Student Organizations Defined


The purpose of student organizations at Sewanee is to provide opportunities for students to engage, to learn, and to lead, allowing students to pursue their passions and interests with other students while developing leadership and organizational skills. Recognized undergraduate organizations leave a legacy at Sewanee by enhancing the cultural, social, and intellectual life of the University. In granting recognition to student organizations, the intention of the University is to support students who wish to pursue their various interests and talents in ways that are separate from formal course study.


The student organization handbook governs recognized student organizations. The University through its policies, procedures and practices has the authority to review the conduct, behavior, or actions of recognized student organizations or the individual members who act on behalf of these recognized student organizations.


A student organization is defined as a group of undergraduate or graduate students who unite to promote or celebrate a common interest. Student organizations provide a learning experience for members through involvement in organization, administration, scheduling, fundraising, public relations, and development of skills directly pertaining to the Organization’s focus. Involvement by faculty advisers is essential. The success and strength of an organization is directly proportional to the effective leadership and involvement of the officers and members.

Eligibility for Membership in Student Organizations

The membership of an organization may include any enrolled student from the School of Letters, the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty, staff, or community members, as appropriate, may also participate in the organization’s activities, but may not hold leadership roles. Only currently enrolled students are permitted to serve as officers of recognized student organizations.

Student organizations are usually one of four types or organizations.  

  1. University Sponsored Organizations: University Sponsored Organizations (USOs) contribute to the general goals of the University and benefit or serve relatively large numbers of students. University sponsored organizations are required to have a faculty or staff adviser (and in most cases are assigned a full-time professional staff member as an adviser).

  2. Registered Student Organizations: Registered student organizations (RSOs) are established by and for students to experience co-curricular learning while participating in activities that are of interest to each organization. RSOs are voluntary associations of students wishing to pursue a common special interest or engage in social activities. RSOs are required to have a faculty or staff adviser.

  3. Fraternity & Sorority: Fraternities and sororities refer to social Greek-lettered organizations. Membership cannot be held in more than one organization at the collegiate level. These organizations are defined as single sex, selective, and fulfill the Greek pillars of leadership, scholarship, camaraderie, and service. Fraternities and sororities are strongly encouraged to have a faculty or staff adviser, in addition to an alumni adviser.

  4. Club Sports: Club sport activities range from informal play, regular practice and instruction to intercollegiate and tournament competition.

Special Notice on Club Sports

The Department of Athletics provides guidance, use of athletic facilities, minimal financial support and an administrative framework for the operation of officially recognized club sports. Sewanee’s undergraduate club sport teams are student-initiated activities that require students to be responsible for organization, leadership and decision-making.

Any organization that is athletically related should apply to be a club sport rather than an independent student organization. Club sports are made up of organizations that involve the learning or supporting of a physical skill, or to remain physically fit and active.  Similar to student organizations, Club Sports must create a constitution, develop a budget, and meet other requirements in order to be considered for recognition by the Department of Athletics. Club sport and recreation activities recognition is separate from the aforementioned student organization recognition through the Student Government Association. Students interested in beginning an organization related to athletics or recreation should review the requirements in the Club Sports Handbook.

Formal Recognition

Recognition of a student organization is not an indication that the University approves or endorses the organization’s goals, activities, or points of view. Provided these organizations meet and maintain the University’s requirements for recognition, the University is willing to provide them with certain benefits and privileges. However, student organizations are independent and distinct from the University of the South. The University’s recognition of, and provision of benefits and privileges to, a student organization does not mean that the organizations is a unit of the University or controlled by the University.

Benefits Granted to Recognized Student Organizations

Student organizations granted recognition by the Activity Funds Committee and the Student Government may receive many benefits, which include:

  • Plan Events and Activities on Campus

    • Ability to reserve campus rooms, auditoriums, and outdoor spaces for events and activities.

    • Permission to publicize and poster on campus including posting on the University Calendar.

  • Recruit on Campus

    • Participation in the annual student activity fair during orientation, as well as an opportunity to participate in the activity fair held each spring for prospective students.

    • Inclusion in the online directory of student organizations.

  • Use the University Name

    • Permission to use the University of the South name and trademarks, in accordance with media guidelines.

  • Manage Finances and Fundraising

    • Organizational funds account through the Dean of Students Office.

    • Ability to apply for and receive funds from University sources, such as the Cornerstone Committee, the Activities Fee Committee, the University Lectures Committee, and other departmental or divisional funding sources.

    • Ability to fundraise with specific permission from the Student Activities Coordinator.

    • Upon demonstration of a useful contribution to the University community through the activities of the student organization, the University may determine that a gift or endowment account controlled by the University, to which tax-deductible contributions may be made, may be established at the University for the benefit of the student organization.

  • Access Services and Support

    • Organization E-mail and Google Group accounts through the Office of Telecommunications.

    • Advising and Support Services from the Division of Student Life.

    • Ability to achieve organizational materials in University Archives.

    • Ability to apply for and/or receive a mailbox, office, or storage space in the Bishop's Commons.

Responsibilities of Recognized Student Organizations

Recognized student organizations are expected to meet the following requirements to remain in good standing with the University:

  • Compliance

    • Comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and with the University’s policies and requirements, as set forth in the University of the South Student Handbook, the student organization Handbook, and any other written materials from the Dean of Students Office.

    • Operate in a manner consistent with the goals and standards of the University.

    • Re-register with the Student Activities Coordinator each fall.

    • File a current constitution and bylaws with the Student Activities Coordinator. Note: Student organization cannot discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical disability.

    • File non-hazing attestation forms annually with the Dean of Students, take active steps to understand hazing and identify hazing activities, and undertake only team-building activities that do not involve hazing.

    • Submit to the Student Activities Coordinator a complete list of officers and members demonstrating that the student organization meets the requirements listed below. Notify the Student Activities Coordinator promptly when there are changes in the roster of officers.

      • All officers and a majority of the members must be enrolled undergraduates in good standing with the College of Arts and Sciences.

      • A minimum of ten undergraduate members is required.

    • Attend all required training sessions, including those held annually.

    • Secure appropriate insurance coverage, when applicable, for organizational activities, namely for Greek organizations.

  • Communication

    • Consult with the Student Activities Coordinator when planning any activities for which significant attendance is anticipated (including, for example, outdoor events, conferences, parties, or late night socials) or when planning any other event that involves unusual or potentially risky activities or elements.

    • Provide timely notification to the Student Activities Coordinator of any changes in its constitution and by-laws and submit a copy of the amended documents for approval. Inform the Student Activities Coordinator of any other changes within the organization in a timely fashion.

    • Maintain with the Student Activities Coordinator an accurate and complete list of officers and members

    • Communicate with University offices in a timely manner. When services are needed from University offices, student organizations should assume that at least three weeks prior notice is required.

  • Leadership

    • Manage University resources wisely, ethically, and according to University and College guidelines.

    • Develop and ensure successful officer transitions including good record keeping and new officer orientation.

    • Manage organization’s finances responsibly by maintaining accurate financial records, implementing appropriate procedures, and meeting all financial obligations.

  • Accurate Representation

    • Clearly and accurately identify the student organization’s relationship with the University in print and electronic publications, on websites, and in promotional materials, fundraising, contracts, and other activities. In all dealings with third parties and written materials, the student organization is required to include the appropriate disclaimers.

    • In all written materials, student organizations should describe themselves as: “A student-run organization at the University of the South.”

  • Advisers

    • Have an adviser who is preferably an employee or alumnus of the University and preferably one who holds a personal interest or professional expertise that relates to the organization he or she is advising.

    • Consult regularly with the adviser regarding the activities of the organization.

Unrecognized or Non-University Organizations

Regulations for registered student organizations (RSO) and University sponsored (USOs) student organizations require that they maintain local autonomy. This means that all policy decisions must be made without obligation to any parent organization. In this way, the independence and integrity of the University are maintained.

From time to time, undergraduates raise questions about their membership in unrecognized or non-University organizations. It is important that students make well-informed decisions when considering membership in these organizations. Organizations such as Secret Societies or Ribbon Societies are not typically permitted to conduct any activity in University owned facilities or access benefits of recognition by the University.

Becoming a Registered Student Organizations

Students interested in creating a new organization are required to prepare a proposal (see below), which is then reviewed and voted on by the Student Government Association (SGA), comprised of elected undergraduates. The recommendation of the SGA is sent for final approval to the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students or a designee for student organizations. Students have the opportunity to submit applications for approval once a semester.

The Student Government Association has the authority to recommend official recognition to student organizations.

Students and student organizations also are expected to abide by the designated University policies and by the regulations as described in the Student Organization Handbook. The University expects student organizations to comply with all applicable regulations. If the Student Government Association or the Vice President for Student Affairs or his designee, determines that a student organization has failed to do so, it may revoke the organization’s charter.