Guidelines for Club Officers and Leaders

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Guidelines for Club and Program Heads

Updated (6/13)

Dartmouth College allows DOC clubs and programs a great deal of autonomy because of a long and outstanding record of responsible student decision-making, safety, and support for the College's educational mission and values. We believe that some of the most profound learning occurs when students are prepared and trusted to make significant decisions, to manage the consequences, and to work as leaders and team members with their peers. As a DOC club or program head, you have a responsibility to sustain that opportunity and legacy for future generations of students. There are some areas, however, where learning from experience can have negative consequences for our organizations. We are sharing these guidelines about several administrative and operational issues in order to help you avoid learning about them on the fly. Please don't hesitate to discuss with us any questions or concerns you might have, or to consult about how best to manage the leadership challenges you encounter.

Media relations

The press (campus, local and national) is often interested in the long history of the DOC and student outdoor adventures. They are especially interested in the rare event we experience an accident resulting in serious damage to property or personal injury. As a general practice, your advisor and the Director should be informed when you receive a press inquiry and before you respond, and we will inform/consult with the College's Relations Office and get back to you promptly. (A reporter's "deadline" isn't your problem! You can simply ask the reporter what his or her questions are, say that you can't respond at the moment, and that you or someone else will respond as soon as possible). This is especially critical if you are contacted about some sort of accident. No one responsible for any organization likes to be surprised in seeing the organization the subject of a media story. Also, advance consultation allows us to be strategic in how we present ourselves and manage our image.

E-mails and other communications

Remember that every communication that goes out from a club account is an official communication of the DOC and represents the club, OPO and the College. It's important to think about tone and content in that context. When in doubt, ask your advisor.

Fund raising

The College has a very explicit policy in the Student Handbook about external fundraising by students: ( Equally important is to recognize that requests for funding within the College need to be coordinated by the Outdoor Programs Office as part of the College's normal budget process. Going directly to the Budget Office or Dean's Office to seek additional funding creates confusion about DOC/OPO priorities and conveys a sense that we are not managing our programs according to budgetary constraints within which all College offices are expected to operate. Bottom line: Consult with your advisor or the Director before asking anyone for money and before making a commitment to accept financial support.

Risk management

Because of the nature of adventures in the outdoors, risk management is a crucial part of what we do and a major College concern. Please make sure you and others in your group follow the risk management procedures that we've worked with your predecessors to develop. Safe motor-vehicle operation deserves special attention. Responsible and appropriate management of risk and maintaining our excellent culture of safety and caring for one another is critical to our continued ability to operate as we do. Anything you can do as a leader to encourage others to speak up or intervene if they perceive some inappropriate risk could make a tremendous positive difference.

Accidents, near-misses, and "weird stuff"

All accidents and near-misses involving actual or potential damage to property or vehicles or injury to people need to be reported promptly to your advisor. This is partly to comply with College policies, but it also enables us to learn from experience and avoid accidents in the future. Please do this even for non-club outings involving club members. Also, students on one of our outings or programs occasionally encounter something or someone that seems peculiar in a disconcerting way. Please let us know about that promptly, so we have the background information to assess whether some sort of follow-up is needed. We don't want to be the last to know!

New member activities and alcohol

One of the reasons the DOC is so highly regarded is because of the club's culture of care and respect for individuals and because our activities don't revolve around the use of alcohol. The College's alcohol policy applies to all students, on or off campus, and the DOC additionally has its own, more detailed alcohol policy that addresses the potential risks associated with our outdoor activities and environment: ( Even when alcohol may be used in compliance with College policy and State law, think very carefully about the dynamics of settings in which only some students can participate. Would you serve a dinner when only some of your guests could eat one of the courses? Also, you'll need to fill out the College's new-member activity form for your organization once a year to confirm your commitment to activities that don't constitute any kind of hazing. Remember it is the College and State definitions of hazing that matter in this context -- ( -- not someone's personal definition. The DOC needs to be an organization that reflects the College's highest expectations for student safety.

Contracts and financial transactions

The College has a long list of policies and procedures that apply to contracts and financial transactions. While they may seem cumbersome and arcane at times, they are necessary to protect a large organization's financial resources and integrity. You need to consult with Kathy Decato, OPO's financial coordinator, before making financial transactions and before entering into any contracts, which should also be discussed with your advisor.


Everyone in your club/program needs to be a member of the DOC as a condition of the financial and other support provided by the DOC.