All Point Park University traditional undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to join any of the student organizations on campus, or start a new student organization. All student organizations must welcome any Student Activity Fee paying undergraduate into their established student organization.
All students who are currently in an established and recognized student organization have the opportunity to run for an officer position. Each organization is responsible for declaring their method of assigning/voting in officers. At the end of each semester, each student organization is responsible for sending an updated list of officers and to the Office of Student Activities for our records.
Organizations may create as many officers with whatever titles seem appropriate. Also, committees with specific purposes can be very helpful. Be sure to assign important jobs to specific officers or committees.
The function of the Executive Board is to create an agenda for meetings and maintain progress towards pre-set goals. The Advisor’s responsibility to the Executive Board is to promote problem solving and conflict resolution, but not to make decisions for them. An example of an Executive Board may consist of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.
- The President should oversee the meetings, follow an agenda, and direct the group towards the goals set forth for the organization.
- The Vice President should assume responsibility for the President in his/her absence and assist the President in his or her responsibilities.
- The Secretary should keep all records, minutes, constitution and correspondence.
- The Treasurer should be responsible for the money and finances of the group.
- These positions and duties should be defined in the organizations constitution and bylaws.
Liability and Risk Management
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 working environment for all program participants.
Ways to identify and reduce risk:
- Facilitate a pre-event planning meeting to clarify the needs and expectations of participants.
- Identify specific risks involved in the event. These could include physical risks (such as an event with a physical activity) and liability risks (such as events involving minors, travel, etc.).
Identify options for reducing risks by including, but not limited to:
- Hiring a third party vendor or contractor.
- Preparing liability waivers, if necessary.
- Providing advanced training/instruction.
- Assuming a “worst-case scenario” and preparing for it in order to reduce likelihood of it occurring. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
- Utilizing waivers that outline the specific nature and risk associated with the event. Contact the Office of Student Activities for University Apporoval Waivor.
- Canceling the event if the conditions are dangerous or the group is not prepared to assume full responsibility for the risk involved.
- 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 staff, University, etc.).
Transition of Student Officers
One of the most important functions of an advisor and current student leaders is to assist in the transition from one set of organization officers to the next. Many advisors have seen changes, know what works, and can help maintain continuity. Investing time in a good officer transition early on will require less time spent throughout the year training new officers. The key to a successful transition is to be sure officers understand their job responsibilities before they take office. Expectations should be clearly defined.
Advisors may be full or part-time, faculty or staff at Point Park University. Advisors should be an integral part of every student organization. Often they have been affiliated with the organization longer than any of the current officers and can offer greater experience in dealing with many issues. He/she advises the organization on what their goals and direction should be. Students should listen to and consider the advisor’s input and then make their decisions. Advisors should not make the decisions for the organization. A good advisor will work closely with the students in order to improve the organization and the individual skills of the students. An advisor should offer suggestions and a different perspective without demanding that the organization follow everything he/she says.
Advisors of a student organization are considered the University’s representative regarding the student organization’s activities. As such, he/she is expected to give reasonable and sound advice to your organization, in all regards. If the student organization breaks a University policy or a federal law, the advisor will be held responsible along with the involved students.
Advisor’s Role at Meetings, Events or Programs, and Conferences
Advisors may not be able to attend regularly scheduled meetings of the student organization as faculty and staff members have many campus responsibilities. However, it is important for advisors to attend some meetings in order to develop a rapport and relationship with the student organization members and keep up to date with the group’s plans.
Student organizations must get approval from their advisor before formally beginning the event planning process on campus. Advisors need to be present and updated throughout the process of the event planning. Therefore, it is important that the group has regular contact with their advisor so the group can consider an advisor’s schedule when making plans. Understandably, the designated advisor may not be available and/or encounter an unexpected situation that detains them from attending an event or program. In such instances, the group, in conjunction with the advisor, need to identify and secure another faculty or staff member who can attend the Category I or II event.
Building a Working Relationship (Advisor and Student)
The relationship between student and advisor should be open, honest and willing to share ideas while building trust and reinforcing the values of the organization with its members. This relationship should be viewed as a partnership where both the student and the advisor work together to build and develop a working relationship. It is important to establish a job description for the advisor from the very beginning that clearly defines his/her responsibilities, duties, and anticipated outcomes while working with the student organization. It is essential to keep the lines of communication open and direct between the advisor, officers, and all members in order to ensure a responsive and communicative team. This way, you can share needs, responsibilities, suggestions, concerns, expectations, and ideas for the future of the organization. It helps to recognize each other’s organizational duties and the various roles that they perform on the campus at large. If you recognize commitments, it can help to plan and prioritize your organizations needs, and you can let each other know of their impact on the overall campus as well. It is always important to support and acknowledge the work of your students to boost their confidence, and hopefully they will do the same in return.
It is important to remember that advisors and students are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. Everyone also has their own values system, personal beliefs, and professional working style. Acknowledge them, and build upon them, using them to their best advantage. The main thing is to realize that both the students and the advisor are continually growing and learning, constantly changing and developing in their own ways. Everyone is at his/her own unique stage in life, and you must challenge and support each other to continue the learning process.
Please tell your advisor to reference the Advisor Manual for more information. Your advisor can receive a copy by contacting the Office of Student Activities at 412-392-4735 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org