Registered Student Organization Handbook

The Florida State University Panama City acknowledges the importance of student organizations. Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) play an important role in developing student leadership and providing a quality campus environment. Because of their importance to the FSU Panama City image and student life, it is the responsibility of each RSO to adhere to the values, moral standards and the mission of the University. The RSO’s goals, objectives and activities must not deviate from established policies and regulations.

FSU Division of Student Affairs: Mission, Vision and Values

Student Government Council (SGC) is a component of the Panama City campus’s Department of Student Affairs.


The Division of Student Affairs collaborates with students, faculty and staff to create welcoming, supportive and challenging environments that maximize opportunities for student learning and success. Through high quality programs, the Division:
• facilitates student development 
• celebrates differences 
• promotes civic and global responsibility


The Division of Student Affairs envisions a Florida State University where students, faculty and staff embrace the learning community with respect, responsibility and acceptance for all cultures. Our graduates will have character, competence and integrity in contributing to a diverse and international world. They will be capable of making ethical decisions and be committed to a life of service and leadership.


• Success: We promote student success and learning through the intellectual, physical, psychological, career, social and spiritual development to students.
• Excellence: We strive to achieve excellence and professionalism in all programs and services and set high expectations.
• Caring: We treat others as we want to be treated. We teach caring by example with consideration, sharing and kindness.
• Integrity: We value high standards of ethical behavior. We demonstrate and expect responsibility and accountability in all community members.
• Diversity: We honor the history, traditions and culture of all members of the university community and promote a nurturing environment. We celebrate diversity and the unique contributions of individuals.
• Respect: We recognize the dignity, worth and individuality of all members of our community. We pursue an environment that is fair, open and just. 

Registered Student Organizations: Benefits, Privileges and Expectations

A Registered student organization (RSO) of Florida State University Panama City is any group meeting the following criteria:
• Official membership comprised of Florida State University students only. Auxiliary members- such as Alumni and regional state and community college students are allowed but do not share the same benefits. Primary membership (50 percent + 1) students must be enrolled at Florida State University Panama City. All officers must be registered FSU Panama City students in good standing.
• Formed in order to contribute to the student’s personal, academic and/or professional development.
• Properly registered with the Student Government Council.

Benefits and Privileges

Because of their role on campus, registered student organizations are afforded special privileges and benefits. An RSO may:
• Reserve campus facilities, such as rooms for meetings and event spaces through the SGC/RSO Program Associate by completing a Facilities Use Request form (FUR) 
• Request funds from the Student Government Council
• Use office space, community office supplies and equipment in the SGC/RSO office
• Seek SGC approval for conferences and other travel
• Publicize events on campus and in the community
• Obtain assistance in planning and implementing social, cultural and recreational activities from the SGC and Office of Advancement
• Participate in New Student Orientation, Homecoming and other campus-sponsored activities

For information on other privileges, contact the SGC/RSO Program Associate.


RSOs are afforded privileges and resources at Florida State University Panama City and in exchange are required to adhere to and fulfill the following expectations as conditions of registration. Each RSO must comply with all guidelines and rules set forth by Florida State University, the Board of Trustees, local, state and federal laws, the Office of Student Affairs and the Student Government Council.

The liability of an organization for the behavior of its members and guests extends to responsibility for making certain that members do not violate Florida State University Panama City policy and procedure in their association with the organization. When an organization is charged with a violation of FSU Panama City policy & procedure, the organization shall be subject to disciplinary action to the extent commensurate with the offense in question. Organizations may be:
• Placed on probation 
• Required to perform some positive action for the good of the community 
• Assessed monetary fines and/or have A&S fee funds rescinded
• Lose recognition as a Registered Student Organization.

Additional sanctions may be placed on the organization as a result of University judicial procedures.

Each RSO must: 
• Complete the annual registration process by submitting all required information, actively participating in training opportunities and making timely updates to registration information (officers, constitution, etc.) as changes occur. 
• Remain in good standing with all aspects of Florida State University (Office of Student Affairs, SGC, campus departments, etc.). 
• Meet all fiscal obligations incurred by the organization and abide by the SGC Finance Code. 
• Maintain accurate records including minutes and financial reports. 
• Submit financial reports upon due date as directed. 
• Ensure proper planning and execution of organization events, and consult with the SGC staff for help with event policies and contract management when necessary. 
• Provide proper education and communication throughout the officer transition process
• Establish consistent communication with the organization advisor, and keep advisor informed of organization activities and decisions. 
• Ensure proper use of campus resources, including meeting and event space, office space, and other afforded benefits to the organization. 
• Contribute to the enhancement of student life at FSU Panama City.

Anti-Hazing Initiation Policy

Pledge-education or new-member programs and activities must not interfere with the rights and activities of others and should always reflect the best interests of the members of the organization it represents and the university community as a whole. Initiation week activities should not interfere with or be detrimental to organization members’ or prospective members’ academic performance. Initiation week activities, therefore shall not be scheduled during the week prior to or the week of final exams and shall not be referred to as “hell week.”

The University strictly forbids hazing. Hazing for the purposes of this policy shall mean any action, activity, or situation which recklessly, negligently, or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a person for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of the University, hereinafter referred to as “university organization.”

Hazing shall include, but not be limited to forcing, requiring or expecting pledges, associate members or prospective members (hereinafter referred to as “pledges”) or initiated members of university organizations to participate in any of the following actions or activities:
• Drinking alcohol or any other substances. 
• Using any drug, narcotic, or controlled substance. 
• Eating spoiled foods, raw onions, goldfish, or anything a reasonable person would not eat. 
• Dropping food or other substances (e.g., eggs, grapes, liver) into another person’s mouth. 
• Tying a person to a chair, pole, anchor, tree, or any other object or to another person. 
• Causing Excessive fatigue through physical exercise or psychological shock. 
• Branding. 
• Paddling, whipping, or beating of any nature. 
• Performing calisthenics (e.g., sit-ups, push-ups, runs). 
• Pushing, shoving, tackling, or any other physical abuse. 
• Throwing anything (e.g., whipped cream, garbage, water, paint, eggs) at a person or group of people. 
• Exposing oneself indecently or appearing nude or in a way that is considered offensive by a reasonable person. 
• Subjecting a person or group of people to verbal harassment. 
• Calling people demeaning names. 
• Misleading pledges in an effort to convince them that they will not be initiated, that they will be hurt during initiation, or any other activity that would cause extreme mental stress. 
• Carrying items (e.g., shields, paddles, bricks) that serve no constructive purpose or that is designed to punish or embarrass the carrier. 
• Waking pledges, or initiated members at odd intervals or permitting fewer than six continuous hours of sleep each night. 
• Conducting activities that do not allow adequate time for study. 
• Wearing apparel or accessories that are demeaning and not normally in good taste or wearing items that cause discomfort. 
• Defacing property (e.g., trees, grounds, buildings, cars, or other university or private property. 
• Stealing any property (e.g., trophies, composites). 
• Compelling a person or group to remain at a certain place or transporting a person or group anywhere without their consent (e.g., road trips, kidnappings). 
• Assigning or endorsing pranks (e.g., stealing, panty raids, harassing another organization). 
• Engaging in public stunts, buffoonery, or other embarrassing activities. 
• Yelling when entering, traveling through, or leaving any public building. 
• Intentionally “trashing” any area for the purpose of annoying others or for having others cleans the “trashed” area. 
• Preventing pledges from talking for an extended period of time for no constructive purpose. 
• Having pledges perform personal chores or errands. 
• Blindfolding and parading individuals in public areas, blindfolding and transporting in a motor vehicle, or privately conducting blindfolding activities that serve no constructive purpose. 
• Answering telephones or doors with a prescribed chant, riddle, song, or rhyme. 
• Allowing pledges to use only a particular door when entering or leaving any building or to use only a certain stairway within a building. 
• Conducting “interrogations” or any other non- constructive questioning.

For the purpose of this code, any activity as described above upon which the initiation or admission into or affiliation with a university organization is directly or indirectly conditioned shall be presumed to be a forced activity, the willingness of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding.

Any person suffering or witnessing a hazing activity is encouraged to report the incident to appropriate university officials in the Office of the Dean.

The principal officer of each university organization shall be responsible for informing pledges and initiated members of the University Hazing Policy.

RSO Registration, Reinstatement and Re-Registration

New RSO Registration

Student organizations new to FSU or groups that are re-forming a past organization must apply for new registration. This process includes completing all required paperwork and setting an appointment for application review. After reviewing the Registration Packet , the SGC/RSO Program Associate will meet with officers of the organization to review submitted materials and answer any questions about the registration process. During this interview, the SGC/RSO Program Associate gathers more detailed information about the interested group and instructs the group concerning the policies and procedures governing the FSU Panama City Student Organizations. Registration will be complete when the organization receives an email notification from the SGC/RSO Program Associate stating that the registration process was successful, usually within 10 business days.

New Registration can take place at any time during the year, including the summer semester. Before the registration process, any new or reactivating group may hold an interest meeting and conduct publicity exclusively for that meeting (must be approved by the SGC Advisor).

The RSO Registration Packet must include:
• Organization Registration Application
• Constitution & Bylaws (local) 
• Constitution & Bylaws (national, if applicable) 
• RSO Officer Form
• Membership Roster 
• Statement of Compliance & Advisor Signature Form
• Insurance Clarification Statement
• Release from Liability & Statement of Voluntary Consent
• Hazing Policy Statement of Compliance


Re-Instatement of Inactive Organizations

Re-instatement allows any inactive organization to become active again. If the organization has been inactive for more than two years, they must participate in the new registration process listed above. If a group has been inactive for less than two years, they must complete the re-registration process below.


Annual RSO Re-Registration

Each organization’s registration expires annually on Aug. 31. To retain benefits and services for the organization, each RSO must submit appropriate forms by Sept. 15. Updated officer contact information also is required during the first month of the fall semester.

The Re-Registration Packet must include:
• Registration Application 
• RSO Officer Semester Update 
• Membership Roster
• Release From Liability and Statement of Voluntary Consent Form
• Hazing Policy Statement of Compliance
• An updated version of the organization’s Constitution and/or Bylaws if any changes have been made.

The SGC/RSO Program Associate will review the application and submit it for processing. Officers will be notified if changes or additional information is required to submit their application.

Re-Registration will be complete when the organization receives an email from the SGC/RSO Program Associate stating that the re-registration process was successful.

RSO Required Training and Updates

Once registered:
• Each organization is required to participate in one training session with the SGC/RSO Program Associate each semester. This training session is sometimes offered on a Saturday in conjunction with SGC. All officers are required to attend. New RSOs training will occur soon after organizing. 
• All RSOs must uphold the “RSO Expectations” listed in this handbook (page 6) as a condition of registration.
• All RSOs must submit a completed RSO Semester Officer Update form to the SGC/RSO Program Associate no later than Jan. 15 and May 15. These forms are to be completed even if no changes have been made in the organization.
• Changes in membership, officers or the Constitution and/or Bylaws throughout the academic year must be submitted to the SGC/RSO Program Associate immediately.


All fundraising activities require prior approval from the SGC Advisor. Off-campus fundraisers or any that require sponsorships or gifts from community partners, businesses and/or donors also must be approved by the Office of Advancement.

Some activities are restricted or prohibited under University policy or state and federal laws. All Recognized Student Organizations are expected to uphold all State of Florida laws.


Gambling as a fundraiser or event is not acceptable for any Recognized Student Organization. This includes, but is not limited to, raffles where tickets for the raffle are sold in exchange for an opportunity to win money or a prize(s); games or tournaments that have an entry fee; betting on, wagering on, or selling pools on any University athletic event. If a RSO is planning an event, such as Casino Night, or Poker Tournament, or raffle drawing, must meet with SAC Assistant Director of Event Planning and permitting by contacting the Student Activities Center Office.

Types of Gambling are as follows: 
• Gaming: Where the outcome is decided largely by chance. Examples include bingo, raffles, and card games including blackjack. 
• Betting or wagering: On the outcome of a future event. Examples include horse racing, Sports betting, and internet betting. 
• Speculation: Such as gambling on the stock market.


Section 849.0935, Florida Statutes, authorizes qualified nonprofit corporations and their offices, employees and agents to conduct drawings by chance, provided certain conditions are met.

All brochures, advertisements, notices, tickets or entry blanks used for such drawings must conspicuously disclose: 
• Rules governing the conduct and operation of the drawing. 
• The full name of the organization and its principal place of business. 
• The source of the funds used to award cash prizes or to purchase prizes. 
• The date, hour, and place where the winner will be chosen and the prizes will be awarded, unless the brochures, advertisements, notices, tickets, or entry blanks are not offered to the public more than 3 days prior to the drawing. 
• That no purchase or contribution is necessary.

It is unlawful for any organization that is authorized to conduct a drawing by chance to require an entry fee, donation, substantial consideration, payment, proof of purchase, or contribution as a condition of either entering the drawing or being selected to win a prize. Therefore, the organization distributing the raffle tickets may not require a contribution or donation in order to participate in the raffle; nor may it arbitrarily disqualify or reject any entry or discriminate in any manner between entrants who contribute to the organization and those who do not.

Programming/Event Registration and Planning

Student organizations are usually formed to meet a perceived need or desire within the campus community, and they identify goals and objectives that are related to that need and desire. Much of what organizations do in pursuit of these goals and objectives falls under the umbrella of programming. For purposes of these guidelines and procedures, programming can be defined as the process of planning, implementing and evaluating projects and events that serve members of the group and the larger community and fulfill the purpose of the organization.

Event Planning is a multi-step process. Start planning early. Determine the purpose of the event as well as its target audience, location and budget. Identify each person planning the event and responsibilities.

Event Registration Form

All RSOs must submit an Event Registration Form for approval from the SGC Advisor. Facilities reservations will not be considered confirmed until the event has been approved. (General membership, executive board or committee meetings do not need prior approval)

Facility Reservation

All indoor and outdoor spaces on campus must be reserved through the Facilities Use Request (FUR) form at as soon as possible.

Because space is limited, a month or more might be needed to secure desired location. To reserve a space, complete the form with your desired time, date and location.

Further information, such as a diagram of how you want the space set up, can be submitted up to one week before the event. All FURs should include special set-up instructions, technology needs or security issues.

FURs must be submitted before any promotional materials are released for the event.

RSO meetings also require a FUR to be submitted at least one week in advance.


Determine your budget and possible resources to raise money and/or cover costs. If you plan to charge admission, it is important to review the A&S Fee guidelines to determine the fee and what it will cover.

Event Follow-up and Clean-up

After an event, make sure all areas are clean and free of trash.

Meet with the planning committee to identify the event’s strengths and weaknesses. Submit a Post-Event Report promptly to the SGC/RSO Program Associate to be shared with the SGC.

Vendors, Contracts and Liability

All vendors must be approved by Florida State University with proper licensing and insurance. To confirm a vendor’s authorization, to approve a vendor or for information on insurance requirements, contact the SGC Advisor or the Office of Finance & Administration (H-312).

Speakers and entertainers may require a contract. Read all contracts thoroughly, and have your RSO advisor and the SGC Advisor review it as well. The FSU Panama City Dean is the only person who can sign contracts. If you have questions concerning contract terms, ask for clarification. Contact the SGC/RSO Program Associate if you have any questions or concerns.

RSO & Event Publicity

No event should be publicized before the FUR is submitted and approved. Publicity should include as much information as possible about the time, date and location of an event, as well as an event description and a contact person.

Students can publicize an event or program through posters, fliers, banners and word-of-mouth.

Posting Print Advertisements

Posting is limited to Student Government Council, Student Election Candidates and Registered Student Organizations. Any off-campus entity must seek approval from the Dean’s Office. Posting is limited to designated open bulletin boards/kiosks, student group boards, posting strips and inside elevators. Posting on any other object is prohibited.

Items posted on open strips inside classrooms must not interfere with class activities or emergency information.

To post fliers and posters on campus bulletin boards and elevators, submit 20 copies to the Office of Finance & Administration (H-312) for approval.

All printed promotional materials posted on campus must meet the following requirements:
• Postings must be clear and legible and must bear the name of the sponsoring Registered Student Organization. The posting must provide current contact information. 
• Posting of materials or fliers that advertise the use, sale, consumption or distribution of alcohol or illegal drugs is prohibited. 
• Only tacks are to be used for posting. The use of adhesiveness, glues, stickers or tape is prohibited except in elevators where blue tape is required.


Chalking is limited to Student Government Council, Student Election Candidates and Registered Student Organizations. It must be done in open areas that can be directly washed by rain or hose, and the substance used for chalking must be water soluble and easily washed by water or rain. There is no chalking underneath the awnings connecting buildings.

Chalking must be clear and legible and must bear the sponsoring organizations’ name.

Chalking making reference to the use, sale consumption or distribution of alcohol or illegal drugs is prohibited.

Distributing Fliers and Handbills

All handbills by off-campus entities must be approved through the Dean’s Office. Placing fliers/brochures, etc. on cars is strictly prohibited.

Materials must be clear and legible, must bear the organization’s name and must provide current contact information.

Materials making reference to the use, sale, consumption or distribution of alcohol or illegal drugs is prohibited.

Free-standing Signs

Freestanding signs include Sandwich Boards, A-signs, Tee-Pee signs, stake signs, easels and pole signs.

To obtain approval to place freestanding signs, your organization must complete a Facilities Use Request form. The organization must receive approval/confirmation prior to the placement of freestanding signs on campus.

Publicity Resources

Planners should complete the Campus Event Support Request Form to ensure the event is posted on the FSU Panama City website calendar, SNN and LLC computers. Community event listings and other media promotion will be determined by the Office of Advancement.

The SGC Publicity Chair and the SGC/RSO Program Associate also are available to assist RSOs with their on-campus organizational promotion.

RSO Resources

Student Government Office Space

All RSOs have access to the office space, office supplies, computers, color printer/copier, local and long-distance telephone services in the SGC office. All phone calls must be business-related and recorded in the appropriate telephone log. Abuse of any of the services will result in revocation of privileges.

Mail Services

All RSOs have access to a mailbox in the SGC office. Letters addressed to student organizations should be addressed as follows:
Organization Name 
c/o Student Government
Florida State University Panama 
4750 Collegiate Drive
Panama City, FL 32405-1099

All RSOs must route their outgoing mail through the SGC office. This includes on- and off-campus mail-outs. Those organizations that choose to use self-generated funds for mailings are allowed to by-pass the SGC staff and do their own mailouts.

Website/Email Services

All RSOs are able to have general organization information posted to the FSU Panama City website . All RSOs have access to all FSU Panama City students through their myFSU account . For more information on how to access this email service, contact the SGC/RSO Program Associate.

FSU Student Handbook and Policies

All students and organizations are responsible for the codes and policies published annually in the FSU Student Handbook . These include but are not limited to, the statement on Values and Moral Standards at FSU, the Student Conduct Code and Sexual Harassment Policy.

Other online resources include:
• Hazing Policy 
• Alcohol Policy 
• ITS and Computer Essentials


Key Contacts

Student Government Council/Student Organizations

Mike Smith, SGC Advisor & Coordinator: 850-770-2193
Sarah Schreck, SGC/RSO Program Associate: 850-770-2190
SGC President: 850-770-2191

Office of Student Affairs                                                                             

General line: 850-770-2170
Missy Conner, Director: 850-770-2171
Trina Jackson, Associate Director: 850-770-2172

Office of Advancement                                                                            

Becky Kelly, Director of Development: 850-770-2151

Finance & Administration/Facilities                                             

Weekend Facilities: 850-832-5649

Campus Police                                                                              

Lt. Steve Sellers: 850-770-2220
Officer on Duty: 850-774-2705

Florida Sunshine Law

Florida's Government in the Sunshine Law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law, provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. The law is equally applicable to elected and appointed boards and has been applied to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foreseeably come before that board for action.

There are three basic requirements:
1) Meetings of public boards or commissions must be open to the public
2) Reasonable notice of such meetings must be given
3) Minutes of the meetings must be taken, promptly recorded and open to public inspection

Advisory boards created pursuant to law or ordinance or otherwise established by public agencies are subject to the Sunshine Law, even though their recommendations are not binding upon the agencies that create them.

Neither Legislature nor the courts are subject to the Sunshine Law. There is a constitutional provision that provides access to legislative meetings but it is not as strict as the Sunshine Law. However, if legislators are appointed to serve on a board subject to the Sunshine Law, the legislator members are subject to the same Sunshine Law requirements as the other board members.

Meeting of staff are not ordinarily subject to the Sunshine Law. However, when a staff member ceases to function in a staff capacity and is appointed to a committee which is delegated authority normally within the public board or commission, the staff member loses his or her identity as staff while working on the committee and the Sunshine Law is applicable to the committee. It is the nature of the act performed, not the makeup of the committee or the proximity of the act to the final decision, which determines whether a committee composed of staff is subject to the Sunshine Law.

Only the Legislature can create an exemption to the Sunshine Law (by a 2/3 vote) and allow a board to close a meeting. Exemptions are narrowly construed.

Board members may not use e-mail or the telephone to conduct a private discussion about board business. Board members may send a “one-way” communication to each other as long as the communication is kept as a public record and there is no response to the communication except at an open public meeting. Accordingly, any “one-way” communications (for example one board member wants to forward an article to the board members for information) should be distributed by the board office so that they can be preserved as public records and ensure that any response to the communication is made only at a public meeting.

While a board member is not prohibited from discussing board business with staff or a non-board member, these individuals cannot be used as a liaison to communicate information between board members. (For example, a board member cannot ask staff to poll the other board members to determine their views on a board issue.)

Board Meetings

Board members are not prohibited from using written ballots to cast a vote as long as the votes are made openly at a public meeting, the name of the person who voted and his or her selection are written on the ballot, and the ballots are maintained and made available for public inspection in accordance with the Public Records Act.

While boards may adopt reasonable rules and policies to ensure orderly conduct of meetings, the Sunshine Law does not allow boards to ban non-disruptive videotaping, tape recording, or photography at public meetings.

Board meetings should be held in buildings that are open to the public. This means that meetings should not be held in private homes.

The phrase “open to the public” means open to all who choose to attend. Boards are not authorized to exclude some members of the public (i.e. employees or vendors) from public meetings.


Any member of a board or commission or of any state agency or authority of a county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision who knowingly violates the Sunshine Law is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. An unintentional violation may be prosecuted as a noncriminal infraction resulting in a civil penalty up to $500.

The Sunshine Law provides that no resolution, rule, regulation or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at an open meeting.

Recognizing that the Sunshine Law should be construed so as to frustrate all evasive devices, the courts have held that action taken in violation of the law was void ab initio.

Where, however, a public board or commission does not merely perfunctorily ratify or ceremoniously accept at a later open meeting those decisions which were made at an earlier secret meeting but rather takes "independent final action in the sunshine," the board’s decision may stand.

Additional Resources

• Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi 
• Office of Governor Rick Scott 
• First Amendment Foundation

Forms & Guides


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