How to Prepare Your Student Organization's Constitution and By-laws

How to Prepare Your Organization's Constitution and By-laws:

As a student organization, one of your main responsibilities will be to set up a constitution and by-laws that works for your organization. A constitution and by-laws should provide order, purpose, rules and continuity for your group.

What is in a constitution?

A constitution basically states how the group will be organized. It should contain:

  1. Name of the group.
  2. Purpose of the organization. 
  3. Qualification/criteria for selecting membership. 
  4. Non-discrimination clause.
  5. Duties and privileges of membership. 
  6. Voting policies. 
  7. Membership requirements. 
  8. Policies and procedure for disciplining/removing members. 
  9. Qualifications for officers. 
  10.  Officers
  11.  Election of officers. 
  12.  Meetings. 
  13.  Dues. 
  14.  By-Laws. 
  15.  Procedures of decision-making. 
  16.  Establishment of committees. 
  17.  Selection of an advisor. 
  18.  Define a quorum. 
  19.  Rules for ratifying the constitution. 

An example of a basic constitution is as follows:

ARTICLE I: Name of the Group 

Section 1. The name of this club shall be the Youngstown State University Running Club.

ARTICLE II: Purpose of the Organization 

Section 1. The focus of the YSU Running Club will be to promote the sport of running to Youngstown State University. The purpose of this club will be to provide camaraderie and support for amateur and experienced runners. In addition, it will provide information about the health and safety of runners in training. The YSU Running Club will aim to enhance physical conditioning of the members in order to compliment their running skills. The club will support all members in training for races of all lengths, and may travel as a group to support each other in races.

ARTICLE III: Membership

Section 1. The YSU Running Club will be operated by students at Youngstown State University. Membership is based on an annual due of $6.

ARTICLE IV: Non-Discrimination Clause

Section 1. The organization agrees to adhere to all policies and procedures of the University and all local, state, and federal laws. Members will become acquainted with policies and procedures in the Official student handbook and other policies and procedures provided by the University. This organization is a viable, functioning organization, composed of at least six full time undergraduate students and we do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, veteran, handicap status, or sexual orientation.

ARTICLE V: Duties and Privileges of Membership 

Section 1. As a member of the YSU Running Club, one must sign a Liability Waiver to Youngstown State University before participating in any physical activity associated with the Running Club.

Section 2. As a member of the YSU Running Club, one agrees to maintain all rules and regulations set forth by the University governing such membership, as well as the common rules of running safety.

Section 3. Any member of the YSU Running Club may propose participation of club members in or request assistance in training for a race of any distance. The club will facilitate the goals of its members through moral support and financial aid whenever possible.

ARTICLE VI: Voting Policies 

Section 1. All members of the Running Club will be eligible to vote in club issues that require a vote. A vote of one half of the group that chooses to vote will be required to assist in the funding of an individual’s participating in said event.

ARTICLE VII: Membership Requirements

Section 1. The YSU Running Club holds two requirements for continuing membership, which is paying the annual due as well as participating in one event per year. Any member who violates articles IV or V will be dealt with according to the severity of the offense.

ARTICLE VII: Policies and Procedure for Disciplining/Removing Members 

Section 1. In event that offense has caused motion for discipline or expulsion of member, the club will first adhere to University Guidelines concerning such matter. If the offense were lesser, the club will deal with individual cases as officers see fit. In no action of discipline said individual will not be made to feel segregated, harassed, or ridiculed. Discipline is either financial remuneration to party concerned for damages, or simple expulsion as disciplinary measure.

ARTICLE IX: Qualifications for Officers

Section 1. All Officers (or Executive Board Members) must be full time matriculated undergraduate students at the Youngstown State University with a minimum GPA of 2.5. In addition, all officers must be able to complete a full academic year. Second semester senior students and semester abroad students will not be permitted to hold an Executive Board position.

ARTICLE X: Officers

Section 1. President – The President of the YSU Running Club will be enlisted with the duties of calling and running meetings and handling daily affairs. The President will be responsible for registration of the YSU Running Club and be charged with all paperwork concerning the continuation of the organization. The President will promote upcoming races and assist members in registering and gaining support through the YSU Running Club. The President will also be responsible for working together with the Vice President to coordinate club workouts.

Section 2. Vice President – the Vice President of the YSU Running Club will serve the role of President in any event the President is absent, unable to serve the duties of President, or resigns post as President. The Vice President will help in promoting races and assisting members along with coordinating club workouts.

Section 3. Treasurer – The Treasurer of the YSU Running Club will be responsible for all group expenditures and revenues. The treasurer will be responsible for collecting and maintaining records of membership dues. The Treasurer shall write all checks for the purpose of the organization. The Treasurer will be responsible for requesting funds from the allocation board and will be assisted when necessary by the President.

Section 4. Secretary – The Secretary of the YSU Running Club will record the events of formal meetings and maintain an up to date membership list and email database.

ARTICLE XI: Election of Officers

Section 1. Procedure for Disciplining/Removal of Officers – The procedure for the discipline and removal of officers from the YSU Running Club will in the interests of fairness and democracy include all offenses meriting expulsion of members. All members/officers facing discipline/expulsion will be dealt with by an inquiry from remaining club officers who will vote by written ballot for said action.

Section 2. Resignations – Any officer of the YSU Running Club who intends to resign will allow two weeks notice for the club to find a replacement.

Section 3. All officers will be voting members. 

Section 4. Officer Transition – Elections must be held at a minimum of 3 weeks before the end of classes during the spring semester to allow time for training of the new officers.


Section 1. There will be at least two general meetings per semester. The meeting will be notified through email to members at least one week ahead of time. The Executive Board members will meet once every month and allow the attendance of all members if desired.


Section 1. The YSU Running Club will have an annual due for membership of $6. The dues will be collected in cash to the Treasurer. If a member does not pay his/her membership dues, he/she will not be an active member of the YSU Running Club. Also, he/she will not be able to participate in club events/activities, and will not be eligible to vote.


Section 1. The YSU Running Club requires a simple majority, i.e. 51% of votes by show of hands at a general meeting to approve by-laws or changes in the existing by-laws.

ARTICLE XV: Procedures for Decision-Making 

Section 1. All decision-making will be done by popular vote of the Executive Board via a simple majority in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the by-laws or the special rules of order of the YSU Running Club.

ARTICLE XVI: Establishment of Committees 

Section 1. Committees will be appointed as need arises and will be governed by amendments provided for with the establishment of the committee.

ARTICLE XVII: Selection of an Advisor 

Section 1. The Advisor of the YSU Running Club will have an interest in health and physical activity and have basic knowledge of the sport of running. The Advisor must be a full time professions faculty or staff person at the Youngstown State University. The officers will obtain information concerning available advisors who are interested in the sport and will respectfully approach them to offer the position. The YSU Running Club has the right to change their advisor at any time. The Activities & Programs Office is the principle contact regarding policies and procedures for functioning as a student organization.

ARTICLE XIX: Define a Quorum 

Section 1. The Quorum (minimum number of members who must be present at a meeting in order for business to be conducted legally) will, in the interests of equity, be set at a number of members greater than 50% of the total number of members in the club, excluding officers. If members are unable to attend a meeting and an issue of great importance is at hand, voting online will be permitted, if submitted prior to the actual meeting. This applies to executive as well as general meetings.

ARTICLE XX: Rules for Ratifying the Constitution 

Section 1. The Constitution of Running Club will be ratified by a 2/3’s majority vote of either the executive board and advance notice to all members of the proposed change.


The by-laws of an organization are specific rules of the organization. By-laws should include all the rules not already in the constitution that are of such importance that they cannot be changed in any way without previous notice.

The by-laws of a student organization should be detailed rules that explain for the members their responsibilities, limitations and expectations as they pertain to the group. By-laws may include the meeting time and locations, dues to be paid, attendance requirements, election procedures, etc.

By-laws should be divided into headings such as dues, attendance or meetings with by-laws pertaining to them listed below. This makes your by-law system more organized and easier to use when the need arises.

Example of by-laws:

  1. Dues
    1. Dues will be $6 each year.
    2. Dues will be paid at the first meeting of the year.
    3. Failure to pay dues will result in suspension from all group activities until the dues are paid.
  2. Meetings
    1. Meetings will be at 2:00 p.m. at the Running Club’s office.
  3. Attendance
    1. Attendance is required at all regular and special meetings of the group, unless excused.
    2. Members may be excused by submitting a written excuse to the president prior to the meeting they will be missing.
    3. Three unexcused absences will result in expulsion from the group.
  4. Elections
    1. Elections shall take place the first week of May.
    2. Any regular member having one semester in the group may be nominated for an executive office.
    3. Elections will be by secret ballot.
    4. All ties will be decided by the president

When you have completed your organization’s constitution and by-laws, you must present the Student Activities Office with a permanent copy. Everyone in your group should also receive a copy of them.

This information will hopefully assist your organization in preparing a basic constitution and by-laws. If questions do arise when you begin to develop your constitution and by-laws, please contact us in the Student Activities Office at (330) 941-3575 and we’ll be happy to help!