How to Set Up an Official Organization on a High School Campus (and/or College Campus)

 

Congratulations on making the first step towards building lasting youth power on your school’s campus. Now that you’ve decided that you want to take your energy and channel into longer term plans, it might be a good idea to gain official recognition from your campus.

  • Pros of official recognition: Free access to school facilities; faculty advice, funding (depending on your school)

  • Cons of official recognition: Must go through your school’s process, must adhere to student organization policies

To take advantage of the things your schools has to offer, the first thing you and your team will want to do is identify a faculty advisor. This should be a teacher or other faculty member who is supportive of your overall mission. Think about how much time you’d want them to commit to meeting with your core team in person, whether you’d want strategic advice, whether you’d want organizing advice, or whether you just want a cheerleader. Maybe you just want someone who will listen and take a step back. Think about what’s right for your group and which faculty members you have a good relationship with before asking someone. It’s also a good idea to keep a couple of backups in mind in case your preferred teacher/faculty member is too busy or says no.

Once you’ve chosen your advisor, find out your school’s policies around starting student organizations. Oftentimes you’ll need to identify a leadership team, state your mission, submit a constitution or bylaws, or even collect signatures proving that enough students are interested in joining.

If you need to collect signatures, start with your friends! Pass the petition/signup sheet around in between classes and have the rest of your leadership team do the same. If you ask enough classmates after each class, you might have all the signatures you need before the end of the day! If you need a lot of signatures, grab a clipboard and go around to different tables during your lunch hour. Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you hit those numbers while simultaneously spreading the word!

Pro tip: Be sure to ask others outside of your grade. Have students from all grades is a great first step to creating a lasting organization.

It’s important to understand the requirements as early as possible! Every school has different rules, and some might set a higher barrier to entry than others to limit the number of student organizations on campus because of limited resources. If your campus does have a heavier workload involved with starting an organization, getting started early and sharing the burden of paperwork with your team will ensure that you can get everything done fast as possible to get your organization up and running.

Caroline Kavit