Chapter Startup Guide
So your Red Colony Chapter has been approved! Congratulations!
The following guide will help you build and maintain your Chapter. It is important to understand that while some parts of this guide may seem rigid, the actual conduct of your Chapter is mainly up to you.
If you do not wish to follow these steps, you may form your own organization to do whatever you like for the benefit of the Mars community, of course, just not under Red Colony's wing. In that case, you cannot use our name as part of your organization.
One last note: if your school demands it, we require you to become an officially-recognized student organization. Most colleges and high schools will not allow you to use their name as part of your Chapter, or post advertisements around campus or hold meetings there, until you become officially recognized. It's not as hard as it seems. Read on to find out more.
If you haven't already, you need to visit the Create a Chapter page and apply for a charter. You'll hear back from us accepting (or rejecting) your application. You can then proceed!
Although this step might seem a little ridiculous, it is probably the most important thing you need to do. It's time to identify exactly what you hope this Chapter will accomplish.
These are our requirements, from the Create a Chapter page:
In addition to these requirements you may do whatever you wish to benefit the Mars community! But write it down now... you'll be glad you did when you begin to hold meetings.
It's not important that you figure out HOW to accomplish any of this yet. We'll get to that later.
First, check your email for the message with the subject, “Congratulations! Your Red Colony Chapter has been approved!” Within this email is a username (your short chapter name) and a randomly generated password. Write down this information so that you can refer to it later. You will be able to change your password later.
Next, visit your chapter control panel and login using your username and password.
Within your control panel you can edit your description, your list of members, your leader and email address. You can also add a picture that will appear in your Chapter profile. Additionally, we offer each Chapter five megabytes of webspace on Red Colony for a Chapter website. By default, this site is at http://chapters.redcolony.com/yourname. You can upload files via the FTP Suite on your control panel. If you wish to have another website appear in your profile, you may edit it from your control panel.
Your Chapter profile will appear on the Chapter index at http://www.redcolony.com/chapterindex.php.
To hold meetings as a Red Colony Chapter in your school, or even to use your school's name as part of your Chapter name, you must become an officially-recognized student organization. You will have to visit your school's website or student affairs office. You will need to obtain a form, in most cases called something like, “Student Organization Certification Application.” (Keep in mind that most schools have many student organizations, and they'll probably accept your application for certification.) This form will ask you some of the following questions:
As you can imagine, each school's application is wildly different from each other. (Most high schools will not ask you most of these questions, and some might be surprised that you're want to start an organization. From personal experience, you're showing commitment! They love that!) For some examples, check out these Pitt, CMU, and Cornell websites.
What about an advisor? In almost every case, you will need to find an advisor to act as a liaison for your Chapter. Basically, this person is a member of the school's staff who will have to sit in on every school meeting (for high schools), or sign a few papers (for college). Don't worry! Advisors don't have to take part in your Chapter at all, nor will most of them care what you do. In college, advisors are merely a legality, checking in with the leader at different times of the year to make sure the organization isn't holding campus-wide animal cruelty days. We suggest that you try to find a staff member you know relatively well. One with an interest in space may or may not be a plus. It's up to you.
What is my national affiliate? Why, Red Colony of course! Our mailing address is:
Red Colony OfficeThe President is Alex Moore. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My mailing address is the same as above.
If your school asks you for a constitution or bylaws, don't worry. They aren't difficult to write, and they will include most of the information you will have to come up with anyway.
A standard constitution has five parts:
As a side note, we do not collect chapter dues or fees from members, so we have no financial information to share with you.
The best way to have a successful Chapter is to advertise yourself.
You may find that the best way to gain membership is by word of mouth. If you're sitting in your physics class and you realize your lab partner might be interested in Mars colonization, ask him about it! He will probably be interested. (That's the greatest thing about this: most science and technology students have some legitimate interest in space.)
Also, you will probably want to post advertisements across campus (in your cafeteria, elevators, dorm halls, etc). We have an example of an 8.5x11" poster available for download here. You can use it as a template for your own advertisement. Type one up, print it out, photocopy it, and post it everywhere. Be sure to include information like who to contact, and when and where the first meeting will be held.
We also feature a whole line of t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and other great products at the Red Colony Store.
(You're going to have to pass out your email address, or the web address of your Red Colony Chapter Profile, or even your phone number. Make yourself easily accessible to your new recruits.)
You will want to have a meeting location picked out, probably someplace easily accessible for all. Keep in mind that some universities and probably all high schools will not open their facilities to an unrecognized student organization, so again, we remind you that you must become official by completing Steps 4 and 5.
Introduce yourself and have others do the same. You may want to pass around an email list since a lot of your contact will probably be done online.
Your first meeting should serve as an introduction to what your Chapter is going to do. If you still don't know, maybe you should write a constitution or set of bylaws. See Step 5 for help. Explain what Red Colony is and what its broad goals are. You can find our mission statement here. Our introduction explains a lot about what we do. You might want to read segments of either page.
Now it's time to figure out HOW to do what you want to do. Discuss that with your chapter. Immediately (this meeting, not later on) decide when, where, and how you want to talk about ideas or write articles. Discuss any membership requirements, if you chose to have any.
Be cool. Be relaxed. This isn't a big deal. We basically only require that you be a live forum for the discussion of Mars colonization and terraformation, so beyond that is up to you. Email some of the other leaders of other Red Colony Chapters to find out how they do it. Get your friends involved. Make your Chapter a fun and laid-back place. Perhaps a too-heavy gavel is a bad idea. Think about it.