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Advisor Handbook

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Template for Bylaws


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Advisor Handbook

Instructions for Developing Student Organization Bylaws (Word format)
The Minute Taker Form (Word format)
Problems with meetings
The role of the committee chairperson
Developing an effecive group
Team building
A questionnaire regarding hazing (Word format)
The physical signs of stress
Do you have some stress-prone habits? (Word format)
Wholistic stress management techniques




Background noises/people talking

Parliamentarian, asking people to leave

Long meetings/tangents

Stick to agenda, table ideas, break things down, give a time to limit talk


Wait until next meeting; point out that person isn't prepared


Get people involved by asking them specifically, ask what they want to do, find people's talents, give awards

People not being heard

Talk to them after the meeting, have someone point this out

People leaving

Teambuilders, icebreakers, have food at the end



•provide creative participation by enlisting the help of large numbers of students in group programs
•plan activities
•brainstorm, eliminate impractical ideas, and present the best ideas to the larger group for consideration and decision
•decide on action and carry out assignment
•functions; an advisory committee (study problems and make reports and recommendations); a coordination committee (plan, direct and gain the cooperation of other groups); a work committee (specific tasks to be done); a combination of all three

Committees succeed with
• clearly stated objectives
•being well-organized, including expectations
•knowledge of previous achievement and expectations
•understanding of limits and strengths
•atmosphere that enables expression of feelings and needs
•a sense of togetherness
•leadership shared among members
•ability to evaluate ideas apart from personalities
•ability to follow through the steps of logical problem solving

A committee chairperson must
• be sure he/she and the committee members have a clear understanding of the committee goals
•know available resources
•know to who he/she is responsible and must report
•know the limits of his/her authority
•arrange committee meeting times and agendas
•notify advisers and committee members of the meetings
•share group leadership
•follow through, check, coordinate, and then as always, evaluate

Responsibilities of Chairperson

  1. Everyone should be clear on the committee's function and responsibilities. You can hand out a written outline.

  2. Know your resources – use of xerox machines, computers, people who are knowledgeable of your task, written information or reports on your topic.

  3. Know to whom you are responsible and must report, usually the Vice-President. Possibly there is a need to coordinate actions with another committee.

  4. Make sure reports are completed and deadlines are met.

  5. Arrange "pre-planned agenda" and meeting times. Make sure all members are informed of meeting times and places.

  6. Make sure members are aware of plans. Have a good system of communication for meetings. Give fair notice of meetings in advance.

Kinds of Committees

  1. Standing – usually elected or appointed for the entire year. Some examples: elections, publicity

  2. Special – appointed for a specific purpose. The committee is dissolved once the purpose is accomplished. Examples are committees appointed to develop a code of conduct. Committees such as these may be appointed to investigate or act for the group.


  1. Clarify the Problem or Situation

    –The problem or need for a decision needs to be clear to the group members. For example, the problem of trying to get better food in the cafeteria might be clarified by the group to be the problem of obtaining more fresh fruit, larger entree portions and more salad varieties.

  2. Collect Information

    –Questions like: how much?, what will others think?, where?, what restrictions are there?, etc., will be answered at this stage. The group may identify sources of information to be gathered when they lack information and who will gather the data.

  3. List Alternatives

    –Brainstorm possible solutions and then narrow the list down to the workable suggestions and those the group would like to consider further.

  4. Weigh or Evaluate the Remaining Alternatives

    –The group examines what would occur if they select each alternative. The group will identify the criteria being applied to evaluate each possible solution and be explicit. Resources like time, money, interest, skills may all be criteria in designing a project.

  5. Select an Alternative or "Tentative Decision" to Try

    –This alternative to try will be the best solution picked by the group consensus during the evaluation of alternatives. Group consensus means all have had input and are in agreement.

  6. List the Steps to be Followed in Implementing the Decision

    –The group determines what needs to be done and in what sequence to meet the goal of the decisions. This is the plan to get to the place where the group wants to be with the issue.

  7. Evaluate the Experience

    –This determines if the solution is a good one, if it is worth it, or has value. Questions like: what good things happened?, what went wrong?, what changes will make it better?, what reaction did we get from others?


Conflict situations can occur anywhere, anytime, and it is important to realize that conflicts can be handled in a positive way, so as not to be destructive. It is HOW the conflict is handled, not the conflict itself, that is often the problem. So, if you find yourself in a conflict situation, try these ideas:

  1. Look for the positive aspects of the other person's arguments. Try to insert praise for these ideas into your own argument. Practice changing negative statements into positive ones.

  2. Remember that your perceptions are highly subjective and affected by personal bias.

  3. Listen responsively.

  4. Try not to criticize. Rather, make constructive criticisms.

  5. Stress points on which you do agree, as you discover them, and build from there.

  6. Try to look at the problem from the other person's point of view, and sense how he/she is feeling, as your are exchanging dialogue.

  7. Limit your disagreement to one issue at a time. Come to resolution on one point and them move on. There is no use beating a dead horse!

  8. Be careful to set a belt line, which you and your adversary won't strike. Hitting someone's Achilles Heel destroys his/her definition of self.

  9. Remember to give the other person and yourself freedom to change.

  10. Take responsibility for your own ideas and actions – use first person pronouns.

  11. Attempt to keep a rational and logical head on your shoulders. If you feel your grip on reality begin to slip, take a moment to regain a proper perspective.

If, after employing all of the above techniques, you still have areas of disagreement, call a moratorium. Simply agree to disagree for the moment. During this time you can both reflect upon the points stressed by each side in a quieter, less distracting context. Then, try again – perhaps this time with a third party acting as a mediator.

And – if all else fails – you may have to agree to disagree. While this is not a very popular situation, it may be a solution of last resort when conflicting parties refuse to "give and take" or to relinquish the "Win/Win" mentality.

Adapted from: material at the National Association of Campus Activities, 1993 Southeast Regional Conference.

The purpose of the exercise is to give some practice in planning how to develop an effective group.

Sinking Boat Situation

On a dark summer night seven persons cling to a swamped and slowly sinking boat on a black tropical sea. They are not alone. A large shark glides below them, and soon, perhaps, there will be more. With fear thick in their salt-swollen throats, the seven are faced with a difficult choice. If they kick in unison, they may be able to fight the fierce current and tides driving them away from the shore and all make it to safety; if they all stick together they have an equal chance to survive or drown. If they split up, each going it alone, one or two of the stronger swimmers might make it to safety, but the majority will certainly drown or be devoured by sharks.

Which alternative would you choose if you were there? What kind of people would you want as companions in such a situation?

Read and discuss the paragraph above, and then answer the following questions about the situation:

1. What should the goals of the group be?
2. How should leadership be managed?
3. Who should have the most power in making decisions?
4. What decision-making procedure should be used?
5. How should conflicts be managed?


Wishing Well The wishing well exercise allows members of a group to learn a great deal about themselves. Each remember of the group is given the same number of coins to toss into the well (which can be as simple as child's plastic wading pool). Members can be directed to verbally share their wishes around certain themes (what do you want from the group? what are you trying to improve? what should be our main goal?) or they can make their own wishes. Everyone has a kernel of superstition in him or her that makes this an enjoyable activity.

Outlining This team builder consists of having group members trace outlines of themselves on large sheets of paper. Group members then take turns answering revealing questions about one another. Such juicy topics as "what have been your three greatest successes? what is your favorite food? where would you like to be in five years?" will assist your group in learning more about one another. (We highly recommend this activity – it allows people to work in close proximity, and it usually creates some monstrously funny drawings.)

Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Sometimes when a group is having difficulties, it is important to try to appreciate what individuals are experiencing. This sharing of experiences often creates a bonding for members of the group. For example, it can be very helpful to realize that others may feel the same way you do.

Here are some sample questions and statements.

•What do I like to dig my heels into?
•When was the last time you felt defeated?
•Situations that cause knots in my stomach
•The person in the group who provides me with the most support?
•Who keeps me on my toes?
•In relation to this group, I have done soul searching about.....

Each ice breaker, exercise, or activity used with a group should be incorporated for a reason. The purposes may include, but are not limited to, getting to know one another, improving communication, and encouraging open discussion. In order that all group members appreciate what is to be gained from an activity, the facilitator should be sure to point out its objectives and benefits. This may be done by posing questions to the group about their experience that reveal its application. The following are sample questions that may be used by the facilitator in "processing" or "closure."


What is going/went on?

What did you see?

How do/did you feel about it?

What are the facts?

Could you be more specific?

Who says so?

Who else had the same experience?

Where is it reported?

Who reacted the same/differently?

What did you hear?

What did you observe?

What is most real?

INTERPRETING (making sense of data)

How do you account for that?

What did you learn?

What does that mean to you?

What surprised you?

How was it good/bad?

What was funny?

What struck you about what happened?

Were you offended or edified?

What do you understand better about
yourself/the group?


GENERALIZING (drawing connections)

What does that suggest to you about ____________?

In general? Specifically?

What principle do you see operating itself?

How does this relate to other experiences you've had?

What do you associate with that?

What did you learn/relearn?

What hopes do you have?


APPLYING ( utilizing in real life situations)

How could you apply/transfer that?

What could you do to hold onto that?

What would be the consequences of doing/not doing that?

What modifications can you make work for that idea?


The following checklist is not precise enough to provide an accurate assessment but it can be a beginning point for reflection. If you have more than two of these physical signs, you may be placing your body under high risk from excessive stress.

1. Excessive weight for your height and age
2. High blood pressure
3. Lack of appetite
4. A desire to eat as soon as a problem arises
5. Frequent heartburn
6. Chronic diarrhea or constipation
7. An inability to sleep
8. A feeling of constant fatigue
9. Constant headaches
10. A need for aspirin or some other medications daily
11. Muscle spasms
12. A feeling of fullness although you've not eaten
13. Shortness of breath
14. A liability to fainting and nausea
15. An inability to cry or a tendency to burst into tears easily
16. Persistent sexual problems (fridgity, impotence, fear)
17. Excessive nervous energy which prevents sitting still and relaxing


• Exercise
•Nutritious diet

• Praise yourself
•Auto Suggestion
•Positive attitudes
•Set priorities
•Mind and feeling control
•Take one thing at a time

• Don't compete
•Do things you enjoy
•Talk over problems
•Support person

• Love yourself
•Forgive others
•Do something for others
•Inspirational readings
•Learn from mistakes
•Energy fields