Many of our groups utilize the down time and opportunity for reflection that the break provides. However, sometimes after a long break and a change in a student’s schedule, it can be difficult to establish a new routine. Some groups may even lose their direction. This is where a simple nudge from a well-meaning advisor like you could make the difference between missions and dreams unfulfilled and the realization of a group’s mission throughout the entire semester.
It could be as simple as an email or a lunch meeting or something more complex like assisting with a goal setting session or retreat. The important part is that the group knows you care about them and the success of the organization.
What will you do to make sure the groups you advise start the semester with some momentum?
William Jones, Graduate Assistant – Student Activities Office
We can’t believe how fast this semester flew by and we’re betting some of our students feel the same way – especially our seniors! But it’s that time of year when some of our groups are planning to hold elections, or already have, and they’re transitioning their leadership into a new executive board. If you advise one of these groups, we have a few helpful tips to guide you through that process. We want you to know what’s happening within the organization you advise, which means it’s essential that you meet with the new student leaders and reset existing expectations or engage in new ones.
First and foremost, programming ends on Wednesday, December 11. Our student organizations should know that programming, events, and general meetings should end on or before this day. So if your group is planning on holding elections, they better do it fast because they won’t be able to meet after December 11, and they will have to wait until January 16 to do so. My guess is, they’ve already held elections if they are planning on transitioning. If you don’t know, you could always check the organization constitution.
Secondly, if and when they hold their elections and plan to have new officers begin programming upon their return in January, they’re going to need to submit a change of officer form. As an advisor, you will need to sign this form even though you may have already done so this year. We highly recommend the group submits a change of officer form prior to leaving campus in December so they don’t hit any roadblocks in January when they try to plan their first big program as a new board. They can submit this form after December 11 and even when we reopen the office on January 6.
Third, they’ll need to update their roster on YouDo to reflect the new leadership in the organization. We also ask that the leaders update the primary contact information on YouDo so when we need to connect with the group, we know who to reach out to.
This’s what the process looks like on our end, but it should be a little more involved on their end. We have transitional guides and handouts on our website that can help facilitate this process. Outgoing officers should be training new officers and you should have the opportunity to meet the new leadership as well. Outgoing officers should be educating new officers about traditional programs and where to find information on those programs. If they have an internal system of where they keep all their files, such as Google Drive, this would be helpful for them to share as well. Any passwords or access to files would be good information to share too. Outgoing leadership should also make some time to prepare the new leadership about event management on campus and particularly what to expect for paperwork requirements in Student Activities. The last thing we want is for a group to start off the semester being blindsided by the paperwork requirements for programs. We admit the process can be intense, but the more they familiarize themselves with it, the easier planning events will be in the future.
Something else the group could consider is when planning a team retreat with the new leadership in January, so that the group can reestablish goals and their focus for the upcoming year. We would be happy to assist the new leaders in planning a session with their new team.
Transition meetings are often overlooked by our student leaders. This conversation is essential to have with new leadership to ensure things go smoothly in their new role within the organization. Let us know if you have questions or would like clarification on the process.
Every day I’m fascinated by what our students accomplish. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I interact with students on a daily basis and learn all about their passions and dreams. I think one of the most rewarding aspects of advising is seeing the “ah ha” moment they have when they realize what they can do, and then how they dedicate themselves to that project. I always think to myself, “how the heck are these students doing all these things!?” But they do it all and there’re still rock stars academically.
As an advisor, you get to see your students grow and develop over time. I want to be the best resource I can for them during their experience here at BU. And sometimes part of this role means helping them navigate the vibrant culture that is Boston and BU. As an advisor, we get to have those meaningful conversations with them and you’re really able to get to know who these young people are and learn about their aspirations.
We see our students succeeding in planning their programming and hosting out of this world events, but sometimes on occasion we see them struggling. I love that I can be a person they can come talk to about an issue or concern and then getting to coach them with a little life advice. Helping them figure out a tough situation and guiding them to feel like they are empowered to make the right choice for themselves is a great feeling and just one reason why I love my job.
The truth is, I learn a little bit more about myself every day from working with students and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Taylor Sevigny, Program Coordinator – Student Activities Office
I have been full-time faculty at Boston University since the summer of 2010. I have the great privilege of working with both graduate and undergraduate students. I have been working as an advisor to several student groups, including the Undergraduate Public Health Association and Sigma Phi Epsilon for the past few years. I also advise several other groups on the Charles River Campus.
I find working as an advisor a really wonderful way to get to know students outside of the classroom. I am always intrigued to find out what students are interested in, and what students think is important! I remember during my own undergraduate days my student activities were a huge part of my life and were critical to me being able to obtain fulfilling work after college. I know how critical these activities can be for students who are trying to stay connected to their community while cloistered, somewhat, during college years.
I love being able to contribute to this vital and important part of BU life! I think for me the most fun part is seeing what incredibly creative ideas students come up with for fundraising, awareness raising, and meaningful participation. For example, Sigma Phi Epsilon is hosting an event on Veteran’s Day as a community building day that includes fun — going on a boat ride and getting to see sites in Boston — but also is meaningful — meeting with and appreciating veterans and their service. UPHA continually finds unique and interesting volunteer opportunities for members that include giving back to the community but also learning about and networking with the Boston public health infrastructure. I’m continually surprised by their awesome ideas.
My biggest problem as an advisor is time! I sometimes wish I lived on Charles River so I could attend more of the group meetings and participate more in events. Balancing advising with being a faculty member and having a family is a challenge, but it’s well worth it.
I’m grateful to the student groups who have asked me to work with them.
Sophie Godley, MPH
Advisor for: BU Students for Sexual Health, Patch Adams Campus Club, Red Cross Volunteers, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Undergraduate Public Health Association
I have been very fortunate over the years to have advised a number of student groups. As the Director of the Community Service Center (CSC) on campus, it is not surprising that students wishing to form a student group, which hopes to volunteer, educate or raise money for a nonprofit, often come knocking on my door. We at the CSC typically have a good grasp on what volunteer efforts are already being made by students and thus can provide some helpful advice on what initiatives seem to be missing or what issue areas are not supported as much as others by BU students. We also have a large network of organizations that we work with and can suggest partnership opportunities. I love meeting with these student groups because they really keep me on my toes and in touch with the types of service students are interested in. They make suggestions that I wouldn’t have thought of and push me to think outside the box. They constantly open my eyes to a new perspective or way of viewing an issue and how we as a community can help. They also allow me to connect existing volunteers in well-established programs or student groups with prospective volunteers looking to make a difference so as to widen our impact.
Lindsey Kotowics, Director of Community Service Center
Advisor for: Hunger Relief, Circle K International, Omega Phi Alpha, Sweethearts