Advisors to SGA Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) willingly devote their talents, time, energy, and expertise to student groups at TMCC. The advisor’s role is vitally important to the entire group; however, they are equally important to each individual club member’s leadership experience. In a sense, student groups are asking their advisor(s) to accept the opportunity and responsibility for helping them develop their leadership skills throughout their entire learning experience at TMCC.
There are many benefits that can arise from the working relationship that exists between club members and their advisor. The development of an open and honest relationship based on communication, sincerity, professionalism, and personal approachability provides an excellent opportunity for growth and success. The advisor-advisee relationship provides for an untold number of valuable lessons for every individual involved. Students gain the positive rewards of enhanced leadership skills with the sincere knowledge that they are enriching the lives of others while adding to the rich history of TMCC. Advisors have the opportunity to watch their students become excited and passionate about their co-curricular involvement, while helping to advance student life opportunities at TMCC.
What is an Advisor?
In order to receive SGA recognition, student organizations must have a faculty or staff advisor who has access to a TMCC Purchasing Card (PCard). Student organizations may have co-advisors, provided one of the advisors has access to a PCard. The advisor serves as a resource for student organizations by providing guidance, counsel, sharing ideas, showing support, and keeping the group aware of pertinent college and system-wide guidelines and regulations. The advisor provides significant insight on matters relating to the group.
It is the advisor who aids in maintaining the organization by providing continuity and serving as a valuable information source. In short, a good advisor strives to help nurture organizational success. The pattern of teamwork between the advisor and the group must be tailored to meet the needs of all parties involved. The voluntary relationship between an advisor and the organization should continue as long as both parties believe the relationship to be productive and mutually satisfying.
The advisor can be and is many things to the organization; however, the advisor should never simply be a name on a piece of paper, resigned to only serve as having signature authority on forms.
Benefits of Having/Being an Effective Advisor
The advisor can:
- Assist the group in meeting their mission, goals, and objectives while becoming well-versed in group events and activities.
- Provide guidance and counsel by sharing expertise, thoughts, ideas, and making recommendations as needed.
- Assist in the development of leadership skills among members.
- Provide advice on financial and administrative matters as they relate to the group.
- Help prevent any violations of college, system, local, state, or national regulations.
Advisor Roles and Responsibilities
In almost every instance, the advisor serves at the desire of the student group. The advisor-advisee relationship is special in that both groups receive and retain mutual satisfaction with the experience. It is indeed an honor to be selected to serve as an advisor to an organization; however, the specific roles and responsibilities of the advisor are almost entirely organization specific.
The scope of the organization’s activities, the effectiveness of the organization’s leadership, the time commitments of the advisor, and a host of other factors will contribute to the level of involvement of the advisor. The advisor must be committed to the organization’s success and willing to go "above and beyond the call of duty" in an effort to provide the group with ample opportunities to achieve their true potential.
The advisor may not be a member of the organization; furthermore, all advisors have a voice but no vote within the organization. It is not the advisor’s role to run meetings, plan and present programs, make decisions for the group, prevent all failures, or know all of the answers. Advisors are required to attend all formal meetings, those in which formal votes are required to elect officers, and approve events or expenditure decisions, of their RSO to insure compliance with their organization’s policies and procedures in addition to those of the SGA, TMCC and NSHE.
Advisors who demonstrate an inability to fulfill their responsibilities in overseeing their RSO, demonstrated by violations of SGA, TMCC or NSHE policies and procedures, may be removed of their responsibilities by a majority decision made by the SLD Associate, SLD Coordinator and Student Organizations Assistant. Should any of these positions not be available to meet within a reasonable period of time, a proxy may be appointed to represent the absent position.
Student Organizations may choose to have more than one Advisor for their organization. Co-Advisors have all the rights and responsibilities as other Advisor(s), however it is not required that Co-Advisors have a TMCC Purchasing Card, except in the instance where the primary Advisor does not have a TMCC Purchasing Card.
Within local, state, and federal legal systems, individuals and organizations are held legally liable for negligent behavior. No matter how well-intentioned and detailed, comprehensive policies and procedures cannot negate this basic fact. In order to limit individual and group negligence and liability claims, it is extremely important to practice professional risk and liability management. Individuals or groups should not, through word or deed, foster or maintain negative, illegal, and/or dangerous situations.
TMCC maintains insurance that includes extensive liability coverage. This insurance is meant to cover employees of the institution while they are performing their professional duties. In most instances, advisors to student organizations are considered to be acting within the course and scope of their duties. It is interesting to note however, that student organizations tend to be considered as separate entities from the institution and they may not be covered by the institution’s liability limits. It is important that advisors and their organizations be aware of behaviors and activities that can expose them to legal liability and take appropriate steps to minimize or avoid these risks altogether.
The organization should not be inhibited from having fun, but reasonable care should be exercised at all times.
Anticipate "foreseeable harm" -- can you foresee any danger or harm to individuals or the institution? Consider the following:
- Transportation issues
- Physical risk or damage to property or person
- Alcohol or other inappropriate/illegal substances
- Any other harmful issues
Act with reasonable care.
- What would a reasonable person in a similar situation do?
- Play the Devil’s Advocate.
Communicate possibilities and concerns for the activity in question.
- Develop a plan of action for these concerns.
Duty to warn.
- If an activity or event appears to have foreseeable harm, it is the advisor’s duty to warn the organization of this risk and to take appropriate action.
- The advisor is an educator representing the organization and the institution. When an organization continues to plan an event that is negative or dangerous, it is the responsibility of the advisor to inform the group of violations to laws, policies and procedures, and to notify appropriate TMCC personnel as necessary.
- The legal expectation in all liability instances is for the club or organization and the advisor to make reasonable and prudent decisions.
- Advisors are to provide reasonable and sound advice regarding programming, facilities usage, and operational procedure.
- It is best to document all concerns in writing. Obviously, there can be no one specific statement that covers every possible situation or scenario that may occur. If there are concerns regarding situations that may expose the institution or the advisor to potential liability, please contact the Student Life and Development (SLD) Office for additional assistance, advice, and support services.