Student Organizations

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Student Organization Guidelines

The following guidelines apply for all student organizations at SMU.

In order to ensure events are safe, well-supported and attended, and to encourage a balanced calendar of events utilizing best practices throughout the academic year, the Division of Student Affairs announces SMU Event Guidelines. These guidelines apply to all recognized student organizations and all departments within the Division of Student Affairs.

Priority Event Guidelines

By creating our calendar of events in advance and including Tier standards, our most impactful events will be primed for success. Additionally, avoiding schedule conflicts prevents us from competing against ourselves. Tier status is determined by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs/Chief of Staff (AVP/COS) or designee.

Tier 1

Events in this category are large in scale (1,000 or more students in attendance) OR are smaller-scale events specifically focused on SMU and divisional values. In either case, they must be open to the entire SMU community. Tier 1 events often support a University or division initiative. Once a Tier 1 event has been scheduled, no additional events will be approved via Connect, the Outdoor Events Request, or Hughes-Trigg Student Center reservation. Student Involvement announces the deadline to submit Tier 1 events each semester.

Examples: Celebration of Lights, Big Event, heritage month events, Midnight Market, Great Crumpkin, and home football games/Boulevards.

Tier 2

Events in this category are large or medium (500 or more students in attendance) in scale but focus on a specific population of SMU students. Competing events for the same specific population may be planned in conflict with a Tier 2 event if a viable alternative is not available. Departments and student organizations should avoid scheduling conflicting events in order to encourage robust attendance at all events. Tier 2 events should be registered on Connect at least six weeks in advance.

Examples: Career Fair, sorority and fraternity recruitment, All-Greek Info Session, First 5.

Tier 3

Events in this category are small or medium in scale but important to our University community. Some large-scale events that attract mostly community members may be included as well. Tier 3 events should be registered on Connect at least two weeks in advance. These events should be available to all members of the SMU community.

Examples: Tate Lecture Series, Wednesday Worship, Diwali.

Tier 4

Events in this category are numerous, small-scale and often tailored to a special interest. Tier 4 events should be registered on Connect in order to take advantage of mobile check-in. This tier of events does not have to be made available to the entire SMU community.

Examples: organization meetings, small FiR events, workshops

A calendar of Tier 1-2 events will be available on Connect and linked from the Event Request Form.

For additional questions about the Priority Event process, contact Student Involvement.

Registering on Connect; Utilizing Mobile-Check-In

  1. All events planned by student organizations and departments of the Division of Student Affairs must be registered on Connect; outdoor events must also be approved via the Outdoor Events Request Form.
  2. “Event” refers to any program held on or off campus that is open to SMU students, faculty, and/or staff and/or the general public. Examples include but are not limited to: speakers, performers, concerts, festivals, philanthropies, workshops, conferences, and movie nights. Registering on Connect allows you to request a tiered status and have one assigned.
  3. Events must be registered on Connect before the organization/department publishes any advertising for the event, or at least a week in advance of the event; whichever comes first.
  4. Regularly scheduled organization meetings for the purpose of discussing business are not considered “events” under these guidelines.
  5. Event attendance should be taken utilizing Connect mobile check-in to ensure compliance with Student Senate funding guidelines and to capture accurate records. Attendance reports, including ID numbers, can be requested from a Student Involvement staff member and can include a variety of demographic information. Connect Mobile Check-In is the only form of attendance records accepted by Student Senate and university special committees for funding purposes.


  1. SMU reserves the right to cancel any event which does not follow the contract guidelines listed below.
  2. Student organizations and departments must process a contract via the Contract Information Form on Connect for any of the following vendors:
    1. Performers (speakers, musicians, dancers, comedians, DJs, etc.)
    2. Catering (a restaurant or catering company serves food on campus, food trucks)
    3. Services (rental equipment such as tables, chairs, stage, lighting, sound, tents)
    4. Transportation (rental cars, buses) {Contracts are not required to book individual airline tickets}
    5. Risky Activities (inflatable games, bounce houses, dunk tanks)
  3. Contracts are required regardless of the amount paid or funding source (Student Senate appropriated, University funds, private funds, checking account, or other). Vendors providing services at no cost are also required to have a contract.
  4. For co-sponsored events with a non-SMU group or entity: contracts are required for all vendors associated with the event or program, even if the vendor also has a contract or agreement with the non-SMU group and/or is paid for by the non-SMU group.
  5. Students, advisors, and staff members may not sign contracts. This includes invoices with a signature line and other written agreements.
  6. A contract may be required by SMU even if the company or vendor does not require one. If the vendor does not provide a contract, SMU will develop one after you submit the Contract Information Form.
  7. The Contract Information Form must be submitted at least 14 days in advance, though 30 days in advance is ideal. Additional time may be required for more detailed contracts or when significant funding is involved.
  8. Student Senate passed legislation for student organization events featuring a speaker: “Student Organizations are not permitted to promote the event, activity, or speaker prior to the contract being signed by the adequate University designee.” S-104-15: A Resolution on Speaking Event Promotion Timeline

Additional Guidelines

  1. Student organizations must abide by all Student Senate resolutions regarding events (if funded by Student Senate) including but not limited to the following:

                  S-104-16: A Resolution on Advertising Standards

                  S-104-15: A Resolution on Speaking Event Promotion Timeline

  1. Student organizations and Student Affairs departments must adhere to all SMU brand guidelines.

Accountability for Student Organizations

Official student organization recognition including chartered status at SMU is a privilege. Student organizations that do not adhere to these guidelines may face consequences including but not limited to:

  1. Referral to the Department of Student Support, Advocacy & Accountability for a conduct hearing;
  2. Forfeiture of University and/or Student Senate funding;
  3. Revocation of chartered status by Student Senate;
Funds may be denied for direct payment or reimbursements related to your event.

In order to ensure student organizations (SOs) operate in congruence with all applicable policies and procedures, support efficient use of resources, and encourage student involvement in healthy SOs, the Division of Student Affairs and Student Senate developedthe following guidelines regarding student organization standing, applicable to all SOs.


Student organizations (SOs) recognized by the Student Senate with a charter or temporary charter are considered in good standing as long as they comply with all expectations established by Student Senate as demonstrated on Connect:


  • Up-to-date roster indicating officers, one SMU-employed faculty, staff, or approved graduate assistant advisor and minimum of 10 SMU student members (temporary) or 12 student members (chartered). The Connect roster is the official record of organization membership and staff may request confirmation of membership at any time. Only those on the SO roster may conduct business on behalf of the organization

  • Constitution and/or By-Laws containing a non-discrimination clause.


Additionally, SOs must maintain state-mandated risk management training compliance as outlined in Texas Senate Bill 1138 through re-registering their organization on Connect annually each fall and completing Mandatory Organizations Meeting (MOM) training during the fall semester by no less than four student members and one advisor.


SOs must also meet financial obligations to the University and not carry a debt to any department.


SO standing can be impacted by status with and sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct andCommunity Standards.


If a SO does not meet the requirements listed above, they are considered in bad standing with the UniversityStudent Involvement (SI) staff will communicate with the SO regarding their standing and provide action steps with deadlines to resolve the issue. If the SO does not return to good standing by the stated deadlines, SI staff will communicate their status with campus partners and the following will occur:


  • SO portal on Connect locked, prohibiting viewing of portal by members of the SMU community including SO members;

  • SO loses the privilege of access to all services including but not limited to:

  • Stated affiliation with the University including use of the SMU name and logos;

  • Space and service reservations. For example, the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, SMUPD, McFarlin Auditorium, outdoor events, etc.;

  • All student organization services including but not limited to: contracts, travel, Coca-Cola products, etc.;

  • Funding from University entities. These may include Student Senate, Presidential Commissions, Division of Student Affairs, First 5, etc.;

  • Access to Comptroller services through the Students’ Association.


A SO can return to good standing upon confirmation of resolution for the compliance issue(s). If the SO does not return to good standing within 30 days, the Student Senate Organizations Committee will automatically review their charter and consider revocation. The committee will review all available information, hear from the SO, and determine under what stipulations they should be allowed to continue or if a recommendation for charter revocation should be made to Student Senate. Charter revocation of a SO will result in forfeiture of all funds deposited with the Comptroller’s office, both appropriated and checking.


Communication regarding SO standing will be directed to the organization president and advisor.


For more information contact the Senate Organizations Committee or Student Involvement.


All monetary donations to student organizations must be submitted to the Assistant to the Assistant Vice President & Student Engagement Coordinator in HTSC suite 314 for processing.

Fundraising/Solicitations by student organizations

Depending upon the fundraising/solicitation category (see below) all forms must be submitted with the deposit (funds from fundraising only.) Additionally, if the fundraising event generates no profit, the forms still must be completed. In either case, if the forms are not received within 3 business days from the last day of the event, the organization’s account(s) will be placed on hold until the form is received.

Organizations fundraising for self:

Organizations fundraising for others:

  • Complete the Donation Approval Form, obtain the signature of the University President, 2nd floor Perkins Administration Building, and submit to the Student Involvement Coordinator.
  • Complete and submit the Fundraising Event Income Statement to the Student Involvement Coordinator.

Organizations soliciting goods for self:

Organizations soliciting goods for others:

  • Complete the Donation Approval Form, obtain the signature of the University President, 2nd floor Perkins Administration Building, and submit to the Student Involvement Coordinator.
  • Complete and submit the In-Kind Donation Form to the email address listed on the form.
Complete and submit the Fundraising Event Income Statement to the Student Involvement Coordinator.


"I, as a citizen of the SMU Community, commit myself to upholding the values of intellectual integrity, academic honesty, personal responsibility, and sincere regard and respect for all SMU students, faculty, and staff."


In accordance with the values of the University and our shared vision for an inclusive campus community, all social event themes should be respectful of race, ethnicity, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, social class, age, and ability status.

Cultural appropriation (adopting specific elements of a culture for entertainment) and discrimination must be avoided and rejected at all times. When a culture is exploited and its elements are used disrespectfully, the values of the University are compromised.

SMU student organizations and their leaders should consider the implications of the name of their event in addition to the dress code they set, how they advertise, and all social media posts and decorations related to the event.

Examples of Inappropriate Party Themes:

  • Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • Thug Mansion
  • White Trash Party

If you wish to discuss your event theme with a staff member in Student Affairs, or have questions, you are encouraged to contact any of the below offices, all located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 3rd Floor:

Social Change and Intercultural Engagement - (214) 768-4580
Student Involvement - (214) 768-4400
Women and LGBT Center - (214) 768-4792
Dean of Students - (214) 768-4564


PLEASE NOTE:   If your organization or event is found in violation of these guidelines and/or has failed to register for approval through the Student Organizations Off-Campus Party with Alcohol Registration Process prior to advertising, the event organizers and the organization will be held accountable through the SMU Student Code of Conduct and/or other applicable University policies.

SMU student organizations are expected to comply with all SMU policies including 1.5: Use of University Name which addresses student organization names:

Undergraduate and graduate student organizations may not hold outdoor programs, events, or activities of any kind during periods designated as final exams on their school's respective academic calendar in order to support student academic success.

SMU Student Organization Advisor’s Expectations


What is a student organization advisor?

A student organization advisor supports the activities of a group by providing advice and resources to the organization and representing the interests of SMUEach advisor manages their relationship to a student organization differently. Some play active roles by attending meetings, working with student officers, and assisting in program planning and development. Others maintain more distance. An advisor accepts responsibility for staying informed about organization activities and for advising officers on the appropriateness and general merits of decisions. Advisors can serve a variety of roles: mentor, team builder, conflict mediator, educator, motivator, policy interpreter, and more. 


SMU expectations for student organization advisors:

  • Report your concerns about a student. Students may feel safe sharing personal concerns with you or you may notice concerning changes in students’ behavior. If you have an imminent concern about a student’s safety, call SMUPD (8x3333) immediately. For serious concerns or troubleshooting, contact the Dean of Students Office (8x4564). All other concerns can be reported through the CCC program.

  • All advisors are required to report all instances of sexual misconduct to SMU’s office of Institutional Access & Equity.

  • Sign all financial requests and other forms requiring an advisor signature.


Advisor/Student relationship building – How to foster learning

  • Promote learning experiences - being a leader in a student organization is an important part of a student’s holistic educational experience. 

  • Afford students ownership of their organization

  • Discuss expectations for your role with student leaders so that everyone is clear at the outset. Which of the following are your duties…

  • Attend weekly meetings? Programs and events?

  • Provide storagspace in your office?

  • Will you respond to emails after business hours?Provide personal contact info?

  • Help plan internal trainings and workshops, facilitate teambuilding activities?

  • Mediate conflict between members?

  • Assist with officer transition?


Have a question about advising? The Student Involvement staff is here to help!