The Society for Marine Mammalogy is committed to fostering continued student involvement in the activities and development of the Society. SMM Student Chapters are a component of that commitment. SMM Student Chapters serve as a forum for students of marine mammal science to come together in smaller groups, and at more frequent intervals, than the Biennial Conferences on the Biology of Marine Mammals allow, and provide a framework within which groups of students from smaller local areas may plan a variety of activities that facilitate their continuing education and professional development.

The formation of SMM Student Chapters around the world is encouraged as a means of promoting the interests of local students of marine mammal science. The SMM Board of Governors has approved the following set of guidelines for establishing and maintaining Student Chapters. These guidelines were originally prepared by Leslie Cornick in 2002, with contributions from Leah Gerber and Brenda Jensen, and were updated in 2008 by Amanda Bradford and Lynne Williams. They continue to be a “work in progress” as the role of Student Chapters evolves. Your input is welcomed and encouraged, and should be directed to the SMM Student Member-at-Large (SMaL).

Chapter Formation

Initial Application

Students interested in forming an SMM Student Chapter should submit an application to the SMaL, who will present the application to the SMM Board. Board approval of chapter formation is required prior to any announcement or advertisement of Student Chapter activities. Once a Student Chapter has formed, the SMaL will provide oversight, guidance, and support to the chapter in planning and executing activities where appropriate.

Faculty or Professional Sponsor

In order to preserve the continuity of the SMM Student Chapters as students graduate, and to ensure that the SMM is appropriately represented in chapter activities, a local faculty or other professional sponsor must be obtained during chapter formation. The sponsor should be a full-time member of the local academic, agency, or professional community, as well as a current member of the SMM. The SMM Student Chapter application requires the name and contact information of the proposed sponsor and a brief email of commitment from him or her. The SMaL will send a welcome letter to each new sponsor with information about sponsoring an SMM Student Chapter. The sponsor should be informed of all chapter activities. The sponsor is not required to attend these activities, but is encouraged to do so.  Should a sponsor be unable to continue in that capacity at some point during the tenure of a Student Chapter, a new sponsor must be obtained and the SMaL notified of the change. An email of commitment from the new sponsor is then required.

Chapter Leadership

Two primary contacts are required to form and maintain an SMM Student Chapter. Leadership by elected officers is optional and may or may not include the two primary contacts. Contact information for any elected officers should be sent to the SMaL immediately following his or her appointment. The term durations of the primary contacts and any elected officers is at the discretion of the Student Chapter, but all changes in leadership should be reported to the SMaL.

SMM Membership

All students in a position of chapter leadership (i.e., primary contacts, elected officers, webmasters) must be SMM members. For other students participating in the activities of an SMM Student Chapter, SMM membership is encouraged, but not required.

Chapter Maintenance

Chapter Activities

All general guidelines of the SMM Constitution and Bylaws should be followed by the SMM Student Chapters. Student Chapter activities are at the discretion of the chapter and its sponsor. The SMaL should be informed of all meetings. Suggested activities include a journal club, invited speakers, practice research or conference presentations, career development discussions, and community outreach and education.

Publication of Activities

All potential postings to MARMAM and other public listservs should be sent to the sponsor and the SMaL for approval prior to posting. Other than approved postings publicizing meetings and other activities, Student Chapters are not authorized to make statements to the media of any kind that imply, suggest, or infer that they are speaking on behalf of the SMM as a whole or in part, which includes using the name of the Student Chapter as a functional unit of the SMM. Student Chapters are encouraged to send associated news, activities, or other items of interest to the SMaL for publication in the SMM Newsletter.

Websites, Email, and Listservs

Each SMM Student Chapter is encouraged to maintain a website for its membership. Chapters can develop their own websites, which should be sent to the sponsor and SMaL for approval prior to initial posting. Alternatively, a template website is available on the SMM server. These template websites are easy to manage and maintain, although SMM Membership is required to do so. One or both of the Student Chapter primary contacts may serve as the chapter webmaster, or another chapter member may be appointed, provided that student is an SMM member. All chapter websites must contain the following information:

  • Contact information for primary contacts, any elected officers, and sponsor
  • Link to the SMM website with the SMM logo
  • Information about membership in the Student Chapter
  • Information about chapter activities

Websites may also contain information about current members, links to websites of interest to local students, and other relevant information. Each chapter is encouraged to maintain an independent email address so that the contact information for the chapter has continuity. The communication among chapter members and the publication of chapter activities and announcements on an associated chapter listserv are also encouraged. If available, the Student Chapter email address and listserv information should be included on the chapter website.

Fundraising Activities

SMM Student Chapters are permitted to raise funds for the purpose of supporting activities, including such items as refreshments and general supplies for meetings. All fundraising activities must be approved by the sponsor and the SMaL. Clear distinction must be made that the activity is to raise funds only in support of activities of the local Student Chapter, not for the SMM. Student Chapters may not use the SMM non-profit status for fundraising. A continuous record of all money collected and spent by the Student Chapter must be kept, either by one or both of the primary contacts or by an elected treasurer.

Each Student Chapter has the option of collecting dues in order to support chapter activities. If this option is exercised, the collection and use of this money should be recorded. In keeping with other local chapters of national professional societies (e.g., Society for Conservation Biology, American Fisheries Society, Wildlife Society), $5 per year is recommended. If a chapter decides to collect dues, a dues requirement must be posted on the Student Chapter website, and must be reported to the sponsor and the SMaL.

In the event that a donor(s) wishes to make a donation to support an SMM Student Chapter and its activities, the SMM Treasurer may accept funds on behalf of a specific chapter for its exclusive use. The SMaL should be contacted for detailed instructions and will act as liaison to the SMM Treasurer.

Communication with SMaL

The SMaL will periodically (in general, annually) check-in with the primary contacts of each SMM Student Chapter to request an update of the chapter’s status. In response, the contact members should provide any changes in primary contacts and officers; any modifications to or addition of a chapter website, email, and listserv; a summary of chapter activities; an overview of money raised and spent; and any other news of interest. After ample warning, failure to respond to this request will result in the removal of the Student Chapter from SMM recognition, including all links from the SMM website. Interim communication with the SMaL, to include questions, ideas, and feedback, is encouraged and in some cases required, as indicated above.