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Guiding Principles & Best Practices for Advisors

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These resources, policies and expectations are for faculty, staff and others who advise or coach student organizations.

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The Role of an Advisor

Student organizations are a critical aspect of Stanford’s education mission and are designed to help students find and foster their passions while developing leadership and life skills. We see student organizations as valuable learning experiences for our students and look for them to be student-run, with advice and support from their advisors.

Many faculty, staff, alumni and others volunteer their time and expertise to assist voluntary student organizations and mentor their members in ways that are consistent with university principles and policy.  Office of Student Engagement is grateful for the contributions student organization advisors make to Stanford students and the activities that they sponsor. Below is a set of best practices and key university policies that are designed to inform advisors of their role and responsibilities.

More About Advisors

We welcome volunteer advisors who are interested in supporting our students in their learning and development.  Such advisors should understand that they support student organizations at the discretion and request of the student organization leaders and Office of Student Engagement staff. At times, student leaders and OSE staff decide to move in a different direction with an advising relationship.  We look to our volunteer advisors to respect the wishes of our student leaders and staff.

Advisors are best when they see themselves as "influencers" who can help students make thoughtful choices and "do the right thing" on behalf of their community and the broader Stanford community.

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Our Values 

  • Inclusivity.  Student organizations are supported by the university as valuable learning opportunities for students.  Broad, open and welcoming membership for all students is a core value. Leadership should be democratically chosen and key organizations decisions should actively seek the voices of all members.
  • Equity.  Effective student organizations value diverse perspectives, strive to understand members’ social identities and actively seek the voices of all members. Leadership is democratically chosen and key decisions are broadly discussed and decided by its members.
  • Collaboration. Resources, including money, space and time, are finite. Student organizations are most effective in serving the student community when done collaboratively with others. 
  • Respect. Student organizations and their members are encouraged to understand and honor unique contributions of every person in the Stanford community and engage in dialogue, showing reverence for various opinions. 
  • Balance. Student leaders provide meaningful contributions to student life provided they balance their student organization involvement with a commitment to their academic work and effective progress toward a degree. 
The 2019-2020 Tree Mascot and the Stanford Band give their signature greeting to Admits after the University Welcome. Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Guiding Principles & Best Practices

View an assortment of guiding principles and best practices curated by OSE staff.