Student Organization Advisors
Thank you for serving as a student organization advisor! The time and energy you are investing in your organization truly helps improve the experience our students are having at the Medical University of South Carolina. The Office of Student Programs and Student Diversity strives to provide you with the information, support, and assistance you need to advise your organization effectively.
This website is designed to be a guide to rules and policies concerning student organizations. However, this is only a guide, and although it will explain the basic processes and rules governing student organizations, it should always be used in conjunction with the guidelines from the Office of Student Programs and Student Diversity, the Dean's office within each college and the MUSC Student Handbook. The Office of Student Programs and Student Diversity is here to assist you with any questions or concerns you might have with the material covered.
Feel free to stop by our office, located in the Harper Student Center, SW 213, or call us at 843-792-2693. This website, along with supplemental information, will provide you with the tools necessary for a successful year.
Role of the Advisor
Given the myriad of purposes, activities, and objectives of various student organizations, the role of the advisor will and can vary significantly among them. As groups vary in their expectations and requirements, it is important that the advisor develop an understanding with the organization you are to represent as to the nature of your involvement. The advisor and group should agree on a set of expectations of one another from the onset. This understanding should be reviewed annually.
To maintain a good working relationship new and veteran advisors should feel comfortable discussing their relationship and role with student leaders.
Use this list as a guideline for just some of the roles you will play as an advisor to your student organization.
- Be able to interpret University policies governing recognized student organizations (see the Policies and Procedures section of the MUSC Student Handbook.)
- Attend meetings when possible, but at least once a semester
- Advise and consult organization officers on budgets and other financial affairs. Meet with officers at least once a semester
- Provide continuity to the group by communicating the policies, regulations, roles and responsibilities with group members, and assist with the transition of officers each year
- Encourage and assist the group in setting organization goals
- Be available to the officers of the organization for consultation
- Sign documentation as advisor, for organizational events where all alcohol will be served
- Encourage the officers to maintain accurate records
- Provide guidance to group members regarding organization-related problems
- Stay up-to-date on what is happening within the organization
- Assist officers in understanding their duties and organizing programs
- Assist the officers with goal settings
- Promote diversity and interprofessional collaboration within organization
- Determine if the organization’s constitution defines the advisors’ role and when it does support the organization accordingly
- If the constitution does not clearly define the role of the advisor it is strongly recommended that the advisor and the executive officers meet annually to clarify duties, set expectations, and define levels of responsibility to best serve the organization’s mission and goals
Benefits of Advising Student Organizations
There are numerous benefits associated with serving as an advisor to a student organization that include:
- The satisfaction of seeing and helping students learn and develop new skills
- Developing personal relationships with students
- Enhancing the personal development and leadership skills of diverse students
- Watching a disparate group come together to share common interests and work toward common goals and an understanding of differences
- Furthering personal goals and/or interests by working with an organization that reflects your own interests
- Sharing your knowledge, perspective and expertise with students
Advisor and Student Organization Liability
When should I anticipate risks?
Risks might arise out of any decision or situation. Regardless of what organization or activity is involved, there always will be an opportunity for something out of the ordinary to happen. However, if decisions are made consistently and in good faith, and if reasonable precautions are taken, risks can be minimized. Advisors and student organizations always take on enhanced risk and liability when sponsoring/hosting events where alcohol is being served. See MUSC's Alcohol Policy for more information.
Where can I find out about the university’s policies and procedures?
It is important to be aware of the University policies and regulations as they affect student organizations. The MUSC Student Handbook is the source for University rules and regulations. Please become familiar with the guidelines that apply. The Associate Provost for Education and Student Life, Deans' offices and the Office of Student Programs and Student Diversity also can serve as resources for you if you have more specific questions.
- Make sure your student organization information is current in the MUSC Student Handbook.
- Stay in close communication with fellow officers and other organization advisors.
- Remain aware of MUSC Student Policies and Procedures.
- Student organizations serve many purposes. As an advisor of a group, keep the needs of your members and the organizations’ stated purpose in mind.
- Assist in the planning of programs and activities as appropriate.
- Encourage your organization to take this process seriously and make it a part of your organization’s early planning agenda annually.
- DON’T Stifle student leadership development.
- DON’T Attempt to know all things.
- DON’T Take over the organizational meetings unless asked to do so.
- DON’T Impose your own bias upon the organization.
- DON’T Do the work of the president or other members of the executive board.
- DON’T Be an absentee advisor.
- DON’T Miss group meetings or functions when you have promised to attend.
- DON’T Be afraid to let the organization try new ideas.
- DON’T Lose an objective viewpoint as advisor.
- DON’T Allow the organization to become a one-person organization.
- DON’T Be laissez-faire or autocratic.
- DON’T Assume the organization doesn’t need you as an advisor because things appear to be okay.
- DON’T Assume the organization’s attitudes, needs and personalities will remain the same year to year.
- DON’T Be afraid to ask for support when you need it.
This information is adapted from Schreiber, V. and Pfleghaar,
E. “Supervising vs. Advising”, UMR-ACUHO, 1999 and the ACPA Commission for Student Involvement Advisor’s Handbook