Resources for Student Organizations
Student Organizations at Trinity Washington University
Student Affairs seeks to provide opportunities outside of the classroom to engage students in social, cultural, spiritual, artistic, political, and social justice-oriented activities. The staff is committed to delivering quality advising, resource materials, leadership development opportunities, and administrative support services to impact students’ growth and development and enhance the success of each student organization.
This handbook serves as a resource for students wishing to start new student organizations, for already-established student organizations, and for staff advisors who would like to know more about the processes at Trinity. This handbook provides information on student organization certification, annual and supplemental funding, fiscal responsibility, and event planning. Also included are policies and forms that are frequently used by the office.
Dean Meechie Bowie, Dean of Student Services
Main Hall, Room 223
125 Michigan Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20017
Student Organization Handbook
Student organizations at Trinity Washington University should provide students with opportunities to participate in activities that develop their intellectual, emotional, spiritual, cultural understanding and/or professional abilities. Student organizations are important components to the academic life of the University. To meet all the different developmental needs of students, Trinity Washington University offers a variety of student groups covering the following areas: academic, professional, political, performance, honor, service, and cultural. Every student is encouraged to become a member of those organizations that appeal to her/his interest.
Responsibilities of Student Organizations
It is the responsibility of every student organization and/or its representatives to:
- Register their student organization with Student Activities every semester.
- Attend one of the annual Officer Orientation workshops offered in April.
- Manage itself and carry out its activities listed within its constitution, as well as all local, state, and federal laws, and University regulations and policies.
- Act in the best interest of its members and the University.
- Comply with all distributed organization information.
- Take reasonable precautions for the safety and comfort of participants at organization events.
- Immediately notify Student Activities of any changes in the organization’s representatives, addresses, telephone numbers, email, or constitution.
- Communicate with Student Activities regarding any questions.
- Utilize Student Activities staff to answer questions about all events and activities.
- Be aware that the induction of students to the organization is conducted and set up by the students already involved in the organization.
- Acknowledge that no individuals of the organization may receive class credit for participation within the organization or receive personal financial benefits from the school for participation within the organization.
- Be cognizant that the organization president or an appointed representative must attend required meetings at set forth by the Dean of Students Services Office. Failure to attend these meeting may result in the organization being placed on Provisional status.
- Provide accurate membership rosters and signed Agreement to Participate waivers for all members and participants in organization activities as directed.
- Refrain from advocating, inciting or participating in any material interference or physical disruption of the University.
- Refrain from the use of deceptive recruitment practices and the use of coercion, manipulation, and proselytization techniques as a means of recruitment.
- Refrain from directly or indirectly using University resources for the express benefit of external affiliates.
- Refrain from entering or attempting to enter into contractual obligations for the University without prior authorization by designated University staff.
- Refrain from directly or indirectly using University resources in support of any candidate for public office.
- Refrain from soliciting funds outside the University.
Commonly Used Terms
Academic Requirements: A student leader must meet the following academic requirements: have at least a 2.75 Trinity Washington University cumulative GPA prior to the first day of each semester (fall and spring) during the term of position; and (2) be in good academic and disciplinary status with the University at the time of selection and during the term of position.
Certified Student Organization: An entity sponsored by the University whose membership is composed of Trinity Washington University students, which has complied with the registration procedures to be officially certified (granted approval to operate on campus) by the University.
Student Organization Membership: Any Trinity Washington University student who subscribes to the purpose and basic policies of the organization may become a member of the organization subject only to compliance with the provisions of the constitution. A student organization must have at least ten (10) members to be certified.
New Student Organizations
If you are interested in starting a new student organization, we will provide you a limited opportunity to utilize on-campus facilities to gauge interest prior to completing all registration requirements. You must submit an Event Proposal Form to the Dean of Student Service Office and she will request space for the interest meeting.
An interest meeting is defined as a meeting to explain the purpose of the organization and to identify individuals interested in forming the organization and completing the requirements of registration (i.e. creating a constitution). In addition to having one interest meeting, you may post on campus once (i.e. to advertise the interest meeting). Postings must be approved through the Dean of Students office, (see the policies regarding postings). Again, you will need to notify the dean of Students that it is a posting for a potential student organization.
In order to form a new student organization on campus, there are four steps that must be taken:
- Schedule a meeting with the Dean of Student Services.
- Pick up a Certification Packet.
- Submit all required documents by the specified deadline.
- Attend an orientation session offered by Student Activities at the end of each semester.
Student Organization Advisors
An advisor can prove to be a valuable asset to your organization by sharing their life experiences, wisdom, and providing continuity, organizational memory, and connections to resources. The key role of the advisor is to serve as a resource for the organization.
Take some time to discuss reciprocal expectations with your advisor(s). Try to establish open lines of communication that will enable you to work together effectively. The advisor should not serve as an unofficial officer of the organization. Advisors should not advertise for the organization or complete any required forms in place of the officers. If at some point you have difficulty locating an advisor, or
are having some complications with your current advisor, please stop by the Dean of Student Services Office, 223 Main Hall or call 202-884-9611.
Who is eligible to serve as an advisor?
An advisor must be either a faculty member (not on sabbatical) or a staff member at the University. The faculty or staff member must be employed at the University full-time. Unless it states otherwise in their position description on file with human resources, faculty and staff may advise more than one organization.
What is the role of an advisor?
Mandatory Expectations: The Advisor serves as the link between the Student Organization and the University by providing guidance to the organization in regards to University’s policies and procedures.
While specific roles should be defined by the organization and the advisor, an advisor should generally:
provide expert knowledge and advice
be knowledgeable about activities and programs of the organization
suggest and encourage new program ideas
help members apply principles and skills learned in and out of the classroom
point out new directions and options
provide insight into the group’s problems and successes
assist in maintaining high standards of programming and individual performance
provide continuity with the history and tradition of past years
assist in the development of procedures and plans of action
In return for his/her support, the advisor should expect that he/she be consulted regularly by the officers concerning their plans for group activities or programs. The advisors should know what events are being planned and should offer ideas and suggestions freely, but not dominate the program planning process.
Benefits of Certification
Student organizations that have been certified with Student Activities have the following privileges:
1. Ability to reserve and use campus facilities
a. Use of rooms and space, subject to policies and procedures
b. Invite off-campus speakers, performers, and other guests to appear for regularly scheduled meetings and events/programs (Speakers, performers, and other guests must comply with University policies and procedures.)
2. Financial Support
a. Ability to request annual funding for programs and events at the time of Certification
b. Request supplemental funding through Student Government Council for an organizational event or program
3. Marketing and Promotion
a. The right to advertise as an official student organization at Trinity Washington University
b. Distribute literature relating to the organization’s purpose and activities
c. Be listed as a student organization by Student Activities in any publications and on the Student Activities’ website
d. Use of the supplies in the Dean of Student Services Office to create banners and inflate balloons
4. Organizational Support
a. Apply for bulletin board assignment
b. Eligibility for Student Affairs Awards and other recognitions through the University
c. Receive USPS and campus mail through Student Activities
d. Participate in University sponsored events
General Student Organization Requirements
Assessment of Programs
Each student organization is expected to collect assessments after each program from both attendees and members of the organization. The Dean of Student Services Office – Student Activities has examples of assessments that student organizations may use. All hard copy and electronic assessments should be submitted to the Dean of Student Services no later than ten (10) business days following the event.
Submission of the Event Proposal form is required for all meetings/programs, on or off-campus. This assists the Dean of Students Office – Student Activities with tracking student organization activity, room usage, and supplemental funding requests. **Event proposal forms are due to the Dean of Students no later than 15 business days prior to the event date. As of November 2020 we also have an option of student leaders to propose Virtual Events. Use the link: https://discover.trinitydc.edu/student-activities/virtual-event-proposal-form/
Established student organizations are required to go through the re-certification process once a year with Student Activities. You may register your organization any day throughout the year; however, if you do not register by the established deadlines listed below, your organization will lose certification.
Annual Re-Certification materials will be due by April 1st for the next academic year.
Any organization that has not met all requirements by the tenth (10th) day of classes each semester will lose recognition and privileges (funding, bulletin board, reservations, etc.) for that semester.
Adherence to University Policies
At the beginning of each semester, each registered student organization or group must file with the appropriate institutional officer a written statement that the organization or group does not, and will not during the semester, have as a member any person who is not a student of the institution. If an organization or group fails or refuses to file the required statement, or if the Dean of Students determines that the statement is or has become false, the Dean of Students, after providing notice, shall begin disciplinary proceedings. The Dean may cancel the registered status of the organization or group or impose other appropriate penalties.
University Policies and Procedures
Student organizations are required to abide by federal, state, and local laws. Additionally, students and student organizations are responsible for adhering to all of the applicable terms and conditions of the Student Organization Handbook and any other applicable University policies and procedures. Violation of applicable laws, policies, and/or procedures by any student organization and/or its members may subject that organization to disciplinary action.
Provisional Organization Status
A student organization may be put on provisional status for any of following reasons:
- Failure to submit required forms within the specified amount of time
- Failure to submit original copies of receipts of purchases within the specified amount of time
- Failure to abide by Trinity Washington University’s policies and procedures
- Provisional student organizations will not be given the same benefits as certified student organizations. Provisional student organizations may not:
- Request any funding;
- Reserve any space on campus for events; and
- Hold meetings as an official Trinity Washington University student organization.
- Provisional student organizations will be allowed to:
- Request to use space for interest meetings and general meetings once a month only during the period of provisional status; and
- Submit certification or re-certification paperwork to be reviewed for the next semester of eligibility
Naming and Branding Requirements
The name of the student organization must be unique; the name cannot duplicate the name of an existing student organization.
A student organization may state that its membership is composed of Trinity Washington University student, but it shall not suggest or imply that it is acting with the authority or as an agency of the University. Student organizations are not official entities of the University and may not represent themselves as such.
Student organizations cannot use the words “Trinity Washington University” as a part of the official name of the organization. In addition, student organizations cannot use the University trademarks, seal or logos, without permission, as part of any letterhead, sign, banner, pamphlet, t-shirt, or other printed material that bears the name of the organization. Furthermore, student organizations may not manipulate or otherwise alter any trademark, seal or logo of the University without express permission. To learn more about Trademarks and Identity Guidelines, visit http://www.trinitydc.edu/media/style-guides/#logo
Student organizations may indicate existence at the University as part of any letterhead, sign, banner, pamphlet or other printed material that bears the name of the organization by adding the phrase “at Trinity Washington University.”
Your organization’s constitution is used to determine the purpose and functions of your organization. It should be clear, concise, and easily understood by anyone interested in learning about the structure of the organization. The constitution should be a flexible, semi-permanent document that can be used by the organization in the future. Contact the Dean of Student Services if you need sample constitutions or would like some assistance in developing your organization’s constitution.
All constitutions should include the following parts or sections:
- Preamble / Mission Statement
Guidelines for Naming Your Student Organization and Using Official Trinity Branding in the Student
Organization Handbook. Specifically, the student organization cannot use the words “Trinity Washington University” as a part of the name of the organization.
- Local, national or international affiliation, if any
- on-Discrimination Clause
States that your club is open to all students and will not discriminate in their membership selection on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, personal appearance, disability, marital status, family responsibility, political affiliation or source of income, or other rights secured by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
- Adherence to University policies as well as local and federal laws
States the club’s requirements and categories of membership as well as the rights, duties, voting rules, and resignation and expulsion procedures for members.
- Officers/Organization Leadership Positions
Delineates different officers by title, role or authority and clarifies terms of office in the club. States rights, duties, resignation, and expulsion procedures for club leaders. Provision for vacancies of officers or other executive members may be included in a section under this article.
- Role of Advisor(s)
Explains the role the advisor will take within the organization.
- Organizational structure (committees, executive councils, etc.)
States their purposes, membership, special procedures, and authorities.
Provides for regular meeting times and procedures for calling special meetings. If meetings cannot be held regularly, authority to call meetings may be stated under this article.
- Election procedures and timeline
- Ratification and amendment processes
A method to amend the by-laws (usually a majority vote) should be established. Amending the constitution should not be too simple of a process. The constitution should always carry the date it was last revised. It is a good idea to insert in parentheses after any amendments the date the amendment was passed.
Student Organizations Resources
A mailbox is assigned to every registered student organization to receive official correspondence from on and off campus. The mailbox may be used to pass on messages to other officers and members; however, it is advised that only authorized representatives have access to the mailbox to reduce the chance of misplaced mail. The mailbox may also be used to receive mail. The address to be used is:
Name of Student Organization
c/o Student Activities
125 Michigan Avenue
Washington, DC 20008
The student organization must check its mailbox and remove its contents on a regular basis but at minimum once a week. All mail left in the mailboxes at the end of the semester will be disposed of and recycled.
All student organization mailboxes will be located in Main Hall, Room 225.
A bulletin board is utilized to communicate information about the organization and its activities to its members and the campus community. Student Organization bulletin boards are located in the basement corridor of Main Hall. Bulletin boards are assigned for the academic year, but maybe reassigned due to lack of or inappropriate use.
Once a bulletin board is assigned, the student organizations must cover and maintain the board according to the following guidelines:
- cover the space (within the lines marked above the board) with paper or cloth
- display the name of the student organization
- do not use utility staples, nails, or screws
- use only regular-sized staples or push pins
- do not permanently affix anything to the board or the surrounding wall
Because the bulletin boards are located in public areas, they are virtually impossible to secure. Student Activities has no means of preventing vandalism and unauthorized removal or posting of materials on these boards. Therefore, please be advised that posting items on a bulletin board is at the risk of the student organization. Displaying items and decorations of significant value is discouraged.
Budget and Funding
Student organizations are funded by the student activities fee paid for by each CAS student at Trinity Washington University. The Dean of Student Services Office is obligated to ensure the most appropriate usage of these fees by organizations. Any funds request made by Student Organizations will be reviewed and approved by the Dean of Student Services.
Important policies to note:
- Certified Student Organizations are not permitted to raise money in any manner.
- Certified Student Organizations are not permitted to sell items, or host outside vendors to sell items on campus.
- Funding for approved Student Organization events must be requested from the Dean of Student Services Office.
- Fundraising for an outside philanthropic organization will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Student organizations certified by Student Activities may not charge membership dues.
- Funding for food will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but will not be provided for organizational meetings.
If you plan to arrange for a guest speaker or performer, a representative from your organization must schedule an appointment with the Dean of Student Services to determine and complete the correct set of paperwork needed for your performer. Please leave at least four to six weeks before your anticipated event date to meet with the Dean of Student Services.
To reserve a space, certified student organizations must:
- Fill out an Events Proposal Form at least 15 business days prior to the event
- Complete and submit the Event Set-up form to the Dean of Student Services at least seven (7) days prior to the event
- Provide information on any Technical needs (Microphones, podiums, screen, etc.)
- Provide the Dean of Student Services with the reservation confirmation from Conference Services when it is received
- Only student organizations that are certified by the Dean of Student Services Office will be allowed to reserve space on campus.
- On Campus Events
- Approved (Funded) on-campus events, with the exception of membership meetings, must be open to all Trinity students. Events must represent the overall mission of the student organization.
- Off Campus Events
- If your student organization would like to travel off campus locally, you must first submit an Events Proposal form at least 15 business days before the event. Other forms and information may be needed, so please plan far enough in advance that approval can be provided in a timely manner.
- The Dean of Student Services staff reserves the right to review and deny any on or off-campus event sponsored by Student Organizations that do not uphold the mission of Trinity Washington University.
Food Safety & Preparation Policy & Guidelines
Student organizations are not permitted to provide or distribute home-made food on campus. All food must be pre-packaged or provided by an approved vendor. For more information on approved vendors, please contact the Dean of Student Services.
Student organizations are not permitted to sell tickets or charge admission to any event on campus.
Transportation and Parking
Arrange all transportation needs including drivers and directions well in advance. If guest speakers/artists/vendors are arriving on their own, be sure to set up all necessary parking permits and validations with the Dean of Student Services.
No employee of Trinity Washington University is permitted to transport a Trinity Washington University student in his/her personal vehicle or any other vehicle.
If your student organization wishes to transport members to a local site off-campus, you may use public transportation. Please note that an Event Proposal form is needed for all local off-campus trips.
Any off-campus trip not accessible by public transportation** will require the student organization to submit an Event Proposal Form to be reviewed by the Dean of Student Services Staff at least four (4) weeks before the event.
**Student organizations may not travel long distance due to liability concerns.
Promotion and Publicity
The key to any successful event is getting people to show up! Publicizing your event in advance will help create a buzz on campus and will get more people interested in attending. Be creative when promoting; advertisements can make a lasting impression for your event and your organization!
Below are a few ways that you can work with existing Trinity policies to advertise.
- Organization Bulletin Boards
- Use your bulletin board to market your meetings and events with a list of events or semester calendar.
- Student Organization Facebook Groups
- Having an organizational Facebook group that is up-to-date is a great way to connect with potential members as well as the audience for any event or program your organization may be hosting. Please be sure to like the Student Affairs facebook page at www.facebook.com/TrinityDCStudentAffairs so that we can promote your posts.
- Trinity Washington University Student Affairs Website, Event Calendar and Facebook Page
- To get your events listed by Student Affairs, you will need to indicate these as methods of marketing on the Events Proposal Form.
- Flyers may be posted in the following areas of campus ONLY:
- Main Hall Bulletin boards not belonging to Student Organizations or Campus Departments are open for posting.
- Residence Halls – Submit your flyers to Ms. Shekeitha Jeffries, Director of Residence Life, for approval and distribution.
- Alumnae Hall Open bulletin boards
- Flyers are not permitted on doors, walls, and/or windows. Flyers and/or posters must meet the following criteria:
- The posted items should not exceed a size of 11” x 17”;
- The name and contact information of the sponsoring Trinity Washington University recognized organization of the campus community is clearly indicated on the flyer.
- There is a maximum of one (1) active flyer per event, per bulletin board location;
- New flyers are not posted over other active posters;
- The posted items are removed from bulletin board locations no more than seven (7) days after they are no longer active posters.
- Flyers should be hung using pushpins or regular staples only on bulletin boards. Tape should not be used as it will rip the backing paper when removed.
- Flyers may be posted in the following areas of campus ONLY:
- Chalking is permitted on sidewalks. Chalking is not permitted in areas that are not directly exposed to rainfall, including covered sidewalks and vertical portions of outdoor stairs. Chalking of this sort is a form of graffiti. The sidewalk chalk used for chalking must be water-soluble and must be removable by the natural elements. Products such as spray chalk, washable crayons, and other semi-permanent products deemed not removable by the natural elements are considered a form of graffiti.
- Printing & Copying
- For all print jobs, student organizations may use the Post Office in the basement of Main Hall. Student organizations need to list the Dean of Student Services as the contact and will only be allowed 50 copies per event.
Dean of Student Services staff and Campus Activities Association members will monitor bulletin boards and report any violations and/or graffiti to the appropriate parties.
Film and Video Copyright
If you plan to show a movie or video on campus, please read the information below. It is taken with permission from the brochure “Film & Video Piracy” by the Motion Picture Association of America.
What are “Public Performances?”: Suppose you invite a few personal friends over for dinner and a movie. You purchase or rent a copy of a movie from the local video store and view the film in your home that night. Have you violated the copyright law by illegally “publicly performing” the movie? Probably not.
But suppose you took the same DVD and showed it in Social Hall for a publicized student organization event. In this case you have infringed the copyright of the movie. Simply put, media obtained through a video store is not licensed for exhibition. Home video means just that: viewing of a movie at home by family or a close circle of friends.
What the Law Says
The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a video carries with it the right to show it outside the home. In some instances no license is required to view a video, such as inside the home by family or social acquaintances and in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities.
Taverns, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, lodges, factories, summer camps, public libraries, day-care facilities, parks and recreation departments, churches and non-classroom use at schools and universities are all examples of situations where a public performance license must be obtained. This legal requirement applies regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, whether the institution or organization is commercial or non-profit, or whether a federal or state agency is involved.
Penalties for Copyright Infringement: “Willful” infringement is a federal crime punishable as a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a $100,000 fine. Copyright infringement leading to commercial gain carries a more severe penalty. Even inadvertent infringers are subject to substantial civil damages, ranging from $500 to $20,000 for each illegal showing.
How to Obtain a Public Performance License: Obtaining a public performance license is relatively easy and usually requires no more than a phone call. Fees are determined by such factors as the number of times a particular movie is going to be shown, how large the audience will be and so forth. While fees vary, they are generally inexpensive for smaller performances. Most licensing fees are based on a particular performance or set of performances for specified films.