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These resources, policies and expectations are for faculty, staff and others who advise or coach student organizations.

The Role of an Advisor

Student organizations are a critical aspect of Stanford’s education mission and are designed to help students find and foster their passions while developing leadership and life skills. We see student organizations as valuable learning experiences for our students and look for them to be student-run, with advise and support from their advisors.

Many faculty, staff, alumni and others volunteer their time and expertise to assist voluntary student organizations and mentor their members in ways that are consistent with university principles and policy.  Student Activities and Leadership is grateful for the contributions student organization advisors make to Stanford students and the activities that they sponsor. Below is a set of best practices and key university policies that are designed to inform advisors of their role and responsibilities.

Advisors are best when they see themselves as "influencers" who can help students make thoughtful choices and "do the right thing" on behalf of their community and the broader Stanford community".

Our Values 

  • Inclusivity.  Student organizations are supported by the university as valuable learning opportunities for students.  Broad, open and welcoming membership for all students is a core value. Leadership should be democratically chosen and key organizations decisions should actively seek the voices of all members.
  • Equity.  Effective student organizations value diverse perspectives, strive to understand members’ social identities and actively seek the voices of all members. Leadership is democratically chosen and key decisions are broadly discussed and decided by its members.
  • Collaboration. Resources, including money, space and time, are finite. Student organizations are most effective in serving the student community when done collaboratively with others. 
  • Respect. Student organizations and their members are encouraged to understand and honor unique contributions of every person in the Stanford community and engage in dialogue, showing reverence for various opinions. 
  • Balance. Active student organizations are important to a vibrant student life but are best designed with intentionality and adequate resources. Student leaders provide meaningful contributions to student life provided they balanced with strong aademic commitment and progress.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Locally autonomous from regional and national affiliations. We value the expertise and continuity that regional and national organizations bring to our student organizations, but student organizations are Stanford organizations and must reflect Stanford values and follow Stanford policy and procedures.
  • Embrace a challenge and support approach. As educators, we believe that students learn best by actively challenging and supporting the work they do with respect and trust.
  • Support the whole student. Advisors can be most effective when they develop a relationship of trust with students, understanding the student's personal, social and academic development and referring them to campus resources when appropriate.

Best Practices

  • Wise Mentor is the Primary Role. Faculty and staff advisors are most effective when they see their primary role as an educator and mentor to students that are learning new skills, learning about their fields of study and growing into effective leaders.
  • Intentionality is the Preferred Approach. Advisors best support the academic mission of Stanford and the needs of our students when they are conscious of every action they undertake and are able to consider the long range implications of decisions, discussing them openly wth their students.
  • Focus on Broad Institutional Principles, Not Rules.  University policies and rules at their best represent community standards. These policies are designed to support our Stanford community, student leaders, event planners and the university.
  • Understand the Organization’s Constitution and Scope. The advisor should read the student organization's approved constitution and understand the university-approved scope of the student organization.
  • Demonstrate a Strong Commitment to Student Driven Decision-making. The university expects that student organizations are student-led. Student organization members should make decisions about how the organization’s structure, finances and general activities provided that such decisions are consistent with the group’s mission and university policy and practice.
  • Possess a Knowledge and Understanding of Critical University Policies. In addition to possessing a general understanding of the university, advisors are expected to be familiar with the list of critical policies for student organizations.  This includes expectations the university has for student leaders as well as you as an advisor.
  • Follow Financial and Accounting Expectations.  In general, student group leaders should be managing their own finances including purchasing and reimbursements. In the event an advisor makes an expenditure for their group, they should do so in ways that are fully consistent with ASSU and university policies for expenditures and reimbursements.
  • Consistent and Clear Communication. Faculty and staff have busy schedules and many other commitments. You will be most effective when you develop a means for having consistent and clear communication with organizational leaders, both in writing and in person. When possible, it is helpful to ensure at least one face-to-face interaction with the general membership
  • Simple and Clear Expectations for Student Organization Members. Advisor time is valuable. Your time will be most useful and efficient when you are clear with your students about your expectations. For example, student leaders should understand how you see your role, what it is and is not. They should know your preferred form of communication and the level of frequency you expect.
  • Stewarding Stanford. We look to you to help student organization leaders understand their role in serving as a good steward of the university name, non-profit status, reputation and other institutional goals and expectations.
  • Communicating with Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) Staff. Advisors serve as mentors and role models for student organizations doing work closely related to their field or interest of their advisors. This assistance is invaluable and is not intended to provide comprehensive oversight and management of your student organization. You are encouraged to consult with SAL staff for assistance in student organization oversight.
  • Student Concerns and Emergencies.  Occasionally advisors encounter an academic or mental health concern with an individual student. They may encounter a time sensitive issue with an event or activity that may require prompt consultation or have concerns that students are not following important universiry policies. In these situations advisors are encouraged to refer these issues to staff from Student Activities and Leadership promplty.

Critical University Policies

For Advisors