Becoming A USG Organization
Starting a Student Club?
General advice on starting a student club at Buffalo State
The first thing to consider when starting a club on campus is to make sure you're not duplicating a group that is already established and active. Current student organizations are registered with the Student Life Office and many of them have pages on the Bengal Connect website.
If you think you have an idea that fills a need in the student body you next must convince others that it's a good idea. In any case you're going to need a core group of a dozen or so students who want to be part of your club. Then you have to keep them organized and active over an extended time in order to establish your group on campus. Stay active, keep adding members, and sponsor organized public activities that you can keep records of to show people what you have done.
The next essential step is to get an advisor. Find someone on the Buffalo State faculty or staff who shares your interest and will sign on to be your official advisor.
Register your group. There is a form on the bengalconnect.com home page (with links on this USG website and the Student Life Office web page) that you can use to register with the college. You will need three officers and some members (all current students) and an advisor but once registered you will be an official Buffalo State Club an can request use of campus facilities like tables in the Union, meeting rooms, etc.
Finally, plan ahead. The reason most student clubs fail is that the students who start them don't successfully recruit newer students to replace themselves in the future.
Once your group has been active on campus for at least a year you can consider going for USG Recognition using the process outlined below.
Organization Recognition Flow Chart
You should first contact the USG Rules & Regulations Chair with your interest in becoming a USG Recognized Organization and the Chair will advise you and answer any questions. You will then follow this procedure:
- Complete and submit the Application for Recognition Form on the USG web site [see link below] with basic information on your organization including a main contact person, a list of currently registered Buffalo State students who are your organization’s officers and members, and the contact information for your faculty or staff advisor.
- The Rules & Regulations Chair will contact the person designated on the application form and request a copy of the organization’s current constitution. The Chair may also request more information on the events, activities, and services your group has already sponsored on the Buffalo State campus. The Chair may also contact your advisor to confirm that person's participation in that capacity.
Your application and information will be reviewed by the Rules & Regulations Committee.
If the committee decides that you have met all of the statutory requirements for recognition, your application will be presented to the USG Senate for a vote. The committee can recommend recognition or non-recognition. You will be required to attend the Senate meeting to answer questions from the Senate before the application goes to a vote.
If the Senate vote is positive for recognition, your organization is recognized as of that day and this is in force for three years. If the vote is negative, you can re-apply at any time.
Recognition Application Forms
Use these forms to start the application process for your Buffalo State student group to be come a USG Recognized Organization. Be sure to read the information here on the Recognition Process, and feel free to contact the USG Rules and Regulations Chair or other USG officers for more information on what Recognition can mean for your student organization.
RECOGNITION APPLICATION FORM (an online form that will be submitted directly to USG)
NOTE: If you attempt to use the online form and it fails to submit properly, contact the Rules and Regulations Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) and then download the application in PDF form, complete it, and submit it in person at the USG Office.
CONSTITUTION TEMPLATE (A Word Document you can download and use to write the constitution you will be required to present during the Recognition Process.)
The Recognition Process
[A PDF with this information and more details can be viewed or downloaded here]
How to Become a Recognized USG Organization
Is USG the right choice for your organization?
First step first!
Your organization must be a group of SUNY Buffalo State students who are dedicated and passionate about not only current activities, but making sure the group develops and stays successful on campus.
Your group should have a good mix of students in all stages of their college careers. Seniors and juniors may be the leaders of today but the freshman and sophomores will be the face of your organization once you are gone.
You will need officers, a written constitution, and a faculty advisor. Exactly what order those things happen in will depend on the group.
Elections should be held to select the proper officers. Typically, this includes a president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary.
A constitution should be written to state your organization's purpose, and set boundaries and guidelines for activities. Each of the officer positions should be defined in your constitution, along with their duties. The Constitution Template (see the link above) will help you to decide and include all of the relevant elements in your final document
Finding a good faculty or staff advisor is imperative. This advisor must be someone who can dedicate their time to attend meetings and help the group advance on not only on campus, but in the community. The advisor should also be knowledgeable in your organization’s internal procedures, such as budget. The earlier in the organizing process you have an advisor the more likely your group is to succeed and thrive.
Next, register your organization with the Student Life Office (Union 400). Why? This means that you will be recognized by the campus, and you will have the ability to sign out meeting rooms and Union lobby tables. Without the registration your group has no official existence on campus. Currently registration is done through an online form; links can be found on this website, Bengal Connect, and the Student Life Office web page.
Finally, you will be eligible to apply for possible recognition with USG. Please note:
- The organization should already be active on campus for at least 1-2 semesters. This is a great time to have a few small events and meetings to prove that your organization is a valid group, and has already started developing.
- Make sure everything is documented. Minutes, activities, sign-in sheets, printed publicity from events as well as pictures of group activities. These are all great tools to see how your group is doing over time. These items all give the Rules and Regulations Committee something to look over and evaluate to see the organization’s history on campus.
The Recognition Process
The “Student Organization Recognition Form” can be found at the link above. This form will guide you through the proper materials needed for submission in order to be considered for USG recognition. This will include:
- Name of organization and the general mission of the group
- Contact Person
- Any National/International or any off-campus affiliation
- List of all Elected Officers of the organization
- Name of Faculty/Staff Advisor
- Current Constitution (Please see appendix)
- A list of 10 current activity-fee paying students who are members
- *A list sampling specific activities and services that your organization offers
- *A copy of minutes from a recent organization meeting
The “Student Organization Recognition Form” once submitted online will be sent to the Rules & Regulations Chair e-mail. The additional information (* noted above) should be delivered to the Rules and Regulations Chair via their mailbox, which is located in the USG office in the Student Union Room 402. The Rules and Regulations Committee will review the application and set-up a meeting to further examine your group, as well as make sure everything is turned in and abides by the USG Constitution.
After examining submitted material and meeting with your organization, the Rules and Regulations committee will make a final review of the application, and vote whether or not your organization will be recommended to the USG Senate for recognition. If you are brought to the Senate, representatives from your organization must be present to introduce your organization, as well as answer any questions regarding your organization. If your organization is passed by the Senate, the organization becomes a recognized non-funded USG organization as of that date.
Your organization will then meet with their assigned AVP and Rules Chair for orientation.
So here is the most-asked question…what about funding?
Most organizations want to be a part of USG for not only the promotion, but for the funding. This is where the student activity fee comes into play. This money, collected from our undergraduate student population, is what creates the budget for USG and its organizations.
Because you now have access to the activity fee funds there are several SUNY mandated guidelines you must follow. You cannot charge organizational dues, or hold fundraising events.
According to the USG Constitution, an organization must be recognized for at least two full semesters before applying for a budget. However, this is not the only way to access activity fee money. Organizations that have been recognized by USG but are not yet funded can apply for funds from the Academic Assembly budget. These are funds set aside in the USG budget for recognized-but-unfunded organizations. To apply for funding for a specific event or activity, pick up an Academic Assembly form in the USG business office, room 416 of the Student Union. There are also separate entities from USG that can be a source of funding as well. The Faculty-Student Association and the Grant Allocation Committee, as well as contacting your advisor and the department you are associated with, may also be other options until the organization is give an dedicated budget.
So after all of that…now what?
After your organization has been recognized by the USG Senate, the possibilities are endless. Your organization can now access the “perks” of USG, such as Press Services, as well as Bengal Connect. But keep in mind, your organization must stay in contact with USG throughout the year. This involves attending the mandatory USG Corporate Meeting, as well as the Organization Representative Meetings. The main forms of contact will include your official USG mailbox (located in the Campbell Student Union Room 402) as well as the Bengal Connect web site. Make sure that your Organization Registration is kept up-to-date so that we have the email addresses of your current officers and you can receive correspondence that way. Communication is key; please don’t hesitate to ask any of your elected USG officers if you have any questions!