Advising a Student Organization
The goal of the following information is to assist you as you master the role of an organization's advisor.
While students are responsible for starting and maintaining a student organization, it is often the advisor that supports the group's continuity from year to year. Kutztown University requires that all student organizations have an advisor, either chosen by the group or appointed by the University. Every registered organization needs at least one full-time faculty or staff member to fulfill the responsibilities of an advisor. The relationship between organization members and advisor is very important to the success of the organization.
ADVISORS: WHERE DO THEY FIT?
The advisor(s) can serve as a universal resource, friend, and advocate, role model, historian, and numerous other roles as defined by the group. S/he contributes specific information and knowledge in designing programs, provides continuity for the organization, serves as a liaison between campus constituents, and supports the organization’s development and activities. The role of an organization advisor is often ambiguous. Many times advisors must assist students with issues that represent conflict between student interest and University interests. These conflicts usually come in the form of violations of University or Student Government policies and procedures to which your group is responsible to adhere to. It is possible that this may cause some initial instances of confusion and ambiguity between your student leaders and advisor(s). The necessity of an advisor and the importance of the work s/he does is worth any of these early conflicts that may or may not arise. One of the main goals of the Office of Student Involvement is working with student organizations to enhance their development and the impact they have on campus. The advisor is a key element in this process and can support this effort by:
- Holding a general meeting once a year for the purpose of explaining University policy to the entire membership (i.e., Clery Act, reporting crimes to public safety: late night policy).
- Assist in verifying eligibility of all of your members. Officers must maintain a minimum Q.P.A. of 2.0 and general members must remain in good academic standing (ie., not on judicial warning or probation). All members must be in good disciplinary standing.
- Assume the role of devil’s advocate as you consider programs and activities. Advisors have a great deal of knowledge and experience that can help the organization grow.
- Provide explanations of University policy when relevant to the discussion.
IMPORTANT ADVISOR DUTIES
One of the intangible roles an advisor plays is in protecting the University. As an advisor, you should help make sure the actions of the organization are appropriate and will not cause harm or embarrassment to the organization, the University, or both.
Advisors are encouraged to attend as many of the organization’s activities as possible, as well as meetings. This is a great way to motivate the organization and its members. Sometimes just your moral support is enough to push an event from being mediocre to being a great success!
Sign Forms and Complete Online Requests:
Organization registration, room reservations, purchases requests, etc. Keep in mind that your signature indicates your support of the program or purchase and awareness of the organization’s activity; therefore it is vital that you fully endorse any information that includes your signature.
The advisor should review a contract, but remember that the Office of Student Involvement will review the contract and have it signed on the organization’s behalf. Students and advisors
are not allowed to sign contracts.
Advisors are encouraged to:
- Attend social events, service projects and meeting if appropriate.
- Help or advise the organizations on how to handle situations that arise when planning events.
- Act as a liaison with professional organizations that may support the organization.
- Provide ideas for creating new social functions.
- Provide assistance in managing the organizations budget and financial matters.
Advisors play an integral and important role for their organizations. The organization should count on the advisor to be there for the organization, to offer advice when needed, and to impart wisdom when appropriate, among other duties. Being an advisor is not always easy, but can be very rewarding.
Often times, the advisor will slide into the role of mentor to some of the members.
There will be times when the advisor will need to “supervise” the group as they work to make the organization as productive as possible. As a supervisor, the advisor will assist the organization with team building, evaluation, planning, communication, and performance.
Remember, as the advisor, you are an educator and should make the most of “teachable moments.” Use these opportunities to expand the organization’s knowledge outside the classroom.
An advisor should lead by example.
BENEFITS OF BEING AN ADVISOR
The advisor-organization relationship can be an extremely positive experience.
- Opportunity to get to know students on an individual basis
- Satisfaction of contributing to students’ development
- Opportunity to impact the KU community on a different level
- Share an area of expertise
- Learn about student interests
- Valuable and quantifiable curriculum vitae and resume material
Student leaders and advisors must interact with one another in a variety of ways. As a result, it is very important that both the advisor and the organization understand what is expected from each other. Clearly defining roles and responsibilities is a critical step in achieving success as a group. Effective and consistent communication will clearly reduce uncertainty and frustration for both the organization and the advisor.
- Advisors must accept the role as the advisor by signing the organization's signature form.
- To complete the Cleary Act online training in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of campus security policy and campus crime statistics act (Clery Act),
- To be kept aware of all your organization's activities and events. Communication is the key to any relationship.
- To have meetings with them on a regular basis. This helps establish and maintain lines of communication.
- To respect student leaders, general members, and fellow advisor(s).
- To solve problems in an efficient and proper manner.
- To review and sign various documents, as well as complete online reservations and forms.
- To have the opportunity to be heard on relevant topics and during decision-making processes.
- To not be responsible for running the group (remember, that’s why they call it a student organization).