Hopefully your faculty advisor has a good understanding of the university you attend. They have chosen a career path that focuses on students and helping others. They have agreed to dedicate time to help your chapter. Those are precisely the qualities you should be looking for in an advisor.
Frequently chapters only reach out to their advisor when they need money, have a problem, or just “need something.” Here are 8 ways your Faculty Advisor can help your fraternity:
1. Keep Them in the Loop. Your advisor is someone you should consult with who is there to guide your group and offer advice. They are giving you their time at no cost, so frequently it’s a time to listen to what they are saying. They would rather learn early on there is a small issue, than later when it’s a big problem.
2. Utilize the Connection. Frequently your advisor knows who to talk to on as well as off campus. It can be as simple as getting you in to speak to someone at Financial Aid and avoiding the long line at the beginning of the semester. If you can’t register for classes due to a software or similar issue, you advisor shouldn’t hesitate to step in on your behalf to get the issue resolved. Need an internship or part time job off campus – your advisor likely knows former students who you can reach out.
3. Leverage their Talents. What department does your advisor work in? Someone in Business can help your chapter get their finances organized. Education is a natural loop in for new member education, and even keeping older members up to date. Everyone has a talent.
4. Softening Difficult Conversations. There are times when one or more members of your fraternity get off path. A conversation between members of the group could strain relationships further. Let you advisor be the go between. Most times the member will listen to your advisor, where they will not listen to their brothers.
5. Developing Leaders. Let’s say your Social Chairman is a little rigid, getting upset when every member doesn’t show up, or pull their weight. As an advisor I would involve the leaders of the fraternity, speak with the individual not giving 100%, letting them know that their natural talent would better benefit the fraternity in a different role, such as Sergeant at Arms or Ritual Chairman. Guiding them in a direction gently to accept a new position where they excel, while getting them to leave a position they are ineffective in is a benefit all around. This may require a little restructuring mid semester. It’s not a failure but part of life, and something leaders must learn to address.
6. Campus Involvement. An involved advisor should easily be able to help improve your image and reputation on campus. If they are as involved with campus life as they are with your organization, they can look for opportunities to get your name out there. Ask your advisor to help get you on committees (you have a unique point of view as a student), work to get you in photographs for the University, and get their colleagues involved with you and your causes.
7. Academic Excellence. Helping you excel academically is an easy step for your advisor. They may not have an understanding of the class you’re taking, but they likely know the resources available on your campus. Most schools have writing labs, tutoring, resource centers and more. Let your advisor guide you to individuals and departments specifically set up to help you succeed.
8. Leading By Example. Ask your advisor to develop a brotherhood activity for your fraternity. Let them be the individual who kicks off a fundraising activity. Ask them for ideas, and how they think the chapter can improve – you might be surprised at some of the great ideas they have.
This answer was written by Jonathan Sutton, a Faculty/Staff advisor for Sigma Tau Gamma at Marshall University and new contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. Jonathan was honored as Fraternity “Advisor of the Year” 2011-2012, he has watched and guided the group as they have more than doubled their membership, reduced their national debt by half, and overcome obstacles both within the group and outside. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!