization name for publicity, uniforms, or other purposes, as determined by university brand guidelines regarding the use of the Cornell name, logo, and artwork, and subject to approval through University Relations. Examples for the proper way to use the university name can be found on the university brand guidelines website. A registered independent student organization that has received permission to use the name “Cornell” in its name must accurately represent its status as separate from the university and use the Cornell name solely in a locational sense in all official contexts, including in the formal name of the organization and when entering into legally binding agreements, or signing other official documents.
Student members of independent organizations qualify for Club Insurance coverage through the payment of the Student Activity fee.
A university organization is affiliated with a university department or unit. University organizations sponsor activities that fully relate to the education, research, and/or community-service missions of the university and to the goals or objectives of the university department or unit with which they are affiliated.
The department or unit acknowledges the organization as part of its activities and has assigned an employee or graduate student to advise the group, and both approve and oversee the organization’s activities.
The advisor meets with the university organization regularly and is well informed regarding the organization’s ongoing and proposed activities, which the advisor must approve. 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.
Registered University student organizations are eligible to use the Cornell University name in their organization name for publicity, uniforms, or other purposes, as determined by university brand guidelines regarding the use of the Cornell name, logo, and artwork, and subject to approval through University Relations. Examples for the proper way to use the university name can be found on the university brand guidelines website. 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.
Attestation for University Organization Advisors (starting spring 2021)
As the advisor to this university organization, by submitting this response I acknowledge and agree that:
The department or unit will oversee and approve all university organization activities.
- The department or unit assumes responsibility, including any potential liability, for activities of the university organization.
- The department or unit may be held financially responsible for damages incurred by the University as a result of the of the university organization’s activities.
- I will attend the annual Campus Activities advisor training for university organizations.
I further acknowledge and agree that should I or my department or unit fail to comply with any of the above conditions, the organization will no longer be eligible for university organization status and must register as an independent organization if it wishes to continue operating at Cornell University.