Our new policies

A simple overview of the new requirements

 

Effective September 1, we will implement several changes to requirements organizations must meet to receive CSG funding, in order to create a more inclusive environment for all students on campus to participate in organization activities that their student fees help fund. 

 

  • If you charge dues of more than $50 per semester (or $100 per year)

    • You must waive the dues for any member or potential member who states that they are experiencing financial hardship, and include your process for waiving dues in your organization's constitution.

    • You must not ask for documentation of this financial hardship.

    • Please note that payment plans or doing work for the organization to make up for paying the dues don't meet this requirement.
       

  • If you have a competitive admissions process (i.e. your organization does not allow any interested student to become a member) 

    • You must have oversight on the process. We can provide oversight through our Wolverine Consulting Group, or you can use your own faculty or staff advisor. If you use an advisor, we must approve this person.

    • You must admit members in both fall and winter terms, unless it would pose a significant hardship to your organization.

    • You must explain in your Constitution your criteria for evaluating potential new members.

 

We created this form linked here to help you figure out if you need to make changes to your organization practices as a result of these new requirements.

 

These requirements don’t apply if you request $250.00 or less from us per semester.

In addition, we will allow organizations to select their preferred receipt deadline, rather than having to request an extension from us. This will allow you to submit applications much earlier for an event later in the semester, if you want to plan ahead and know you have funding guaranteed from SOFC. You’ll see an option for this in the funding application. 

 

Questions? Email us at csg.studentorgs@umich.edu. Want a more detailed overview of the who, what, when, where, and why of the new equity requirements? Read on.

 

 

Why we’re doing this

 

Central Student Government is committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment for all students at the University of Michigan, and we know that you share these values. 

 

Membership criteria oversight. We are encouraging student organizations to think carefully about their membership practices through these new requirements. It’s important to note that we are not requiring or prohibiting any admissions criteria ourselves, other than some modest additions to the existing prohibitions under the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy. Instead, we are requiring that organizations meet with either us or a trusted advisor to consistently self-reflect and report on admissions practices, so that we can be as inclusive as possible. Unfortunately, some admissions and hiring practices inadvertently introduce unwanted bias into the process. (Check out the article from The New York Times linked below for a discussion of this.) We want to help organizations actively look for, and take steps to eliminate, any of this unwanted bias.

 

Opinion | Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 

Further, we want to make sure that organizations are accessible to first year students, transfer students, and non-traditional students by permitting them to apply to be members of organizations in the winter, when they are more settled into campus life.

 

Financial accessibility. We know that organizations often rely on required member dues to fund their operations. However, some of our fellow students might have difficulty paying these dues because of their financial situation, which might be short-term or long-term. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these difficulties for all of us. We don’t want these students to be excluded from organizations simply because they might have trouble paying the dues. 

 

Many organizations already have a process in place to assist members, whether that is by helping them find a scholarship, simply waiving the dues, setting up a payment plan, or some other method. We simply want to unify the process and create a single path for students to get assistance for high organization dues.

 

 

More information: selective admissions process oversight

 

We want to make sure that we are taking advantage of the diversity at our campus to learn through working with different kinds of folks from different backgrounds. To help advance this goal, we have some requirements relating to admissions processes.

 

What is a “selective admissions process”? For the purposes of these requirements, we define selective admissions process as follows:

 

"Any organization which does not automatically accept any students as new members upon request from those individuals is considered to have a selective membership process.”

 

In other words, if your organization isn’t open membership—if it has an application, interview, tryout, audition, or any similar process required for consideration for membership—it has a selective admission process and is subject to the requirements.


 

Outlining the criteria. We require that an organization specifically outlines its criteria in its constitution. You can use any criteria you wish, except criteria that unlawfully discriminate against potential members based on any of the following criteria: ‌class‌ ‌standing,‌ ‌age,‌ ‌gender,‌ ‌race,‌ ‌political‌ ‌affiliation,‌ ‌hometown,‌ ‌state,‌ country‌ ‌of‌ ‌origin,‌ ‌religion,‌ ‌disability,‌ ‌marital‌ ‌status,‌ ‌sexual‌ ‌orientation,‌ ‌‌or‌‌ ‌military‌ status‌. 

 

Your criteria has to be concrete and tailored specifically to the activities of your organization—in other words, you must have a reason for each thing you include in these criteria. If there is a specific reason why you do need to select students based on one of the above criteria, and it is both legal and within University policy to do so, you can continue to do this. You should carefully consider whether you need to use this, though, and you should make sure that it is allowed. You don’t have to get our permission, but we can help if you have questions. 


 

Oversight requirements. We require that organizations have someone overseeing their admissions process to encourage inclusivity and equity. This can be either your advisor or our own Wolverine Consulting Group. Regardless of which you use, they are only responsible for oversight of the admissions process, not the dues waiver process.

 

Using an advisor. If you are going to use an advisor, they need to be approved by the Student Organization Committee Director. This can be your faculty advisor, a staff member, or your coach, or someone else you have who oversees or advises your organization. They do not necessarily have to be a University of Michigan employee. Usually, the Director will approve who you choose, unless there is a good reason why the person is not appropriate for the role. We reserve the right to verify with the person that they will advise you appropriately, according to our rules. To start the approval process, just email the name and position of your advisor, and a brief description of them and their role in the organization if it isn’t obvious by their position, to csg.studentorgs@umich.edu and we will issue an approval or ask for more information.

 

Using Wolverine Consulting Group. If you don’t have an advisor, and don’t want to find one, Wolverine Consulting Group (WCG) can oversee your admissions process. We are made up entirely of students, and we undergo training every year on inclusivity and equity in organizations. 

 

What you must do. Regardless of whether you use an advisor or WCG, you have to do the following: 

  • Meet with WCG or your advisor to review your admissions criteria and make sure it is as inclusive as possible

  • Deliver a report to WCG or your advisor at the end of every semester in which you select new members explaining:

    • Your overall process

    • Any adverse events

    • Recommendations for future selection processes, especially what you might do to advance equity based on what you learned

 

You don’t have to send this report to us if you are using an advisor. If you are using WCG, you must send it to them. You should finish this by the third week of the next semester.

 

Exception for some organizations. If your organization admits members solely on skill/ability to perform, you might be exempt from the oversight requirements. For example, if you are a basketball club, and you have tryouts for the team, if you only consider the potential member’s display of skill/ability in the tryouts, you don’t have to abide by the oversight requirements. 

 

However, if you use any other criteria—whether that is cultural fit, experience, a review of resumes, or anything else—you do have to fully comply with the criteria. 


 

Admitting members in both fall and winter semesters. We require that organizations with a selective admissions process make it possible to become a member in either fall or winter semester. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have new members in both fall and winter, but you must allow the opportunity for it. 

 

If this requirement would pose a significant hardship to your organization, we can grant you an exception. You just need to ask us. Email csg.studentorgs@umich.edu to get started with a review of your need for an exception.

 

 

More information: membership dues waivers

 

Some students on campus who want to participate in your organization might have difficulties paying high dues. We want to make sure that they have as equal an opportunity to participate as possible. Many organizations tell us, since we have asked in our funding applications for years, that they already have a process for waiving dues! If that’s you, you might not need to make changes at all. Use the form linked here to see if your current dues waiver policy is compliant with our new requirements.


 

How much can we charge? Like before, you are allowed to charge whatever amount you want (unless you are an SSO, in which your sponsoring unit might have a say in this). However, if you don’t want to be required to give waivers, you can’t charge more than $50 per semester, or $100 per year if you have it paid all at once


 

Can we just reduce our dues to the maximum allowed amount? You can only do this if you reduce your dues for the entire organization to the maximum allowed amount or below. You cannot simply waive the amount above the maximum for members requesting waivers.


 

Can we offer payment plans? You can offer payment plans, as many organizations do already, but payment plans aren’t sufficient to meet the dues waiver requirement. This includes things like requiring members to do work for the organization to get the waiver. To meet the requirement, the waiver has to be complete and unconditional. 


 

Can a member pay a reduced amount? Members who are having financial hardship and ask for a dues waiver can, of course, pay part of the organization dues if they want, whether it is just paying what they can afford or taking advantage of a payment plan, but again, reducing dues isn’t sufficient to meet the requirement


 

Do we have to advertise the opportunity to request a waiver? You are required to publish your dues waiver process in your organization’s constitution. You aren’t required to specifically notify new or existing members, but we encourage you to do it, so that members know about the options available to them in case they cannot afford the dues. You should definitely explain the process to any member that mentions financial difficulties with paying the dues.


 

Can we require verification of financial hardship? We strongly recommend you avoid this. Students might be uncomfortable sharing this information, and be dissuaded from asking for a waiver. The best practice is to simply trust your members and take them at their word that they are experiencing financial hardship. You are not permitted to require students to submit any confidential financial documents to get a dues waiver.

 

If you do want some verification, we created a form, linked here, that you can have members fill out and sign, stating that they are experiencing financial hardship. You don’t have to use this form. We just created it for you in case you want some sort of documentation. This form, or forms like it, are allowed by our rules, since it does not ask for documentation. 


 

Confidentiality. You are required to keep this financial information confidential, including the form we provided, if you use it, and including the fact that someone received a waiver. You can share the information with people who have a legitimate need to know. We recommend that you pick one person in your organization to handle both dues and dues waivers, so that only that person knows this information. 

 

We would be happy to offer assistance with coming up with a dues waiver process that both keeps maximum confidentiality of student information and fits within your organization’s leadership structure. Many in CSG handle confidential information almost every day as part of their jobs, and will gladly share their strategies to keep things protected. Just ask! Email wolverinecg@umich.edu to start a conversation about this.


 

What can we do about reduced revenue as a result of dues waivers? We understand that many organizations rely on dues to keep their organization running, and sometimes due to high expenses, they have to have high dues. We don’t want to force organizations to choose between making important accommodations for members experiencing financial hardship and performing all the activities that they would perform under their current budget. 

 

Wolverine Consulting Group is available and willing to help your organization come up with strategies to adjust operations to take into account these changes in financial flows. We have a number of suggestions that we will tailor specifically to your organization’s structure and activities. Email wolverinecg@umich.edu to start a conversation about this.


 

Please send us any questions you have.

 

We know that for some organizations, these are big changes. We want to help you make it as smooth a transition as possible. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help. 

 

If you have specific policy questions, email csg.studentorgs@umich.edu. If you want help changing your policies or how you run your organization, email wolverinecg@umich.edu