Student Organization Recognition Policy
Issued August 14, 2017; Revised August 17, 2020; August 24, 2021; August 1, 2023
Table of Contents
Student organizations provide the opportunity for students to connect with other students who have similar interests. Student organizations can play an important role in developing student leadership skills, promoting personal growth, engaging in community service, and fostering a vibrant campus environment and experience.
All student organizations must be recognized, as defined below in this policy, with Student Programs and Involvement, or SPI, in the Division of Academic Success and Student Affairs to receive the privileges and benefits of university recognition. The purpose of receiving recognition by the university is to provide one path (of many available) for students to pursue opportunities, facilitate communications and streamline interactions between the university and the organizations.
The purpose of this policy is to establish the different classifications of student organizations, to define various roles within student organizations, and to provide criteria for organizations to achieve and maintain university recognition.
Advisor: An advisor is a member of the university faculty or staff, on at least 0.5 FTE, who acts as the primary liaison between the university and the recognized student organization. All advisors are required to complete training as mandated by SPI and to annually sign the advisor acknowledgement. All recognized student organizations must have an advisor meeting these criteria at all times to maintain their recognition status. SPI has the right to not approve, or to remove approval, of advisors who meet the outlined criteria but who, in SPI’s sole judgment and discretion, are not fit to serve as advisors. Graduate students may support faculty members or staff who are serving as advisors but may not themselves be an advisor. Advisors may not accept compensation beyond the pay and benefits designated in their university appointment paperwork.
The university acknowledges that organizations may have individuals who are not university faculty or staff and serve in a mentor or coaching capacity to the organizations, and SPI offers resources to help those individuals serve successfully; however, those individuals are acting in their own capacity and not on behalf of the university. It is entirely within the discretion of the organizations’ members whether to invite and/or allow these individuals to participate with the recognized student organization, and SPI, within its sole judgment and discretion, may limit or remove access to any university resources it provides to these individuals.
SPI: Student Programs and Involvement. SPI is the university office designated as the point of contact for recognized student organizations. SPI facilitates the recognition process and approves organizations for official recognition, provides informational materials to inquiring students, and offers programming that students in the groups may find helpful in running their organizations. For the purposes of this policy, SPI refers to the .
Department: An official college, department, controlled corporation, or unit of Kansas State University. Also, as applicable and as defined below, the K-State Alumni Association, or KSAA, and KSU Foundation, or KSUF can be considered a department.
Member(s): A member of an organization is any person who has met the organization’s requirements for membership and is considered a voting member of the organization, by the organization.
OrgCentral: The online student organization management system provided to recognized student organizations and requires authentication with an eID and password. For the purposes of this policy, OrgCentral refers to the technology and procedures utilized by the relevant office responsible for coordinating student organization recognition on each campus.
Recognized Student Organization, or RSO: Any student organization that has completed and maintained the necessary requirements to be recognized by the university through SPI. A student organization is a voluntary special interest group organized for educational, social and service purposes and comprised of student members. Recognized student organizations are classified as either affiliated or sponsored, as defined and set out below.
Student: For purposes of this policy, a student is any person enrolled in at least one credit hour at Kansas State University during the current academic term. During the time frame between the spring and fall semesters, a person enrolled in at least one credit hour during the immediately preceding semester shall be considered a student for purposes of this policy.
Student Governing Association, or SGA: The student leaders of Kansas State University Student Governing Association are duly elected or appointed to positions in accordance with the constitution, by-laws and statutes of the association.
Each student organization granted recognition by the university is classified as sponsored or affiliated. SPI, in its sole judgment and discretion, determines an RSO’s recognition classification. There are two classifications of RSOs:
Sponsored Organizations: Sponsored organizations are those considered congruent with the mission and culture of the university and operate as a part of a university department or unit. These organizations are inherently linked to the university because of their role representing K-State or in presenting events of broad appeal that are considered an integral part of the institution. Sponsored organizations routinely present events for the campus and the broader community, and typically work in a collaborative relationship with a university department or office. The organization’s purpose and effect are to serve a broad segment of the campus community, not just its membership.
A university department or unit — through a designated departmental employee assigned to serve as the organization’s advisor — must provide oversight and direct responsibility for the organization and its activities. The applicable department or unit shall assign a staff or faculty member to be the advisor to the sponsored organization in accordance with RSO recognition requirements. These advisors are generally experienced in the respective organization’s area of interest.
The KSAA and KSUF may be a sponsoring department of organizations whose purpose is directly related to the missions of the respective entity and the university and, for that limited purpose, shall be considered a department throughout this policy.
Key indicators of sponsored organization status: A sponsored organization is not required to meet every indicator but collectively must reflect a substantial portion of the indicators as determined by SPI. These indicators include, but are not limited to:
- The organization plays a critical role in the day-to-day functions and mission of a department.
- The organization is inherently linked to the university because of its role in representing K-State or in presenting events of broad appeal that are considered an integral part of the institution.
- The purpose and effect of the organization is to serve a broad segment of the campus community, not just its membership.
- The organization receives all or part of its funding from a department, and funds for the organization are maintained by the department with limited exceptions.
- The department has authority to establish, maintain or eliminate the organization.
- The department can recommend and require student leadership change.
Affiliated Organizations: Affiliated organizations are those that are, in general, interest groups and provide engagement activities that are primarily for their direct membership. These groups are generally capable of functioning with minimal university support, but may receive support from a parent organization, including but not limited to regional/national/international governing organizations. While the university recognizes affiliated organizations and provides them with benefits as stated in this policy, the university also acknowledges that students may choose to form groups of varying interests that may or may not align with the university’s Principles of Community. Affiliated organizations are not a department, unit, or agent of the university, and the university does not accept responsibility or liability for the activities undertaken by affiliated organizations.
An organization is a voluntary special interest group organized for educational, social, and service purposes and comprised of its members. Organizations can exist whether the university recognizes them pursuant to this policy. SPI determines the approval or denial of an application for recognition by organizations. Through university recognition, organizations receive some special privileges and benefits, as well as have certain responsibilities to the university community. The following are general requirements that must be met by all organizations to receive and renew recognition:
- Organizations must be established for purposes that do not violate local, state, or federal law; are consistent with the broad educational mission of the university; and are supportive of the regulations, guidelines and policies of the university. The university recognizes that some student organizations may have a purpose to advocate for a change in existing law and this provision does not prevent the student organization from exercising its First Amendment right to do so.
- An organization with the same purpose as an existing RSO will not be allowed to receive recognition. SPI will examine every instance of similar purposes to determine if enough difference exists to permit more than one organization. If the groups are determined to have a substantially similar purpose, SPI will refer the students to the existing organization.
- Completing the annual recognition process is required once per academic year. A process for recognition will be established and maintained by SPI and made available on the department’s website.
- The university recognizes that a nondiscriminatory environment complements its commitment to academic inquiry, intellectual discourse, and personal growth. The university also recognizes the interest of students to organize and associate with like-minded students. Accordingly, all RSOs acknowledge and agree to the following:
The established policy of the Board of Regents prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, physical handicap or disability, military veteran status, sexual orientation or other factors which cannot be lawfully considered, within the state universities. All fraternal and campus-related organizations shall follow this policy in the selection of their members, except the prohibition against sex discrimination shall not apply to social fraternities or sororities which are excluded from the application of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681 et seq.).
The right of organizations to establish standards for membership is acknowledged, provided that all students are afforded equal opportunity to meet those standards. Just as all students have the right to choose those with whom they would associate on the campus, an organization shall have the right to select its members subject to these principles. Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted as imposing a requirement which would violate the principle of selection on the basis of individual merit.
In addition, this policy does not prohibit a student organization that is organized around shared religious beliefs from requiring leaders or members to adhere to the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs, comply with the organization's sincerely held religious beliefs, comply with the organization’s sincere religious standards of conduct, and be committed to furthering the organization’s religious missions, beliefs, observance requirements and standards of conduct as defined by the organization or the religion on which the association is based.
- The organization must be nonprofit in nature. RSOs may not have the primary purpose of individual instruction, charging fees, or operating as a for-profit business. Organizations may not serve as “fronts” for off-campus groups in order to gain unauthorized use of meeting space or information tables for the off-campus user.
- New organizations must submit a constitution and/or bylaws at the time of making their initial request for recognition by the university. Constitutions and/or bylaws may be as elaborate or as simple as the organization chooses, provided it has the following minimum requirements: a purpose, membership requirements, officers of the organization, meeting processes and notification protocol, process for removing members/officers, process for dissolving the organization, and process for amending the constitution. RSOs should ensure the constitution and/or bylaws on record with SPI are up to date and accurate.
- Organizations must have at least a president (or parallel leadership position) and this role must be held by a currently enrolled student. Other positions are optional. The president is required to complete training annually as part of the recognition process.
- Organizations must maintain at least five student members of which will include the president. The president is responsible for ensuring the roster of members is always up to date on OrgCentral.
- Organizations must identify and disclose an advisor as defined in this policy. All advisors must complete the Advisor Acknowledgment form and required training on an annual basis.
- Recognition granted for residence hall associations, residence hall communities, sports clubs, and fraternities and sororities may be subject to additional policies administered by the respective office and/or organization.
- RSOs that own or control a building, such as a house where residents are primarily members, may be required to provide information associated with the building as specified in the Student Organization Handbook, including but not limited to the address of such building and proof of insurance on the building.
- Comply with applicable university policies and guidelines, including but not limited to this policy and the accompanying Student Organization Handbook, and abide by all local, state and federal laws.
In addition to the above general recognition requirements, sponsored RSOs also must meet the following requirements:
- The department sponsoring the organization must complete an annual form verifying its sponsorship of the organization.
- The constitution of a sponsored RSO must state that the department has final say in matters of the organization.
- Membership must be restricted to 100% students.
In addition to the general recognition requirements, affiliated RSOs also must meet the following requirements:
- Students must constitute more than 50% of the total members.
- Have no outstanding debt with the university at the time of recognition. If an affiliated RSO’s debt to the university remains unpaid for 90 days or more, the university may suspend its recognition until the debt is paid.
- An affiliation with an international, national, regional or local organization is not a requirement of recognition for an affiliated organization. However, if an affiliated organization is affiliated with an international, national, regional or local organization or body that has governance or other supervisory authority over the organization, and the organization loses that affiliation by reason of de-recognition by that governing or supervisory organization or body, then upon proof of that de-recognition, the affiliated RSO shall also be derecognized by the university.
Recognition gives RSOs access to a number of services and benefits. The following resources are available to all RSOs. Additional benefit listings can be found in the Student Organization Handbook.
- Access to OrgCentral, including the ability to publicize events, store documents, create forms, develop a public-facing website, and communicate with group members.
- Eligible to use approved campus facilities for meetings and events at a free or reduced rate (this does not include Athletics Facilities, Alumni Center, and K-State Foundation facilities).
- Eligible to apply for student organization funding through the Student Governing Association.
- Eligible to apply for awards and honors presented to university RSOs and members.
- Eligible to market organization to current and prospective students through posters, chalking, tabling, digital displays, etc.
- Eligible to submit events and news to K-State Today newsletter.
- Eligible to submit events and news via SPI’s communication channels including OrgCentral, SPI update newsletter, and digital displays dedicated to RSOs.
- Eligible to participate in SPI’s organization events.
- Eligible to apply for product allocation, if available, from the university beverage vendor for events hosted on campus.
- Access to storage lockers and mailboxes in the K-State Student Union.
- Eligible to utilize approved university logos, images, name, and other brand components in accordance with university licensing policies and guidelines.
- Eligible to establish financial accounts within the K-State Foundation as appropriate.
- Eligible to request through SPI member eligibility lists to assist in connecting with prospective group members.
- Eligible to request through SPI grade checks to determine if membership requirements are met.
- Eligible to maintain off-campus financial accounts for funds generated independently from the university.
The following outlines each of the possible statuses an RSO may have at any point in time. Depending on the RSO’s status, the requirements to complete recognition may differ. An organization may contact SPI to determine their status if unknown by the student organization membership.
- Active: Organizations which have completed the annual recognition requirements as outlined in Section .040 [link to anchor] of this policy.
- Inactive: Organizations which have not completed the annual recognition requirements for the current academic year are in Inactive status. Organizations with this status shall have no benefits. To become active the organization must complete the requirements outlined on SPI's website.
- Revoked: Organizations which have had their recognition status revoked due to non-compliance with university policies or at the request of organization leadership are in revoked status. Organizations with this status shall have no benefits. To become active the organization must complete the annual recognition requirements outlined. When an organization’s recognition is revoked, additional requirements may be established which require completion before recognition may be received again.
- Provisional: Organizations who do not meet the minimum five-member requirement for active recognition, but meet all other requirements for achieving and renewing recognition as listed in section .040 of this policy, may register under a provisional status. Organizations with this status shall have limited benefits, and will need to complete requirements outlined on SPI website.
If an organization fails to meet and/or maintain the criteria for recognition as outlined in this policy and/or the Student Organization Handbook, SPI may revoke the organization’s status as an RSO. This review and process is separate from PPM Chapter 8545 Student Organization Conduct Code and Process for Discipline, which reviews and sanctions behavioral concerns arising from an organization’s activities.
By way of example and without limitation, the following is a non-exhaustive list of administrative reasons SPI may revoke an organization’s status as an RSO:
- Submission of material for recognition known or determined by SPI to be false.
- Failure to complete the outlined requirements annually.
- Failure to maintain any recognition requirement set forth in this policy.
- Failure to follow university policies and procedures or local, state and/or federals laws.
- Upon notification by the organization’s national, regional or other parent entity with which it is affiliated that the organization has failed to follow the rules, policies or guidelines of the organization’s national, regional or other parent entity.
Upon identification of an organization’s failure to meet the criteria for recognition, the organization will be given 10 days’ notice of the administrative deficiency and an opportunity to cure. If at the end of the 10 days, the issue is not corrected to be in line with this policy or the Student Organization Handbook, SPI may revoke the organization’s status as an RSO.
All student conduct matters reported to the university shall be governed by and reviewed under applicable university policies and practices, including but not limited to:
- Student Code of Conduct
- PPM Chapter 8545. Student Organization Conduct Code and Process for Discipline.
- PPM Chapter 3315. Threat Management Policy.
- Critical Incident Response Team Process
- PPM Chapter 3010. Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Violence, and Stalking, and Procedure for Reviewing Complaints.
All policies are subject to the jurisdictional provisions set forth therein. The university also may, but is not required to, report matters of which it has knowledge to local, regional, national and/or international organizations or other governing body affiliated with an RSO, to the police for criminal matters, and to other applicable entities. Additionally, nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevent the university from taking appropriate risk management measures it deems necessary, in its sole and absolute discretion, based on a person's or persons' conduct.
Any questions regarding this policy or recognition requirements for recognized organizations should be directed to Student Programs and Involvement, 114 K-State Student Union, 785-532-6541. Questions about specific RSOs should be directed to those organizations.