Advisor Resources

Nicholls State University is committed to enhancing the college experience. We provide opportunities for students to pursue their personal, professional, and academic goals by recognizing the rights for students to join, lead and establish organizations in those areas of interest. It is the mission of Nicholls State University to deliver accredited degree programs and comprehensive learning experiences to prepare students for regional and global professions with a spirited campus environment immersed in Bayou Region culture. It is the aim of the Department of Student Engagement to provide customer-focused student services and to provide meaningful student activities. The Student Engagement Office supports more than 80 student organizations in several categories: departmental/professional, honorary, religious, service, special interest, University-sponsored groups, and social organizations.

The time a student spends at a university is a time for growth: both in academics and in extra-curricular activities. Thank you for being an advisor and helping students to have an even better college experience! Here are a few resources to properly support you in your role as advisor for student organizations.

Purpose of RSOs

The purpose of Registered Student Organizations is to identify the importance of extra-curricular learning and its developmental impacts. It is important to the Office of Student Activities and Organizations that students have an outlet to express their both academic and non-academic interests within the scope of the university. The learning experiences that students who are involved in extracurriculars is valued to be critical professional development, social, and fulfilling components of the college experience here at Nicholls State University.

Privileges Given to RSOs

Registered Student Organizations exist at the university on the idea that the RSO activities are meaningfully related to the mission of Nicholls State University and complement the purpose of RSOs as stated above. RSO programs must contribute to the educational, civic, and social development of the students involved. Registration of a campus organization does not imply university sanction of the organization or its activities. Registration is simply an opportunity to organize on the university campus and may be withdrawn by the Committee on Organizations if an organization is found in violation of any federal, state or local laws, or university regulation or policy.

Use of the University’s Branding

For a detailed description of university policy regarding name usage and other branding guidelines, please see the Nicholls Branding Guide.

Rights and Responsibilities of RSOs

Rights – Registered Student Organizations may:

Use university facilities (subject to pertinent regulations, proper scheduling procedures, and prior needs of the University itself);
Invite off-campus speakers and artists to appear for regularly scheduled meetings and assemblies (Meetings and speakers must be scheduled in accordance with proper procedures and university policies);
Distribute literature relating to the organization’s purpose and activities in those areas authorized by the current posting policies;
Sponsor profit-making activities and solicit funds for organizational activities in accordance with university regulations;
Responsibilities – It is the responsibility of every registered student organization and/or its representatives to:

Carry out its activities and conduct itself and/or himself or herself within the student organization’s own constitution, all applicable local, state, and federal laws, and all university regulations and policies;
Anticipate, provide for, and promptly meet its legitimate financial obligations;
Act accordingly in the best interests of its members and the University;
Comply with all organization information distributed through the Office of Student Activities and Organizations;
Take reasonable precautions for the safety and comfort of participants at organization events; and
Notify the appropriate Student Activities Coordinator in the Office of Student Activities and Organizations of any and all changes in the organization’s officers/contact persons, addresses, telephone numbers, or constitution.
Additional Benefits

Recruitment Opportunities

Nicholls State University offers a variety of recruitment opportunities for our RSOs which include: Orientation, Welcome Back Day and Family Day.

Fundraising Opportunities

As a RSO, student groups can schedule fundraisers through the Reservations Office by completing a Gold Form.

Many themes have been adapted from the University of Houston’s “Registered Student Organizations 101.”

A Registered Student Organization advisor is an on-campus faculty or staff member who has a relationship with a student organization and has agreed to provide support and guidance to officers and members of the student organization. The advisor serves as a liaison for the group in an official capacity and as an advocate for the group.

Why Become an Advisor?
Advising a student organization can be a very rewarding experience for faculty and staff. Working with students outside structured classroom experiences or staff roles allows faculty and staff an opportunity to share information and resources and to teach hands-on skills such as leadership styles, organizational ethics, and program planning.

Who Can Become an RSO Advisor?
Nicholls State University allows any full-time or part-time faculty or staff members to serve as advisors to Registered Student Organizations.

How to Become an Official Advisor?
Here are 2 easy steps to become a student organization advisor:

Be asked by student leaders to advise their organization or approach an organization that you may be interested in advising and offer to be an advisor.
With the student leaders of the organization, submit a Letter of Approval to the Student Activities Coordinator stating that you are willingly accepting responsibility for the organization in question.
The Role of Advisor
By sharing both knowledge about the university and personal experiences, an RSO advisor can assist the organization in the conduct of its activities. In addition, valuable, mutually rewarding, co-curricular relationships between students and RSO advisors are fostered.

The list that follows contains possible roles of an RSO advisor. It is important that the RSO advisor and the organization communicate their expectations of each other. The RSO advisor should be very clear about the things he or she will do, and the things he or she will not do. Of course, the expectations will vary according to the needs of the organization and the individual advisor.

The RSO advisor can recognize and support participation in student organizations because participation contributions to the educational and personal development of students.
The RSO advisor may guide the student organization, but should not dictate the organization’s programs or activities. RSO advisors should be frank in offering suggestions, considerations, ideas, and discussing possible consequences.
The RSO advisor should be well informed about the plans and activities of the organization. The organization should expect is that the advisor will attend some meetings and will consult frequently with the organization’s officers.
The RSO advisor should know the goals and direction of the organization and should help the organization evaluate its progress.
The RSO advisor should be aware of the constitution and bylaws of the organization and help with interpretation, if applicable.
The RSO advisor should provide a source of continuity within the organization and be familiar with the organization’s history.
The RSO advisor should be familiar with university policies and procedures and help the organization comply with them.
The RSO advisor should be aware of the general financial condition of the organization, and encourage good record keeping.
The RSO advisor should help in training new officers and help them develop their leadership skills.
The RSO advisor should be prepared to resolve major problems or emergencies within the organization.
Inappropriate Responsibilities:

Running the student organization meetings
Assuming ultimate responsibility for the group’s decisions, problems or failures
Assuming veto power over group decisions, unless decisions could lead to harm or violate laws and/or University policy
Governing content and ideas expressed in programs
Serving as primary recruiter for new members
Stepping in to “solve” problems; remember, mistakes can be good learning opportunities
The Organization’s Responsibilities to the Advisor
Advisors serve voluntarily. It is the organization’s responsibility to inform the RSO advisor about the activities of the organization.

Student organization officers can use the following checklist to help establish a working relationship with their advisor.

Notify the RSO advisor of all meetings and events
Consult the RSO advisor in the planning of all activities.
Consult the RSO advisor before making any changes in the structure or policies of the organization, and before undertaking major projects.
Understand that although the RSO advisor has no vote that he or she should have speaking privileges.
Remember that the responsibility for the success or failure of the organization project rests ultimately with the group, not the RSO advisor.
Talk over any problems or concerns with the RSO advisor.
Acknowledge that the RSO advisor’s time and energy are donated and express appreciation.
Be clear and open about your expectations for your RSO advisor’s role.
At the end of each semester, evaluate your RSO advisor and give appropriate feedback.
Adapted from the ACPA Commission for Student Involvement (2005). Advisor Manual.

Crisis Management

The Office of Crisis Management at Nicholls State University page outlines important information for advisors by outlining the ethics in advising and where to refer students when necessary. Advisors should become familiar with the on-campus resources for student wellbeing. 

ABC’s of Advising

Consider the following tips to help make advising more efficient for you and allow you to be more helpful to students.

Attend meetings and events regularly
Be open to communicating with members and officers
Promote Cooperation rather than competition
Assist in Developing long term goals
Encourage discussion of relevant issues
Foster a relationship of trust with students
Be a Good listener
Help officers improve leadership skills
Discourage Inappropriate ideas
Don’t Judge students
Kick-start enthusiasm
Let members know expectations and roles
Meet regularly with organization leaders
Notice organization and member accomplishments
Keep your sense of humor
Praise publicly, criticize privately
Be accessible and available for any Questions
Request all agendas and minutes
Strict – No, laissez-faire – No, middle ground – Yes
Avoid Taking sides and remain objective
Understand the goals of the organization
Be a Valuable resource
Turn “What should we do?” into “what are you going to do?”
Develop and use constitutional eXpertise
Provide reasons for Your suggestions
Go to your organiZation for help. It builds confidence and team spirit
Adapted from Advisor’s Handbook 2008-2009 “A Guide to Advising Student Organizations” from the University of South Carolina.

Dos and Don’ts of Advising
Provide assistance regarding questions when members are not available
Make suggestions when the group is about to go off the deep end
Work closely with the President to give insight and feedback
Stand up for the ideas of the organization even if you don’t agree with them
Do attend events (for at least part of the time) of the organization to show your support
Do spend extra time with members when you know the organization needs you—specifically when they are putting on a major program
Let people know when you will be out and when you will be back in the office
Ask to be kept informed of what is taking place
Ask to be able to review correspondence for grammar
Do know, understand, and inform on University policies
Allow the organization to make financial decisions
Meet with specific officers on a regular basis
Be flexible (students don’t have their own office and also have busy schedules)
Hold members accountable for their own goals
Make a decision if officers are not available to make the decision
Ask for input from students
Keep key students informed about decisions of the administration
Remember students have classes and studying to do
Be the first person people go to for questions/decisions
Keep the group from making mistakes (this is how they learn)
Tell the President what to do (the President is the leader, not you)
Represent your personal views as those of the organization
Plan the events and run them
Stay late just because members failed to get their own work done
Tell people all of your business if you don’t want them to know (it is not their business)
Demand that everything needs to be “approved” if it doesn’t
Censor correspondence (there are few exceptions)
Be a stickler for rules (find loopholes when appropriate)
Let the organization blow their money away
Always expect a meeting every week at the same time
Fail to hold members responsible (they can at least call if they can’t make a meeting)
Make goals on members’ behalf
Make a decision without contacting or trying to contact the appropriate officers.
Think that students’ “wants” always need to be met
Think that everyone needs to know the details of administrative decisions
Let students use school as a “regular” excuse for not getting work done (if they don’t have time, don’t be in the organization)
Adapted from the ACPA Commission for Student Involvement (2005). Advisor Manual.

RSO Manual

The Student Organization Ma nual is the all-inclusive guide for Registered Student Organization activities. It is important for both members and advisors of student organizations to have a working understanding of the topics covered in the Student Organizations Manual.

Annual Reporting
To ensure an accurate listing of all student organizations and advisors, the university requires all student organizations to register annually with the Office of Student Activities and Organizations. Due dates are set each semester for the return of the paperwork. An organization is considered to be a “recognized” Nicholls State University student organization when the annual reporting requirements are met. More information regarding RSO annual reporting requirements can be found on the RSO Required Forms page.

Funding Resources
RSOs have the option to contact the Student Government Association and the Student Programming Association to request financial sponsorship and marketing promotion.

RSOs are encouraged to contact the Office of Institutional Advancement when exploring banking options.

Theory of Group Development
If you have been an advisor for an extended period of time, you may have realized that your advising style will vary over time – even within the same organization. This is due in part to the changing dynamics of the different students involved. Your advising style may also change depending on the dynamics of the group and the developmental level of the organization.

Bruce Tuckman developed a sequential model with the foundation being that groups develop through an orderly, invariant sequence of stages or phases. In 1965, Tuckman reviewed approximately fifty developmental models and research studies and developed his own model of group development. Tuckman’s model categorized group development in five identifiable sequential stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Forming – This developmental stage is devoted to issues of membership, inclusion and dependency. Members at this stage are trying to determine their place in the organization, clarify goals and group structure.
Storming – This period is defined by internal conflicts around tasks and interpersonal issues also develop.
Norming – The third stage is defined by a development of group cohesion where members discover new ways to work together and accept the defined acceptable rules of behavior.
Performing – This is the stage in which group members work actively on the task and fulfilling their responsibilities.
Adjourning – This concluding stage is not necessarily relevant to every organization. Adjournment refers to the termination or disbanding of the group as they have finished the task at hand and members will anticipate a change in their relationships.
Tuckman, Bruce W. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin. 63(6), Jun 1965, 384-399. doi: 10.1037/h0022100

Choosing the Effective Advising Style by Kathleen Allen (Situational Advising Model)
Adaptability is tantamount to success as an advisor. Not all students are the same. Neither are all student groups, nor all advisors. Hence, the best advisors assess the developmental level of the organization, and adjust accordingly. Individual students are at one of several levels of development in an organization. Kathleen E. Allen, “Choosing the Effective Advising Style”, in the May, 1981 Programming (p. 1-3) states these stages include: Infancy, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, and Maturity. Not to be confused with actual age, these stages represent a continuum along which students develop.

Infancy: Students exhibit a low level of commitment, a lack of knowledge, and limited responsibility for their actions.
Adolescence: Students increase their programming skills, their interest, commitment, and sense of responsibility to the organization.
Young Adulthood: Students become competent and continue to increase in areas of commitment and responsibility.
Maturity: Student now show a high degree of competency in many areas and demonstrate a commitment to the group that extends into taking responsibility for their own actions as well as the group’s actions.
Successful advisors will match their style with the level of the students in organization.

Director: Has a high concern for the end result but is not very concerned about the process. This matches with students in the infancy stage.
Teacher/Director: Exhibits a high concern for both product and process. Correlates with students in the adolescence stage.
Advisor/Teacher: Concern for product low because students handle this when in the young adulthood stage; high concern for process. Correlates with students in the young adulthood stage.
Consultant: Product concern and process concern both low because students assume responsibility in both areas. Students at this point are in the maturity stage.
Allen, K. (1981). Choosing the effective advising style. Programming, 1-3.

Eleven Skills for Advisors to Teach
As an advisor you are a role model, mentor, and teacher for the group. In your role as a teacher you can help the students develop certain skills that will help make the organization more effective and that they can use in the future.

Kathleen Allen, in the December, 1979 issue of Programming Magazine, outlined eleven skills that she recommends be taught to students through consistent, planned advising. Divided into the categories of accomplishing tasks, improving relationships, and self-improvement, her outline provides a clear, comprehensive lesson plan for advisors to utilize in their efforts toward student skill development.

Skills for Accomplishing Tasks
Problem Solving: the ability to solve problems creatively. The process includes these components: identify the real problem, assess all components of the problem, weigh what is relevant, pursue alternatives, and identify a solution. Example: developing a policy.
Planning and Organization: the ability to set goals and coordinate a variety of human and material resources to accomplish these goals. Example: producing a specific event.
Delegating: the ability to identify or develop a task, and then share the responsibility, authority, resources, and information needed to accomplish it. Example: committee leader assigning a member a task.
Decision-making: the ability to evaluate existing information and to be willing and confident enough to make a choice of what should be done. Example: choosing a speaker for a lecture.
Financial Management: the ability to plan, develop, and implement a budget, including cost and expense estimates, budget implementation, and budget evaluation. Example: implementing a budget for each event.
Skills for Improving Relationships
Persuasion: the ability to identify our own opinions and use logic and communication to change the opinions of others. Example: choosing between two programs.
Relationship-building: the process of creating, developing, and maintaining connections between groups or individuals. Example: scheduling frequent casual meetings with organization members.
Adaptability: the ability to cope with a variety of situations and kinds of people. Example: working with people with different cultural backgrounds or values.
Skills for Self-Improvement
Stress Tolerance: the ability to cope with taxing situations, while getting the job done and having a satisfying life. Example: performing leadership responsibilities while anxious about a personal relationship.
Initiative: the ability to take responsibility for originating new projects, ability to think and act without being urged, the ability to develop new ideas or methods. Example: initiating a recruitment campaign for new members.
Risk-taking: the willingness to try something new or make a decision without the assurance of success or improvement. Example: planning a program that has not been attempted before.
20 Tips for Advisors to Increase Organizational Productivity
Know what the students expect of you as an Advisor.
Let the organization and individual members know what you expect of them.
Express a sincere interest in the organization and its mission. Stress the importance of each individual’s contribution to the whole.
Assist the organization in setting realistic, attainable goals. Ensure beginning success as much as possible, but allow the responsibility and implementation of events to lie primarily with the organization.
Have the goals or objectives of the organization firmly in mind. Know the purposes of the organization and know what things will need to be accomplished to meet the goals.
Assist the organization in achieving its goals. Understand why people become involved. Learn strengths and emphasize them. Help the organization learn through involvement by providing opportunities.
Know and understand the students with whom you are working. Different organizations require different approaches.
Assist the organization in determining the needs of the people the organization is serving.
Express a sincere interest in each member. Encourage everyone to be responsible.
Assist the members in understanding the organization’s dynamics and human interaction. Recognize that at times the process is more important than the content.
Realize the importance of the peer group and its effect on each member’s participation or lack thereof. Communicate that each individual’s efforts are needed and appreciated.
Assist the organization in developing a system by which they can evaluate their progress. Balance task orientation with social needs of members.
Use a reward system and recognition system for work well done.
Develop a style that balances active and passive organization membership.
Be aware of the various roles that you will have: clarifier, consultant, counselor, educator, facilitator, friend, information source, mentor, and role model.
Do not allow yourself to be placed in the position of chairperson.
Be aware of institutional power structure—both formal and informal. Discuss institutional developments and policies with members.
Provide continuity for the organization from semester to semester (not mandatory but encouraged).
Challenge the organization to grow and develop. Encourage independent thinking and decision-making.
Be creative and innovative. Keep a sense of humor!
(Adapted from M.J. Michael) Office of Student Leadership Development Programs at East Carolina University, as shown in ACPA Advisor Manual 6.2009

Mitigating Risk
As an advisor of a student organization, you are the university’s representative regarding the organization’s activities. As such, you are expected to give reasonable and sound advice to your organization about such things as programs, use of facilities and operational procedures. If you have reason to question an action taken by the organization, express your concern directly to the organization in person, and follow up in writing, including the date, a suggested alternative to the questionable action, a warning, etc.

It is important to remember that, in general, while we need to be concerned about liability, we can seriously damage the educational process by being paranoid about it. Just as there is no specific statement that explains faculty liability for every possible classroom incident, there is none that covers all the possible situations student organizations might encounter. If you have concerns about a situation unique to your organization or to a specific event sponsored by the organization you advise, please contact the Office of Student Activities and Organizations. Although there is no way to completely eliminate risk and legal liability associated with a program or event, there are ways to reduce risk and provide a safer environment for program participants. Here are a few things that your organization can do to identify and reduce risk:

Identify specific risks involved in the event. These could include physical risks (such as an event with physical activity) and liability risks (such as events involving alcohol, minors, or travel).
Identify options for reducing risks by including, but not limited to:Hiring a third party vendor or contractor
Purchasing additional liability insurance
Preparing liability waivers, if necessary.
Providing advanced training
Assuming a ‘worst case scenario’ and preparing for it in order to reduce the likelihood of it occurring
Utilizing waivers that outline the specific nature and risk associated with the event.
Canceling the event if the conditions are dangerous or the group is not prepared to assume full responsibility for the risk involved
Assess the capability of the group to manage risk.
Identify the challenges in managing risk, as well as resources to assist in your planning.
Develop a plan of action in reducing risk.
Communicate with everyone involved (officers, members, advisors, participants, facilities, and staff)
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs
The Nicholls State University Office of Student Life administers the student conduct and appeal processes as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. The staff is committed to ensuring that all members of the university are respected and that they respect the rights of others. More information regarding student conduct, standards, and assessment along with other services can be found on the Office of the Student Judicial Affairs.

Students at Nicholls are expected to be partners in the process of fulfilling the mission of the University by creating and maintaining standards within student groups, team and organizations that are conducive to personal growth and development. If student groups, teams, and organizations are to play an integral part in the University’s plan, they must set standards that challenge each individual to achieve his or her greatest potential.

Hazing is the antithesis of this goal, in that it attempts to tear down the feelings of individual pride and self-esteem of the individual, supposedly in order to create some esprit de corps in the group.  Furthermore,

Nicholls State University adheres to the UL System Statement on Hazing- Revised 8.23.18 and upholds all LA statutes related to hazing. Student organizations and/or individual members found to have engaged in hazing shall be in violation of the Code of Student Conduct , Louisiana Revised Statute R.S. 14:40.8. and ACT-382.


To maintain a safe learning environment that is free from hazing. Hazing activities of any type are inconsistent with the educational goals of the Nicholls State University and Louisiana Law and are prohibited at all times. No student, faculty member, employee or administrator, guest, contractor or volunteer shall plan, direct, encourage, aid or engage in hazing.
to assist with preventing hazing;
to encourage reporting which is the responsibility of every member of the university community;
to accept the personal obligation to adhere to the basic community values of being civil, and respectful of others;
to protect the safety and rights of students; and
to preserve the educational environment.
Hazing is defined as any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against an individual that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at an educational institution, including but is not limited to:

The person knew or should have known that such an act endangers the physical health or safety of the other person or causes severe emotional distress.
The act was associated with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, participating in, holding office in or maintaining membership in any organization.
Training and Transition
One of the most important functions of an Advisor is to assist in the transition from one set of RSO officers to the next. As the stability of an RSO, the Advisor has seen changes, knows what works and can help maintain continuity. Investing time in a good officer transition early on will mean less time spent throughout the year nursing new officers through the semester. The key to a successful transition is making sure new officers know their jobs BEFORE they take office. Expectations should be clearly defined. There are a number of ways to conduct the officer transition. The following examples demonstrate two commonly used methods.

The Team Effort
The team effort involves the outgoing officer board, the Advisor, and the incoming officer board. This method involves a retreat or series of meetings where outgoing officers work with incoming officers on:

Past records/notebooks for their office and updating those together.
Discussion should take place regarding previous year projects that have been completed; upcoming/ incomplete projects; challenges and setbacks; and anything the new officers need to know to do their jobs effectively.
The Advisor’s role may be to:

Facilitate discussion and be a sounding board for ideas.
Organize and provide the structure of a retreat.
Offer suggestions on various questions.
Refrain from telling new officers what they should do.
Fill in the blanks. If an outgoing officer doesn’t know how something was done, or doesn’t have records to pass on to the new officer, you can help that officer by providing the information he or she doesn’t have. The Advisor’s role in this process is to provide historical background when needed, help keep goals specific, attainable and measurable and provide advice on policies and procedures.
One-on-One Advisor Training with Officers
While it is ideal to have the outgoing officer team assist in training the incoming officers, often it is left up to the Advisor to educate the incoming officers. In this case, there should be a joint meeting of the new officers. The Advisor should then meet individually with each officer; examine the notebook of the previous officer (or create a new one).

The notebook should include items such as forms the officer may need to use; copies of previous meeting agendas; and a copy of the RSO’s constitution and bylaws.

Talk about what the officers hope to accomplish in the forthcoming year. Assess the officer’s role in the RSO. What are the expectations of each position? What are the student’s expectations of the position and his/her goals?

ACPA Commission for Student Involvement (2005). Advisor Manual. Officer transition.

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