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How to Start a Student Organization

Your opportunities for involvement at Colgate are truly endless. If you don’t see the activity you’d like to participate in, explore starting a new student organization.
Three students sit at a table to promote Composting Club

Exploring Options

Step one

In proposing a new student organization is determining which of the advising departments at Colgate is the best fit for your idea. These advising departments are as follows:

General Criteria

Step two

Review the general criteria that all student organizations seeking recognition must follow.
All student organizations seeking recognition must fulfill the following general recognition criteria:
  1. The organization must be open to any Colgate Student who wishes to participate; and
  2. The organization must be beneficial and necessary to the enrichment of the Colgate community; and
  3. The organization must fill a unique niche within the Colgate community; and
  4. The organization must be sustainable over time; and
  5. The organization must align with the mission of its desired Advising Department.

Advising Department Criteria

Step three

Review the specific criteria for recognition required by your desired advising department.

The Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI)
The organization must answer the following questions as a part of their recognition application:
  1. How is your organization beneficial to the campus community?
  2. How does your organization foster personal growth and the development of professional competencies that members may use while at Colgate and beyond?
  3. How does CLSI recognition aid your organization in accomplishing its individual mission?)
The Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (Max Shacknai COVE)
The organization must must develop and present an action plan to fulfill the four phases of the Max Shacknai COVE philosophy
  1. Direct Service.
  2. Campus Impact.
  3. Student Growth.
  4. Social Change.
The Office of the Chaplains
The organization must develop and present an action plan to fulfill the five tenets of the chaplaincy philosophy:
  1. Worship/Prayer.
  2. Service.
  3. Fellowship.
  4. Education.
  5. Interfaith Cooperation.

Submit the New Organization Registration Form

Step four

Log in to Get Involved and click on the Organizations tab to submit a new registration. After completing the form, arrange a meeting with your desired advising department to ask any questions and to present your potential petition for feedback. 


Step five

Founding members of an organization must petition their desired advising department. The petition will be submitted directly to the Advising Department through which the prospective organization is seeking recognition. The organization seeking recognition may meet as needed with staff or student advisors within its desired Advising Department to review the petition and make adjustments as appropriate.  

Please Note: Only one petition can be made by a prospective organization at a time. 

All organizations in their petition must include...
  1. The name of the proposed organization.
  2. The mission of the proposed organization, and how that mission would advance the Living the Liberal Arts goals described in Appendix A to the Colgate University Student Organization Relationship Statement (the “Relationship Statement”).
  3. To the extent that the proposed organization anticipates seeking funding through the student activity fee, a proposed budget describing the amount of fees to be sought and how those fees would be used.
  4. A list of proposed officers, all of whom must be Colgate students on active status.
  5. A written agreement by all founding members of the proposed organization that:
    • The proposed organization will adhere to the terms of the Relationship Statement, all applicable University rules and regulations, including, without limitation, the University’s Policy on Hazing, the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, and the Policy on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, Sexual  and Other Forms of Harassment, and any requirements established by the Advising Department; Membership in the proposed organization will be limited to fully matriculated Colgate students;
    • The proposed organization will adhere to appropriate risk management practices and insurance requirements as established by the University;
    • The proposed organization will not discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identity or expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or disability.

Advising Department Recognition

Step six

New organizations are ordinarily granted recognition during the first four weeks of each semester. The Advising Department will review and make a determination with respect to a prospective organization’s petition as soon as reasonably practicable following receipt of all necessary information. The Advising Department will make its determination based on its evaluation of the petition, the availability of resources to support the proposed organization, and its determination as to whether it is reasonable to expect that the organization will adhere to all applicable requirements and agreements.

Please note: Each Advising Department follows its own process for review of petition.

If the organization is approved, your New Organization Registration will be approved and your organization will be moved into an Advising Department on Get Involved. Initial recognition is probationary and granted for two semesters. 

During this probationary period, you will work with the Advising Department to create:
  • An uploadable copy of your constitution and by-laws
  • A list of all formal officers as outlined in your constitution
  • A membership roster

Student Government Association Recognition (Optional)

Step seven

Once your organization has been approved by an Advising Department, you may choose to pursue Student Government Association (SGA) recognition. SGA recognition allows your organization to apply to the Budget Allocation Committee for funding from the Student Activity Fee.

In order to apply for SGA recognition, your organization must provide:
  • Recognition by an Advising Department
  • Established bylaws
  • Signatures of 50 students that support access to the Student Activity Fee. See form.
  • Examples of how funding would be used to meet your organization's mission
  • Approval of this request by your Student Organization Adviser. SGA Recognition Petition.
After that, the group is up and running! Congratulations!