Undergraduate Organizations

A. Introduction

Yale recognizes that organizations under the leadership of undergraduates can and do enhance a student’s education by providing additional opportunities beyond the curriculum for personal development and growth. Furthermore, the University and the community benefit from the variety of services and activities provided by undergraduate organizations. The University believes that students should be encouraged to participate in organizations that are open to all members of the community and whose activities do not interfere with the policies or programs of the University or with the rights of other members of the community. To that end the Yale College Dean’s Office assists students in developing organizations and planning events, provides financial advice and assistance, clarifies University policies and procedures, and authorizes the use of University resources and facilities.

B. Types of student organizations

Any group in which a majority of participants are undergraduates is considered to be an undergraduate organization. Such an organization that conducts meetings periodically, sponsors activities on the campus of Yale University, or that primarily provides a service for or by Yale undergraduates must register with the Yale College Dean’s Office to receive Yale resources and access the privileges of registration.

Groups with activities limited to, and affecting only, a single residential college (e.g., college councils, rooming committees) must register with the head of college's office of the appropriate residential college. Other groups within a residential college that sponsor extracurricular events open to the Yale community must register with the Yale College Dean’s Office.

Club sports or groups that compete athletically must register with the Office of Club Sports in the Department of Athletics.

All religious organizations must have the approval of Yale’s Chaplain’s Office before their registration can be approved by the Yale College Dean’s Office.

In order to qualify for registration as an undergraduate organization, the group must have five members who are registered undergraduates and a majority of its members must be undergraduates. All administrative, policy, and managerial decisions must reside in the hands of currently enrolled undergraduates.

C. Responsibilities of undergraduate organizations

Yale University requires that all student organizations—whether registered or unregistered, operating on or off campus—abide by the Undergraduate Regulations. Organizations and their officers and members assume responsibilities, including the responsibility to be aware of and abide by the Undergraduate Regulations, as set forth in this text and as they may be revised from time to time.

A student who is believed to have violated University policy or state or federal law (including but not limited to hazing, sexual misconduct, or theft) in the course of working for or participating in the activities of an undergraduate organization may be brought before the Yale College Executive Committee or the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC), as appropriate, for possible disciplinary action, and/or referred to appropriate civil authorities.

Organizations must fulfill the training requirements set by the Yale College Dean’s Office annually. Failure to comply with training requirements will result in loss of registered status. 

Student organizations must operate in accordance with Yale policies on equal opportunity, which state, “...Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a protected veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” As part of an undergraduate organization’s obligation to abide by these policies, the organization is responsible for making reasonable accommodations to assist students with disabilities who indicate that they wish to participate in the organization’s activities or attend one of its events. The University’s Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, 221 Whitney Avenue, and the director of the Resource Office on Disabilities, 35 Broadway (rear entrance), room 222, are available to help organizations with these efforts.

Undergraduate organizations must operate on a non-profit basis. See section G, Finances.

D. Registration of undergraduate organizations

The specific procedures for registration of undergraduate organizations are outlined in detail here and also on the Student Organizations website in order to provide guidance to student officers. These registration requirements also protect the University’s tax-exempt status and are designed to ensure that the purpose and activities of the organizations are consistent with the established purposes of the University. Registration is further required because activities of student organizations frequently appear to involve identification with the University. However, registration does not imply official approval by the University of the activities of any undergraduate organization, nor does it indicate any responsibility for them.

Organizations that are established for the purpose of selling or renting items or paying students cannot be registered student organizations, but they may be able to operate as Associated Student Agencies. Students who wish to form such an agency should consult with the business manager of the Associated Student Agencies, 246 Church Street.

  1. Procedure for Annual Registration. All undergraduate organizations, whether returning or new, are expected each academic year to submit an online application for registration through Yale Connect by September 15 to register in the fall term, or by February 1 in the spring term. Organizations that miss these deadlines must wait until the following semester to register. After registration, at least one officer of each organization is required to attend the fall training sponsored by the Yale College Dean’s Office. New organizations will additionally be required to complete two semesters of Onboarding prior to presenting before the Committee on New Organizations, a process explained in detail on the Student Organizations website.

    The online registration form requires, among other things, a description of the purposes of the organization, a constitution, and the identification of officers or other leaders. Additionally, each group must have at least 5 members prior to registration. A complete list of members is not required to be made public but may be requested by the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, to verify information required for registration.

    Registration is ordinarily valid for one academic year; it remains valid until September 15 so that student groups may reserve University facilities or apply for funding at the beginning of the subsequent academic year. However, if a student organization wishes to change its activities from those outlined in its registration documents or alter aspects of the organization described in the registration agreements, then the organization must update its information online for review and approval. Further online changes to group records are permitted only after the current set of changes has been reviewed. To ensure full access to group records for annual registration purposes and to ensure that online communications to the organization can be delivered promptly, officer term dates (begin/end) must remain valid. Yale Connect will not grant access to any officer whose term of office has expired.
  2. Registration Approval. A group’s registration is confirmed by a formal communication of registration approval from the Yale College Dean’s Office. The status of an organization may be verified on the Official List of Registered Undergraduate Organizations.
  3. Revocation or Suspension of Registration. The Office of Student Affairs may revoke or suspend the registration of any undergraduate organization that has not abided by the Undergraduate Regulations or by the organization’s registration and related agreements. Failure by a student organization or its officers or designated representatives to meet the financial obligations of the organization in a timely manner can also result in the suspension or revocation of registration. Any request for reinstatement should be addressed to the Office of Student Affairs at the Yale College Dean’s Office.

E. Privileges of registration

Subject to availability and in some cases payment of rental fees, registration allows undergraduate organizations to:

  1. Use classrooms and certain other University facilities or properties for programs, rehearsals, performances, and meetings, including conferences or other campus events;
  2. Request funding from the Undergraduate Organizations Committee (UOC);
  3. Request funding from the Dean’s Discretionary Funds;
  4. Request office space or storage space on campus;
  5. Participate in the Bazaar of Registered Undergraduate Organizations during First-Year Orientation;
  6. Petition for permission to use the Yale name;
  7. Purchase some goods and services from the University;
  8. Accept gifts from alumni and other donors for the current use of the undergraduate organization, when the solicitation for that donation was approved in the manner described in section H;
  9. Request the use of theater and rehearsal spaces;
  10. Be covered by Yale’s liability insurance and automobile insurance when traveling on official group business;
  11. Provide proof of insurance coverage for organizations meeting or performing beyond the Yale campus;
  12. Receive contract review from the Procurement office and guidance from the Risk Management office;
  13. Apply for a Yale website (yalesites.yale.edu);
  14. Request a group @yale.edu email address.

F. Officers, members, and advisers

  1. Officers. Only currently registered students in good standing in Yale College can hold office or act officially on behalf of an organization in any way. Officers should be aware that they are financially and legally responsible for the organization during their terms of service, and can be held responsible by Yale for infractions committed by their organizations.

    A student on probation may not hold leadership or officer positions in any registered Yale College student organization, any varsity athletic team or club sport, or any other organization that receives University funds. Additional terms of probation may be enforced by the Executive Committee or the UWC in individual cases.
  2. Members. All registered students, faculty, and staff of Yale University can be active (voting) members of an undergraduate organization as long as Yale College students constitute a majority of the membership.

    Withdrawn students, alumni, and students on a leave of absence or a Year or Term Abroad are not considered registered students and may not participate in the activities of any undergraduate organization. For organizations in which special talents or skills are required, the standards used to select members must be related to the needs of the organization, and public announcements about auditions or competitions should be made to ensure that interested students are informed about the opportunities to be considered for membership in the organization.

    Although the functioning of registered student organizations must be confined to and controlled by their active membership, organizations may invite others to attend or participate in events of general interest.

    Exceptions to the restrictions on participation by alumni, withdrawn students, and other non-enrolled individuals must be approved by the Yale College Dean’s Office. Requests for exceptions should be sent to the Office of Student Affairs at student.organizations@yale.edu.
  3. Advisers. To assist in providing continuity from year to year, organizations are encouraged to have a Yale staff or faculty member as an adviser.

G. Finances

  1. Financial Responsibility. Each undergraduate organization is fully responsible for its own finances. Officers should be aware that they are personally responsible for the payment of debts incurred during the period for which they are responsible for the organization. Any financial difficulties of an undergraduate organization should be discussed as early as possible with the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, who may be able to assist or advise the organization.
  2. Financial Records and Reports. A record of all income and expenses and supporting documentation is to be maintained at all times. Each registered undergraduate organization is fully responsible for its own finances. These responsibilities include the maintenance of original receipts and account reconciliation. Financial records and reports may be audited by the University at any time. Heads of college may require similar or more extensive reporting for organizations operating essentially from a particular residential college. Incorporated student organizations are advised to consult with the Internal Revenue Service for specific information regarding tax obligations and responsibilities.
  3. Nonprofit Status. All undergraduate organizations are to be operated exclusively on a nonprofit basis. If it becomes necessary for the organization to incorporate as a nonprofit with the IRS, this action is to be undertaken after consultation with the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck. Any undergraduate organization that incorporates must do so strictly on a nonprofit basis and in a manner that perpetuates its undergraduate status.
  4. Profits and Wages. The overwhelming majority of students involved with undergraduate organizations receive no compensation for their contributions. While the Yale College Dean’s Office and the Committee on Undergraduate Organizations applaud and prefer such volunteerism, permission for students to be paid for services they perform has occasionally been granted to a few organizations. Organizations wishing to pay wages to any students must receive advance written approval to do so from the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck.

    Students should understand that undergraduate organizations, as tax-exempt entities, are prohibited from being profit-making operations. Thus the “profits” or earnings of an undergraduate organization may not be paid to or divided among student members, officers, or other leaders. In that connection, wages or payments to students for their work with student organizations cannot be awarded in a way that would be a disguise for what is really a division of profits. Therefore, all students permitted to earn wages for their work with an undergraduate organization must be hired through the Yale College Dean’s Office and paid according to the prevailing rates and regulations of the Student Employment Office.

H. Fund-raising

  1. Funding by the Undergraduate Organizations Committee (UOC): Funds have been provided to the UOC for disbursement to registered undergraduate organizations. Organizations should be aware that rarely is an entire request funded and that the committee does not provide funding for off-campus travel. A copy of the committee’s guidelines and links to the forms for applying for funding are available online on the UOC’s website (www.ycc.yale.edu/about-uoc/).
  2. Funding from the Dean’s Discretionary Fund. Registered undergraduate organizations may request funding from the Dean’s Discretionary Fund. Such funding is limited and it is not typically granted for routine, yearly activities. Applications may be found online via Yale Connect. Applications must include a budget showing all expected income and expenses, and if funding is granted, receipts must be submitted at the conclusion of the event to verify that the money was spent in a manner consistent with the application.
  3. Raising Funds outside the University. Undergraduate organizations are encouraged to seek funds from a variety of sources, including reasonable membership dues; donations at concerts, speeches, or other events; and advertisements in publications. Fund-raising activities are permissible only to the extent that they are needed to support the activities of the organization, since each organization is operated on a nonprofit basis.

    There must be limitations on fund-raising activities focused outside of Yale in order to coordinate such efforts with the University’s alumni giving and development programs. Soliciting financial support from alumni and other outside sources (such as foundations and corporations) must be authorized by the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, and the director of Development. To obtain such authorization, an organization must meet with the assistant dean of student affairs and provide a statement describing the purpose of the solicitation and the names and affiliations of prospective donors, as well as exact copies of all proposed solicitation materials. The assistant dean of student affairs will refer these documents to the director of Development for final approval. An organization may not contact prospective donors until it has received authorization in writing from the assistant dean of student affairs to do so.
  4. Honoraria. Many distinguished visitors speak and perform at Yale without receiving compensation for their services. Occasionally it is necessary to pay an honorarium to certain speakers. The UOC does not provide funding for honoraria, but such funds may be obtained from other sources at Yale. Generally, student groups do not pay a single speaker more than $3,500.

I. Use of the Yale name and representation of the University

  1. Use of the Yale name and its marks is governed by Yale Trademark Licensing. Student groups wishing to use the Yale name or marks as part of the name of an organization, in the title or caption of a publication, on promotional materials, on any item or product to be manufactured, distributed, or sold by an individual or an organization, or similar uses must be approved by the Secretary of the University or the Secretary’s duly authorized agents, and under such restrictions and explanations as they may impose or require. Groups may request to include the Yale name in their title or visual identity through their annual registration with the Yale College Dean’s Office or by submitting a request for a name change via Yale Connect (https://orgsync.com/152522/forms/229706). Approval to use the Yale name is not final until the organization has received a memo confirming the privilege.

    No student organization may reproduce a stylized version of the Yale name and/or use any University marks in its literature, on a website, on its stationery, or in other media without prior written approval. The full name of the organization, including any subtitle, must be included on all materials, including but not limited to agreements, stationery, posters, websites, business cards, and merchandise whenever the organization includes the Yale name to identify itself. The only exception is a group’s bank account and bank checks which, for tax purposes, must not include the Yale name.

    In order to obtain approval to use the Yale name in an organization’s title, undergraduates are required to indicate in the name that they are a student organization. To accomplish this, we suggest using words such as: undergraduate, undergraduate organization, student organization, student alliance, student partnership, student society or student association. Examples of names using the word “Yale” and conveying student affiliation include “Yale Connect – an Undergraduate Organization,” “Yale Student Alliance for Gun Safety,” “Yale Makes Undergraduates,” “Yale Students of the Tri Nations,” and “Yale Muslim Students Association.” Logos or acronyms that include the word “Yale” must also indicate that your group is a student organization. 

    Please note that the words “at Yale” alone do not convey student status. If you wish to use the words “at Yale” in your name, you must also include language indicating your status as a student organization. For example: “A Leg Even at Yale – an Undergraduate Organization,” “Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale,” “Black Student Alliance at Yale,” or “Club of Romanian Students at Yale”.

    For more examples and information about using the Yale name, visit http://licensing.yale.edu/guidelines.

    Permission to continue to use the Yale name is contingent upon maintaining these requirements and conforming to the regulations applicable to the organization. Permission is automatically revoked if an organization fails to register each year. Upon subsequent registration, the organization must reapply for permission to use the Yale name.

  2. Representation of the University. No undergraduate organization shall purport to represent the views or opinions of Yale University or Yale College in the context of any publication, web page, radio, television, or Web broadcast or public forum.
  3. Use of the Yale name and trademarks. The Yale name and marks associated with the University are protected by trademark law. Any use by undergraduates of the Yale name or these trademarks in the title or caption of a publication or an organization or the like, on any promotional materials, or on any item or product to be manufactured, distributed, or sold by an individual or an organization, must be approved by the secretary of the University or the secretary’s duly authorized agents, and under such restrictions and explanations as they may impose or require.

    The use of the bulldog image used by Yale athletic teams is expressly forbidden except in specific cases in which such permission is granted. Student groups may use the block Y, a registered Yale mark, in their design, but it may not be altered, (including changing color or overlapping with another mark).

    a. Student groups (new or existing) that use the word “Yale” in their name/logo, and wish to produce items for internal use (such as T-shirts), must include their full registered name and/or logo on their item. This includes indicating they are a student organization.

    If a student group is using an approved Yale mark on an item, the color of that item must not be identified with another institution. For example, the group’s t-shirt color cannot be orange (Princeton), crimson (Harvard).

    Student groups wishing to produce items such as T-shirts are required to work with a Yale licensed vendor. For help finding a vendor, contact paul.murawski@yale.edu or denise.castellano@yale.edu in the Office of Marketing and Trademark Licensing.

    All items (in artwork form) must also be approved by the Office of Marketing and Trademark Licensing prior to their production.

    b. Student groups (new or existing) that use the word “Yale” in their name/logo and wish to establish a web site, must include their registered name and/or logo conspicuously on the site. This includes indicating they are a student organization.

    Websites/applications must also contain appropriate disclaimers stating the activities on such website/applications are not endorsed by the university. For example:

    “Yale” and “Yale University” are registered trademarks of Yale University.  This website is a student run website and is maintained, hosted, and operated independently of Yale University.  The activities on this website are not supervised or endorsed by Yale and information contained on this website does not necessarily reflect the opinions or official positions of the “Yale”.

    Students may not create or use non-Yale email addresses with the word Yale in it, but should instead request a Yale email address. 

J. Use of University facilities

  1. Reserving University Space or Property for a Meeting or Activity. If an undergraduate organization wishes to use University space or property for a meeting, lecture, or other activity, that request must be approved by the appropriate administrative office in charge of that facility or space. Since there is a heavy demand on University facilities, requests should be submitted as soon as possible and, always, at least two weeks in advance of the event.

    The person or organization sponsoring an event or conference that includes guests from outside the Yale community must notify the Yale Police Department at least two weeks prior to the event. The chief of the Yale Police Department, or his or her designee, will determine whether police services are needed and the number of police officers appropriate for the event. The person or organization sponsoring the event will be financially responsible for police services.

    For the use of classrooms and certain auditoriums, undergraduate organizations will ordinarily not be charged a room fee when no admission charge is made, but there may be fees for specific services, e.g., media services, extra janitorial service, and the like. Reservation information is available on line through the Office of the University Registrar at classrooms.yale.edu and reservations for classrooms spaces should be submitted through Yale Connect.
  2. Assigning Office Space. Undergraduate organizations wishing to secure an office or storage space on campus must petition the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, in writing. Space is extremely limited, and requests will be considered by the only when an organization presents strong evidence of the need for it. Organizations that have been in existence within the University for less than two full academic years will ordinarily not be considered eligible for the use of an office.

    The privilege to use an office is granted for only one academic year, but permission may be renewed from year to year by the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck.

K. Solicitation and sales

All solicitation and sales regulations published in Student Activities and Extracurricular Activities are applicable to registered undergraduate organizations. (See Student Activities and Extracurricular Activities, section I, Solicitation and sales in residential colleges and other buildings.)

L. Risk management and insurance

Most registered undergraduate organizations are covered by a general liability insurance policy purchased by the University for their events, providing there is full compliance with all rules and regulations governing undergraduate organizations. However, fraternities and sororities are not covered, and they, and affiliates of other national organizations, are expected to receive primary insurance coverage from their national organization. External vendors or private agents contracted for services as part of a conference or other major campus event are also expected to submit proof of liability insurance in the form of a certificate of insurance. This insurance must indicate that Yale University is named as an additional insured. Further details about insurance coverage or requirements can be obtained from the Office of Enterprise Risk Management, 2 Whitney Avenue, 6th floor.

Students driving University-owned vehicles, or rented vehicles paid for by University funds, and being driven for official registered organization activity, are covered by the University’s automobile insurance policy, if the drivers have a clean driving record and have taken and passed the online training course offered by the Office of Enterprise Risk Management. There is no insurance provided for any driver who has not passed this class; students who have not passed it should not be driving any University-owned or rented vehicle. Details on Driver Safety Awareness can be found at http://ogc.yale.edu/training-courses. In the event of an accident, the registered organization will be expected to cover any applicable deductibles.

Students driving their own automobiles for group activities must have a clean driving record and be properly insured, and the vehicle must be properly maintained. The use of twelve- or fifteen-passenger vans is prohibited.

M. Outside vendors and contracts

Contracts between individual students or student organizations and outside vendors/contractors must be reviewed and signed by Yale’s Procurement Office. Ordinarily, student organizations may not sign contracts, unless said organization has incorporated as a nonprofit with the IRS. Students seeking for their contracts to be signed should email purchasing.contracts@yale.edu.

All vendors hired by registered organizations (including, but not limited to, performers, caterers, and equipment rental companies) must provide proof of $2 million in liability insurance prior to performing any work or providing any service. Yale University must be named as an additional insured. The Office of Enterprise Risk Management can recommend a method of obtaining the proper insurance if an outside vendor does not carry it. Details can be found at http://ogc.yale.edu/erm/resources/registered-student-organizations.

N. Additional regulations

Certain organizations have additional guidelines or legal requirements.

  1. Musical Ensembles, Singing Groups, and Theater Groups. Undergraduate organizations using sheet music, scores, or scripts should be aware of federal copyright laws, including laws governing photocopying.
  2. Publications. Each issue of every publication of an undergraduate organization must include a publication notice on the cover page or the page containing the table of contents stating that “This magazine”—or “periodical” or “newspaper,” as the case may be—“is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents.” For online publications, this notice must be prominently displayed on the organization’s home page and on each discrete publication.

    In keeping with the requirement that administrative, policy, and managerial decisions are to be in the hands of undergraduates, decisions about the contents of each periodical, the editorial policy, and the business policies and practices are to be controlled by enrolled Yale College students.
  3. Distinguished Visitors and Controversial Speakers. In order to ensure that appropriate courtesies are extended to distinguished visitors and in some cases to arrange other engagements or security for these visitors when they are on campus, an undergraduate organization that wishes to invite a head of state (past or present), cabinet member, ambassador, or other dignitary of similar rank to visit Yale must, at least a month in advance of the visitor’s arrival, inform the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, and apprise her of the visitor’s proposed schedule while on campus. Similarly, the assistant dean of student affairs, Hannah Peck, must be notified when controversial speakers are invited to Yale. Such speakers include those who have engendered protests or public demonstrations in other venues. Undergraduates are responsible for paying for security that the University deems appropriate for such visitors, and as a result, groups are encouraged to seek funding from non-University sources to pay such expenses. The University reserves the right to cancel the invitation to any speaker if it deems that there is inadequate time to prepare for the event.
  4. Travel Abroad. Members of undergraduate organizations planning to go abroad should consult the Yale International Toolkit for information about health and safety abroad, travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State for specific countries or regions, and steps to be taken prior to travel. Undergraduate organizations are additionally required to register their travel at http://world-toolkit.yale.edu/yale-travel-registry-instructions.
    Visa requirements for non-U.S. citizens traveling outside the U.S. may be different from those pertaining to U.S. citizens. Foreign students may be responsible for obtaining such visas on their own.
  5. Events Involving Minors. Undergraduate organizations organizing or participating in activities that involve minors must register with Yale Programs for Children and Youth (http://programs-minors.yale.edu/program-registration-form). Additionally, such organizations are charged with following all of Yale’s policies and procedures for Programs for Children and Youth (http://programs-minors.yale.edu/).