Process for Applying to Create a New Organization
Review the list of existing organizations to ensure that your proposed organization won’t duplicate or overlap with any other organizations’ objectives or a majority of their membership base. You may need to contact a number of organizations to determine whether or not your proposed organization fulfills an unmet need on campus: see the Student Organization Directory page. You may be able to innovate within the structure of an organization that already exists.
If you feel there is still an unmet need after this review, proceed to Step 2.
Email Mark Jefferson at email@example.com to schedule a quick meeting to review your idea.
Complete the 2020-2021 application. The deadline to apply is 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, November 22, 2020.
IMPORTANT: All groups who submit an application will be asked to present their proposal to a committee including Dean of Students Office staff and several representatives from Student Government. This is an opportunity for groups to prove that they deserve official recognition as a HLS Student Organization. DOS will reach out to schedule a time for you to present at the end of November/beginning of December. Final decisions will come out mid-December.
The committee will use the following criteria to decide whether to approve the organization:
- The organization must fill an identified, unmet need in the wider HLS community that cannot reasonably be met by an existing organization.
- There must be sufficient student interest to justify the organization’s founding.
- The organization must prove that it will be able to maintain membership for a minimum of two academic years.
- The proposal must be compelling and establish that the proposed new organization will be of significant benefit to the HLS community.
- The organization’s founders must agree that they understand and will follow and enforce all organization policies set by HLS.
- Each group that submits an application will present their proposed organization to the committee. Presentations should be no longer than 10 minutes with 5 minutes for Q&A at the end.
- The committee will discuss each application and hold a silent vote.
- Each group will be contacted with the results of the vote.
- If the proposal is denied, the group can re-submit an application the following year.
Establishing the Organization
New organizations will be allocated $200-$250 to sponsor activities/events in the spring. It is important to note that new organizations are on a “probationary status” their first year, and they are expected to demonstrate their viability. For more information please refer to the Student Government Constitution.
Keeping Your Organization in Good Standing
The organization will remain in good standing provided it maintains viable membership, elects officers each spring, and adheres to HLS regulations and community values. Organizations that do not meet these goals will be reviewed and may face sanctions. If issues are not corrected, an organization may be dissolved involuntarily.
Each organization must submit the following information to the Dean of Students Office in the format outlined below:
- Name of the organization
- Names and email addresses of all officers of the organization
- Evidence of Intended Involvement
- Statement of Contribution
- Constitution and Statement of Purpose
- Specific examples of activities/events that your organization will put on
- List the names and email addresses of any groups outside of HLS that your group will be affiliated with
- List any sources of funding outside of DOS that your proposed organization has or expects to receive
- Name and Letter of Consent from a Faculty or Staff Advisor
Name of the organization
The organization name must comply with Harvard Trademark and contain the phrase “Law Students Association.”
Evidence of Intended Involvement
At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit evidence of anticipated student involvement including the signatures of at least ten students who are, or seriously intend to become, members of the organization.
Statement of Contribution
At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit a short statement describing the contribution that the organization will make to the HLS community. Such a statement should explain why no existing student organization meets the needs and objectives of this organization. Partial duplication of purpose with an existing organization may be grounds for refusal to certify a new organization.
Constitution and Statement of Purpose
At the time of its original formation, each organization must submit a constitution and statement of purpose to the Dean of Students Office. This document may be simple or elaborate, but it must contain the following information:
Mission: the objectives the group hopes to advance and the specific goals the group hopes to accomplish. The constitution may also include a short statement about which students or community groups the organization expects to serve or attract. When writing the mission statement, framers should keep in mind future members will need to refer to this statement.
Officers: the names and emails of all officers. All organizations must have a President and Treasurer. See additional requirements below.
Additional officers may be elected or appointed at the discretion of the organization and the names of these officers must also be reported to the Dean of Students Office.
Elections: the procedures by which the officers listed in the previous section are selected.
Amendments to the Constitution: the specific process for amendment of the constitution.
Certification: the constitution should include the signature of each of the group’s founders. Any amendments to existing constitutions should be signed by the President and Treasurer of the organization at the time the amendment is made.
When establishing your student organization, you will also need to meet the following additional requirements before receiving official HLS recognition:
All organizations must have a President, Treasurer, and Event Coordinator. Because of the HLS budget and fiscal year, individuals who serve as Treasurers must hold office for the entire academic year (through June 30) even after the election of new officers. Additional officers may be elected or appointed at the discretion of the organization. Officers of student organizations must be currently enrolled Harvard Law Students.
Each organization must submit the names and email addresses of their officers, including the President, Treasurer, and Event Coordinator to the Dean of Students Office each year. Funds for the organization will not be released until the Dean of Students Office has the current list of officers.
All student organizations must have a HLS faculty or staff advisor. Feel free to contact the Dean of Students Office or any other administrative office for advice.
The functions of the advisors are twofold: they contribute to the healthy growth and functioning of a student organization by providing constructive advice and assistance; and they help to prevent or solve problems or difficult situations before or as they arise.
Student organizations should keep their advisor updated on the activities of the organization throughout the year. The actual degree of participation is at the discretion of the advisor.
Funding of New Student Organizations
To obtain funding, new student organizations must comply with the rules and procedures established for existing student organizations as described above. Because of limited total funding for student organizations, the maximum amount of funding available for a new organization is typically $200-$250, although new organizations are not automatically entitled to this level of funding. For these purposes, a new organization is one that has not previously received separate funding or separate recognition from the Dean of Students Office.
Still have questions? Email Mark Jefferson or stop by WCC 3039.