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How To Become a Recognized Student Organization: What You Need to Know

As a student body, we’re a diverse population in every sense of the word. Each of us has unique interests and talents to bring to the table. We all bear scars of various sizes, originate from different histories and traditions. Beyond our classes, student organizations provide an outlet for these differences to be embraced, discussed, and shared in an informal, relaxed environment.  They also represent our collective identity as a university. With them, a prospective student or a community member can gain insight into who we are and what we value as a school. Even more telling, our student organizations (or lack thereof) show what interests aren’t being represented as prominently as others on campus.

For example, there are no officially-recognized LGBTQIA+ groups on campus. Formal meeting spaces for LGBTQIA+ students are notably absent from campus. QLEAR, a group for LGBTQIA+ students, did exist on campus at one point, prior to my freshman year. When I
arrived on campus, however, it was noticeably missing.  I think a lot about what kind of message this sends to students, particularly freshmen. If you’ve had a difficult time in high school and you’re looking for a fresh start, Lesley may seem like the perfect place for you.    But what if you get here and don’t actually see yourself represented in on-campus offerings? What if your identity isn’t being promoted or actively discussed at on-campus events? Where do you fall in between the gaps?

There are, however, a few start-up student groups trying to gain traction. There’s a LA+D +YOU initiative— a group called Fruit Snacks that is exclusively for LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals. An affinity group open to both CLAS and LA+D students, it serves as a workspace,
a place to vent, or a chance to meet friends. Fruit Snacks meets for the last time this semester next month, from 11:30-1:00pm in Lunder 321 on Thursday, November 21.

I’m also delighted to see that the Threshold Program has their own LGBTQIA+ space. Called Kaleidoscope, the group is beginning to gain recognition. Flyers for their Halloween Party circulated around campus; for me, it’s the first time I recall seeing on-campus events
targeted to the LGBTQIA+ population advertised. What Threshold is doing to break the silence and take action is admirable— I hope they continue to be successful.

However, while these efforts are commendable, none of these groups are officially recognized by the University as a Student Organization, which limits their reach and scope. All that stands between them and a larger on-campus presence is USG’s (Undergraduate Student
Government’s) simple, three-step process to Student Organization recognition. Having more groups like this sanctioned by the University would be a huge step forward in furthering and bettering Lesley’s campus culture.

With recognition from USG, student groups can be included on the Lesley website and in promotional materials. This benefits both parties: the advertising can attract new members to the club and, potentially, even new students to Lesley who are looking for a specific kind of college experience. By becoming recognized, student organizations also gain the financial means to hold small events with activities or food, made possible by funding from USG. This funding is available exclusively for recognized student organizations.

First, a student organization must enter Stage 1, the Establishment Period. This is typically one semester long. In Stage 1, all organizations must create a club constitution. According to the Lesley University website, each constitution should contain “the organization
name, mission, requirements for membership, officers, officer duties, officer selection process, amendment process, and general operating principles of the organization.” USG has a link to a sample constitution template online that can be used for guidance. As part of Stage 1 of the process, the student organization must present their sample constitution to USG for consideration. This requires a club representative to attend one of USG’s weekly Senate meetings, held this semester on Thursday mornings from 8:30-9:45 in Alumni Hall. At the meeting, they’ll present an overview of their club and a draft of their constitution to USG for consideration. USG members will then vote to approve or deny the constitution; if the majority of the voting body approves the club, it will move on to Stage 2.

After one semester of Stage 1 status, the student organization enters Stage 2: Recognition. At this point, the club is officially able to receive funding from USG and book rooms for meetings through the Office of Student Activities. After Stage 2, the organization
progresses to the final step of the process, Stage 3.  When a club enters Stage 3: Registration, it is an officially recognized student
organization. However, in order to receive full access to funding from USG, the club must register as an active organization on campus. In the future, this registration process will occur on LynXplore, an online platform for student organizations to recruit members and advertise open
positions. LynXplore is not currently operational, so for now, this registration process is facilitated through the Student Organizations Representative, Jose Mendoza.

In order to be registered, the Student Organization must have a Constitution that’s been approved by USG. At this stage, the organization must also have 4-5 active members to ensure student interest and adequate involvement. It’s also recommended that organizations consider
finding a faculty advisor to oversee the group, though it is not required. Existing recognized student organizations also need to re-register at the beginning of every academic year. This process has a twofold effect: it allows the Office of Student Activities to be updated on which student groups are still active, and it allows the club itself to have a table at the Student Activities & Service Fair. This fair, taking place on the Doble Campus, presents all student organizations for student sign-ups. It’s a great opportunity for student organizations to
advertise to the Lesley population.

Completing the student organization recognition process provides diverse voices with a larger platform to speak out about things that matter to them and find others with similar interests. If these three steps are completed by all students currently involved in grassroots efforts
to make a difference, small student start-ups can become an official part of our campus community. Students interested in starting an on-campus group may contact USG (usg@lesley.edu) or schedule a meeting with the Student Organizations Representative, Jose Mendoza
(jmendoza@lesley.edu).

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