Office of Student Activities & Involvement

SECTION 2 – ADVISOR INFORMATION

A. Advisor Responsibility Statement

This statement outlines the University's expectations of the role and responsibilities of University advisors for Registered Student Organizations. This statement also clarifies acts for which the University will provide indemnification for University advisors.

The University advisor's primary role is to provide overall guidance and assistance to the Registered Student Organization. Advisors should encourage and advise the organization in carrying on an active and significant program, and work with the officers to promote the effective administration of the organization. This guidance will include assistance in compliance with the University's policies and procedures that govern the use of University facilities and the University's name and logos. Advisors should assist with the formulation and revision of the organizations' constitutions and by-laws. Advisors should alert the Registered Student Organizations to the risks of injury and liability in connection with their activities and warn the club or its officers when they suspect that something is not right in the way the club is operating. They should meet with the club or its officers at least twice each semester.

The University recognizes that the extent of involvement of University advisors with their Registered Student Organizations varies widely. This statement sets down minimum expectations, but the University appreciates that many advisors provide advice and assistance far beyond the minimum. For example, many advisors assist in scheduling organization meetings, attend executive committee and regular organization meetings, and attend the functions of the organization. They also assist the organization in formulating an annual budget, as well as budgets for individual activities, and in setting up reliable controls over income and expenditures. They also may assist the treasurer in maintaining accurate accounting and inquire to see if controls are operating.

The University advisor generally will be indemnified by the University against claims and liabilities to which the advisor is subject because of fulfilling the role described above. The indemnification will apply according to the University rules and procedures governing the indemnification of University employees; performing the required and suggested functions described earlier will usually be seen as acts taken within the scope of a University advisor's employment. Indemnification means that the University will, in case of a lawsuit, provide a legal defense to the advisor and any money damages if the advisor is found by the court or administrative agency to be at fault. (The University does not indemnify the Registered Student Organization itself.)

The University recommends that the University advisor NOT accept certain responsibilities for the Registered Student Organization. The University advisor should not:

-  Purchase alcohol for the Registered Student Organization or its members;

-  Sign contracts for the Registered Student Organization;

-  Sign or co-sign checks or other means of committing Registered Student Organization funds;

-  Make travel plans for the Registered Student Organization or directly supervise trips taken by the club's members;

-  Pledge his/her financial backing for the debts of the Registered Student Organization; for example, by using his/her credit card to guarantee hotel reservations;

-  Run the organization, by reserving the right to approve or control its decision and activity;

-  Serve as the Registered Student Organization's treasurer, bookkeeper, accountant or auditor.

Finally, it is not the advisor's responsibility to assure the success of the Registered Student Organization. The University generally will not indemnify the University advisor for these activities because they will be seen as acts taken outside the scope of the advisor's University employment. Examples of some other situations where the University will usually NOT indemnify a University advisor are listed below:

-  Alcohol related activity if the University advisor provided the alcohol and/or was aware of it being consumed at a Registered Student Organization activity;

-  Violation of motor vehicle laws; i.e., speeding, driving while intoxicated;

-  Assaults;

-  Defamation;

-  Misappropriation of Registered Student Organization funds by the University advisor;

-  Injuries to members or guests of Registered Student Organizations while riding in advisor's automobile;

-  Injuries to members or guests of Registered Student Organizations on property of advisor (e.g., student falls and breaks leg because of a hole in the yard during game at home of advisor)

It is important that the University advisor have a clear understanding with the Registered Student Organization regarding what tasks and responsibilities the advisor will undertake and what the advisor will not take responsibility for. The advisor should be careful to take on only those responsibilities, which he/she is willing to do well.

University advisors for Registered Student Organizations must be employees of Central Michigan University.  If an organization would like to select a non-CMU employee as their advisor, the President of the organization must submit a letter of intent to the Office of Student Life requesting an exception.  If an exception is made to allow someone not a University employee to serve as University advisor for a Registered Student Organization, the University will provide no indemnification for that advisor.

If it is necessary for an advisor to resign his or her position as advisor, he or she should notify the organization as well as the Office of Student Life in writing.

 

B. FAQ For Advisors

1. What is my liability as an advisor when taking student trips?

2. Can an Advisor rent a car for Registered Student Organizations?

3. Can an Advisor make travel arrangements for Registered Student Organizations?

4. Can an Advisor drive students to a conference?

5. Am I responsible for any misbehavior or problems caused by the group?  

6. Can I have students at my home for meetings, etc?   Am I liable if anything happens at my home?

7. What is the Advisor role with off campus banking?

8. What should my role as advisor be with the RSO?

9. As an Advisor can I sign a contract for the RSO?

10. How much time does it take to be an advisor?

11. What are my duties/responsibilities as an advisor?

12. How many meetings of my group am I required to attend?

13. What's the best way to support/assist the group?

14. Do I have to renew my advisor position on a regular basis?

15. How do I resign my position as an Advisor?

16. What are the possible options for a student group to receive some sort of funding from CMU? 

17. Where can I go or whom do I call for resources to assist my group?

18. Shouldn't I be able to change information on the Reggie system?

19. Is it my responsibility to keep my group registered on the Reggie system? 

20. Who should I call when I have a question about being an advisor or the RSO?

 

1.    What is my liability as an advisor when taking student trips? Back to Question List

An Advisor's liability is minimal if the Advisor's involvement is limited to providing guidance and assistance to an RSO.  Advisors can and should also alert an RSO to risks of injury and liability in connection with its activities.  Advisors should NOT make travel plans for an RSO or directly supervise trips taken by RSO members.  

 

2.    Can an Advisor rent a car for Registered Student Organizations?  Back to Question List

No, an RSO is not considered a part of CMU.  Therefore, an Advisor should never use a CMU Credit Card to rent a car for an RSO. Furthermore, an Advisor should not use a personal credit card to rent a car for an RSO.  In the event of an incident or mishap an Advisor could be held personally liable for the actions or wrongdoing of an RSO.  An RSO member should make car rental arrangements on behalf of the RSO.

 

3.    Can an Advisor make travel arrangements for Registered Student Organizations? Back to Question List

No, an Advisor should not make travel arrangements for a RSO.  Instead an Advisor should limit his/her involvement to providing overall guidance, information and resources.  An RSO member should make travel arrangements on behalf of the RSO.

 

4.     Can an Advisor drive students to a conference?  Back to Question List

No, CMU generally will not indemnify an Advisor for this activity because it is seen as an act taken outside the scope of the Advisor's University employment.  In the event an Advisor drives RSO members to a conference and RSO member injuries or damages occur, CMU will usually not indemnify that Advisor.  If an Advisor drives RSO members to a conference in the Advisor's own vehicle and RSO member injuries or damages occur, CMU will provide no indemnification for that Advisor.

 

5.    Am I responsible for any misbehavior or problems caused by the group?  Back to Question List

Assuming you have not accepted certain responsibilities for the RSO, including signing contracts; signing or co-signing checks; making travel plans; pledging financial backing; providing direct supervision; providing financial services (as an accountant or auditor), etc. – No.

 

6.    Can I have students at my home for meetings, etc? Am I liable if anything happens at my home?  Back to Question List

Meetings at the home of the Advisor are seen as acts taken outside the scope of the advisor's University employment.  CMU will NOT indemnify an Advisor if injuries to RSO members or guests occur on the property of the Advisor.

 

7.    What is the Advisor role with off campus banking? Back to Question List

Advisors are encouraged to be very involved in the banking operations of the RSO.  Advisors should be on the bank account for consistency purposes (you will probably be involved in the group longer than the officers).  You should not have the ability to sign checks.  You should never sign checks for the organization.  You could be putting yourself at risk.  You should review the monthly statements with the organizations treasurer and president and be aware of how money is being spent.  You should also make sure the account is set up so there must be 2 signatures on every check (The President & the Treasurer).

 

8.    What should my role as advisor be with the RSO? Back to Question List

Your role with the RSO should be that of resource and advisor.  You do not run the organization.  This is a Registered Student Organization and not a Registered Advisor Organization.  Picture the RSO as a commercial airline and you are the air traffic controller for that airplane.  You can answer the pilot's questions, point out inclement weather and suggest alternate routes, but ultimately it is up to the pilot and crew to determine where the plane goes.  If the plane has a rough flight you can have follow up discussions with the crew to show them how they might make a better flight next time.  How involved you will be with the RSO will depend upon conversations you will have with the President and executive board of the RSO and can vary from group to group. 

 

9.    As an Advisor can I sign a contract for the RSO? Back to Question List

No, you do not have contract signing authority.  Contact the Office of Student Life for guidance in this area.

 

10. How much time does it take to be an advisor? Back to Question List

It is up to you as to how much time you wish to spend as an advisor.  We have some advisors who attend all executive board meetings, general assembly meetings, and events of the RSO.  We have other advisors who are only consulted when the group needs some help.  The most efficient group is that whose advisor has a working relationship with the members of the group, and is well aware of the plans and activities of the organization.

 

11. What are my duties/responsibilities as an advisor? Back to Question List

Duties and responsibilities of the advisor should be discussed with the officers of the RSO each year.  It may be helpful to put these expectations in writing.  Duties can vary from group to group.  Remember you do not run the organization that is what the students do.  You provide advice, assistance, guidance, and are someone who will listen.

 

12. How many meetings of my group am I required to attend? Back to Question List

This is to be worked out between you and the RSO.  The university does not mandate any number of meetings.  To be an effective advisor you may wish to attend some meetings.

 

13. What's the best way to support/assist the group? Back to Question List

The best way to support/assist a group is to be available for the students and show an interest in what the organization is doing.  The key to being a good advisor is being available for students in your organization.

 

14. Do I have to renew my advisor position on a regular basis? Back to Question List

No.  You do not have to renew your advisor position.  When you first become the advisor of a group you must confirm you are the advisor, but after that there is no renewal process. 

 

15. How do I resign my position as an Advisor? Back to Question List

Contact the Office of Student Life (studentlife@cmich.edu).  An email from you will be sufficient. 

 

16. What are possible options for a RSO to receive funding from CMU? Back to Question List

Options for RSO funding include: SBAC (Student Budget Allocation Committee), Vending Machine Funds (See Department Chairs), and RSO Fundraisers.

 

17. Where can I go or whom do I call for resources to assist my group? Back to Question List

1.  Office of Student Life

2.  Leadership Institute

 

18. Shouldn't I be able to change information on the Reggie system? Back to Question List

No.  Once again this is a Student Organization run by students.  It is their responsibility to keep the information in Reggie up to date.

 

19. Is it my responsibility to keep my group registered on the Reggie system? Back to Question List

No.  You can remind your students to keep the RSO information in Reggie updated, but it is ultimately their responsibility to do so.

 

20. Who should I call when I have a question about being an advisor or the RSO? Back to Question List

Contact the Office of Student Life at studentlife@cmich.edu or 989.774.3016 and we would be happy to assist you.