Undergraduate Organizations

Statement of Policy Regarding Undergraduate Student Organizations

Through undergraduate organizations each new class leaves its special mark on the cultural, social, and intellectual life of the College. In granting official recognition to these activities, the College seeks to fulfill its commitment to free inquiry and to the importance of an education that encompasses the whole person. Such support does not, however, imply endorsement by the College of any partisan political position or point of view.

Recognition of Undergraduate Organizations

The Committee on College Life has the authority to grant official recognition to undergraduate organizations and to establish regulations for their governance. The rules it has adopted are presented below under the heading "Regulations for Undergraduate Organizations." The College assumes that organizations will comply with the understandings reached at the time of recognition. If the Committee on College Life determines that a student organization has failed to abide by these basic responsibilities, it may revoke the organization’s charter. Undergraduate organizations must re-register with the Office of the Dean of Harvard College each October in order to continue their recognition. Should a group not meet this registration deadline, fail to turn in any of the registration documents, and/or not reconcile debts with outside vendors, the student organization will be placed on probation by the Office of the Dean of the College. During the probationary period, the student group will be unable to reserve space on campus, advertise for events, use the Harvard name, and/or participate in activities fairs (prefrosh, freshmen, or upperclass fairs).  (See the Student Organizations Handbook.)

Funding and Finances

Undergraduate organizations seek funds from a variety of sources that include membership dues, fee-paying events, advertising, alumni/ae endowments, and friends of the organization. Most of these endowments, foundations, and friends’ groups have been established to perpetuate the organization and to provide financial subsidy for programs. Endowments are usually administered by alumni/ae groups in consultation with the Office of the Dean of Harvard College. The College encourages the development of such financial arrangements and, when appropriate, will use University resources to assist with fund drives. Such fund drives must have the prior approval of the Office of the Dean of Harvard College. An organization must obtain permission through the Dean to solicit support from its alumni/ae.

The earnings of any undergraduate organization may not accrue to individual members. Some groups pay salaries to members for services performed by those members. Organizations wishing to pay such salaries or other forms of remuneration must first receive approval from the Office of the Dean of Harvard College. It is expected that salaries will ordinarily conform to current student wage rates in student employment, although special compensation may be given to managers of organizations.

Organizations are responsible for their own finances and for keeping their own financial records, and the College expects that they will be managed in a prudent fashion. The Office of the Dean of Harvard College provides training for financial officers and guidelines for the maintenance of financial records through workshops held each term.

Under the conditions of recognition, financial officers will be required to attend a financial seminar, organizations will be required to present annual financial reports to the Office of the Dean of Harvard College, and an audit of an organization’s finances may also be required.

Organizations that are Massachusetts corporations and federally tax exempt are reminded of the requirement to file special financial reports annually with the Secretary of State in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and with the Internal Revenue Service.

The College makes a considerable contribution to student organization success in the following ways by providing: student organization offices and lockers in the Student Organization Center at Hilles; rooms for meetings and other facilities; resources for music, debate, drama, and dance; in-kind contributions such as professional advice in fundraising for existing foundations, friends’ groups, and new projects; help in ticketing events through the Harvard Box Office; event planning and support; leadership training; mailboxes and mail delivery for student groups; negotiated transportation options; and more. For more information on how we can help your organization, feel free to stop by the Student Activities Office at University Hall, Ground Floor South.



The laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts forbid any form of hazing in connection with initiation into a student organization (see Hazing). As a condition of College recognition, each student organization must file non-hazing attestation forms with the Office of the Dean of Harvard College. Students should also consult an important guide, Preventing Hazing at Harvard, available in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College and online at the Office of Student Life and Activities’ Website that explains the College’s policies regarding hazing, how to identify hazing activities, and suggestions for group activities that do not involve hazing. These policies also apply to non-recognized social clubs whose membership is made up of Harvard College students.

Non-Harvard Organizations

The regulations for undergraduate organizations require that they maintain local autonomy. This means that all policy decisions must be made without obligation to any parent organization. In this way, the independence and integrity of the College are maintained.

From time to time, undergraduates raise questions about their membership in non-Harvard organizations. It is important that students make well-informed decisions when considering membership in these organizations. While fraternities and sororities may be recognized officially at other universities and in local towns, they are not permitted to conduct any activity at Harvard even though their activities involve Harvard undergraduates. This policy applies to the “final clubs” in Cambridge as well.

However, in special circumstances, non-recognized student organizations whose membership consists entirely of Harvard College undergraduates may, at the discretion of a particular Harvard office or department, be permitted to co-sponsor events with that office or department.

Inappropriate Religious Recruiting

The Harvard Chaplains, the interfaith association of chaplains at Harvard, is concerned about destructive religious activity and the tactics of high-pressure religious groups, including issues related to religious recruitment through high-pressure tactics, and provide suggestions for intervention and prevention. The Harvard Chaplains Office is located in the basement of Memorial Church in Harvard Yard and can be reached at 617-495-5529 or www.chaplains.harvard.edu.

Officially Recognized Undergraduate Organizations

The most updated list of information on individual organizations and rules governing their activities is available from the Office of the Dean of Harvard College, and online at the Student Organizations Handbook.