Student Engagement

University Expectations and Responsibilities

Requirements of Iowa State University Advisers

Recognized organizations at Iowa State University must have an adviser who is at least a half-time permanent Faculty or Professional & Scientific (P&S) staff member.

  • Graduate Assistants may serve as co-advisers. However, they will not have any authorized signature authority.

  • Organizations may also have more than one Faculty or Professional & Scientific (P&S) staff adviser.

  • For higher risk organizations (as defined by the University) the primary adviser must have demonstrated expertise in the student organization’s mission, objective, or activity, and must be frequently present during the activity to provide proper oversight and supervision.

Adviser’s Responsibilities in Recognized Student Organizations

There are a number of responsibilities that advisers assume when working with recognized student organizations on campus. Although this is not an exhaustive list, below are key duties advisers should be prepared to perform. Responsibilities are broken up into categories of general, financial, risk management, and legal responsibilities. 

General Responsibilities:

  • Communicate Policy—Understand university expectations and direct members to appropriate sections of departmental websites and also to items contained in the ISU Policy Library.

  • Encourage Compliance—Understand and abide by the Student Organization Recognition Policy (SORP) and applicable ISU Policies, local, state and federal laws.

  • Uphold Officer Requirements—Intervene when contacted by the Student Activities Center with concerns regarding officer misconduct or poor academic performance (e.g. the officer falls below a 2.0 cumulative grade point average).

  • Encourage Completion of Appropriate Training—Examples may include: President/Treasurer/Adviser Training, Safe Food 101, Large Passenger Van Training, etc.  

Financial Responsibilities:

  • The Campus Organizations Accounting Office will update the permissions of each adviser which allows access to the financial information in Workday regarding the financial activity of the organization. This allows the adviser to assist the treasurer and the student organization in financial matters.

  • The adviser must approve all payments. The University's expectation is that the adviser will be aware of the financial status of the organization and not intentionally authorize expenditures that will result in a deficit for the account.

  • Financial Management—The Adviser should encourage budget planning; require or assist organizations in using sound financial management practices as recommended by Campus Organizations Accounting.

  • Due Diligence—The Adviser should determine authorized approvals prior to approving the organization’s expenses.

  • Fundraising—The Adviser should provide guidance for the organization’s fundraising endeavors.

  • Advisers and officers of student organizations do not have legal contract signature authority binding Iowa State University. Please contact the Student Engagement Office to request contracts to be written or approved.

  • The Campus Organizations Accounting Office, 1580J Memorial Union, (294-1633) is available to assist advisers with questions regarding an organization's account.

  • Advisers are strongly urged to deny requests if the expenditure is unclear, the account is/would be overdrawn, or the purchase seems improper or against university policy.(visit Campus Organizations Accounting for more details regarding finances.)

Risk Management Responsibilities:

  • Domestic Travel— Advisers are not directly responsible for attending all off-campus trips and activities, but have a responsibility to verify that the travel is in compliance with the Student Organization Travel Policy, the ISU Fleet Safety Policy and procedures related to use of University Vehicles. Student/campus organizations and advisers should be mindful that the use of University vehicles needs to be for ISU business as well as consistent with the mission of the student organization.

  • Event Authorization—Review and participate in approval process for requests to hold events on or off campus. Be knowledgeable of organization’s event planning and attend your organization’s Event Authorization Committee meeting as invited (or send a proxy adviser).

  • High Risk Activities—At least one adviser of student organizations that have higher risk activities* (as deemed by the university) must have demonstrated expertise in the student organization’s mission, objective or activity and that adviser must be frequently present during the activity to provide proper oversight and supervision.

  • International Travel—Participate in planning and preparation responsibilities for organization’s international travel. Advisers must submit a completed Non-Credit Program form to the Education Abroad Committee and Office of Risk Management at a minimum of six months prior to travel for review and consideration for approval. Accompany and supervise international travel or arrange for authorized adviser proxy.

  • Oversee Activities and Group Events—Help student organizations operate within safe or established parameters through careful planning and execution of activities. Monitor group actions and approve based upon level of appropriateness prior to hosting any on or off campus, public events.

  • Risk producing situations—Recognize that autonomy in decision-making is highly desired by student leaders but that it may need to be curtailed in risk producing situations or in controversial matters. In these instances, the adviser may need to assume a more active role in guiding the organization.

  • Supervision—Demonstrate a heightened sense of responsibility whenever a student organization is traveling abroad, using university vehicles, hosting activities where youth are present, engaging in higher risk activities, or submitting documentation during the event authorization process.

Legal Responsibilities:

  • Contract Signature Authority—Advisers and officers of student organizations do not have legal contract signature authority binding Iowa State University. All entertainment contracts should be forwarded to the Director of Student Activities for review.

  • Crime Reporting—All ISU employees are required to report crimes. Additionally, all advisers are campus security authorities under the Clery Act and must report incidents to ISU Police. Advisers may be asked to file an incident report if a crime occurs. Click HERE for more information on this expectation.

  • Student Conduct—Advisers assist in ensuring my student organization follows all ISU policies concerning
    inappropriate behavior, including, but not limited to harassment, hazing and discrimination. Refer to Student Disciplinary Regulations.

  • Liability—As an approved adviser to an ISU student organization the adviser is provided personal liability protection by the Iowa Tort Claims Act, Iowa Code Chapter 669 while acting in the scope of their advising responsibilities. The State of Iowa will defend, indemnify, and hold ISU student organization advisers harmless against the tort claim caused by an act or omission of the adviser unless the act or omission of the adviser involves intentional or criminal misconduct, a knowing violation of the law, the transaction from which the adviser derives an improper personal benefit or the adviser does not cooperate with an investigation of the incident or transaction that leads to a claim involving the adviser.

  • As an approved advisers are expected to be knowledgeable about federal, state, local laws and university policies and to dissuade organizational officers from activities that seem hazardous or may violate university policies or laws.

Questions regarding risk should be directed to the Office of Risk Management Legal questions should be directed to  Brett Lohoefener.

The Adviser’s Role in Recognized Student Organizations

Organizations require different kinds of advising styles, depending on the stages of development of the organization and its leadership. The list below gives some indication of the range and amount of responsibility that is placed on the adviser. It is recognized that not all that is listed is required all the time. The requirements in terms of time and involvement vary for each of the items from one organization to another.

  • Advisers should agree to serve only if they are willing to participate in the work of the organization.

  • Understanding the organization, its purpose and goals is a primary obligation of any adviser. They should help the organization evaluate its purpose and goals and the program it is providing.

  • Interest in the organization should be demonstrated by an adviser through their attendance at meetings and other functions.

  • Advisers should try to develop a close working relationship with the officers and as many members as possible.

  • The nature and style of the adviser’s role is left to the determination of the organization and its advisers. 

  • Advisers should give attention to the interactions within the group, be available for complaints from members about the group, and serve as negotiator if necessary.

  • Advisers should inform the group if they are not receiving notices of meetings, minutes, or materials.

  • An adviser should explain their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with anything the group is doing or proposing to do. How this is done is of some importance. In some cases, it is better to discuss concerns with officers. In others, it may be necessary to react during a meeting at the time a proposal is made. How the adviser may handle this depends on the situation and on the personality of the adviser.

  • It is important to be open to the opportunity to learn from the organization. An adviser must recognize that the individual resources and potential of a group are important. Helping members voice opinions and make decisions is one of the most important skills they can teach.

  • An adviser can help identify resources outside of the group. They should be sensitive to opportunities that may help the organization become more productive and effective.

  • Advisers who have had long associations with organizations can provide continuity. In some situations, advisers have been associated with groups longer than any of the members. They can help the organization understand the history of the organization and provide a perspective that would otherwise be lacking.

  • Advisers should be aware of university policies/attitudes of the faculty and administration, and help the organization to understand limits, restrictions, and avenues for achieving its objectives.

  • Advisers should be aware of officers' academic progress and intervene when necessary.


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