How to Start a Club

Applying for Interim Status

One of the biggest benefits of the SSMU is the opportunity afforded to students to get involved and to take a direct role in student life!  SSMU Clubs are one of most popular ways to get involved on campus, and if you aren’t able to find a group that you’re interested in joining, you have the opportunity to start your own club and find other like-minded students!

In order to start a new club recognized by the SSMU, students interested in creating a new group will need to go through a five step approval process before they are able to start operating as recognized club.

The first step for any student interested in starting in a club is to ensure that there isn’t already a SSMU club in existence with a similar mandate or focus.  SSMU will not approve new clubs that overlap in mandate with existing clubs, and it is the student’s responsibility to confirm that their new club is unique.  Students should consult the Clubs Listing, which can be found on the SSMU website, to browse the list of active clubs and make sure the club they want to start does not already exist.  If you do not find any clubs that overlap in the Clubs Listing, you may want to contact the Club Administrative Officer at igc@ssmu.mcgill.ca to confirm that your new club proposal does not overlap with existing groups and is viable as a potential new club!

After confirming that their new club won’t overlap with any existing clubs, students can move on to complete the application for Interim Status. The Interim Status Application package, requires the submission of three (and a possible four) components:

  1. Cover Letter: The cover letter you write for your Interim Status application should act as the proposal for your new club. The content of the letter is what the Interest Group Committee uses to decide whether or not your club should be approved for Interim Status, so make sure that it accurately reflects your vision for the club.  The Cover Letter is your only opportunity to convince the Interest Group Committee why your club should be approved, so make sure that it clearly explains the goals and mandate of your club, how you differ from other clubs on campus, how your club would contribute to the SSMU community, and why you feel SSMU Club Status is the appropriate next step for your group.
  2. Constitution: All SSMU clubs are required to have a Constitution, which acts as one of the binding governance documents for your group. The mandate that you outline for the group in this constitution is also what the Interest Group Committee uses to determine whether or not your club has followed through on their goals when your club is considered for Full Status, so make sure that the mandate is achievable and reflects the goals of your club. Make sure your constitution includes all of the mandatory clauses for club constitutions, which are outlined in the Interim Status application, as the exclusion of any of these mandatory clauses can prevent the approval of your application! Make sure that you outline all of the positions and portfolios that you want to comprise your Executive Council in your constitution, because SSMU will only recognize the Executive Positions that are written into this document.
  3. Member List: The Interim Status Application requires a list of at least 10 McGill students who are interested in being members of your club. You can recruit these 10 members on campus, in classes, or through social media. The member list can include McGill undergraduate or graduate students but the majority of the list cannot be graduate students.  Showing the Interest Group Committee just how much of an active member base your club has works in your favour. If you have more than 10 interested members, be sure to list them for additional points when the Committee scores your application.
  4. Affiliation Letter: If your new club is a campus chapter of an external organization (like a political party or a charity foundation), you will also be required to submit a letter from the organization you plan to be affiliated with that recognizes your chapter and explains how your club will be connected to the larger organization (Will they provide you with funding? Are you required to provide them with your membership list?).

Before you submit your application, make sure that your club’s name complies with the naming regulations.  If you want to use the “McGill” name in your club’s name, you are required to follow McGill’s naming conventions as outlined in their Memorandum of Agreement with the SSMU.  As a general rule, using the McGill name requires including the word “students” in the name as well – for example, a club could not be called the “McGill Canadian Association” but could be called the “McGill Canadian Students Association.”  Guidelines on naming differ depending on the type of club, so be sure to consult the naming guide to ensure that your new club’s name complies with the regulations.

When the Interim Status application is complete, it is submitted to the Club Committee Coordinator  for assessment.  The Club Committee Coordinator is a resource during the entire club application process and is able to answer any questions about applying for Interim Status or about the approval process for new clubs.

After the Club Committee Coordinator has received and assessed your application, it may be sent back to you with recommendations for updates before the application is taken to the committee.

TIP: The Club Committee Coordinator is often required to send applications back to clubs if they do not complete the Club Constitution correctly.  Before you submit your application, read through the Constitution and make sure that you have included all of the mandatory clauses, that your mandate is concise and realistic, and that you have selected the club structure that is best suited to your group (both the hierarchical and nonhierarchical executive structures are explained in the sample constitution, so make sure you choose one and erase the other from the final version of the constitution!).

When you have made the necessary corrections to the application and it is ready for final review, the Club Committee Coordinator will present your Interim Status Application to the Interest Group Committee, which is a committee of SSMU’s Legislative Council that generally meets every week during the school year.

  • The Club Committee considers a wide variety of factors in determining whether or not your club should be granted Interim Status, including how you would contribute to the SSMU community, the sustainability of your club in the long term (financial, environmental, social and institutional), the uniqueness of your events in comparison to existing SSMU clubs, your fundraising and financial capacity, any potential overlap you may have with other existing clubs, and how you plan to fulfill your mandate. All of the things the committee looks for can be found in standardized Interim Status Approval Rubric used for evaluation, so be sure to address everything on the rubric in your cover letter so the committee will be better able to assess your application!

After discussing your Interim Status Club Application, the Club Committee will render one of three decisions:

  • Approval: If the committee thinks that your new club will make a positive contribution to the student body, they will recommend that your club be approved for Interim Status.  You will also receive a copy of your club’s evaluation on the Interim Status Approval Rubric.

  • Tabling: If after reading your application the committee is unsure of whether or not to grant your club Interim Status, they may table the application in order to get more information about the club.  If your application is tabled, the Club Committee Coordinator will contact you with questions about your club proposal to give you a chance to address Club Committee’s concerns.

  • Rejection: If your club overlaps with existing SSMU clubs, violates a SSMU policy (like the Policy on Travel and Charity Based Clubs), has a narrow mandate, or is otherwise unsustainable, your club will be rejected for Interim Status. You will also receive a copy of your club’s evaluation on the Interim Status Approval Rubric, which you can use to expand on your original application and apply again after addressing the concerns brought forward by the committee.

The recommendations of the Club Committee are then sent to SSMU’s Legislative Council, which is the governing body of the SSMU, for ratification of the Club Committee’s decisions.  After the approval is ratified by SSMU Council, the Interim Status Period officially begins.

Please note that due to the volume of the Interim Status Applications received by the Club Committee Coordinator and the Club Committee, you will not receive an immediate response about your Club Status.  During the year, the process for the approval of a new club generally takes 2-3 weeks.

Interim Status Period

After being approved for Interim Status by SSMU Council, clubs enter their Interim Status period, which is a temporary probationary period for clubs that lasts for 5 academic months. For the purposes of Interim Status Clubs, academic months do not include May, June, July and August, and December and April are counted as half-months.  When you are approved for Interim Status, the Club Committee Coordinator will inform you of the dates you are eligible for Full Status and the dates by which you must apply for Full Status.

During this 5 month period, your club is required to host at least three events (or complete other projects, detailed below) that contribute to the achievement of your club mandate.  The Interim Status period gives clubs a chance to build up their member base and begin to host regular events.

Because Interim Status is a short-term probationary period, Interim Status Clubs are not immediately granted all SSMU Club Privileges.  Interim Status clubs can benefit from free room bookings in the SSMU building, free tabling at Activities Night, having a club mailbox, and applying for funding from all available SSMU funds except the Club Fund.

After 3 academic months of Interim Status, SSMU Interim Status Clubs become eligible to apply for Full Status. Your club MUST apply for Full Status by the fifth month of your Interim Status being granted, or you will lose your Club Status and all of your club privileges.  If you lose your Club Status, you will need to reapply for Interim Status and start the period all over again.

If you have a valid reason for why you cannot apply for Full Status within the five month window, you can submit a formal request for an Extension of Interim Status to the Club Committee Coordinator for consideration by the Committee.  If the five month window closes without your group having applied for Full Status and if you were not granted an extension by the Club Committee, your club will lose its Club Status.

Applying for Full Status

After three academic months have passed since your club was granted Interim Status, you become eligible for Full Status. The application process for Full Status is the final step in starting your club.

Like the Interim Status Application, the Full Status Club Application requires the submission of a number of components, reviewed based on a standardized Full Status Approval Rubric.

  • Application Form: The Full Status Application Form takes the form of a fillable PDF. You will be required to provide information about how you fulfilled your mandate during your Interim Status Period, how you have contributed to the SSMU community, and what plans you have to ensure the longevity of your club if you are granted Full Status.

  • Event Forms (3): Clubs need to submit event forms for three events that they hosted during their Interim Status period. The more detail you can provide about the events you hosted and how they helped you to fulfill your mandate, the easier it is for the Club Committee to make a decision about your Full Status Application. Please note that small fundraisers (like bake sales and samosa sales) and executive and general meetings will not be considered as additional “events” for the purposes of these forms.

  • Member List: You will need to submit a list of at least 25 members of your club, as well as their contact information. The list must be primarily McGill undergraduate students. The more members you have on this list, the higher you can boost your score on the rubric!

Alternative Full Status Forms: The Alternative Full Status forms can be submitted instead of the traditional three event forms if the traditional event structure is not compatible with the mandate or activities of your club.  In lieu of three events forms, you can submit one of the following:

  • Campaign Form: The Campaign Form is best for groups engaged in political and social activism who executed a major awareness campaign instead of hosting traditional events.

  • Product Form: The Product Form is an option for groups who exist to create physical or digital products, such as magazine or journal publications.

  • Small Regular Events Form: Groups that have regular events for club members instead of major events, such as dance groups who host weekly practice sessions, may want to consider using this form.

 The approval of a Full Status Application follows the same procedure as the Interim Status Applications.  After the initial submission to the Club Committee Coordinator, the application will be taken to the Interest Group Committee for review and then SSMU Council for approval.

For more details about how clubs operate and how to use the many services and privileges afforded to SSMU Clubs during both the Interim and Full Status periods, consult the “How to Run a SSMU Club” page.