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YSPH Student Organizations - Guidelines

The Office of Student Affairs and the Student Association of Yale School of Public Health (SAYPH) supports many student groups each year. Student organizations should carefully review the information below and share it with group leaders and group event planners. You and your group are held responsible for understanding and following these important guidelines, with potentially serious consequences if you do not follow them. 

All YSPH student groups must be open to and inclusive of all public health students and programs should be aimed at issues of interest to the greater community.


Registering with Yale Connect

Graduate students looking for Yale organizations and involvement opportunities can now search Yale Connect (formerly OrgSync) for groups or interests by name and/or keyword.  To register with the YSPH Office of Student Affairs, both pre-existing and new organizations must complete the YSPH Student Organization Registration Form through the Yale Connect system.

Every group must have a faculty advisor. In addition, a detailed budget must be completed and submitted with the registration form for review and approval. Please provide as many details as possible so a budget amount can be determined.  Include such details as:

  • Date
  • Purpose of event
  • Estimated number of attendees

If you are registering a new group, then please be sure to review Registration Criteria for the Office of the Secretary/ Vice-President for Student Life.

The registration deadline for pre-existing groups is Friday, August 9th. The registration deadline for new groups is Friday, August 30th.

*Please Note: Inter-professional activities should have in-kind funding from the appropriate professional school.

Student Group Leader Responsibilities

Student group leaders must follow the academic, administrative and University policies outlined in the YSPH Bulletin. Only currently registered students in good standing can hold leadership positions or act officially on behalf of an organization in any way. A student on probation may not hold leadership or officer positions in any registered student organization. Student group leaders should be aware that they are financially and legally responsible for the organization during their terms of service and can be held responsible by Yale for infractions committed by their organizations.

Finance and Taxes

All graduate organizations are expected to comply with both Yale and School regulations, and US federal and state tax laws. The information below summarizes some of the laws that may affect your organization. This is not a comprehensive listing of all federal and state tax laws that may apply to student organizations, but rather a summary of some of the basic tax laws affecting organizations. Graduate student groups may also find useful the Financial Guide for undergraduate student organizations from Yale College.

Tax Exemption & Reporting

Student groups are not allowed to use the university’s tax-exempt number for purchasing goods and services tax-free. Your group may wish to apply for your own non-profit status or tax-exempt status.

  • All registered graduate student groups are required to operate exclusively on a not-for-profit basis.  Filing federal and state returns for an organization and complying with related federal and state tax laws is the responsibility of each organization.
  • Non-profit status: Graduate student groups can investigate whether they can register with the Secretary of the State of Connecticut as a non-profit, with the federal government as a 501(c)(3) group, or as a charitable organization. Please note that 501(c)(3)status requires additional reporting and tax obligations that would be the responsibility of the organization.
  • E-postcard annual filing with IRS: There are IRS 990-N “e-postcard” filing requirements for exempt organizations with gross receipts of less than $25,000 per year. Failure to file the annual 990-N e-postcard for three consecutive years may result in the revocation of an organization’s exempt status and legal problems, and may trigger the revocation of group registration with Yale offices.
  • A more comprehensive overview of legal considerations around non-profit and tax-exempt status may be found on Yale College's Student Organization webpage.

Legal & Risk Management Issues

Fundraisers, Raffles & Prizes

Many student groups want to raise funds to support their events or for charitable purposes, but you need to be very careful when doing it. The State of CT closely regulates charitable raffles or prize drawings for cash or prizes, and of course gaming or gambling of any kind - poker tournaments, casino gaming, bingo. You can do some of these things, but you must consult the CT state rules and get permits if necessary. 

In general, most University offices and funding group do not give University cash to groups to be used directly for charitable purposes. While not donating to the charity directly, some campus funders may allow you to request funds for food or supplies for your group’s fundraising event. 

Political Campaign Activity & Elections 

During election seasons, groups considering engaging in political activity or engaging with candidates should consult the University Guidelines on Political Campaign Activity. If you have questions, contact the Yale Office of Federal Relations

Risk Management Issues - Insurance, Travel, and Driving 

Group leaders and event planners should carefully review the resources and guidelines from Yale Risk Management for making student group activities safer and reducing your risks and liability.

YSPH Alcohol Policy

The YSPH Office of Student Affairs requires that all registered student organizations offer alcohol responsibly should they choose to serve it at their events on or off-campus. Student organizations must follow all Yale rules and state laws regarding the provision and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Connecticut state law holds legally responsible those hosts who serve alcohol to underage persons, in public or private gatherings, and even in private homes and apartments. Failure to follow these laws and rules puts your organization, its leadership, members and any guests attending events at risk and can result in serious penalties and prosecution. Given the seriousness of these issues, you may be required to discuss your group event in advance with the associate dean and associate director of YSPH Student Affairs, and other administrators as appropriate. Transgressions may result in revocation of group recognition, rescinding of any current or future funding, and possible disciplinary action.

Per YSPH Policy, if an event hosts more than 50 people and/or is open to persons under 21 years of age, you must adhere to the Yale policy by ensuring there is a licensed bartender serving alcohol and that food and non-alcoholic beverages are provided. If you intend to host an event that fits these criteria during the coming academic year, then one of the group leaders should complete the online bartender training accordingly. Your group leaders account for the bartender training fee in your group's budget for that year. Once your budget is approved, your group can use the SAYPH credit card for payment for the training. 

ID checking

Whether hosting events on-campus or off-campus, student organizations must have policies and practices to prevent the serving of alcohol to those under 21 years of age, and to safeguard guests from over-consumption or from drinking and driving.

  • If you are serving alcohol, your group leaders, or a trained bartender or server, should check government-issued photo IDs at the door or before serving alcohol to attendees. A Yale ID card does not contain validated birth date information.
  • Use wristbands or handstamps if needed to show who is 21+ and legally able to be served and to consume alcohol.

Alcohol Tips

Group leaders should carefully review information from Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative (AODHRI) on risk reduction and the responsible use of alcohol at events. In addition, their website offers an alcohol education program.

Some tips for responsible event planning if alcohol will be served:
  • Always offer food and non-alcoholic beverages, for non-drinkers and to help moderate consumption.
  • For large events where alcohol will be served, hire professional servers and bartenders or specially trained student servers (TIPS, Rserve), or host your event at a licensed establishment.
  • Use responsible publicity. Use of email, Facebook, posters, etc., for grad student events serving alcohol should focus on the social, cultural and educational aspects of the event, as opposed to the consumption of alcohol itself.
    • Mention other beverage options available (“beer, wine, and soda served” or “alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available”).
    • Notices should also state “21 and over with government photo ID required” as needed.
  • No cash bar is allowed without a state license. Unless your student group has procured a one-day or long-term liquor sales license in the State of Connecticut, or you are working with a licensed bar or caterer, you are not legally able to sell or charge money for alcohol at your event (and don’t try to get around this by selling empty cups or wristbands).

Tailgating parties at home football games at the Yale Bowl

For safety and legal compliance, Yale strictly controls areas and rules for individual and group pre-parties or “tailgating” at the Yale Bowl area for home football games. You must register your group tailgate and follow the tailgating rules regarding alcohol, equipment and vehicles.


For approved student organization funding request purchases, students should obtain the YSPH SAYPH Credit Card. All student organization leaders should review in detail the SAYPH Credit Card Rules prior to making any purchases.

For credit card purchases made with a Yale Procurement Card, an itemized receipt must be submitted with the credit card authorization form. Charges will not be processed without a valid itemized receipt. A credit card statement is not a valid receipt. The credit card authorization form and all receipts should be submitted within 5 business days of incurring the expense to the Office of Student Affairs (47 College Street, Suite 108, New Haven, CT 06510).

Yale’s Tax Exempt certificate may NOT be utilized for your purchases.


Beginning in 2014, Yale adopted new policies and built a website ( that offers resources, guidelines, and training for students and faculty who work with young people.  Yale has also established a Committee on Programs for Children and Youth that will review, approve, and advise new and existing programs.  Please complete the registration form at (in addition to the Student Affairs registration form) to get University approval for your groups’ activities.

NOTE:Forms, guidelines, policies and procedures are subject to change.

rev. 11.18.2019