Advising Student Organizations
Each student organization recognized by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate must have a primary advisor who is a member of the university faculty or staff. The advising of student organizations is regarded as an integral part of the education students receive, and faculty and staff involvement with student organizations is officially encouraged.
As an advisor, no one expects you to know all things that are going on with a student organization or to be all-knowing about the problems that individual students or student organizations may face. The extent to which you become involved with your organization depends a great deal on the nature of the group itself.
While student organizations on this campus use university facilities, and their development is encouraged, you should remember that the university does not accord these student groups approval, or endorsement with respect to their practices, ideas or projects. Student organizations in no way officially represent the university.
Advisor Responsibilities to the Organizations
- To assist the organization to function in accordance with its constitutional objectives, and to provide advice and counsel.
- To assist in the development of leadership skills among members.
- To give counsel on financial matters relating to the organization.
Organization Responsibilities to the Advisor
- To seek the advice and counsel of the advisor.
- To inform the advisor of the organization’s plans and activities.
- To keep the advisor informed of the financial status of the organization.
- To look upon the advisor as a person who is interested in helping the organization
to function effectively and achieve its objectives.
Benefits of Advising a Student Organization
- Satisfaction of seeing and helping students learn and develop new skills.
- Watching a disparate group come together to share common interests and
work toward common goals and an understanding of differences.
- Developing a personal relationship with students.
- Furthering personal goals or interests by choosing to work with an organization
that reflects one’s interests.
- Sharing one’s knowledge with others.
Different Roles Advisors Might Play
- Booster — Some advisors simply become boosters for the organization,
and lend a helping hand whenever needed.
- Guide/Mentor — Other organizations may need advisors who take a more
active role in molding the policies and procedures of the organization.
- Advocate — Some clubs will want faculty or administrative support when it
comes to getting recognition for their events. They may expect you to be that advocate, to stick up for them and help publicize what they do.
- Facilitator/Mediator — This role involves taking a step back and coming in to the discussion when it stagnates or when there is conflict. A facilitator’s job is to bring the discussion back on track. A mediator does not get involved, so as to remain impartial and be able to give an unbiased opinion.
Suggestions for Advisors
- Be visible and involved.
- Get to know the students.
- Develop expectations for one another (the students and the advisor).
- Know your limits. It’s okay to say no.
- Attend meetings, events and programs as you are able.
- Model leadership, responsibility and congruence.
- Be consistent in your actions.
- Treat all group members fairly.
- Maintain a sense of humor.
- Be authentic, genuine, sincere and honest.
- Be a resource. Become familiar with University policies and procedures, and community resources.
- Help students connect their experiences to their coursework.
- Encourage collaboration with other organizations or departments.
- Ask how events, programs, and activities align with and fulfill the goals, mission or purpose of the group.
- Ask questions and provide information. Students will almost always make the right decision or do the right thing if you ask the right questions and provide them with all the necessary information.
- Allow the group to fail. Some of the best lessons are learned through failure.
- Process with the group after both successes and failures and discuss what could be done differently next time.
- Hold students accountable and help them hold one another accountable.
- Represent the organization in staff or faculty meetings.
- Provide continuity with the tradition and history of the organization.
- Trust your knowledge, instincts and experiences.
- Be available in case of emergencies.
- Don’t do the work for the organization. Students learn best when they are
active participants in the process.
- Don’t know it all or tell the group what to do.
- Don’t be the leader of the group or try to control the group.
- Don’t say “I told you so.”
- Don’t use the group to achieve your own agenda.
- Don’t overcommit. If you cannot dedicate your time and attention to the students and the organization, do not agree to be the advisor. In addition, don’t overcommit to the group’s meetings, activities or programs at the expense of your own personal and professional life.
- Don’t assume the organization can handle everything on its own and doesn’t really need you.
- Don’t support, condone or engage in activities, programs, events or behaviors that do not align with the organization’s mission, goals or purpose.
- Don’t tell organization leaders that you don’t want to hear about group activities that may be risky. If you are uncomfortable with activities they may be engaging in, please refer them to other University and community resources, call the Coordinator for Student Organizations (715-836-4419), or call the Student Affairs office (715-836-2325). In some cases, the Loss Prevention and Safety office may be consulted.
> More about Risk Management and Reduction
Consult the Coordinator for Student Organizations or the Student Organizations and Leadership Center staff if you have questions, concerns, or want to share your successes.
Wisconsin is a self-insured state with respect to actions brought against its employees. This means that legal counsel and damages are provided for employees against whom actions are brought when liability has been incurred within the “scope of their employment."