Constitution and Bylaws

Writing a Constitution and Bylaws

While Registered Student Organizations are not required to have a constitution and bylaws, these can be incredibly helpful in establishing the mission and purpose of your organization as well as defining the organization's operations and expectations. Below are tips and advice for developing or re-evaluating these documents.

Constitution

  • Your organization's constitution should be a guiding document that guides your organization in decision making around programs, membership selection, and the overall direction of your group.
  • Depending on the stability of your organization and the strength of your constitution, your group should revisit its constitution once a year to revise and amend as necessary. It's supposed to be a living document that changes over time (think of all of the changes to the US Constitution over the past 200+ years!).
  • Your constitution should be stable and require at least 2/3 or 3/4 membership approval to revise. Items in your constitution should be very basic. More specific topics should be covered in your group’s bylaws.

Suggested Constitution Format

  1. Article I – Name: State the full name of your organization.
  2. Article II – Preamble: States the purpose of your organization.
  3. Article III – Non-discrimination clause: As a registered student organization at UNLV, you are agreeing to comply with the non-discrimination clause of the University and the appropriate recognizing body (CSUN, GPSA, SIA, Sport Clubs). You can find the non-discrimination clause in the RSO Handbook.
  4. Article IV – Membership: Who is eligible for membership? Who makes up your membership? (i.e.- undergraduate students, graduate students, both undergraduate and graduate students)
  5. Article V – Officers/ Executive Board: What are the roles and responsibilities of officers in your organization? (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.). Officer names and descriptions may be unique to your organization and that is ok! What is important is that you define clearly each of these roles.
  6. Article VI – Elections: What is the rough timeline for elections? (spring or fall semester) How are officers elected? What happens if a position is vacant? What are the terms of offices?
  7. Article VII – Amendments: How can the group amend this document? How many people are required to be in attendance for an amendment to pass (quorum)? How many people must make an affirmative vote for an amendment to this document (traditionally, 3/4 or 2/3 affirmative vote)?

Bylaws

  • Committee structure (standing and ad hoc committees, who serves on committees? How are committees established? What are the goals of committee work? etc.).
  • Meeting time, dates, location.
  • How are meetings run? (Robert’s Rules of Order is a good base-these can be found on the Involvement Center).
  • Any other items that you deem important to your organization.
  • Your bylaws should be easier to revise and can be updated as needed.

Final Tips: Both your constitution and bylaws should be public documents that all your members are familiar with. Once you establish these documents, it is critical to abide by them in order to promote organization consistency and unity. If you have these documents and do not honor them, members may become confused, frustrated, and disengage in the organization. As with many aspects to your organization, membership buy-in is essential for the organization's development and growth.