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Student Involvement and Leadership

Advisor Manual

photo of students at an event on campus

On this page: 

Introduction  

All registered student organizations must have an advisor who is a full-time Wright State faculty or staff member. A student organization advisor’s primary concern should be to assist in developing our students at the group and individual levels. Not only will an advisor be asked to meet the university’s expectations, but also serve as friends, counselors, allies, liaisons, etc. This is a very influential position with our students and is an opportunity put the knowledge they are obtaining in class to work—developing their leadership skills, ethical decision-making skills, and creativity.  

The total scope of the advisor is determined in part by the advisor. He/she/they must decide the level of priority the organization will be given. Family commitments, time constraints, teaching load, research, community work, etc., are all considerations. Remember, not all years will be good ones with the organization. An advisor should feel that the intrinsic rewards are sufficient to merit the time and energy that are put forth for the organization. Student Involvement and Leadership appreciates the time and energy that advisors give to student organizations. We are available to assist you as an advisor. 

Purpose of Student Organizations

The purpose of student organizations is to provide students with opportunities to participate in activities that develop their intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, and professional abilities. These organizations are essential components of the academic life of the university. To meet all the different developmental needs of students, Wright State University offers many student groups. Every student is encouraged to become a member of those clubs that appeal to their interests. Floerchinger* found that involvement in student organizations:  

  • Improves students’ interpersonal skills.
  • Has a positive influence on skills in leadership, communication, teamwork, and organizational decision-making and planning.
  • Gives students greater satisfaction with their college experience.
  • Provides useful experience in obtaining a job and giving job-related skills.
  • Develops lifelong values of volunteerism and service to others.

Why Advise?

Advising provides the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of students. As an advisor, you will have the duty to see that the experiences occurring within the organization are meaningful and provide an atmosphere for the members to learn and evaluate. Advising also allows teaching—to broaden a person’s understanding, help the person examine a problem from several different points of view, and place the issue in context. It is not surprising to learn that behind every successful student organization is an advisor involved with the organization. The following are a few more reasons why a faculty or staff member should serve as a student organization advisor.  

  • Satisfaction in seeing the student organization become successful and in seeing the students develop self-confidence. 
  • Ability to make a difference in students’ lives.
  • Ability to learn from students and to know what is going on in their world.
  • Ability to see students implement what has been discovered in the classroom.
  • Satisfaction in seeing that the student organization builds character, trust, and dependability.  

* Floerchinger, D. S. (1988). Student Involvement Can Be Stressful: Implications and Interventions. Campus Activities Programming, 21(6), 60-63. 

Advisor Functions  

The advisor role is broken down into three components: 1) fundamental functions, 2) group growth functions, and 3) program content areas. These functions could call on the advisor to participate or do nothing at all.  

  1. Fundamental Functions  
    1. Provide continuity with the history of the organization over time.
    2. Help head off situations that might prove to cause issues or a bad face for the institution.  
    3. Prevent the group from breaking the university’s rules.
    4. Helping resolve conflict within the group's disputes.  
    5. Provide continuity and stability as student leadership changes.  
  2. Group Growth Functions  
    1. Teaching techniques and responsibilities of being a good leader and follower.  
    2. Serve as a person that students can bounce ideas off of.  
    3. Coaching the officers in what good organizational and administrative practice looks like.  
    4. Helping the members learn self-discipline and responsibility.  
    5. Teaching what an effective group operation consists of.  
    6. Keeping the group focused on its goals.  
  3. Program Content Functions  
    1. Introduce new program ideas.   
    2. Provide opportunities for the students to practice the skills they learned in the classroom.  
    3. Point out new perspectives and directions to the group.  
    4. Use your experience to help provide insight.  

What the Organization May Expect of Advisor 

  • Believe in the organization and manifest the enthusiasm necessary to help the organization reach its potential.
  • Understand the organization, be aware of its purposes, and assist in formulating goals.  
  • Assist in the development of procedures and methods for maintaining an effective organization.  
  • Assist in matters of university procedures.  
  • Assist membership in improving leadership skills.  
  • Serve as a liaison with the university when necessary.  
  • Guide the organization in planning activities and programs.  
  • Encourage and support in periods of trial.  
  • Serve, as needed, as an arbitrator or impartial observer.  
  • Participate in the meetings and events of the organization to the greatest extent possible.  

What the Advisor May Expect of Officers 

  • Keep the advisor informed as to all organizational activities, meeting times, locations, and agendas.  
  • Meet regularly with the advisor and discuss all plans and problems.  
  • Develop and use good records and sound financial procedures.  
  • Provide minutes of meetings, as well as any other materials that are sent to members.  
  • Make no commitments for the advisor without his/her consent.  
  • Do not assume the advisor will continue to serve as an advisor for the succeeding year unless the advisor agrees.  
  • Consult the advisor before any changes in the structure or policies of the organization are made and before any major projects are undertaken.  

What the University Expects of the Advisor

To be the liaison between the student organization and Student Involvement and Leadership. 

  • Do not accept the position of advisor or continue to serve as an advisor if he/she is not prepared to fulfill the expectations of such.  
  • Assume the role of advisor as a volunteer, but uphold the best interests of the university and organization.  
  • Currently and continually employed as a full-time faculty or administrative staff at Wright State University.  
  • Do all that is possible to assure that the organization will take reasonable precautions in its activities so that policies and laws are not violated and individuals’ welfare will not be endangered.  
  • Participate in the organization to the fullest extent without actually making decisions or setting policies for the organization.  
  • Know the college policies for student organizations. (see the Student Handbook for specifics).  
  • Attendance at high-level events.  
  • Organization advisors will be notified of all space reservations, so they are aware of the organization's event.  
  • Student organization advisors must approve and be in attendance during the entire event where alcohol is served.  
  • Approve the organization’s events on Engage.  

Working with Student Officers  

Your relationship with the organization’s officers is one of high importance. Besides helping train new officers and facilitating the transition of information, records, and ideas, you will be asked to interpret university policies and procedures, assist with group organization and function, aid in event planning, and attend the organization’s activities and special events.  Offer yourself as a resource. Make suggestions that will permit the officers to see other points of view and improve their leadership skills. If the officers ask, “What should we do?” rephrase and hand the question back to them. Assist them, but do not solve their problems. Keep the line of communication open. 

Planning and Registering Events  

It is the responsibility of every student organization to register all events with Student Involvement and Leadership. You must be present for the duration of a high-level event or designate a substitute who must be a faculty member or staff member. Watch over delegation, poor planning, and/or overspending that may result in postponing or canceling the event. It is highly recommended that you attend any activities sponsored by the organization at which alcohol will be served.  

A variety of things determines high-level events. This is the link to the form that scores events to determine if they are considered high level or not: https://orgsync.com/1148/files/238774/show 

What a CEP Is/Does  

The offices of Student Involvement and Leadership and Event Services and Youth Programs require all registered student organizations to have at least one of their members as a Certified Event Planner (CEP). A CEP will have the privilege to make reservations through the Student Union and Event Services and register events with Student Involvement and Leadership via Engage. The CEP will be trained in effectively planning and hosting events here at Wright State University.  

The CEP program aims to assist student event planners in planning, educating students with the university policy, and giving all the students the best opportunities to host successful events here at Wright State.  

The CEP program is an online training through Wright State's online learning platform, Pilot. The program will take roughly 30-40 mins and have a series of questions to assess the learning. Students must pass all sections of the quiz to become a CEP. Registered student organizations must have at least one CEP certified member and students can represent up to two organizations. There is no limit on how many members can be certified. 

Attending Meetings and Level of Involvement  

The level of an advisor's involvement depends on the organization and its leaders. Attendance at every meeting may not be necessary; however, it is the best way to stay informed of its activities. When attending meetings, your role is to be a resource person and chief supporter of the group. Always remember you are not the leader and should not run the meeting. An advisor should facilitate discussion, offer objective points of view, present alternative solutions to problems, and encourage its leaders. When attending the group activities, you are letting the organization know you are interested in their work. 

Advising Techniques 

Generally, the advisor's contact with the organization will take place in three settings:  

  1. working with student officers  
  2. aiding in the planning and registration of activities  
  3. attending meetings and group activities   

The following is a list of dos and don’ts for those interactions. 

DO:  

  • Allow the group to succeed and fail.  
    • Give students a chance to work through problems without interference. When they succeed, it will encourage them to be involved in other activities; when they fail, they will learn valuable lessons in planning and responsibility.  
  • Ensure students understand what the consequences are for their decisions  
    • Be pro-active when controversy happens, but let them make the decisions. Help the students take ownership of their decisions and responsibility for any consequences that may follow their decision.  
  • Know your limits as an advisor  
    • You are an advisor, not a member of the organization. Not everything is your responsibility; not everything that goes wrong is your fault.  
  • Support your group  
    • They are not going to have all the answers, so support them through the good times and the bad to show that you are there for them whenever they need you.  
  • Be visible  
    • Your presence at meetings and events lets the group know the university cares about them as people and productive members of an organization.  
  • Be consistent with your actions.  
    • Fairness in advising is critical. Make sure you remain objective.  
  • Teach leadership  
    • Leadership is the most crucial skill organization members learn through their involvement in the group. By teaching leadership, the group ensures strength in replenishing members and smooth transition between officers.  
  • Keep your sense of humor.  
    • Perspective is vital in dealing with organizational problems.  

DON’T: 

  • Control the group  
  • Manipulate the group  
  • Take ownership of the group  
  • Close communication  
  • Be afraid to let the group fail
  • Know it all  
  • Take everything seriously  
  • Say, “I told you so.”  
  • Be the leader  

Eight Characteristics of a Successful Organization  

  1. Organization members know each other well.  
  2. Members are involved in defining organizational purposes.  
  3. Members are used to helping generate ideas.  
  4. There is a commitment to group decision-making.  
  5. Skills, resources, and liabilities of the organization and community are identified.  
  6. Systematic problem-solving techniques are used.  
  7. The organization effectively communicates itself and its purpose to members and the community.  
  8. The organization participates in periodic evaluation and assessment. 

Symptoms of a Healthy and Unhealthy Group  

A group is healthy when:  

  1. All members feel comfortable saying what they think.  
  2. Decisions are worked through until a consensus of the agreement is reached.  
  3. Well-informed members contribute their ideas in the area of their competence.  
  4. The whole group handles questions that concern the entire group.  
  5. Major issues get major time.  
  6. Major issues invoke mature approaches to change.  
  7. Minor issues are settled with the attention they deserve.  
  8. The decision reached through participation is final and satisfactory.  
  9. Members understand one another’s ideas, plans, and proposals.  
  10. The group carries forward in the performance of tasks and the achievement of goals.  
  11. The group is solution-oriented.  
  12. Rewards and feedback are shared.   

A group is unhealthy when:  

  1. A few members do all the talking.  
  2. Most members mumble agreement.  
  3. Competent people sit by silently.  
  4. Decision making is quickly referred to committees.  
  5. New people with good ideas are not listened to.  
  6. Minor issues consume the major time.  
  7. Minor and simple issues make people seethe and boil.  
  8. Major issues are passed over.  
  9. The same subjects, supposedly settled, keep coming up again.  
  10. Quick judgments are passed on issues people do not understand.  
  11. Members subjectively talk about people in a scapegoating manner.  
  12. The group accomplishes little in the absence of the chairperson.  
  13. The group avoids change.  
  14. Rewards and criticism are concentrated on a few.  

Helpful Contact Numbers

Student Involvement and Leadership 
937-775-5570  
Fax: 937-775-5573 
Account Clerk: 937-775-5574 

For General Inquiries: 

Courtney Mullins 
Program Manager of Student Organization 
937-775-5541 
courtney.mullins@wright.edu 

For Fraternity and Sororities: 

Gina Keucher 
Program Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life 
937-775-5560 
gina.keucher@wright.edu 

For Sports Clubs: 

Billy Willis 
Program Director of Campus Recreation 
937-775-5505 
billy.willis@wright.edu 

For Conduct-related Inquires: 

Debbie Lamp 
Associate Director for Student Involvement and Leadership 
937-775-5566 
debra.lamp@wright.edu 

Community Standards and Student Conduct
937-775-4240 
studentconduct@wright.edu 

Wright State Police Department 
937-775-2111  

If you believe a crime has been committed, the Wright State University Police Department is the appropriate authority to contact to file a criminal complaint.