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Guiding Principles and Best Practices

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 with 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 those of an advisor.
  • Follow Financial and Accounting Expectations.  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.  This should be an occasional circumstance.
  • Consistent and Clear Communication. Faculty and staff have busy schedules and many other commitments. Advisors will be most effective when they 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 too.
  • 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 Office of Student Engagement (OSE) Staff. Advisors serve as mentors and role models for student organizations doing work closely related to their field or personal interest. This assistance is invaluable and is not intended to provide comprehensive oversight and management of student organizations. Advisors are encouraged to consult with OSE 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 university policies. In these situations advisors are encouraged to refer these issues to staff from Office of Student Engagement promptly.