Club Scene: We the People
It may just be a slip of paper (or a file on your computer), but a club constitution can be so much more.
So far, my anime club has been going well. I'm not entirely sure that this is a good thing; if my club was really pushing the boundaries and breaking new ground for anime clubs everywhere, then things wouldn't be going as smoothly as they are. For now, I'll just enjoy it and concentrate on getting more members.
One thing that was easier than I though it would be was writing the constitution. My school requires that each society has a constitution before it can become official, but even if your school doesn't require one, it can be a great asset to your club. A good constitution can be referred to later to settle disputes and to keep the club running smoothly. It's not hard to write one, and the small amount of time and effort that you put into it will pay off later.
First, what's the name of your club? Just calling it 'The Anime Club' works, but it's also boring. There was also some extra pressure at my school to come up with a catchy club name, as my university prides itself on the various catchy acronyms that different clubs have come up with, such as KEG, the KFC, CUBE and KIWI). If I wanted my anime club to be known on campus, it would need a catchy name as well. The best that I could come up with was King's Anime and Manga Palooza (KAMP). For a little while, I contemplated calling it something like King's Legendary Anime and Manga Palooza, just so that people in the club could say "I'm a member of KLAMP." Thankfully, I have too much respect for the ladies of CLAMP, and the club name dropped the L.
Once you've got your name, you need to state what your objectives are. This can be as complex or as simple as you want. KAMP's constitution merely states that it is "a society for the sharing and enjoyment of Japanese animation and comics." Looking over it now, I think we might need to expand on that, but it says what the club is about and its reason for being.
The next question is who is running this club. That would be the executive officers. This is where you detail what kind of hierarchal structure that your club follows. It states the job of each club officer as well, so that everyone knows what they are responsible for. My club follows the simple set-up of the President (me), Vice-President and Treasurer.
How do these people get these jobs? Unless you decide to be an anime dictator, you hold elections. In the constitution, you can decide how often and when elections will be held, as well as how much someone has to win by in order to be elected. My club decided that for someone to win, they must win by at least fifty percent and one more person. This method is usually used for large numbers of people (which we're definitely not), but it's a pretty foolproof way to ensure the majority. If you think that it should be higher than fifty percent plus one, you could say that they need to win a two-thirds majority. Hopefully, your elections won't become the intense competitions that require this kind of number crunching.
A third section of your constitution to deal with elected officers may need to be included, but this is a prickly subject: the impeachment of officers. If you have someone that is just totally ineffectual and who is not doing their part, a way to remove them from their office may be required. Hopefully, it will never be needed, but my club's constitution has an impeachment procedure that mirrors the election process: if fifty percent plus one of the club votes to impeach you, you're out. This part of the constitution was included by KAMP because it's required by the student council. I would hope that if anyone was abusing their duties, the problem could be worked out before going that far.
Who can be members of your club? A section of your constitution stating who is allowed to join is something that you may want to include, especially if you're a school club. Is it only students from your school who can join, or are outsiders allowed in as well? My university requires a clause that gives every student the option of joining, but my club went a step further. We put aside our rivalry with the university next door to allow students from there to join as well.
In the membership clause, it would be helpful to state how someone joins the club, even if it's just coming up to one of the club officers and saying "Hey, I’d like to be a member of KAMP." Details such as club fees should be mentioned here as well.
When does your club meet? If your club has a permanent time and place to meet every week, it would be a good idea to say this in your constitution. You can also say how long the meetings generally run for, and if there is a required quota of members present for it to be an 'official' meeting.
Did you know that most divorces are caused by money, more than any other reason? I’m not sure if it's true, but it's something to keep in mind when you're writing the finance section of the constitution. It doesn't need to include the whole budget, but stating where you get funding from and the general costs of the club is a good idea. It should also state when you present the annual budget to the club and by what majority that it needs to be passed in order to be ratified. You can probably guess the method of determining the majority that my club uses.
The last and probably most important part of the constitution is the section on constitutional amendment. Say a member disagrees with a clause in the club constitution that bans green tea Pocky. How do they go about changing that? It's important to remember that your constitution is a living thing that is open to change. Through the process of running the anime club, you'll find what works and what doesn't, and what is an important part of the constitution, and what needs to be scraped. Always listen to what the other club members suggest and try to find a solution. The constitution is a helpful tool in running the club, but its contents are not commandments; nothing is set in stone. For now, KAMP has the simple rule that if someone wants to change something, fifty percent plus one of the club’s members must be in favor.
Keep in mind that this is all based off of my club constitution, which in turn is based off of the format outlined by my university's student council. You can write up any kind of constitution that you like and that works for you. KAMP hasn't even been in existence long enough to tell if any of our clauses actually make sense, but we can always fix it as we go.