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Starting a New Group

Back to the Skills Toolbox

Are you ready to form a brand-new chapter of Students for Bhopal? If you’re doing so within the context of another student group such as AID or Amnesty International, then great! There’s no need to form a separate student organization for Bhopal – unless you wish to, of course. But if you’re starting out from scratch, and don’t know where to begin, the guidelines below might be helpful. Either way, be sure to let us know that you’re involved – this way, you can take advantage of the national organization and avoid reinventing the wheel. This also allows us to be as helpful as possible, offering advice and support and putting you in touch with other Bhopal supporters in your area.

Step One: Founding the Group Step Three: Choosing A Faculty Advisor
Step Two: Registering Your Group Step Four: Getting Funding


Step One: Founding the Group

To start with, how many of you are there? You’ll need more folks than just yourself. Try to round up a group of 3-4 like-minded people who are concerned about Bhopal and dedicated to making a change. While Students for Bhopal can offer advice and support from afar, it’s this core group of peers that will be central to your success in forming the group – in the end, if you’re the only one who cares, your group won’t get very far.

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Step Two: Registering Your Group

The second thing you’ll want to do is to officially register your new SfB group. Although there are specific forms and procedures that vary widely from campus to campus, you should easily be able to find out what they are by contacting your Student Activities Coordinator or Student Government. Generally, you should be prepared to provide a short list of signatures of registered students, as well as a group constitution.

Writing a Consitution

A constitution or set of by-laws should clearly lay out the name, purpose, and mission of your group. It should indicate how students become members of the group, how they can run for leadership positions within the group, and how those leadership roles operate.

These are some basic elements to keep in mind when writing your Constitution:

* Mission Statement
* Officers and Elections
* Voting
* Meetings
* Committees
* Finances
* How to Amend the Constitution

Two examples are available here and here, but talk to your school’s Activities Coordinator before writing anything to make sure that you're covering everything they require.

Though this may seem tedious, registering as an official campus organization can be critical to your group's success. By doing so, your campus group may be entitled to a wealth of campus resources such as:

..........• Meeting/office space in the student union.
..........• An organizational email account.
..........• Organizational mailing address.
..........• Access to faxes, computers and phones.
..........• Last, but certainly not least, possible funding.

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Step Three: Choosing A Faculty Advisor

Certain institutions require student groups to have a faculty advisor as a precondition for official recognition and access to student funding. Even if your school doesn’t have this requirement, having a faculty advisor is a good idea. For one thing, involving one or more faculty members in your group can help insure continuity and stability. After your current leaders have graduated, an advisor can help ensure that the organization stays on track, and acquires new leaders.

A faculty advisor can also be very helpful in providing guidance to students and sharing information about administrative processes, school policies, and hiring and admission issues.

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Step Four: Getting Funding

Again, procedures vary widely from one institution to the next, so be sure to ask how your new group can request funding as an official student organization. Generally, you’ll be required to draft a budget – you should be realistic, but ask for as much as you think you may need to spend. And don't worry about including lots of budgetary items as budget committees frequently strip down requests anyway – it doesn't hurt to aim high!

Items that you may want to request funding for include copies for flyers and literature, materials for signs and banners, food and drinks for meetings and events, travel money for delegates to the Students for Bhopal conference (Labor Day weekend), and stipends and travel money to bring speakers and organizing trainers to campus.

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal