Role of Chapter Advisors
Alumni support is essential to a progressive and healthy chapter. This support, along with the guidance and assistance given by chapter advisors, provides continuity for our chapters when the collegiate members change from year to year. Chapter Advisors, as experienced Brothers, see and demonstrate life membership. You serve as liaisons between the chapter and the Fraternity Headquarters, and must be knowledgeable about the Fraternity’s ideals, history, programs, The Law of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc., and position statements. Your guidance, assistance and positive direction ensure the growth of the chapter and the Fraternity.
Through your advice, the chapter is encouraged to follow the rules, policies and procedures of the Fraternity. Through offered assistance, the chapter learns that the Chapter Advisor or Alumni Advisory Board is available to help in planning and implementing programs, as well as meeting other chapter needs. Your positive direction will help the chapter avoid costly mistakes. Advisors never dictate, for the chapter learns through experience and is responsible for its own management. The consequences of mistakes and rewards for achievements are excellent learning techniques.
Communication, confidence, and trust are key to becoming an effective advisor for a collegiate chapter.
COMMUNICATION. In any good relationship, there must be a sharing of ideas, an ability to listen, and a willingness to accept the ideas of others, even though they may differ from one’s own. Collegians are adults, but just beginning the adult life experience. It is extremely important that advisors understand the collegiate lifestyle in regard to time and schedule habits. It is equally important that the collegians understand the advisors’ lifestyles as well. Communication increases when advisors share their professions, fields of study, life experiences, hobbies, interests, etc. with the chapter members. Equally important is sharing feelings about the Fraternity, our brotherhood, the chapter and our pride in their accomplishments.
CONFIDENCE. The chapter needs to know their advisors are confident that chapter goals can be met. Lots of positive direction, guidance, assistance and love build confidence and ensure success.
TRUST. Trust is part of the foundation of a good relationship. To cement this trust, advisors keep confidential matters of the chapter and the Fraternity to themselves; however, the Fraternity expects advisors to inform the Headquarters staff of achievements and problems.
Effective advising also is dependent on using the many resources available to the advisor. Frequent communication with the Headquarters staff helps lend support, guidance, and knowledge for the advisor.
The Chapter Advisor, perhaps, is the most important volunteer within the Fraternity, and with the many resources available to him, he will find the experience of advising a collegiate chapter enjoyable and rewarding.
Chapter Advisor's Purpose
By agreeing to serve a chapter as the Chapter Advisor, you exemplify what every chapter member should strive to one day be — a loyal, dedicated, alumnus member of an organization whose membership lasts a lifetime.
Chances are your higher education experience was positively influenced by an individual older than you. You respected and admired this individual and held him or her in high regard. Keep this individual in mind as you fulfill your responsibilities as advisor. Hopefully, undergraduate chapter members will think of you in the same way. As advisor, you will have opportunities to positively impact the lives of many individuals.
A chapter is only as strong as its alumni support. With this in mind, justification is given for the following statement: The chapter is as strong as its Chapter Advisor. Your consistent presence at weekly chapter meetings, lending a hand when able, and ability to advise and consult will play a dynamic role in the chapter and its success.
The advisor does, indeed, have a place in the chapter. While the job of the advisor may be a thankless job at times, the need for alumni support and guidance is always present.
As Chapter Advisor, you should advise and not lead. A large part of the undergraduates’ learning experience in the Fraternity is that they must function as the leaders and voting members of the chapter. The undergraduate chapter members themselves must be held responsible for their actions and decisions. Likewise, the undergraduate chapter members must hold one another responsible. The Chapter Advisor cannot make decisions for the undergraduates. Instead, the alumnus advises and reminds the members about the importance of responsibility.
As an advisor, you must allow your chapter’s members to learn, while empowering them to make decisions on their own. Your role is to advise, not dictate.
Chapter Advisor's Place in the Chapter
Advising is truly a two-way communication experience. Some helpful points to remember when advising undergraduate chapter operations follow.
- Be a role model. This should go without saying, but it is important to realize that the Chapter Advisor is a living illustration of the fact that fraternity affiliation continues after graduation.
- Hold the chapter to high standards. Help the chapter to develop high standards and advise the officers on holding everyone accountable.
- Clearly establish your role with the chapter. The chapter and the officers need to know and agree upon the roles of the Chapter Advisor within the structure of the chapter.
- Ask for the chapter’s input whenever you present a new idea or opinion. Presentation, approach, and delivery are important any time something new is discussed with the chapter. When presenting something new at meetings, end with the question, “What do you all think?” You will help free yourself from being accused of being pushy or a know-it-all.
- Give the chapter, and individual chapter officers and members the same respect you expect from them. If the executive officers are given your respect, they will be enthused and want to learn. The average chapter member will also want to learn.
- Work most closely with the chapter officers. Open dialogue between executive officers and the Chapter Advisor will enhance your relationship with the chapter and will also result in more business being accomplished.
- Be cautious about talking about the chapter’s, or the university’s, past. Chapter members rarely like to hear about “the way it used to be.” Glorifying the past or reminiscing about difficulties is usually a quick, sure way to lose your audience.
- Allow mistakes to be made. Easier said than done. But, what distinguishes an adequate advisor from a good advisor is the ability to gauge the impact of the resulting disaster and determine what intervention is not only desirable, but necessary.
- Build on an officer’s strengths. An undergraduate’s personality is largely developed by the time he reaches college, but what can be developed are manners, behaviors, skills and knowledge. Look at performance, not at promise, and focus on strengths and not weaknesses.
- Function as a liaison. There will be many times when an officer will need assistance in contacting the appropriate school official, another alumnus, or a resource person in the community.
Mutual Responsibilities of Chapters and Chapter Advisors
Responsibilities of Collegiate Chapters to Chapter Advisors
- 1. All alumni, and especially advisors, house corporation board members, and alumni assisting collegiate chapters, are to be treated with respect and courtesy at all times.
- It is the responsibility of each officer and chairman to contact their advisor on a regular, prearranged basis.
- Changes in meeting times, dates, places, etc. must be given to advisors or alumni involved at least 24 hours in advance.
- An advisor not able to be present for a meeting or event shall be contacted by a chapter officer in advance for guidance and suggestions and again after the meeting to discuss the details and happenings.
- All new member and chapter activities are to be planned with the aid and approval of the advisors.
- All reports so designated are to be signed by an advisor. Advisors may ask for and expect to receive copies of all reports they feel will assist them in their work.
- An advisor is responsible for giving guidance and assistance; he is not a dictator. However, if he must give direction for the good of the chapter or to uphold The Law, or local bylaws, such direction must be followed.
- The chapter must provide the Chapter Advisor a copy of the most recent editions of The Law and each officer manual. The chapter also must give each of the other advisors a copy of the manual that pertains to his role.
- The chapter is financially responsible for incidental expenses incurred by advisors in the performance of their duties, e.g., postage and phone calls.
Responsibilities of Chapter Advisors to Collegiate Chapters
- Members of the collegiate chapter are to be treated with consideration, justice and understanding.
- It is the responsibility of the advisor to make himself available for consultation with a chapter officer by phone, e-mail, and/or in person at regular prearranged intervals. He is to be available whenever possible in emergencies.
- The advisor is responsible for increasing his knowledge through reading manuals and releases, corresponding with regional and national officers if necessary, and attending College of Chapters and Grand Chapter when possible.
- An advisor is to support officers in decisions that they have reached jointly.
- Advisors should be familiar with The Law and chapter bylaws, and support officers and chapters in upholding these rules.
- Chapter business is to be kept confidential between the chapter and the advisor/advisory board.
- It is the responsibility of an advisor to exemplify the ideals and standards of the General Fraternity and to serve as an example of continuing and dedicated brotherhood, so as to elicit pride as well as respect.
It is important for the chapter and advisors to remember that when RESPECT and COURTESY are shared, responsibilities to each other are easily fulfilled.