Student Organizing: Starting a Chapter on Your Campus
- Field & Organizing
- Movement Building
Editor's note: we wrote this resource in partnership with Texas Freedom Network Education Fund (TFNEF) as part of our work to develop a Civic Engagement Manual. So while the examples here are about Texas, and directed towards students, we hope they're helpful to organizers, young and old, across the country.
Now it’s time to turn what you’ve learned about organizing and strategic planning into action through leading a Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter on your local college or university campus. Although this opportunity may seem intimidating at first, all Texas Freedom Network student chapters share a structure and guidelines to help leaders like you organize on campus. This section will provide a detailed explanation of what you need to get your chapter up and running and best practices to help your chapter thrive. Let’s get started.
Registering Your Chapter
Most colleges have a department that manages registered student organizations and provides support to those groups. When starting your Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter, it’s essential to understand and follow the parameters set by your Student Activities Office, especially requirements that impact recognition of your chapter as an official student organization on campus.
Being recognized as an official student organization has significant perks: you’ll be able to reserve space on campus, collaborate with other student organizations, sponsor events and participate in campus-wide opportunities for recruitment. Your chapter might even be eligible to receive funding. Failing to follow the requirements of the Student Activities Office may result in your chapter losing its official student organization status and the benefits that come with that status. So it’s important that you understand what’s required and expected of your chapter.
Selecting a Faculty Adviser
Most colleges require registered student organizations to be sponsored by a faculty member who agrees to serve as the liaison between the student group and the college and offer assistance when helpful. Even if your campus doesn’t have this requirement, a committed faculty adviser is a strong asset to any student organization. A supportive professor is able to guide you in the right direction, help navigate campus policies and assist in your outreach to other students.
When brainstorming about potential faculty advisers, consider asking a professor who teaches government, political science, civil rights, or another topic that is related to the TFNEF’s mission. It’s ideal to select a professor you have worked well with before, either as a student, through independent study, in volunteer work, or with another student group.
Make sure to keep your adviser in the loop. Setting up monthly check-in meetings allows you to keep your adviser informed and enables him or her to stay involved – a win/win for your Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter.