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Drafting Your Constitution

The Rule Book for your Club/Society

All clubs affiliating to the UCSA for the first time are required to prepare a constitution for their club. A constitution is a legally-binding document for your club that formalises the conditions and rules of your club and your members – a rule book. You should not rush drawing-up your constitution without careful consideration of what is going into it. A well-written constitution can be of great use as it lets everyone know what the aims and objectives of the club are, and how to deal with any situations that may arise.

EXAMPLE: The UCSA provides a template that covers the basics for your club or society, which can be found here, or from the Clubs Co-ordinator.

The idea is that you alter this template to suit your club, your executive positions, and your day to day running. Take your time and try to create clauses that are specific to your club and who you want to be. This may be a referenced code of conduct, a mission or long term goal, even an unusual executive position.

Alternatively, if you feel confident enough, you can draw up your own constitution using all the required clauses in the standardised one (these are set out in the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 and its amendments). Check out www.societies.govt.nz for more info.

All Constitutions should include:

  • Club/society name
  • Aims and objectives
  • Terms and membership
  • Committee structure and officers
  • Procedure for elections
  • Meeting procedure
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Process for dissolving the club
  • Process for amending the constitution or AGM/SGM meeting rules
  • Discipline of members
  • Winding down clause

Using your Constitution

Your constitution is your GUIDING document, it should help lead your decision making process. So what does this mean?

Get to know the document, have a copy at meetings, and introduce new exec members to the document straight away. Discuss it in wider club meetings, ask questions and clarify what it means and how it should help guide your club.  (If you find that the document no longer suits your direction, see the section below). The exec section should outline the responsibilities and roles and should be used to ensure that these are being filled. Similarly it reminds you of meeting and event requirements for the year.

It is up to you how much you use your constitution, but ultimately it is there to guide you.

Updating your Constitution

So you think your constitution is out of date? Perhaps it is not regimented enough? Or has the lay out of your exec gone through or is heading towards some dramatic change?

You will need to bring changes to the Annual General Meeting (AGM), or if it cannot wait, you will need to have a Special General Meeting (SGM). To start with, you must refer to the current constitution for guidelines around notice of the meeting. Make sure you follow these carefully otherwise the meeting will be in breach of the constitution and is not VALID.

Bring the changes to the meeting and present them in an orderly and fair way. Ensure that other exec members and general club members have the opportunity to ask open questions. It can be good to refer to your general purpose, or why the club is created and how these changes will help benefit that purpose.

Now it is time to vote – this should be in the manner prescribed in your constitution. If it’s not there, you can consider voting by raising your hand or perhaps a secret ballot so that members do not feel pressured to vote in a particular way.

Once you’ve completed this, make sure to submit your constitutional changes to the UCSA Clubs Co-ordinator for approval. This is to just check that your changes are in line with the principles of the UCSA and the clubs code of conduct.

Updated on April 24, 2023

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