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Fall 2014

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“To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.”
˜ Stanislaus I of Poland

 ADVISOR'S ROLE In Student Organizations at BSU

Provide Continuity
Leadership Transition
Interpretation of Policy
Organizational Records
Recruiting New Members
Discussion Guidelines for Advisor Role Definition
Advisor Contract

It is crucial that communication between the organization members and the advisor is maintained and frequent.  This will be much easier if the advisor has a genuine interest and concern for the organization and its goals.  Advisors should expect to be consulted regularly by officers or chairpersons about their plans for activities and programs.  They should attend meetings regularly and be aware of what projects or events are being planned and offer ideas or suggestions while being cautious not to control the meetings or the program planning process. Top of page

Supplying continuity is an important responsibility for the organization advisor.  Officers and members will come and go; therefore, the organization advisor is often the only constant link that the office of the Associate Director has to any given student organization.  With this in mind, it is very important that advisors contact the Associate Director (755-3760) if they will be on leave or no longer wish to serve as an organization advisor.  If advisors do not contact us, we will continue to send communications to them in the assumption that they still serve as organization advisor.  This can often create some interesting communication problems.  Another way in which advisors can provide continuity to the group is by orienting new officers and members to the history of the group and helping them to build on it.  Continuity implies a link with the future, and advisors will play an important role in helping to develop long-term plans for the future of the organization and in communicating these plans to succeeding generations of members. Top of page

It is often hard for advisors to see the leaders that they work with graduate or pursue other opportunities outside of the organization.  It is a busy time of the year as students, staff, and faculty alike try to survive the last flurries of finals and projects.  Part of the advisor’s responsibilities includes setting up expectations for the group that some type of formalized leadership transition will take place.  Some of the benefits to the advisor and the group in establishing some type of program are as follows:

  • provides a scheduled time for the old and new leaders to meet and share ideas for the future of the organization
  • gives the old officers a chance to process how much they have learned over the year
  • provides a sense of closure for the old officers
  • provides the new officers a chance to ask questions in a safe environment
  • provides an opportunity for the old officers to pass on needed materials and traditions
  • increases the confidence and knowledge of incoming officers
  • increases the chances that the momentum of the group will continue
  • starts the new officers ready to go so that advisors have to spend less time orientating them to their roles in the organization.

At this point in the academic year, members should have a sense of what type of gathering would work best for their particular organization.  The old officers and the new officers should get together and go over the responsibilities of the positions.  Some questions the old and new officers may want to discuss are:

1.    What are the major duties of the positions?
2.    What goals were accomplished last year?
3.    What projects were started this year and will continue over to the next school year?
4.    What projects/goals were thought of for next year?
5.    What are three things that the old officers wished they would have known before they took office?
6.    What are the three top concerns of the new officers?

During this meeting, time should also be spent going over the organization constitution and past minutes and correspondence.  The new officers should also be introduced to the various forms and procedures they will encounter in their duties the following year.  It is always a good idea to hold one more meeting of the organization before the end of the school year.  This gives the new officers a chance to ask any questions they may have come up with after becoming more familiar with the operations of the organization.  This meeting may be used as a chance for the new officers to lead their first meeting under the guidance of the experienced officers.  This also gives any graduating officers or members a chance to say good-bye to the group.

The leadership transition process usually starts as soon as the new officers are elected.  If your group does this after spring break, you will have plenty of time to get this process completed before finals.  By completing this process in the spring, your organization will be well-organized in the fall and more prepared to recruit new members.  This is also a good opportunity to fill out the Intent to Be Active form for the following year.  These will be available during the latter part of the Spring semester on CollegiateLink.  Advisors are to encourage their students to set up a transitional leadership meeting and to provide them with advice on the format of such an exchange.

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To advisors, counseling students is necessary because they know how the members of the group interact in informal settings.  Advisors have a unique opportunity to identify students having problems in their personal lives that appear to affect their work or effectiveness within the group.  It is up to advisors to find an opportunity to speak privately with the student to determine what they may be able to do to help if a problem does exist.  Advisors also have the opportunity to observe the group dynamic and serve as a moderating force in the group if necessary.  Making appropriate referrals to other campus resources may be necessary, depending on the situation. Top of page

As a representative of the University administration to the organization, advisors will be in a constant position of interpreting the institution’s policies and regulations about student organizations.  This is why it is so crucial that they read and respond to mailings or email received from the HMU staff.  We will do our best to explain university policies; all advisors have to do is let us know any questions or concerns they may have.  Advisors should see that the group and its officers know what the policies are, why they exist, and what the channels to follow are to obtain exceptions or revisions of these policies.  Everyone should feel free to consider the office of the Associate Director as their first resource in this process. Top of page

Although the advisor’s major responsibility is not regulatory or disciplinary, they have a responsibility as a member of the University staff to keep both the institution and the organization’s best interests in mind.  In a well-run organization, an advisor’s supervisory role may be small, but they may need to remind the group of proper University regulations and/or intervene to prevent the organization from violating public or institutional policies.  Whenever possible, they should work with the officers of the organization to maintain standards which are consistent with those of the institution.  Advisors are role models. Top of page


The committee reports and group records are an important part of the organization’s history on campus.  These records contain valuable information for future officers.  An advisor should see that the officers maintain adequate records and minutes of the group’s activities.  The group should keep a copy of these records in a permanent file in the advisor’s office and in the organization’s office, if one is available.  Student organizations can also request storage space in H2O: Center for Student Involvement.

Although financial record-keeping responsibilities are delegated to the officers of the organization, it is the advisor’s duty to monitor the organization’s accounts.  All correspondence concerning organization finances is sent to the advisor directly, as opposed to the treasurer, in order that the advisor may be aware of the organization’s financial situation and prevent the organization from incurring a negative account balance.  Organization finances are an area in which the advisor’s role of providing continuity to the organization is very important.  We ask that advisors take it upon themselves to make sure that the names of authorized officers are changed with the bank (for off-campus accounts) as officer changes occur.  Remember, as officers come and go, advisors remain our one contact.  Therefore, it is important that advisors are familiar with their organization’s account.  Please note that any organization being organized must have their account on campus.  No off-campus accounts are allowed, with the exception of a few old organizations that did establish an off-campus account and who are allowed to maintain the account at this point.  

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The students will look to the group’s advisor for suggestions on how to get more people to join the organization.  The following questions should be asked of the group and the answers recorded.  The answers to these questions will suggest ways the organization can attract new members:

 How did you join the group?                           How did you first hear about the group?
What did you hope to gain from your involvement?       Why did you initially join the group?

After the answers to these questions have been written down, leaders will be able to see what attracted current members to the group and what the organization’s strengths are.  These strengths can be used as a focus for recruitment posters and other forms of publicity, such as announcements in pertinent classes or flyers.

Recruiting new members goes beyond just getting new people to the meeting; they must feel welcome when they get there.  It is also important that newly-recruited members are informed of what the organization is currently doing and what it hopes to do in the future.  The new member needs to know that their participation is valuable to the organization and that each member has something he/she can contribute to the existing organization while also acquiring skills through participation in the group.

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Discussion Guidelines for Advisor Role Definition
Listed below are some possible expectations student leaders may have of their advisor.  The advisor and leaders should each respond to the following items, then discuss answers and resolve differences.  For some items, which are determined not to be the responsibility of the advisor, it would be valuable to clarify which officer will assume that responsibility.

For each of the statements, determine whether the function is:

1 – Essential for the advisor to do
2 – Helpful for the advisor to do
3 – Nice, but not essential for the advisor to do
4 – One the student leaders would prefer the advisor not do
5 – Absolutely not an advisor’s role

The Advisor Should:

____1. Attend all general meetings.

____2. Attend all executive committee meetings.

____3. Call meetings of the executive committee when he/she believes it is necessary.

____4.  Explain University policy when relevant to the discussion.

____5.  Explain University policy to the executive committee and depend on officers to carry them out through their leadership.

____6.  Explain University policy to the entire membership at a general meeting once a year.

____7.  Assist the president as needed with the agenda for each meeting.

____8.  Speak up during discussion when he/she has relevant information.

____9.  Speak up during discussion when he/she believes the group is likely to make a poor decision.

____10.  Take an active part in goal formation of the group.

____11.  Initiate ideas for discussion when he/she believes they will help the group.

____12.  Be one of the group, except for voting and holding office.

____13.  Attend all group activities.

____14.  Require the treasurer to clear all expenditures with him/her
               before commitments are made.

____15.  Request to see the treasurer’s books at the end of each semester.

____16.  Check all official correspondence before it is sent.

____17.  Get a copy of all official correspondence.

____18.  Inform the group of infractions of their bylaws, codes, and
              standing rules.

____19.  Mediate interpersonal conflicts that arise.

____20.  State what his/her advisor responsibilities are as he/she sees them at the first meeting of the year.

____21.  Let the group work out its problems, including making mistakes and “doing it the hard way.”

____22.  Take the initiative in creating teamwork and cooperation among the officer group.

____23.  Represent the group in any conflicts with members of the University staff.

____24.  Be familiar with University facilities, services, and procedures that affect group activities.

____25.  Recommend programs, speakers, etc.

____26.  Take an active part in the orderly transition of responsibilities between old and new officers
        at the end/start of the year.             

____27.  Cancel any activities when he/she believes they have been inadequately planned.

Please add any other expectations held for the advisor’s role:

Adapted from: “Organization & Advisor Manual,” California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, & “The Student Organizational Manual-Supplement for Advisors,” Simmons College, Boston, MA.   
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Adapted from: "Organization & Advisor Manual," California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo & "The Student Organizational Manual-Supplement for Advisors," Simmons College, Boston, MA.

Student Organization Advisor Contract 

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