Advisor Resources

Click here to download the revised Student Organization Advisor Manual.

Although accepting a position as an advisor entails additional responsibilities and demands on your time, advising a student club/organization brings justifying returns and satisfaction as you will have an opportunity to work with students outside of the classroom and office environment. SDCA is approaching these relationships from a Wellness Model and we hope that you will encourage our students to adopt a more balanced lifestyle.  It is important for us as advisors to model, encourage, and support life-styles conducive to good health for students.  Advisors can serve as models in another way by their own active participation in out of the classroom, which increases faculty/staff interaction and promotes intellectual dialogue and activities. 

This section outlines some of the principles and specific responsibilities of advisement as well as the nature of the relationship between you and your group.  It also serves as an important supplement to the club and organizational section of this manual as a guide outlining the policies and procedures pertaining to activities and organizations.  Each club receives a copy of this manual and is responsible for reading and adhering to its contents.

In addition to the many faculty and staff members who act as advisors, there are professional staff in SDCA to assist you in your advisory role.  SDCA provides clubs/organizations and advisors with guidance and assistance in all matters pertaining to activities, programs and social events.  Should you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to stop by or call.  We would be more than happy to assist you.


Advising a student organization does not require an individual to take charge of or run the organization.  It is important that advisors recognize the autonomy of the group and view themselves as a guiding resource. While recognizing the autonomy of the group, an advisor should also keep in mind that they have the potential to have a large impact on a student group.

An advisor is responsible to:

  • the organization
  • the officers of the organization
  • the individual group members
  • the University; and,
  • the Center for Student Development and Campus Activities

Responsibility to the Organization

  • To encourage the organization to hold events that cultivates the eight different areas of the wellness dimensions: emotional, intellectual, physical, social, vocational, cultural, environmental, and spiritual.
  • To attend all events sponsored by the group.  If you are unable to attend, it is your responsibility to find another staff person familiar with advisement or to work in conjunction with the organization to locate a replacement.  An event cannot take place without an advisor being present.
  • To be familiar with the policies of the University; also to assist members in becoming acquainted with these policies.
  • To be familiar with the organization’s constitution and history, including major changes in the group’s goals and purpose.
  • To be well informed about all the plans and activities of the group, through frequent consultation with the organization’s officers.
  • To assist in the recruitment of new members to the organization.
  • To facilitate a discussion among the members about goals for the semester.  Position expectations should also be discussed.  Review their plan of events for the semester. 
  • To develop an understanding of self-assessment.  Ask students how they are completing their responsibilities within the organization and their classes.  Be sure to stress the importance of academics and the need for time management.
  • To follow up with students on all programs and events that the organization sponsored.   Have them review both the strong and weak points of the program or event.  Also, it is important to evaluate the student’s performance throughout the year.  By providing feedback you allow students to learn and develop.

Responsibility to Officers of the Organization

  • To assist the officers in formulating long-range goals and in planning and initiating short term projects.
  • To serve as a resource person and assist the officers with University procedural matters.
  • To assist the officers in evaluating group projects and performance.
  • To make suggestions that enables the officers to develop and improve leadership skills.
  • To be available when emergencies or problems arise.
  • To work with the president and executive board to develop a professional relationship.   Team building exercises can be used to establish relationships between group members.  Samples of exercises are available in SDCA.

Responsibility to the Individual

  • To encourage and support the educational and personal development of organization members.
  • To assist students in maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
  • To encourage students to accept responsibility for planning events and help them to recognize the importance of their role in relation to the organization as a whole.
  • To help students develop an understanding of various forms of communication, along with establishing various forms of communication between you and the group.  This could include weekly meetings with the president or executive board, e-mail listserv for the organization, or walk-in office hours.
  • To recognize the wide range of emotions that you may deal with in your workings with students.   Be prepared to listen to a variety of concerns the students may have above and beyond those dealing with organizational business.

Responsibility to the University

  • To share accountability for the actions of the club/organization members, as far as actively participating in the activities and planning of the club/organization.  This would not include actions which the club/organization specifically hide from you.
  • To guide the organization in accordance with the purposes and educational objectives of the University.

Responsibility to Student Development and campus Activities

  • The advisor must attend all events sponsored by the group. 
  • There must be a Faculty or Staff Advisor present and accessible at all times during the event. 
  • The advisor must identify him or herself to the SDCA staff prior to the beginning of an event. 
  • The advisor and the SDCA staff will work together to enforce University policy and maintain order among event participants.
  • To encourage the maintenance of accurate financial records and consultation with SDCA when assistance is required
  • Although you are the advisor, please
  • To assist in the implementation of club/organization policies developed by SDCA.
  • To inform SDCA of any improper activities or serious problems concerning the organization.
  • As an advisor to a student organization, you have the opportunity to have a direct impact in creating a positive experience for everyone involved.  This coming year, many of these students will look towards you for leadership & guidance.  Here are some helpful hints to ensure a positive advising experience for you and your organization.

Find out about the organization:

  • What is the history of the organization?
  • When was it formed?
  • Traditional programs/service?
  • What are some problems that have a history of repeating?
  • What is the organization’s reason for being/purpose?
  • Does everyone in the organization know it & follow it?
  • How are the grades of the members? Is enough emphasis being placed on academic excellence?
  • Set ground rules:  Failure to make and adhere to guidelines and policies may be perceived as a lack of care or concern for these students.

Assist in establishing organizational goals and help develop and implement a plan to accomplish these goals.

  • Is there a tentative schedule for the entire school year?
  • How is the organization going to recruit and train new members?
  • Are they planning enough educational & social programs?
  • Are they planning and engaging in enough community service projects?

Encourage Self-governance

  • Examine the governing process already established.
  • Is it working?
  • How can it be improved?
  • Does the organization need to establish a new governing process?
  • Are the officers and members held accountable?
  • Is there a good mechanism for dealing with “problem” members?

Provide Leadership Through Presence

  • Attend a meeting of the organization at least once a month
  • It is important to attend all the functions presented by the organization especially during the first of the school year and any time new members are being recruited or trained.
  • Have regular meetings with the officers of the organization
    Be clear when establishing expectations, policies, dates and deadlines.
  • Use all of your campus resources (Counseling Services, CO-OP and Career Services, SDCA, Center for Community Outreach)


  • There MUST be a Faculty or Staff Advisor present and accessible at ALL TIMES during the event.  They should identify themselves to SDCA staff prior to starting the event.
  • If an event is held where money is collected, it is the responsibility of the advisor (or advisor representative) to work in cooperation with an SDCA staff member and a representative from the organization to make sure all money collected is accounted for.
  • AN EVENT CANNOT BEGIN OR TAKE PLACE WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF A FACULTY/STAFF ADVISOR.  If the organization’s advisor is unable to attend an event, it is the responsibility of the advisor to find another University staff member familiar with advisement or to work in conjunction with the organization to locate a replacement.
  • Spend time meeting individually with students.  It pays off in accountability, follow through and investment by the students.
  • Define your role as an advisor early.  Don’t wait until you have to.
  • Let them fail.
  •  Become the silence.  Letting students make decision on their own may be risky, but often leads to the greatest learning.
  • Be consistent.
  • Recognition for an advisor comes through the accomplishments of the students.
  • Always follow through with students and staff.
  • Encourage students to plan early.
  • It is important that students always feel like they can come to you for anything.
  • We must first let students know we are human beings, and not administrators, to engage them, to develop a trusting relationship and to achieve any degree of authenticity.  Humor and genuine interest help, because students see through phony people quicker than anyone I know.