The Constitution documents the Club/Society’s ultimate reason for being, its aims and objectives, and the manner in which it will operate and work toward those aims and objectives.
It is compulsory for every Club and Society to review and submit a Constitution each academic year – the deadline for submitting the Constitution for each academic year is the end of Term 3 of the preceding academic year.
As well as demonstrating how the Club/Society meets its obligations with regard to Democracy, Equality and Diversity, the aims and objectives will provide the appropriate basis for justifying use of Club/Society funds throughout the year.
What should a Constitution contain?
Consult with your Societies/Sports Coordinator and they will be able to steer you in the right direction. There is a standard template available that will enable you to put your Constitution together quickly and simply, but you are not obliged to use the template to set out your Club/Society’s Constitution – it is your document and can be as bespoke as you want it to be, to suit your purposes, so long as it covers all the following essential elements.
Aims and Objectives
The Constitution must clearly set out the Club/Society’s aims and objectives. The aims are the overall purpose of the Club/Society – what it exists for. The objectives are the specific activities or actions the Club/Society will engage in to work towards its aims.
Aims are the “what”, objectives are the “how”.
Think about the Society and its membership as it exists today and identify what the central aims should be. This can often be straightforward – if you are the Cheesemakers’ Society then your aim is probably going to be something along the lines of “Providing a forum for students interested in making cheese”, and possibly also “Promoting the practise of making cheese within the student community”.
Once those aims are clear, consider how the Society will go about trying to achieve them and the ideas you come up with will determine your objectives. Taking the Cheesemakers’ Society example again, these might lead to “Hosting cheese-making workshops”, “Organising trips to visit artisan cheese-producers” or “Running events to showcase cheeses produced by members”.
You need to set out the rules and benefits around joining and participating in the Club/Society. This is a good place to set out any particular Equality and Diversity measures the Club/Society will be implementing.
Look at the SU’s Codes of Conduct, disciplinary procedures and membership regulations, etc – these are the minimum standards your Constitution needs to uphold. You can set higher standards for your Society, provided they do not become unfairly discriminatory. If in any doubt contact your Societies Coordinator for specific advice.
The responsibilities of the committee should be clearly set out, both for the committee as a whole and with regard to specific roles where appropriate.
You should set out the schedule of Exec and general meetings for the year, the manner in which they will be conducted and communicated, and the conduct required relating to votes and elections. There are SU standards that you need to abide by for votes and elections, such as minimum turnout for votes to be valid, which are detailed both on the SU website and in the standard template Constitution.
Putting a Constitution together
A good starting point would be your previous Constitution and the standard template – it is entirely possible that the aims and objectives from your last version could be used just as they are, but it is always worth checking that they are still fit for purpose. Talk with your Societies/Sports Coordinator to get a copy of your old Constitution and for general advice about drafting a new one.
If you are updating your constitution, please highlight all your changes in red.
Making the Constitution official
The Constitution must be approved by the Societies Executive Committee at the SU and ratified by your Club/Society’s members – see SU By-Law 10 Appendix A for details on this.
Make sure that your Sports/Societies Coordinator in Student Activities receives a copy of your Constitution, as this is part of your agreement with the SU as set out in your Memorandum of Understanding.