Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What organizations exist on campus?
- Can student organizations use USC’s Tax ID number?
- What is a Student Organization Gift Account?
- How does a student organization open a bank account?
- How can I get involved in existing organization?
- How do I re-recognize a student organization?
- How do you start a new organization?
- If there is already a student organization that exists with a similar purpose, can I still start a new one?
- What are the benefits of being recognized?
- How can my organization(s) get money for its programs?
- How can my organization(s) get money for office supplies and operating expenses?
How can we reserve space for on campus?
- Can organization's use the USC name and logos?
- How can I contact other organizations?
- We want to do fundraisers! How do we get started?
- How can I post flyers on campus?
- How can we get business cards?
- What kind of behavior constitutes hazing?
- What is wrong with hazing?
- Can we have alcohol at our events?
- Can we use university money for alcohol?
- Can we hold events off campus?
- Should we have an advisor? Why?
- We are affiliated with an off campus group. Does this make any difference?
- Can we get a mailbox?
- Can we get a webpage?
- Can we get an e-mail address?
- Can we send mass e-mails to students announcing our events?
- Can we open an off campus checking account?
- Can our officers be paid?
- Can we make a profit on our organization's project?
- Can we conduct a lottery or raffle?
- Can we conduct a lottery or raffle?
- Can we be selective in our membership?
- How do the Principles of Community apply to our group?
- Can we get addresses of campus VIP's?
- How do we arrange for parking on campus?
- What if an activity we want to do is risky (travel, physical activity)?
- Our group is religious/spiritual in nature. Is there anything different we have to do because of that?
- Can anyone vote in our organization?
- Can anyone be an officer in our group?
- Can we decide who can and cannot attend out events?
- Are there any resources to help our group or its leaders develop more as leaders?
- How can we get a table?
- How can we distribute literature?
- Can we charge dues?
- Can we have amplification at an event?
- Can we have social events at any time?
- Can we have a protest event on campus?
- If I spend money, can I get reimbursed?
- Can I sign a contract?
- How can I learn what other organizations exists so that I can identify some possible co-sponsors for upcoming events?
- What is the difference between an organization and an assembly?
- What are the rules regarding selling food?
Can student organizations use USC’s Tax ID number?
Student organizations do not have access to the University's tax identification number and therefore, cannot accept tax-deductible donations. However, student organizations can be associated with a campus (academic) department which would be willing to accept the donations. If your organization is affiliated with an outside (off campus) organization which has a tax number, that organization may receive tax-deductible donations on your organization's behalf.
What is a Student Organization Gift Account?
The Student Organization Gift Account is one account which houses all gifted monies for student organizations. Each student organization has a sub-ledger within the account. The account is managed by the Office of Campus Activities, an office within the Division of Student Affairs.
This account allows student organizations to receive charitable, tax deductible donations. The University accepts the donation on behalf of the student organization, and then sends the donor the proper information for their tax purposes. This allows student organizations to approach individuals as well as companies for larger donations.
Traditionally, all gifts are assessed a 15% overhead fee to pay for administrative costs when withdrawals are made on the account. Student Affairs has agreed to waive this fee in an effort to further support the endeavors of our student organizations. However, to receive this fee waiver, the individual organization’s gift account must not exceed $5,000 at any given time. Once a student organization’s account goes over $5,000 the 15% fee is applied. This arrangement will be evaluated annually. When changes are made, student organizations and their advisors will be made aware of those changes and the website will be updated. The use of all donor funds must be consistent with any donor restrictions or conditions.
How to Open a Gift Account
To request the use of this account, thereby opening a sub-ledger of the Student Organization gift account, a student organization must submit a letter stating that the organization understands these conditions and will follow all university policies. The letter will have both the current President and Advisor’s signatures and contact information.
All deposits made to the gift account must be accompanied with a letter stating the purpose of the funds and a copy of the donor letter containing any restrictions or conditions associated with the gift. For example, if money was raised for a specific reason, such as the end of the year banquet, this must be detailed in the letter. The funds can only be used as permitted by the donor and consistent with the purposes of the student organization. This letter will also include the total amount being deposited. All deposits will include two duplicate copies of all checks. The checks will all be endorsed. Any incomplete deposits will not be accepted. Deposits should be turned in to the Director of Campus Activities at TCC 330.
Student organizations may use their funds for any events or purposes that fall within the policies and regulations set forth by the University and in compliance with donor restrictions or conditions. All expenditures must be approved through Purchasing Services which requires approved vendors and methods of payment. Check requests can take up to three weeks, so please plan accordingly. All requests for funds must be submitted on the USC Student Life & Involvement Expense Request form with a completed Gift Account Withdrawal Form. These forms will be provided to the organization as needed.
How does a student organization open a bank account?
Student organizations may open a bank account with the USC Credit Union. These account CANNOT accept any University money. Please go the the Credit Union to establish the account. You will need:
1. A completed Account Authorization Form from the USC Credit Union.
2. A copy of your recognition letter sent to you when your organization received recognition.
3. A completed signature card with at least two students and the advisor (provided by the USC Credit Union).
4. A completed Tax Identification Form (provided by the USC Credit Union)
How can I get involved in existing organization?
Contact the groups you are interested in to find out when new members are selected. It is up to the individual group to determine how and when new members are selected. Also many student organizations will advertise when they are looking for new members so check the Daily Trojan and calendar periodically. You can also visit the Involvement Fair which is held every semester where over 250 groups recruit members. If you have a problem contacting a specific group, e-mail Campus Activities and we can help you.
How do I re-recognize a student organization?
The recognition process occurs during the first month of each semester. The recognition deadline for the fall is the 1st Monday in October by 5 pm. To re-register your organization visit:/stuorgs/pages/stuorgsapp.html
How do you start a new organization?
Both student organizations that already exist and new ones go through the same recognition process. New student organizations may start up at anytime during the academic year, except in the summer. You must have the names and addresses of 4 student officers, an advisor, membership roster and a constitution. Sample constitutions can be found in the Student Organization Handbook. The Peer Leadership Consultants, located in the Center for Student Involvement in Hazel & Stanley Hall, are available to assist you in the recognition process.
If there is already a student organization that exists with a similar purpose, can I still start a new one?
You are encouraged to meet with that particular organization to determine if that organization will meet your needs. Meet with the officers to discuss your ideas and see if they can be incorporated into the existing organization. If not, then you may start your own organization, but only if the groups have a recognizable difference. Remember that you will need to make a distinction between your organization and the similar one so that people will not be confused.
- post notices on campus, within the posting policy
- use a campus mailing address
- reserve rooms on campus for organizational business meetings
- reserve campus facilities for events and programs in addition to organizational business meetings
- apply for website and/or e-mail account
- apply for university funding (including student program fee monies)
- conduct fundraising efforts on campus
- receive a discount on selected facilities and equipment rentals
- use name, logo, or other trademarks of the university
- apply for mailing labels to be used for promotion of the organization or its events (once a semester)
- access to the USC Credit Union to open a student organization checking account
- post events using the Trojan Info Center the lighted message boards in front of the Student Union Building.
How can my organization(s) get money for its programs? - see Funding in Student Organization Handbook and visit the Funding Resources Website.
How can my organization(s) get money for office supplies and operating expenses?
Most of the financial assistance granted for student organization focuses on programming needs (money to help fund a program). If an organization needs money for other expenditures they can charge their members dues, seek donations from departments, charge for programs or try fundraising activities.
For new clubs, Discretionary Board offers money as "start up funds" for up to several hundred dollars for basic office supplies and equipment such as banners.
How can we reserve space for on campus? (online forms)
All recognized students organizations may reserve space for meetings. To reserve space please go to the Scheduling Office's website at http://www.usc.edu/student-affairs/campuscenter
Only recognized organizations may reserve facilities for events and programs. The Scheduling Office aids all users of their facilities in planning and producing successful events. Available for use are Bovard Auditorium, several outdoor venues and more! Scheduling reservations are made on a first come, first serve basis, and the Scheduling Office cannot and does not guarantee that facilities suitable for all groups needs will be provided. Reservations must be submitted at least four weeks in advance. No advertising can be done before an event is confirmed.
Can organization's use the USC name and logos? - USC Identity Program
Only recognized student organizations are permitted to use the USC name, logo and other trademarks. USC emblem products intended for sale must be manufactured under the license by the University. Design concepts for such custom items require signed approval by the Office of Trademark Licensing prior to manufacture on the trademark-licensing portion of the event request form. A list of licensed product manufacturers may be obtained from the Office of Trademark Licensing located in Parking Structure C, room 103, (213) 740-5222. All product sales by USC recognized student organizations, departments, and athletic teams must obtain final permission to sell the product on campus from the University Bookstore, fourth floor, (213) 740-9254.
How can I contact other organizations?
On this website, all recognized student organizations are listed. Use the search feature to locate their contact information, website (if available) and e-mail address.
We want to do fundraisers! How do we get started?
SCampus Policy Student organizations may no longer sponsor vendors on campus. Special circumstances will be considered.
How can I post flyers on campus? - SCampus Policy
USC provides banner space, the Information Kiosk, display cases and bulletin boards for organizations to promote their events. It is a violation to post on trees, the ground, buildings, Tommy Trojan, and trash cans. Non-compliance with regulations may result in a loss of scheduling privileges and/or fines. Literature/fliers may not be libelous, slanderous, or obscene. They may not incite to riot or any other lawless action, advertise alcoholic beverages, or advertise term papermills.
How can we get business cards? - Purchasing
If your student organization is associated with a department on campus, then you may be able to purchase business cards through that department. There is a form that must be completed and approved by that department.
What kind of behavior constitutes hazing? - SCampus Policy
- Hazing is a felony in the State of California
- Hazing is against the rules and regulations of the Student Conduct Code of the University of Southern California. If individuals are found guilty of violating these rules, they maybe expelled permanently from the University.
- Organizations that participate in hazing functions are subject to permanent disassociation from the University. The future of the organization is in jeopardy if members of the organization participate in hazing.
- Hazing is a threat to life and personal safety and is a violation of the rules of common decency.
- Hazing is outmoded, antiquated and thoroughly unacceptable. It is a custom that has no place in today's University
Can we have alcohol at our events? - SCampus
The possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the University of Southern California campus is governed by appropriate state and municipal laws and is further governed by University regulations. The University Policy concerning alcohol, applicable University regulations, procedure for dealing with an alcohol violation by a student organization, and a definition of possible sanctions for student organizations are discussed in the complete policy.
If we hold events off campus, who is liable if something goes wrong?
Potentially the groups officers, individual members, advisors and any other organization the group may be affiliated with, such as a local or national organizations, may be liable. Just because an event is not on campus, does not excuse the group from adhering to campus policies. In fact, a student group may face judicial procedures on campus as well as off campus depending on the seriousness of the violation.
The University accepts no financial, tort, or other liability for the action of student organizations or their members.
Should we have an advisor? Why?
Yes, all student organizations must have an advisor. A positive relationship with your advisor can significantly increase the productiveness of an organization and the members’ satisfaction.
Advisors should help an organization set and achieve goals, think globally and critically, become self-sufficient and work collaboratively. They should understand the organization and it's purpose. Advisors should serve as a resource, attend meetings and activities, assist in officer/leadership training, explain University policies, and other duties agreed upon by the advisor and the student organization. An advisor should not control or manipulate, vote, hold an office, do work for the organization, or financially support an organization.
For the best results, new officers should meet with their advisors to collectively determine the advisor's role within the organization at the beginning of their term. A positive relationship with your advisor can significantly increase the productiveness of an organization and the members' satisfaction.
We are affiliated with an off campus group. Does this make any difference?
Not really. Simply submit a copy of the constitution, articles of incorporation or other governance document of the external organization for the University's approval. Where conflict arises, the University's policies and regulations supersede those of the external organization.
Can we get a mailbox?
Mailboxes are not available at this time due to our office's relocation in preparation for the new campus center. However, you can have mail sent to out office and we will file it for your organization to pick up. The address is:
Attn: Your Organizations Full Name
University of Southern California
Tutor Campus Center 330
3607 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3103
Can we get a webpage? Services
Yes, recognized student organizations may have and are encouraged to have webpages.
Can we get an e-mail address? Services
Yes, recognized student organizations can get an organization e-mail address.
Can our officers be paid?
If your organization has the funds, not received through the University, and wishes to pay its officers, then yes they can be paid. Be careful though, stipulate how much and what work must be accomplished in order for an officer to be paid.
Can we make a profit on our organization's project?
Student organizations may make a profit to support its educational goals. However, individuals may not profit either financially or with free products/gifts/services.
Can we conduct a lottery or raffle? - SCampus
Free drawings and raffles must conform to California State Law. The University may legally give door prizes, generally as a promotion to encourage people to attend an event. Rules are in the complete policy in SCampus.
Can we be selective in our membership?
All USC students, faculty, staff, alumni and alumnae are eligible to be non-voting members of all student organizations. All voting members and officers must be currently enrolled USC students. An organization can be more selective in their requirements for voting members (i.e. currently enrolled business majors). Organizations will not discriminate on the basis on age, race, religion or creed, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
How do the Principles of Community apply to our group? - SCampus
How do we arrange for parking on campus? - Transportation Services
Contact Transportation Services, make a reservation and then confirm the reservation at the gate the guest(s) will be entering through on the day of the event.
What if an activity we want to do is risky (travel, physical activity)?
The Office of Campus Activities can provide you with waiver forms that you can have signed to "protect" your organization. However, please do not think that by having participants sign a waiver that you do not have to exercise caution or be safe. A waiver may or may not stand up in a court of law depending on the circumstances.
Our group is religious/spiritual in nature. Is there anything different we have to do because of that?
Religious/Spiritual organizations follow the same procedures to become either recognized or registered by the University with the addition of one other form and a meeting with the Dean of Religious Life. More information can be found on the Office of Religious Life website: http://orl.usc.edu
Can we decide who can and cannot attend out events?
If you are receiving funding from the University for a program, the program must be open to all USC students or have approval to limit attendance. If your organization is paying for an event just for its members, then you may limit the people invited to the event (socials, formals).
Are there any resources to help our group or its leaders develop more as leaders?
Yes, the Peer Leadership Consultant Program is a resource for all students and student organizations. This program has a variety of resources and programs for you to use from presentations and retreat planning to team building one-on-one consulting. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact us. Additionally, the Office of Campus Activities is here to serve you. Please contact us, if you need assistance or support.
How can we distribute literature? - SCampus
There are specific policies regarding where literature can be distributed and posted. Please see SCampus.
Can we have amplification at an event? - SCampus
The use of outdoor areas for amplified events is limited by the nature of the given area and the probability of sound interference with official University functions. Generally, amplification is allowed Monday through Friday from 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm in Hahn Plaza. Please contact the Scheduling Office for specific requirements and to reserve the space.
Can we have social events at any time? - SCampus
In order to enhance the academic experience of all students at the University of Southern California, major social events and sponsored parties are to take place on Friday and Saturday and not on evenings preceding days when classes are scheduled. Typically, activities governed by this policy have one or more of the following characteristics: alcohol is present; there is amplified music (live or recorded), or the event lasts beyond 10:00 pm. This policy is not designed to discourage events which support the academic mission, expand cultural, intellectual or educational awareness of USC students.
If I spend money, can I get reimbursed?
Generally as a rule no, not if you are trying to get reimbursed from the University. However, your organization may reimburse you for certain purchases if you have prior approval. That is between you and your organization.
Can I sign a contract?
No, if you do sign a contract that makes you personally liable and responsible for the contract terms. Only the Vice President of Student Affairs signature is acceptable on a contract.
How can I learn what other organizations exists so that I can identify some possible co-sponsors for upcoming events?
On this website, all recognized student organizations are listed. Use the search feature to locate their contact information. Also, you can contact the Peer Leadership Consultant's for assistance.
What is the difference between an organization and an assembly?
An assembly is an umbrella organization for similar organizations and is part of Program Board. An organization's membership in an assembly is voluntary; for example, a Latino student organization may belong to the Latino Student Assembly or may choose not to belong. However, there are advantages to belonging to an assembly, such as funding, access to office space and art supplies, and public relations and webpage assistance.
What are the rules regarding selling food?
Often organizations want to sell food as a fundraiser. However, USC is governed by the same food policies as local restaurants. Therefore, organizations must receive prior approval from both Hospitality Services and the Office of Safety and Risk Management.