Skip to main content

Student Engagement

  Recognized Student Organizations


A recognized student organization is one that has successfully completed the recognition process and has received official status from the College. As such, it has earned the benefits and privileges associated with recognized student organizations and will be held to fulfill the responsibilities required of all student organizations. The Student Experience Council (SEC) is charged with administration of the recognition and review processes. Students interested in starting a new student organization at Westminster College must notify the Student Affairs Office, in writing, of their interest in starting an organization.

Benefits and Privileges

Official College recognition allows student organizations the right to apply for funding through the Student Government Association (SGA), utilize College-owned facilities for meetings and gatherings, use specified College media outlets for announcements and event promotion, and receive assistance and advice from College personnel.

Prospective organizations may use the facilities of Westminster College for information and interest sessions prior to recognition providing the meetings are approved by the Student Affairs Office in advance and the desired facility is available and scheduled through the appropriate office. Recognized student organizations may receive priority of facilities, even if the prospective organization submitted the request first.

Prospective organizations may not apply for funding through the SGA or host campus events until they have successfully completed the registration process.

Organization Statuses

The College reserves the right to deny gatherings of students who do not fall into any of these definitions.

Prospective Student Organizations are organizations that are working with the Student Affairs Office toward gaining active status and official College recognition.

Active Student Organizations are organizations that meet all of the annual responsibilities and are provided all of the benefits and privileges.

Inactive Student Organizations are organizations that are placed on a two-year hiatus either through conscious choice or sanction assigned by the SEC.

  • Conscious Choice – An organization may choose to become inactive, membership may drop below five (5) students, or officer positions may be vacant. Inactive status will last up to 2 years at which time the organization will close. The officers must meet with a representative from the Student Affairs Office prior to reactivation.
  • Sanction

Probationary Student Organizations are organizations that have been placed on probation as a result of failing to meet the responsibilities of active organizations with provisions from the SEC or for a violation of local, state, and federal laws or College policy.

Closed Student Organizations are organizations that were once active student organizations that have lost official College recognition. An organization must remain closed for a 2 year period at which time a new group of students may participate in the recognition process through the SEC for a similar organization.

  Student Organization Expectations

Annual Report

Once a year, each student organization must submit a Student Organization Annual Report to the Student Affairs Office to be evaluated by a representative from the office. The annual report will provide the Student Affairs Office with updated executive officers, organization members, and other important information about the student organization. This form will also be shared with SGA in preparation of the Audit and Allocation process. Failure to submit this form may result in being moved to inactive status.

Responsibilities of Student Organizations

To retain recognition and active status, a student organization must:

  • Complete the Student Organization Annual Report form.
  • Retain an advisor approved by the College.
  • Maintain digital copies of a current (national, if applicable) constitution and/or by-laws in the Student Affairs Office.
  • Submit to the Student Affairs Office any revised constitution or by-laws of the organization.
  • Uphold the purposes and goals under which the organization was granted recognition and the purposes and goals of the College.
  • Maintain at least five (5) current members. (Honor Societies may maintain recognition with less than five members). If an organization fails to maintain at least five current members for a period of one calendar year, it will be considered to be inactive.
  • Be financially responsible: successfully pass the SGA annual audit and remain debt free.
  • Successfully complete the organization self-assessment review process every five (5) years through SEC.
  • Abide by the policies of Westminster College.

Election Officers

  • Campus Programming Council (CPC) officer selection takes place in November, with SGA elections occuring in February.
  • Sorority and Fraternity Life elections are determined by their national headquarters.
  • All other active student organizations must elect executive officers by the end of the academic year. Transition meetings between outgoing and incoming officers should occur before the end of the academic year, so that incoming officers feel adequately prepared.
  • Any officer changes made outside of the official election of executive officers must be submitted to the Student Affairs Office immediately following elections.

Organization Finances: Audit and Allocation Process

  • Each student organization is provided with an account with the College’s Business Office and must maintain their finances through this assigned account. Outside checking/savings accounts are not permitted for recognized organizations who receive funding from SGA.
  • Only the treasurer, president, and advisor may access the account. The organization is required to keep on record in Student Affairs the names of the current treasurer and president. These positions cannot be held by the same student.
  • Student Organization Treasurer’s Guide can be found at
  • Audits are conducted by the SGA at the end of each academic year for each student organization.
  • SGA budget allocations will occur at the Student Organization Officer Annual Leadership Retreat.
  • Student organizations must pass their audit in order to be eligible for an allocation for funding through the SGA.

Student Organization Officer Annual Leadership Retreat

  • Student organizations will be invited to attend the retreat if they are officially recognized or have registered as a prospective organization during the previous semester, have sufficient membership to maintain active status, and have elected officers.
  • To be eligible for funding through the SGA, organizations must send two officers/members to the Student Organization Officer Annual Leadership Retreat.

Periodic Review

Once every five (5) years, each student organization is reviewed by the SEC to determine if the organization is functioning according to its constitution and/or by-laws and upholding the philosophy, purposes and goals of the organization and College. The SEC will review an organization’s completed Self-Assessment Report.

  • If an organization fails to submit the Self-Assessment Report, the Student Affairs Office will remind the organization in writing. All funding through SGA is withheld until the Self-Assessment Report is submitted and reviewed by the SEC.
  • Failure to respond to a second notice to submit the Self-Assessment Report will result in the termination of the organization’s official recognition. This may include closing the organization’s Business Office account, removal of students from fraternity houses, denial of campus meeting facilities, etc. The organization will be notified in writing of that decision by the Student Affairs Office.


Sanctions will be assigned to a student organization who violates campus policies or the Student Organization Guidelines and may include warnings, fines, probation, inactive status or closure. Failure to comply with terms of sanctions will result in additional sanction, up to and including closure of the organization.

Recognition Process (Starting A New Student Organization)

Students wishing to start a new student organization must meet the following minimum requirements to apply for official college recognition:

  • The prospective organization must consist of a minimum of five currently enrolled Westminster College students.
  • Membership must be open to all students of the Westminster College community without respect to race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, age, handicap or disability, marital status, veteran status, genetics, or any other protected class. This applies to all organizations with the exception of those organizations specifically exempted in Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act of 1972. Organizations may establish additional membership and academic eligibility requirements.
  • A prospective organization shall not unnecessarily duplicate an area of interest or endanger student support of any other recognized student organization.
  • If affiliation with a national organization is required, the local prospective organization must receive preliminary approval from SEC and must subsequently fully establish national affiliation before it can be fully recognized.
  • The purpose of the prospective organization must be consistent with the philosophy, purposes, and goals of Westminster College.
  • An advisor must be selected by the student organization prior to the time the SEC considers the application for recognition.
  • The SEC may consider other factors it deems relevant.

Students interested in starting a new student organization at Westminster College must notify the Student Affairs Office, in writing, of their interest in starting an organization. After submitting their intent to start a new organization, the student must meet with a representative from the Student Affairs Office to learn about the recognition process and the steps that must be taken to gain recognition and active status.

A representative from the Student Affairs Office shall serve as administrative advisor during the period of organization (not to exceed one semester). The representative shall aid the prospective organization in developing a constitution, understanding College procedures pertaining to student organizations, and obtaining an advisor.

Required Documents for Recognition Process:

  • A digital copy of a national constitution (if applicable).
  • A digital copy of the local constitution and/or by-laws.
  • A digital copy of a list of officers (these may be temporary officers, pending a future election). However, two different students must be designated as President and Treasurer.
  • A letter of acceptance as advisor from a faculty member, staff, or administrator employed full time by Westminster College. Individuals who are not currently employed by the College but wish to assist the organization on a regular basis may only serve as a consultant to the organization. They also must first be approved to serve in that capacity by the SEC.
  • Printed names and signatures of at least five students who have attended the prospective organization’s meeting(s).

  Steps of Recognition Process

Presentation to Student Experience Council

After submitting the above materials, a designated spokesperson for your organization must appear at the designated SEC meeting to present the organization’s request and to answer any questions from the Council. There will be one SEC meeting each semester dedicated to the consideration of new student organizations. The meeting date is determined each semester by the Chair of the SEC.

Following your presentation, the SEC will:

  • Recommend approval of your organization’s request.
  • Recommend tentative approval of your organization’s request until changes required by the Council are made.
  • Deny your organization’s request.

Presentation to Campus Community

Receiving SEC’s recommended approval is the first of a three-step process. If your organization is recommended for approval, a representative from the Student Affairs Office will notify you accordingly. They will also announce the Council’s intention to recommend recognition by publicizing to the campus community via email a brief overview of the organization’s Statement of Purpose.

The email will invite campus members to comment on whether or not your organization should be granted recognition. Comments will be accepted by a representative from the Student Affairs Office for one (1) week during the period when classes are ordinarily in session (September to May, excluding holidays). A copy of your organization’s supporting documents will be made available in the Student Affairs Office for review. The documents may not be duplicated and/or removed from the Office.

Following the one-week comment period, the SEC will review the comments and determine whether further review of the organization is warranted. If additional input or clarification is necessary, you may be requested to meet with the Council until its concerns have been successfully addressed. If they have, the process continues as outlined in these policies.

Presentation to President of the College (Final Approval)

The Council will submit its recommendation for approval to the President of the College who will have final authority concerning the recognition of your organization. The President will attempt to make his/her determination within 28 days. A representative from the Student Affairs Office will then notify you of the President’s decision. The President’s decision is final.

If your organization receives tentative approval, the organization’s representative will receive correspondence from a representative from the Student Affairs Office outlining SEC’s required changes (e.g., Constitution, By-laws) necessary to receive a recommendation for official recognition. Your organization will submit changes to a representative from the Student Affairs Office who will then share them with the SEC to make a final determination. The steps found in the approval process above will be followed accordingly.

  Event Management

Event Registration

All events hosted on or off campus by a recognized student organization must be registered with the Student Affairs Office. The Campus Event Registration form is available at or in the Student Affairs Office. Event registration forms require the signature of the student organization adviser. Forms are due prior to each event.

Scheduling Campus Events

Student organizations or persons employed by the College who wish to reserve a room on campus for a College activity should first consult the master calendar of events available online ( via the College homepage. Consulting this master calendar will lessen the chance of scheduling events that conflict with others. You may submit your event to be listed on the “Online Events Calendar” by going to

Given the special heritage of Westminster College and its continuing affirmation of the relevance of this tradition to its life and work, the College should avoid scheduling any meetings during Chapel. The College will also seek to avoid any scheduling of events during the times reserved for Catholic Mass on Saturday evenings and Vespers on Sunday evenings.
  Reserve a Room

Social Event Responsibilities

Student Organizations are encouraged to host social events on campus, especially in Berlin Student Lounge, on the campus grounds, or in residence halls. Social events held in residence halls shall be limited to the lounge. Officers of the organization sponsoring the social event are responsible for the conduct of those in attendance and for the observance of College and/or residence hall policies when on campus and, where applicable, when off-campus. Officers of the organization are to ensure that the conduct of those attending the social event does not interfere with the rights and responsibilities of others. A minimum of two officers of the organization should be present during the event, from the start to the end. Officers may choose to share this responsibility. Fraternity parties are governed by social regulations that are approved by the College.

Fundraising and Solicitation for Student Organizations

Students, student organizations, and campus departments must obtain vendor permission from the Student Affairs Office who approves all such activity. The proposed fundraising project must not interfere with existing Westminster College-operated services or contacts. Fundraising forms are available in the Student Affairs Office and require the signature of the student organization adviser.

Any project or activity that entails the raising of money, donations, or selling of goods or services which may include small games of chance by a club or a recognized student organization, company, or individual must be approved. Student organizations must file a fundraising form prior to each event. Publicity for fundraising events must include the name(s) of the recipient(s) and the purpose(s) of the proceeds. Since residence hall policy prohibits candles in rooms, fundraising events may not include the selling of any type of candle.

Fundraising by student organizations is prohibited at varsity athletic events. An exception is granted for the Homecoming football game as long as the fundraiser does not duplicate or detract from concession sales AND student organizations receive prior approval from the Director of Athletics or a member of his office. Student organizations are required to have the signature of the Director of Athletics on the fundraising form.

Commercial vendors or community groups must be associated with a student organization or college department in order to solicit or distribute materials on campus. The request for the fundraiser or event must be made to the Student Affairs Office via the campus representative. This applies to TUB table reservations as well. Commercial vendors or community groups will assume the cost of any fee associated with the use of College facilities.

Vendors are not permitted in residence hall lobbies or hallways. Door-to-door solicitation is not permitted in residence halls or fraternity houses.

Advertising Guidelines

Promotion of events sponsored by student organizations may be posted on campus bulletin boards, except for boards that are specifically reserved for a certain purpose. Fliers will be posted in the residence halls via the Residence Life staff and should be submitted to the Student Affairs office at least 4 days prior to any event. Most campus buildings have bulletin boards for advertising purposes, though it is best to ask departmental secretaries what may and may not be posted in specific buildings. Table tents may be displayed in dining facilities with the permission of Food Service staff. No advertising is permitted in the Art Gallery.

Nothing may be posted on any surface that is not an approved bulletin board, including any painted or glass surfaces, trash cans, walls, railings, bathroom stalls, benches, light post, staircases, windows, doors, newspaper boxes, trees, etc.

Promotional materials may not cover any other advertisement, nor may any current fliers be removed before the advertised event in order to make room. Fliers advertising past events may be removed to make room for current ads.

Promotional materials must advertise an event sponsored by a recognized student organization, Westminster College department, or other official government organization.

Painting the Rock (by Lake Brittain) to promote and celebrate student life is a time-honored Westminster tradition. Individuals and groups who decorate the rock are expected to do so in a way that celebrates the rich diversity of our community and demonstrated respect for all. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be done in compliance with all College policies.

Chalking is permitted on sidewalks and only in areas where rain will wash the chalk away. Student and student organizations will be responsible for cleaning up the chalked area if the rain is not able to wash it away. Chalking is not permitted in the immediate path outside doors and not on the Veteran’s Memorial in the quad.

Digital signage and advertising should be considered. The Office of Marketing and Communications maintains the online calendar of campus activities, the College’s social media accounts, and the digital signage in campus buildings. Events and other publicity items may be submitted via the College’s Marketing form:

Commercial advertising is generally not permitted on campus. If an event is co-sponsored by a student organization or campus department and commercial business, the name/ logo of that campus organization must be printed in type significantly larger than the name/logo of the business/organization. The name of the sponsoring organization or department MUST appear on each poster.

Bulk mailing to students cannot be accommodated. Local vendors may reach out to students with printed materials. These print items should be 4x6 postcard size, 8 ½ x 11 fliers, or tri-fold brochures. Each vendor is limited to a quantity of 50 pieces. These should be submitted to the Student Affairs Office. If approved, they will be placed on the Community Bulletin Board in McKelvey Campus Center and in a magazine rack near the TUB dining facility where students can pick them up as interested.

TUB Banner Guidelines

The College welcomes recognized student organizations to display event banners in the Second Level and Carlson Atrium located in the McKelvey Campus Center. While Westminster supports freedom of speech, banners that do not reflect the mission of the College will be removed. We do request that students adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Organizations may display one banner per event.
  • Banners may be displayed for a maximum of two (2) weeks prior to an event. Greek organizations announcing their new members must remove the banners no more than two weeks following the formal bid day.
  • Event banners must be removed within 24 hours of the last date of the event. Outdated banners will be remove and discarded by student workers.
  • Banners may not cover any other advertisement or digital signage displays.
  • Banners may be no larger than 4’ H x 6’ L.
  • Banners should not overlap other banners and wooden handrails or interfere with pedestrian traffic on the stairs.
  • Under special circumstances, larger banners may be approved by contacting the Student Affairs Office PRIOR to making the banner. Oversized banners will be removed and discarded by Student Affairs if they are hung without permission.
  • Banners may be attached to the metal railing with zip ties, ribbon, or string. Use of any other type of fasteners that would harm the woodwork or paint is prohibited. Organizations will be responsible for any repair. (Hanging kits are available at Information Desk at no charge.)

Recognized student organizations will have priority to hang banners in the TUB area. Banners belonging to campus departments or other organizations should follow the identified timelines but may be taken down to make room for those belonging to recognized student organizations before the two week period concludes.

Filing Complaints Against Student Organizations

Complaints must be presented in writing to the Chair of the SEC. The complaint must outline the nature of the objections. SEC shall call a hearing with the officers or representatives of the organization. The person(s) who filed the original complaint must be present at the hearing. The organization against which the complaint has been filed shall have a representative attend the hearing. The organizational representative will have the opportunity to provide any information s/he wishes to be considered.

SEC shall reach a decision on the case by majority vote of those present and hearing the case. A quorum of four students and three faculty or administrators must be present. The decision of SEC is final. There is no further appeal. The authority of SEC concerning official recognition of student organizations does not supersede the authority of Westminster College pertaining to violations of the Code of Conduct as outlined in the Handbook for Students.

Hazing Policy Pertaining to Student Organizations

Westminster College does not permit members of any organization, group, or athletic team to haze. Hazing is defined as any activity in which the organization expects prospective members to participate and which is created intentionally, on or off college premises, for the purpose of producing mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule. Such activities include but are not limited to the following: paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical or psychological shocks; required trips from campus; required physical exercises; the wearing of conspicuous public apparel; public stunts and buffoonery/morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; late night work sessions which interfere with scholastic activities.

A student may not choose (give consent) to be hazed. The giving of consent does not excuse hazing activities. A violation of the College’s hazing policy will result in disciplinary action taken against a student organization and may include separate action taken against an individual(s) within the organization.

  Student Travel Policy

The following guidelines for domestic travel are for currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students attending sponsored trips.

Domestic travel includes any student travel sponsored by a unit of the College, a registered student organization or financed by College funds that involves travel within the United States, Canada, and U.S. Territories. This includes but is not limited to travel to academic or professional development conferences or student organization sponsored trips. It does not include travel undertaken by students who may travel as individuals to athletic/recreational events as non-participants, or as individuals who travel out of town to engage in student teaching, internships, practicums, observations, or research.

Travel to Canada will require a passport. Trip participants are responsible for securing their own passport in enough time to participate. International and exchange students are responsible for knowing the terms of their travel visas and obeying all laws in locations they visit.

A College sponsored event or activity is one that is initiated, actively managed, planned and arranged by a member of the College’s faculty or staff, or by members of a recognized student organization that has been granted sponsorship by the College, and is approved by an appropriate administrator and/or an event or activity that the College actively manages, is involved with, or oversees financially, physically, or administratively.

Recognized student organization travel must be consistent with the organization’s mission statement and constitution on file with the Office of Student Affairs. Travel must be planned so as not to create an undue interference with academic responsibilities.


Automobile: Refer to the Westminster College Motor Pool Policy

All drivers must be approved by the College. Procedures for approval are outlined in the Motor Pool Policy.

We recommend strongly that no student drive for more than four consecutive hours. If a sponsored trip or program requires greater than four consecutive hours of travel, a new, certified, and approved driver must take over driving responsibilities after each four-hour shift.

Charter bus: Trips involving large numbers of students that cannot be safely accommodated in Motor Pool or rental vans may want to consider charter.

Airline travel: Groups traveling more than 300 miles should consider flying. Airline travel must conform to the rules of the College’s Travel and Entertainment Policy.

Expectations for Travelers

Whether on or off campus, students serve as representatives of Westminster College and their conduct should be reflective of that responsibility. The Student Code of Conduct applies to all College-sponsored activities, including off-campus travel. All faculty, staff, and students participating in College sponsored travel are bound to applicable College policy, including the guidelines established by the sponsoring department or organization, Motor Pool Policy, Travel and Entertainment Policy, and the Handbook for Students.


Although not required, for reasons of safety, emergency coverage, and communication purposes, the College encourages the use of chaperones for group travel. Paid employees of the College are eligible to serve in this capacity.

A trip leader is defined as the faculty, staff, or student responsible for coordinating the trip and assuring compliance with all related policies. The trip leader holds responsibility for submitting the Travel & Risk Management Plan or the participant list. If a chaperone is attending the trip, the chaperone will generally fill the role of trip leader. Otherwise, the president or designated student organization officer should fill this role. Additional students, faculty or staff may support the trip leader in their responsibilities. The trip leader must attend the entire trip.

Related Westminster College Travel Policies

Westminster College authors two policy and procedure documents that apply to travel for student groups and organizations: The Motor Pool Policy managed through the Physical Plant Office and the Travel and Entertainment Policy, a financial policy housed within the Business Office. These policies apply to travel involving students in addition to policies and procedures outlined in this document.

Travel and Emergency Funds

Trips being paid for, in full or in part, by College operating or restricted budgets must comply with the Travel & Entertainment Policy.

Trips being funded, in full or in part, by student organization budgets are encouraged to follow the terms of the Travel & Entertainment Policy.

In accordance with Student Government Association (SGA) policy, SGA funds may only be used to pay for transportation expenses (i.e. motor pool, charter bus, or airfare).

Student organizations should follow the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) per diem definitions found at for lodging and meal expenses which are being covered by the organization’s funds. The GSA should be the maximum amount allotted or reimbursed.

All trip participants should be aware that the College and student organization assume no responsibility for providing students with funds for personal or emergency expenses. Personal expenses include snacks, beverages, or desserts that exceed the per diem, gifts, souvenirs, hotel incidentals, etc. Students should be prepared to assume their costs of travel and lodging if there are unanticipated delays or other incidents which may require additional expenditures. Additionally, students are responsible for personal belongings.

No College funds (operating, restricted, student organization) may be used to purchase alcohol. Additionally, alcohol consumption is not encouraged by the College and should be kept to a responsible minimum.

Emergency Protocol

In the event of an emergency, complete each of the following steps:

  • The trip leader or able participants should first contact emergency services (911) when it is safe to do so.
  • Trip participants should contact the trip leader to report their condition and location, if the group has separated.
  • The trip leader should contact Westminster College Public Safety (724-946-7777).
  • Public Safety will contact Student Affairs personnel who will work with Public Safety to contact advisors, other offices, and parents as needed.

The trip leader(s) will be responsible for taking a head count of all students traveling and providing an update on all participants to Public Safety. In the event that the trip leader is unable to perform these duties, one or more participants should be identified to do so. In addition to a head count, the trip leader should gather information on the condition of all participants as best as they are able (injuries, location, treatments of injuries or hospitalization). HIPAA may prevent the trip leader from gaining access to this information.

In the event of a family emergency, the College will attempt to contact participant(s) via their cell phone. If a family emergency occurs when the College is not ordinarily in session and/or offices are closed for the day, family members attempting to reach participants should contact Westminster College Public Safety at 724-946-7777.

Required Documents for Student Travel

Risk is inherent in any travel, regardless of location and mode of transportation. As such, it is imperative that student groups and organizations have a plan in place should an emergency occur.

A Travel & Risk Management Plan should be submitted by the trip leader(s) one week prior to departure from campus. This is required of groups traveling more than 300 miles or staying overnight at their destination. A copy of the plan should be held by the trip leader(s) during the trip as it will contain contact information for campus officials who will be needed in the event of an emergency. Participants are advised to carry identification, emergency contact information, and health insurance information.

A Participant List should include the name, cell phone number and emergency contact person/phone for each participant. Participant lists can be created in Excel and uploaded with the Travel & Risk Management Plan.

Travel & Risk Management Plans and Participant Lists are held in the Public Safety and Student Affairs offices.

Emergency Forms & Waivers are required of participants for overnight trips or day trips that are inherently dangerous. Trip leaders should maintain physical copies of these forms. Emergency forms should travel with the trip leader and waivers should be maintained in the appropriate campus office.

Faculty Policy on Lodging During Escorted Travel With Students

This policy is intended to clarify expectations for escorted travel with students at a College-sponsored event or activity. A College-sponsored event or activity is one that is initiated, actively managed, planned and arranged by a member of Westminster College’s faculty or staff, or by members of a recognized student organization that has been granted sponsorship by the College, and is approved by an appropriate administrator and/or an event or activity that the College actively manages, is involved with, or oversees financially, physically, or administratively.

Westminster students and employees are expected to know about and complete all required paperwork for a College- sponsored trip (e.g., the Travel & Risk Management Plan through Student Affairs when the trip involves a student organization). These trips may include but are not limited to scholarly meetings and conferences, research travel, study abroad experiences, travel courses, course-related field trips, sporting competitions, mission trips, music tours and off-campus concerts.

For escorted travel with students that require overnight travel, the College employee should stay in the same facilities where the students are lodging. Members of the faculty and staff may share a room if all individuals agree. Under no circumstances will College faculty, staff, or trustees share a room with a currently enrolled student, full- or part-time.