Guide for Student Organization Advisors

The Student Organization Policy, requires that each university recognized student organization select a faculty or staff advisor and that the advisor's name be submitted on the group's official WildCat Sync Portal profile each semester. In order to maintain recognized status, organizations must submit an updated Portal profile each semester.

Student Organization Advisor Eligibility

Chancellor's Executive Order # 1006 states that, "Each officially recognized student organization must have a university advisor who is either a faculty member or professional member. Campuses may permit part-time faculty and professional staff as advisors, in addition to full-time. The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Article 2, Functions of Auxiliary Organizations and Requirement for Written Agreements, Section 42500 does not list club advisement as an appropriate function for auxiliary organizations. Therefore, advisors should not be selected from such organizations."

Following is important information about the role of, university expectations for, and practical considerations for university recognized student organization advisors. While many principles may be the same, this document only pertains to faculty/staff advisors to university recognized student organizations. This classification of organizations does NOT include Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) programs, Associated Students programs, Intercollegiate Athletics, or any other student co-curricular activity.

University Recognition Defined

University recognition is a privilege granted to student organizations by California State University, Chico. University recognized student organizations are afforded access to campus resources and in turn agree to comply with regulations and procedures established for the governance of student groups. University recognized student organizations (unlike IRA programs, AS programs, etc.) are, however, separate entities (administratively and legally) from the University.

The University supports the formation of and grants recognition to student organizations whose purpose and activities enhance the social, cultural, recreational, and educational functions of the university. The University recognizes that such organizations foster valuable experiences for students that oftentimes lead to significant learning and development and help create a sense of belonging to the University. These activities and experiences complement the formal curriculum and provide various opportunities for enhancing personal skills. Recognition of a student organization creates an official relationship with the university. University recognized student organizations are expected to adhere to all policies of the University and the trustees, as well as all federal, state, and local laws. In addition, organizations must conduct their activities in keeping with the mission of the university.

The university president grants recognition and generally delegates the authority to administer policies and procedures governing student organizations to the vice president for Student Affairs and the Student Life and Leadership office.

Advisor Responsibilities

A university employee is acting within the scope and course of his/her employment if she/he serves as an advisor to a University recognized student organization.

Teaching and Coaching

Teaching and coaching are activities that should be within the advisor's professional capabilities. An effective university recognized student organization advisor should

  • Serve as a resource to introduce new and different perspectives and ideas
  • Offer different approaches and programs
  • Help the members apply principles and skills learned in the classroom
  • Assist members in the development of insight into their problems
  • Point out additional resources within and outside the campus community
  • Coach individuals in their duties as officers
  • Assist in the identification and development of new leadership
  • Insist on high standards of programming and individual performance

Throughout his/her advisory relationship with the organization, the advisor should be alert to opportunities to create or capitalize upon experiences and situations that will maximize the learning potential of the activity. To teach effectively in the co-curricular situation, the advisor must participate actively, not waiting to be called upon, but making a contribution when he/she feels it is called for by the circumstances.


In consultations on programs, the advisor should communicate the expectation that he/she would like to be consulted regularly by the officers concerning their plans for group activities or programs. Advisors should know what projects and/or events are being planned and should offer his/her suggestions freely, but should be careful not to dominate the program planning process.

Provide Continuity

Providing continuity is a very important responsibility. The turnover of officers and members in a student organization is continual, and often the only link with even the immediate past is through the advisor. The advisor can orient new officers and members to this history and help them build upon it. Continuity also implies a link with the future and the advisor can play an important role in helping to develop long-term plans for the future of the organization and in communicating these plans to succeeding generations of members.

Interpretation of Policy

As a representative of CSU, Chico, the advisor should aid students with the interpreting of university policies and regulations pertaining to student organizations, and may be a liaison to university administrators when the organization has questions about polices and regulations. The advisor should encourage the organization and its officers to learn about policies and regulations, to follow them, and to seek guidance from the staff in Student Life and Leadership. For specific policy information, visit the Student Organization Policy and Procedures page.

Although his/her major responsibility is not regulatory or disciplinary, the advisor, as a university employee, has a responsibility to keep student, institutional, and the organization's best interests in mind. Advisors may need to remind the group of appropriate university regulations. Whenever possible, the advisor should work with and through the officers of the organization to maintain appropriate standards of behavior.


Occasionally, some emergency situation will occur within the group or involve an individual member and the advisor will be called upon by the university administration or by members of the group to lend his/her assistance. Student Life and Leadership staff should be contacted in the event of emergency situations. The vice president for Student Affairs Office is another important contact point.

Financial Guidance

Each university recognized student organization should elect its own treasurer. The advisor should be available to review the organization's financial records should the treasurer seek assistance. Advisors may need to educate the treasurer about the elements of simple bookkeeping. The advisor should assist the organization in the development of a budget.  For organizations who hold money in an AS agency account, advisors must review and sign off on all withdrawals from that account.

Social Activities

The advisor should try to attend organization social activities, when appropriate, to show support. By participation, advisors can help set the tone for these occasions, interact with members on an informal basis, and demonstrate his/her continuing interest in the organization's activities.

Organization Meetings

The advisor should attend regular and special meetings as appropriate or possible in order to keep informed about organization efforts. The advisor should also meet periodically with the officers and assist in long-range organization planning and leadership development.

Organizational Records

Because committee reports and group records are an important part of the organization's history on campus, as well as containing information of value to future officers, they should be protected from loss. The advisor should work with officers and committee chairs to establish a system of recording the planning and evaluation of events sponsored by the group to assist with future event production.  The campus organizations database, Wildcat Sync, is a valuable tool to store important documents, archives and checklists for transition to new club leadership.

Advising Style

There is no correct advising style. You should utilize your own leadership style.

Successful advisors take care of the people in the organization and their needs, as well as maintain a concern for the organization's purpose and tasks. Be yourself. Your best advising style will be your own style. In the end, the most effective method of teaching outside the classroom comes through modeling behavior. Let the students get to know you and your expectations, and let them see your sincere concern for them. The rest will come naturally.

Advisor Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a selection of often asked questions for advisors.  For more clarification or further explanation, please contact the professional staff in Student Life and Leadership at (530)898-5396, or drop by the Wildcat Leadership Center in BMU 220:

How often does a club need to be re-recognized?

Because clubs must be able to demonstrate eligible and enrolled members, clubs must be re-recognized every semester.

What are the requirements for a student organization to be recognized?

Recognition is a fairly simple process but does require a few basic things:

  • Identification of an interested and eligible club president and club treasurer who have not exceed 150 undergraduate/50 graduate units completed, are currently enrolled in at least 12/9 units and carry a 2.0 or better GPA; attendance by both to required officer workshop each active semester
  • At least three additional currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who are enrolled in at least 6 units
  • An approved club constitution (see model constitution for basic requirements)
  • A currently employed faculty or staff member advisor (auxiliary employees, retired or sabbatical faculty or staff are not eligible)
  • Submission of an updated profile on Wildcat Sync organization database

What are the advisor's main responsibilities? 

The minimum responsibility of the student organization advisor is to provide basic organizational, project and subject matter advice to the club leadership.  The advisor is a University employee and must follow all University policies and practice as well as guide the organization to do so as well. 

How much time is required to be a club advisor?

The time requirement is absolutely up to the negotiation of between the advisor and the club leadership, and can be anywhere from a few hours a semester, to weekly time contributions.  It is really up to you and the club you advise.

Can I be paid by the club to be the advisor?

The official "advisor" role is a volunteer, unpaid position.  However, a limited number of clubs on campus operate a University Foundation account and do pay hourly wages for certain services.  These services go well beyond basic advising, and are on a club-by-club basis.

What is my liability exposure as a club advisor?

Although student organizations are recognized campus entities, they are NOT state entities.  University liability covers all normal and approved club activities that occur on campus.  Once the club leaves campus, its members are no longer under the umbrella of liability, but if the advisor travels off campus or engages in an off-campus activity with the club, the advisor is expected to follow campus protocol for approval and travel for those activities.  Overall, the liability exposure is no greater than the exposure you take for your own actions in the normal course of your work.  However, off-campus involvement can expose you to some risk, and you are well advised to inquire with Student Life and Leadership or the Office of Risk Management for questions about specific club activities.

Responsibilities of Group Members to their Advisor taken from On Being an Advisor by Marilyn Kritzman

The Role of the Student Organization Advisor by Paul A. Bloland

Back to top