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The importance of open membership for Stanford voluntary student organizations


Welcoming. Open. Fair. Transparent. Inclusive.
The principles we have for voluntary student organizations (VSOs) are simple yet central to Stanford University’s mission: we are a community dedicated to access, fairness and equity.
Moreover, student organizations are considered an important avenue for student learning, exploration, and peer interaction and leadership development — for all students. As a benefit, VSOs receive considerable support from the University and ASSU, including space, funding, staff support and use of Stanford’s name. The policy of open membership for recognized student organizations is not new and has been in existence for many decades.
We have spent considerable time helping student organizations consider ways to meet these goals.  Most student leaders have embraced these important principles and worked with staff to design student organizations that offer many opportunities for meaningful student involvement. 
At the same time, we recognize that the changes required to adjust and adhere to the membership policy can present organizational challenges. SAL staff are working closely with the leadership of student organizations to help them consider ways to meet the open membership goals. We and our student peer advisors want to help student leaders restructure their organizations in order to be truly open and inclusive.
If you have questions about how to implement the membership policy within your organization or you have concerns that the open membership policy is not being followed, please let us know. We are located in Suite 206 Old Union.
To learn more about the open membership policy for VSOs, please visit
Nanci Howe, Associate Dean 
Snehal Naik, Assistant Dean 
Ankita Rakhe, Assistant Dean
Student Activities and Leadership 

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