Our office appreciates student organization advisors! Your role and support are integral to the success of student groups.
Your commitment to serve as an advisor to a registered student organization at Montana State University is appreciated. The advisor plays an integral role in helping student leaders create an environment within their organizations that is productive, safe, enjoyable, and educational. You also play a vital role in assuring that the experiences of a student organization is meaningful to students, and you are essential to providing assistance in managing institutional risk and liability.
As an Advisor You Agree
- You are a full or part-time faculty or staff member at Montana State University and that you will notify the student organization you are advising immediately if your employment status changes.
- To assist your student organization in developing realistic goals for the academic year. This will contribute to the educational and personal development of the students involved.
- To be familiar with the student organization’s constitution and all other governing documents, so that you may advise effectively.
- To attend executive office, general meetings, and organization events when possible.
- Assist the organization in keeping their financial and organizational records current, and be aware of the expenditure of student time, abilities, duties, and finances within the program.
- To assist in the orientation of new members and with the leadership transition process each year.
- To answer policy-related questions, guide the group and its officers to follow established policies and protocols, and explain the consequences for choosing to operate outside their parameters.
- Encouraging opportunities within the organization that will contribute to the students’ development and education.
- To read email updates from the Office of Student Engagement regarding your role as an advisor.
- Be well informed of all plans and activities of the organization, and attend formal activities as available.
- Assist the organization in managing risk and liability, on- and off-campus.
- I will serve as a Campus Security Authority (CSA) as defined in the Clery Act. As a CSA, I will annually complete the Clery Training requirements as well as complete and submit a complete and submit a CSA Crime Statistic Report, when necessary.
- Have taken the online Title IX Training, which is required of all MSU employees.
- Be informed of the policies and procedures in the Registered Student Organization policies.
The Advisor Agreement Worksheet (download) can be a means of communicating expectations of the organization-advisor relationship.
Attributes of a Good Advisor
Aware: Knows what is happening with the group at all times, including all group meetings, travel and events.
Dedicated: Always willing to assist the organization when necessary. Enjoys being associated with the group and is involved.
Visible: Attends meetings, social functions and other special events of the group when possible.
Informed: Familiar with the rules, policies and regulations of the University and the bylaws of the organization constitution. Is prepared to assist with interpretations.
Supportive: Provides encouragement and praise to group members.
Open-Minded: Willing to consider new ideas and approaches even if not in complete agreement.
Respected: Earned through being trustworthy and honest as well as demonstrating a genuine interest in the welfare of the group.
How Advisors Support Student Organizations
It may be helpful to think of the role as an Advisor in terms of three major areas:
These sometimes “routine” activities but are essential to the ultimate success of an organization and may include:
- Ensuring organizational continuity by periodically reviewing the constitution, minutes, files, and/or traditions with students.
- Serving as a resource for students, especially regarding University policies, regulations, and procedures.
- Coaching the officers in the principles of good organizational and administrative practice.
- Helping and encouraging officers to fully register their group each academic year.
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with student organizations is assisting an organization in setting its vision for the future. Your experience and guidance can prove invaluable by:
- Keeping the group focused on its development and goals.
- Remembering and assisting groups as they develop and mature.
- Pointing out new opportunities, perspectives and directions to the group.
- Developing self-discipline and responsibility among group members.
Many students need nothing more than encouragement from someone who has an active interest in what they are doing. Advisors can motivate students in ways that ensure that they are learning and having fun. Advisors can encourage and support an organization by:
- Attending organizational meetings, retreats, and events whenever possible.
- Remaining as available as possible to assist the organization.
- Supplying expert knowledge and insight through experience.
- Providing problem-solving suggestions serving as a role model for creative decision-making and flexibility, because problems can create stressful circumstances for students.
- The Office of Student Engagement encourages advisors to support all areas of student organization engagement especially through direct interaction. This practice may vary from organization to organization, based on the group’s needs and goals.
- Each year, the student leadership of the organization and the advisor should meet to determine the role and expectations of the advisor and the advisor’s expectations of the students.
What should you do/not do as an advisor?
Allow others to fail
Allow others to succeed
Know your limits
Be consistent with your actions
Trust yourself with the group
Direct the group where to find the answers
Teach the art of leadership
Control the group
Manipulate the group
Take ownership for the group
Be afraid to try new ideas
Know it all
Be the leader or give the answer
Transition…When/If an Advisor Leaves
If for whatever reason, you decide to leave your role as the organization’s Advisor, we recommend the following:
- Inform both leaders of the student organizations and Office of Student Engagement of the date on which your role as Advisor officially ends. Please try to give the organization leaders as much advance notice as possible.
- Remind the members of the organization that if an Advisor resigns, the organization must find a new Advisor.