Congratulations on becoming a campus club or organization advisor by jtl17221


									 YOUR ROLE

      Student Affairs
    101 Student Center
  2007-08 Academic Year
Congratulations on becoming a campus club or organization advisor!

Thank you for taking on this important leadership role. Recognized organizations and clubs are an
important part of the Shepherd experience. Involvement in student groups encourages students to
develop leadership skills, to explore values, and to begin laying the foundation for their professional
careers. In addition to adding to the richness of our campus culture, research demonstrates that students
who are engaged in campus life are more likely to stay in college and to graduate.

While we encourage our students to take on responsibility and lead their organizations, without the
support and continuity that you provide, many groups would falter. Your role as an advisor is crucial to
the success of the student groups you mentor. As an advisor you can supply information that will enable
an organization to avoid making mistakes and to capitalize on the successes of the past. Your efforts are
vital to both the students and our institution.

The Division of Student Affairs wants to establish strong lines of communication with organization
advisors and has designed this publication to address the role of advisors, advisor responsibilities,
information concerning risk management, and what the expectations of the University are for student
groups. Please familiarize yourself with the Student Handbook for Clubs and Organizations: . We believe that it will serve as a valuable
resource to you and the student group you advise. We welcome any questions you may have regarding
organization and/or leadership development and encourage you to take advantage of our resources and

If you have questions or need further support, please feel free to contact me in the Student Affairs Office,
101 Student Center, 876-5113, or email

Best Wishes,

Rachael Meads
Asst. Director Student Center/Student Activities and Leadership
                                             Why Be an Advisor?
Advisors are teachers and mentors. They are the people who help provide the guidance, support, and
opportunities for growth and learning outside the classroom. Without the benefit of these teachers,
student groups would have to conduct their business in a trial and error fashion, struggle through
conflicts without support that can sustain them, and face complex problem with limited experience and
knowledge. As you can imagine, this could result in less than optimal functioning at best, and, at worst,
dysfunctional groups that are a risk to their members and the institution.

While there is no stipend or for being an advisor to a student group, advisors serve Shepherd in a very
significant way. This service can count toward tenure and promotion as well as give you additional
experience for your own professional development. The real reward, however, comes from the
extraordinary relationships advisors develop with students.

Here are just a few of the benefits of advising student groups:

           A unique opportunity to get to know and mentor students outside the classroom or office
           The chance to see students develop their individual skills and talents
           The opportunity to informally share knowledge and expertise on topics that you are passionate about
           An opportunity to feel satisfaction and accomplishment through making a special
             contribution to campus as well as to a particular group of students

Perhaps the best reason to be an advisor comes from a sense of personal responsibility that compels advisors to
“pay things forward.” Most of us would not have been able to develop personally, academically, or professionally
without the mentorship and guidance of others along the way who shared knowledge, time, and expertise
unselfishly, investing themselves in us. As a result, we too have an obligation to pass on that kindness to students
who are where we once were.
                            BEING AN EFFECTIVE ADVISOR
Facilitating decision-making procedures for achieving organizational purposes and objectives, an advisor to a
campus organization provides guidance, information, general expertise, and leadership training. Although campus
organizations vary in their needs and requirements, the following guidelines represent a general set of operating
procedures for an advisor to typical campus organizations.

The advisor provides information:
o Concerning various campus, state, and national rules, regulations, and obligations
o Offering advice and guidance during decision-making processes

The advisor lends expertise:
o As an intermediary between the organization and the University administration (for some groups this
might also apply to state and national affiliations).
o By aiding and assisting individual members while representing the interests of the entire organization.
o To better define organizational purposes for achieving stated objectives within the administrative
framework of the University, and where applicable with regional and national affiliations.
o By avoiding being just one of the members of the group.
o By focusing on critical issues and concerns to better promote the goals and purposes of the group.
o Through diplomacy, tact, and discretion, to resolve conflicts as these arise.
o By assisting officers in understanding their duties, administering programs and plans, organizing
projects and making appropriate transitions.

The advisor encourages leadership:
o By encouraging individual member’s involvement in organizational, campus, and community
leadership activities.
o By assessing potential leadership skills of individual members and when possible promoting
meaningful involvement within the organization itself, campus, regional, and national leadership roles.
o By limiting personal authority over the organization, so as to encourage the development of leadership
skills amongst the membership.
o Holding the organization to University, regional, and national policies, standards, and guidelines.

The advisor provides continuity to a group:
o Assuring that organization records are kept and passed on to new officers.
o By encouraging the group to keep minutes, files, and maintain traditions.
o By asking the group to review its constitution and bylaws annually.

Note: Advisors should not hold offices in the student group or vote on group business.
                               Responsibilities of the Advisor
To the student group:
1) Attendance and participation at group meetings on a regular basis.
2) Encourage the group to work cooperatively, rather than encouraging domination by any individual or
3) Assist with the orientation of new members and officers.
4) Attend major events sponsored by the group.
5) Ensure the group understands Shepherd policies and regulations regarding student organizations and
    their events. Assist them in adhering to them.
6) Assist the group in the development of realistic goals.

To the individuals:
1) Develop opportunities for the personal development of student members.
2) Encourage individuals to become involved.
3) Assist individuals as they balance academic and work commitments with involvement.
4) Encourage individuals to accept responsibility for their actions.
5) Provide feedback to individuals that will enable them to become aware of their actions within the

To Shepherd University:
1) Inform students of bottom line when necessary.
2) Be familiar with Shepherd University rules, policies and procedures pertaining to organizations and
   their events.
3) Help establish positive traditions and a positive reputation.
4) Act as a positive mentor and role model to your organization.

                             The Qualities of the Effective Advisor
                                      Skilled at group facilitation

                                    Knowledgeable resource person

                             Genuinely interested in/concerned for students

                              Exhibits commitment to the group’s mission

                         Vision to assist with long-range planning/goal setting

                                         Tactful communicator

                                          Proactive approach

                                     Objective, fair, and consistent
                             Appropriate role model/respected by students

                                      Enthusiastic and supportive
► Serve as a sounding board for ideas

►   Assist officers in understanding their duties, administering programs and plans, organizing
            projects and making appropriate transitions

►   Encourage use of parliamentary procedures so that meetings are run in an orderly, efficient manner

►   Mediate conflicts between group members and/or officers

►   Provide continuity and stability as student leadership changes

►   Provide an “outside” point of view or perspective

►   Act as a resource person to students by being knowledgeable about Shepherd’s policies, regulations
           and services regarding student life

►   Advise students about effective risk management and event planning

►   Give honest feedback to group members

►   Attend as many of the group’s meetings and events as possible

►   Consult with other departments when problems arise with the student group

►   Facilitate leadership development in the group

►   Are familiar with national structure and services, if relevant
                                       Clarifying Expectations
There is no one simple formula for being a successful advisor. Shepherd’s student groups are varied and
diverse. Likewise, the type of advisement that they need will depend on the group’s character, level of
activity, goals, etc.

The first step in successful advising is to lay the groundwork for a positive relationship by clarifying
expectations of one another. Both advisors and advisees must accept responsibilities to one another. If
these are clearly communicated and agreed upon by both parties from the beginning, you will always
have something to return to when questions or problems arise.

NOTE: To help students understand their responsibilities to their advisors, we have included a section in
the handbook for student groups (“Advisors and Advisees: A Lesson in Healthy Partnerships”) that you
may want to go over with the members of your group.

As you are deciding whether or not to advise a student group, it is very helpful clarify expectations
before making a commitment. Discuss the students’ expectations of you as an advisor as well as your
expectations of the group. This should be an open and honest discussion with the entire group. Make
sure that everyone understands and is in agreement about the role each party will play in the relationship.
                                       Get to Know the Students
After you have made a decision to serve as an advisor, the first thing you should do is spend time getting
to know the students in the group. This is one of the most rewarding parts of your role as an advisor.

You may want to use icebreakers or teambuilders as tools to assist you in becoming acquainted with your
group. The benefits are two-fold: the students will get a sense of your interest in them as individuals and
a group and you will get a sense of who your advisees are.

One example of a simple icebreaker is listed below. There are hundreds of activities like this available in
a wide variety of resource books and training manuals. If you would like more information, contact
Rachael Meads, x. 5113. She would be glad to help you find the right activity for your group.

So You Want to Be a Superhero?
Goal: To help participants become acquainted with one another.
Group size: Unlimited.
Time required: Varies according to size of the total group.
Materials: Notecards or paper and pencil for each participant.

1. The facilitator explains that the upcoming activity will provide the participants with an opportunity to
introduce themselves to each other in an entertaining way.

2. Each participant is given a notecard and a pen or pencil and is instructed to think of the superhero that
he or she is most like. (The facilitator clarifies that each participant should concentrate on the character’s
mannerisms, philosophy, ways of solving problems, and superpowers. Once each participant has decided
on a character, he or she is to write that character’s name and a brief description of the character’s
attributes that are similar to his or her own. A five-minute time limit is given.)

3. After five minutes, the participants are instructed to take turns introducing themselves, naming the
characters they chose, and explaining why they chose as they did.

NOTE: Any number of variations may be used with this icebreaker. You may ask students to identify
the car they are most like, animal, movie star, cartoon character, etc.

Variation: You may want to ask members to introduce themselves and two goals they have for the
group. This will allow the group and you, to see if everyone is moving in the same direction. You may
want to spend the rest of the meeting prioritizing goals (coming to a consensus) and developing strategies
to achieve those goals.
                                               Set Groundrules
Because advising is a voluntary service to a group, you have a right to negotiate some groundrules for your
relationship. The areas listed below are key areas where boundaries should be set right away in order to get things
started effectively.

One of the basic obligations of students to an advisor is keeping you informed about what is happening with the
group. Ask the group to send you copies of meeting minutes and to keep you posted about plans for all meetings,
events, fundraisers, etc. You may also want to schedule a regular meeting with the President or Executive Officers
to discuss organizational matters.

Meeting Times:
Ask the group you are working with to set a meeting time that will allow you to attend when needed. If you
cannot ever attend a meeting, your effectiveness as an advisor is immediately diminished. While you don’t have to
attend every meeting, you should be present from time to time (many advisors would recommend at least once a
month) in order to see the group in action, check, and witness the leadership so that you have a true sense of what
is happening in the group.

A Voice:
Although the advisor of student groups cannot vote as a member of the group, he/she does have the right to speak
up during meetings, ask questions, and hold students accountable to policies of the University, other chapters and
affiliates, and the greater membership.

Advisors provide essential feedback to student groups. In return, ask for feedback periodically from the group
about how you are meeting their needs as an advisor. This will help you to know how you are assisting the group
and where you can continue to improve.
   Is personally and professionally interested in being a good advisor.
   Listens constructively, attempting to hear all aspects of students’ expressed problems objectively and fairly.
   Is available to students and follows up on commitments made to advisees.
   Knows University policy and practice in sufficient detail to provide students with accurate, usable information;
     when in doubt, refers to the University Catalog, Advisor’s Handbook, Student Handbook, or other available
     resources for clarification.
 Knows how and when to make referrals and is familiar with referral sources available to students on the
 Does not make decisions for students, but helps students make their own decisions.
 Is a positive role model and respected by students.
 Communicates honestly with the group in a respectful manner.
 Continually tries to improve both the style and substance of the advising role by evaluating the effectiveness of
     his/her advising practices and willingly participating in advisor-training programs offered by the University for
     this purpose.
Tries to establish a warm and open relationship with advisees by being genuine and allowing advisees to be
                                    ADVISOR TIPS FROM A-Z

A. Assist in the formulation of long-range goals (students are already good short-term planners).

B. Learn all the administrative ropes so you can serve as a valuable resource.

C. Assist the group in improving its processes.

D. Advisors often become a spokesperson for the group. Let the group know this.

E. Help officers improve leadership skills.

F. Avoid taking sides whenever possible. Stress the pros and cons while trying to remain objective.

G. Let the group know you’re there to help.
H. If an idea is “inappropriate” the advisor should encourage the group to consider other alternatives.

I. Make sure you receive all agendas and minutes.

J. Meet regularly with officers.

K. Encourage broad-based participation.

L. Encourage the discussion of issues related to personal development and the quality of student life.

M. Encourage techniques such as brainstorming to promote cooperation rather than competition.

N. Build a relationship of trust with students.

O. Don’t perceive students as immature and unable to make choices.

P. Be a good listener.

Q. Capitalize on the strengths of individual members.

R. Stimulate enthusiasm so members will participate in group activities.
S. Praise superior efforts publicly; provide constructive feedback privately.

T. Develop constitutional and procedural expertise and use it.

U. Teach, don’t enforce, whenever possible

V. Always provide reasons for your suggestions and/or positions

W. Let your membership in on your plans at an early stage.

X. Go to your organization for help. It builds their self-confidence and promotes team spirit.
Y. Make frequent suggestions to officers, not the group as a whole.

Z. Be accessible and available.
                           Suggestions for Effective Advising
                  (Adapted from the Clemson University RHC Advisor Manual)

1. The maturity/skill of the organization and its leadership should dictate your style of advising. If the
leaders have low skill levels, you may need to be more actively involved with the group. As the leaders’
skill level matures, you can then decrease the amount of direction you need to provide the group.

2. Express sincere enthusiasm and interest in the group and its activities.

3. Be open to feedback from the group. Talk with them regarding your role as advisor. Be willing to
admit mistakes.

4. Give the group and the leaders feedback regarding their performance. Raise questions with them
regarding their goals.

5. Be aware of University policies and procedures so that you can be a knowledgeable resource for the
group. Be familiar with the Code of Conduct for Clubs and Organizations outlined in the Student

6. Get to know members. Be available and accessible to them. They will feel more comfortable with you
and be more open to your input if they know you.

7. Meet with the officers before group meetings. Assist them in setting an agenda.

8. Following group meetings, discuss with officers any problems encountered during the meeting. Offer
suggestions/feedback for how meetings can be improved.

9. Be careful of becoming too involved with the group. You are not a member of the organization but an
advisor. Advise, assist, and facilitate!
What is my liability/risk associated with being a club/organization advisor? Can I personally be
held responsible if something should happen with my group?

The simple answer is no with a caveat. You should not be held personally responsible as long as you
advise/guide in a manner consistent with common sense and follow Shepherd University/Student
Handbook policies and procedures. It is important for you and the group to review the Code of Conduct
in the Student Handbook and ask questions if you don’t understand something. The handbook may not
include everything, so you need to ask questions. The handbook can be accessed electronically at:

All employees of Shepherd University are covered by institutional liability insurance as long as they are
working within their job description – and advising a club/organization falls within many job
descriptions (e.g. service to the community, student learning, etc.).

However, it is very important for you to understand that if you suspect or have knowledge of any illegal
activity or activities that are not in line with the Shepherd’s policies or the Student Code of Conduct and
take no action, you can be held legally responsible. Immediately report any violations or suspected
violations to Shepherd’s Chief Judicial Officer, Dave Cole (Asst. Dean of Student Affairs) at 304-876-
5214 or email

If you have questions about parameters for the student group or the policies, please feel free to contact
either Dave Cole (see information above) or Rachael Meads (304-876-5113,

To reduce your risk . . . .

►follow state and federal laws (drinking age, illegal drugs, assault, etc.)

►follow Shepherd policies and Code of Conduct (anti-hazing policies, non-
discrimination policies, academic honesty, etc.)

►follow industry standards (wearing recommended protective gear, complying with film
copyright laws, etc.)

►report any illegal activity or violations of Shepherd policy immediately

►ask questions and clarify if you have concerns or doubts

►keep in contact with your organization’s members and stay abreast of the group’s

►use common sense

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