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Student Organizations

Advisor Resources

Thank you for your new or continued interest in serving OU students as a registered student organization adviser. Below you will find information addressing the most common questions and concerns of advisors.

Student Life aims to support students and advisors in as many ways as possible. If you have a question that is not answered on this page or ideas to improve our adviser resources, please do not hesitate to contact us at rso@ou.edu.


Why serve as a registered student organization advisor?

Requirements to be an advisor
Roles and responsibilities of the advisor
Responsibilities of organizations to advisors
Frequently asked questions



Why serve as a registered student organization advisor?

Students greatly benefit from a well-rounded collegiate experience encompassing both academic pursuits and social involvement. As an advisor, you have the opportunity to help students learn and apply life skills such as networking, leadership development, critical thinking, organizational management, and communication techniques. You can serve in a mentor capacity, experience student life outside the classroom, and build relationships that students will remember and appreciate long after their college years. Serving as a registered student organization advisor is a commitment to the students and to the University of Oklahoma, but in return you will benefit from a greater knowledge of student development, a feeling of connectedness to University activities, and a sense of accomplishment that your efforts have directly and positively impacted the lives of students.

Requirements to be an advisor

All registered student organization advisors must be full time (FTE 1.0) faculty or staff members at the University of Oklahoma (Student Code, Title 10, Section 4.2d). Organizations may have more than one advisor. The choice of advisors is at the discretion of each organization. However, in some cases departments may wish to make recommendations on the basis of teaching loads and academic advising responsibilities of the faculty members.

Roles and responsibilities of the advisor

Guidance and support - Serving as an organization's advisor shows a commitment to the success of the involved students. By association it conveys a special interest in the students' values and goals. The students count on the advisor not only to assist with administrative tasks and serve as a liaison with the University, but also to provide encouragement and guidance through a wide range of situations.

Continuity - The advisor provides stability for organizations so records are not lost during the constant turnover of officers as students graduate from the University. The advisor can assist students with information regarding events, processes, etc. that have worked in the past and may be applicable to future group endeavors.

Fiscal oversight - One of the most important responsibilities of a registered student organization's advisor is the role of financial oversight. The advisor should assist students with the opening and maintenance of financial accounts. While each registered student organization should elect a student financial officer/treasurer, the advisor can provide guidance and training regarding how to create a budget and keep good financial records.

Policy interpretation and advocacy - As an employee of The University of Oklahoma, a registered student organization's advisor can provide a unique perspective to students regarding University policies and procedures. The advisor can serve as an advocate for students who do not feel their needs are being met or who need assistance interpreting policies. The advisor can also provide critical feedback to Student Affairs regarding ways to improve the student experience.

Meetings and social activities - Advisors are encouraged to participate in meetings and activities with their respective registered student organizations. Many organizations create their own requirements for advisor involvement; if your organization has such requirements, be sure to communicate with the students regarding your availability and willingness to participate. It is important that students feel worthy of the advisor's time as this helps establish mentoring relationships that many students greatly desire in their extracurricular activities.

Responsibilities of organizations to the advisors

Inclusion - A registered student organization should be sure to extend invitations to the advisor for group meetings and planned activities. The organization can outline expectations for advisor involvement and should be sure to clearly communicate such expectations to a potential advisor before he/she is committed to working with the group. The organization should also be respectful of the advisor's work and other commitments, and should plan activities with expected attendance accordingly.

Fiscal responsibility - Registered student organizations should include the advisor on all financial decisions. University financial accounts for registered student organziations must be listed in the advisor's name and must be approved through the advisor's chain of command. Registered student organizations should maintain an annual budget, reconcile their accounts monthly, and work closely with the advisor to ensure that all expenses are allowable and processed correctly. Registered student organization accounts are subject to audit by the University's Internal Auditing division.

Communication - Registered student organization leaders and members should maintain an open line of communication with the group's advisor. The advisor serves as a liaison on campus for the group's activities and cannot effectively do so if he/she does not know what the group is doing. Communication methods should be utilized that are effective for all involved.

Documented processes - Organizations should have clearly documented processes regarding advisor selection and removal procedures as well as advisor involvement expectations. Student leaders should establish practices that support the betterment of the organization and provide fair treatment of all members and advisors. If tensions arise between group members and the advisor, it is critical that the organization have a system in place for addressing such issues that allows moving forward in a productive and peaceful manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

General
Registration
Financial
Travel
Publicity
Facility Use
Alcohol/Open Social Events

General Questions

Q: What do I need to do to serve as the advisor for __________________?
A: If you have not done so already you need to meet with the group's officers to determine if their needs and expectations for advisor involvement are aligned with your willingness to participate. If so, you will need to either sign as their advisor on the annual registration paperwork filed with Student Life in the beginning of the fall semester, or submit an Advisor Update Form to Student Life if the group is already registered for the year.

Q: I am not a full time faculty/staff member at OU but would like to be a group's advisor. How can I make this happen?
A: Student Code requires the advisers of registered student organizations to be full time employees at OU. All faculty and staff members are encouraged to support our registered student organizations and are welcome to attend group activities when invited or open to the public. However, the organization will need to locate a full time OU employee to serve as its official adviser for the academic year.

Registration Questions

Q: How does my organization become recognized by The University of Oklahoma?
A: All student organizations are required by Student Code to register with the University of Oklahoma Student Association (UOSA) during the first four weeks of each fall semester. Applications are submitted to the Student Life office online during this time period.  The link to the online registration is here.  New student organizations can register anytime during fall and spring semester, but they must re-register the following fall in order to maintain their active status.

Q: How long does registration take?
A: Registration can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on the time of year and the completeness of submitted materials. Registrations that involve submission of a constitution generally take longer due to the additional review process.

Q: Does my organization have to submit a constitution with its application form?
A: All new organizations must submit a constitution for approval. UOSA requires all re-registering student organizations to submit a constitution for review every three years based on a pre-determined time table. Organizations beginning with the letters R - Z are required to submit a constitution in fall 2011.  Organizations beginning with the letters A-F will be reuqired to submit a constitution in fall 2012.  Organizations beginning with the letters G-P will be required to submit a constitution in fall 2013.

Q: How will I know if my group's registration has been approved?
A: The organization's president and adviser will be e-mailed upon completion of the registration process and the updated information will also be available on the Student Life Web site.

Q: I received notice that my group's constitution did not include all of the necessary provisions. Does this mean my group cannot register?
A: All groups have the opportunity to make the necessary constitutional changes in order to comply with UOSA requirements and become registered. Any groups requiring constitutional changes will be notified by e-mail of the necessary revisions. Once the group has made the changes the president will just need to resubmit the constitution to Student Life for final approval.

Q: Does my group have to register even if we don't plan to use University resources?
A: Yes, all student organizations are required by Student Code to register each academic year.

Q: How many officers does an organization have to elect in order to become registered?
A: Organizations are only required to have a president, though most typically have several elected officers.

Q: How does my organization update the records on file with Student Life and UOSA to reflect a change in officers?
A: Registered student organizations should submit an "Officer Update Form" within ten (10) days of completing the election. This form is available HERE during the school year (after the registration process has ended) or may be obtained in the Student Life office.

Q: My organization missed the deadline for registration in the fall. What now?
A: The organization still needs to submit a completed application to Student Life as soon as possible in order to comply with the Student Code.

Q: Does registering my organization automatically make it eligible for UOSA primary funding?
A: No, registration is just one of several requirements. Groups must remain registered for one full year before becoming eligible to apply for funding and participate in the interview process.

Q: My organization is a sports team. Does it need to do anything special for registration?
A: Recreational sports teams have the option to join the Sports Club Council (SCC) sponsored through Recreational Services following registration approval in the fall. Benefits of being a member of the Sport Club Council include support and guidance from the Sport Club Council, use of trademarked OU logos, and association with other students who share similar interests and aspirations in sports. More information can be found regarding the Sports Club Council here.

Financial Questions

Q: Can registered student organizations establish financial accounts at the University?
A: Yes, registered student organizations can apply for an account through Financial Support Services (FSS) in the same manner that departments can create accounts. Accounts at the University of Oklahoma are subject to governmental accounting procedures including the inability to pay for products or services until they have been delivered. Financial accounts at OU do not operate similar to outside bank accounts in that groups do not receive check books to pay out expenses. Instead, all expenses must be paid through invoicing or reimbursement, and very large expenditures (over $5,000) must be routed through the OU Purchasing Office for an open bidding process. Specific questions regarding the establishment and use of University accounts should be directed to Financial Support Services at 325-3021.

Q: Does my organization have a FSS account?
A: The easiest way to determine this is to call FSS at 325-3021 or to view the Active Departments in Peoplesoft spreadsheet available at the bottom of this page: http://www.ou.edu/controller/fss/psnews.htm

Q: How do I access my organization's University financial account?
A: All University financial accounts are maintained by Financial Support Services (FSS) located within Evans Hall. As an account sponsor you have access to your monthly account statements through Peoplesoft at http://fin.ou.edu. When you first become an account sponsor you should receive an e-mail from FSS with documentation regarding how to utilize your account.

Q: How do I establish an account at OU for my student organization?
A: To set up a new financial account you will need to complete the form HERE and have it signed by the necessary parties. The vice president/dean of your area of employment must sign the form verifying willingness to take responsibility for the account. The completed and signed form should be submitted to the Financial Support Services office in Evans Hall for processing.

Q: How do I establish an outside bank account for my student organization?
A: Bank accounts other than those for individuals require the establishment of a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). This requires filing with the Internal Revenue Service (http://www.irs.gov) using form SS-4. The FEIN will be requested by the bank in order to establish an organizational account. Student organizations may not use the University of Oklahoma FEIN for this purpose. A best practice would be for the account to require two signatures, one of which is the advisers. In the past, groups have had accounts set up and the sole student signatory on the account graduated and moved on. While two student signatures are better than one, the possibility of both students moving on without making the appropriate change to the account is also a possibility.

Q: Can my registered student organization use the University's tax ID number to be exempt from sales tax?
A: No, registered student organizations are not considered official departments of the University of Oklahoma and therefore cannot use the University's tax ID number for any purpose.

Q: How can my organization become tax-exempt?
A: Your group will need to acquire the services of an outside accountant and tax attorney to navigate all of the processes involved with becoming a non-profit organization. Registered student organizations that are local chapters of large, (inter)national groups may qualify under the non-profit status of their parent associations and should check on that if applicable.

Unless your group has gone through the process of becoming a non-profit organization, it is NOT tax-exempt.  Your group would be expected to pay sales tax on revenue generated from fundraisers or ticket sales.

Q: My group is hosting a fundraiser and would like to issue receipts for donors to receive tax deductions. Is this allowable?
A: If the group has official non-profit tax status with the IRS, or if the monies are being donated directly into an OU Foundation account, then yes, receipts are allowable. However if a group is just raising money to deposit into an University FSS account or an outside bank account and has not taken all of the necessary (and costly) steps to become a legal non-profit entity then donors cannot receive tax deductions. Regardless of non-profit status, registered student organizations cannot represent themselves as being entities of The University of Oklahoma.

Travel Questions

Q: What does my group need to do before traveling off campus?
A: All registered student organization travel is subject to the Travel Policy for Registered Student Organizations. Registered student organizations that are traveling more than fifty miles from campus are required to submit a Student Travel Authorization Form to the Vice President for Student Affairs' office at least one week in advance of the travel date. This form requires information about the planned travel and verifies that the adviser and president of the organization have collected the necessary information from travel participants (i.e. medical forms, copies of driver's licenses for all drivers, proof of current liability insurance if driving personal vehicles, and activity liability waivers).

Q: My organization is planning a spring break/summer trip. Since school is not in session, are they still required to follow the University travel policies?
A: Student organization registration lasts all year. Any travel done under the auspices of a registered student organization is subject to the University's Registered Student Organization Travel Policy as well as all other applicable University policies.

Q: Can students rent and drive vehicles from the University's motor pool?
A: Student Organizations are not allowed to use University vehicles unless a faculty or staff member will be driving the vehicle and advising the group is part of their employment responsibilities. Students are not allowed to use vehicles unless it is related to a function of the department in which they are employed. For more information about Fleet Services policies and procedures, please click HERE.

Q: My organization is planning a trip. Do I have to travel with them?
A: Advisers are encouraged to travel when possible. If the adviser chooses not to travel, it is imperative that the student officers provide the adviser with details regarding the trip plans and with copies of the emergency medical forms for all of the students traveling in addition to the other items required by the University's Travel Policy.

Q: If one of my organization members breaks a University policy while on a group-sponsored trip, can the group or individual receive University sanctions?
A: Yes, University policies and sanctions apply for all activities hosted by registered student organizations regardless of location.

Q: Who should keep the emergency medical forms for my organization's members?
A: A copy of all of the forms should remain on campus with the adviser (if not traveling) or with another trusted faculty/staff member at OU for the duration of the trip. Copies of the forms should also be taken on the trip by the students for reference in an emergency. Registered student organizations that travel often may wish to have their members complete emergency forms at regular intervals (once per year, once per semester, etc.) and keep the original records in a secure place to be referenced whenever travel is conducted.

Publicity Questions

Q: Can my organization use the University's name and/or logo on their publicity?
A: Registered Student Organizations may not use University of Oklahoma trademarked logos or other items without prior permission from the OU Licensing and Trademark office. Only administrative organizations and registered sports clubs may use the interlocking "OU" or the name, "University of Oklahoma", with proper permission.  The following form should be submitted to Student Affairs for approval.

Q: What methods of publicity are available to my organization on campus?
A: Registered student organizations may publicize with flyers, posters, chalking, tables/facility reservations, announcements and advertisements with The Oklahoma Daily, and more.

Q: Will Student Life or Student Affairs send out a mass e-mail on behalf of my organization?
A: Unfortunately since Student Life and Student Affairs work with such a large number of organizations it is difficult to fairly represent all of their initiatives through the use of OUMMs. Therefore it is policy of both offices not to send out mass e-mails for student organizations. Advisers of registered student organizations can initiate mass e-mails with permission from their own departments if desired.

Q: My organization has designed a flyer and wants to distribute it on the south oval to promote an activity. Is this allowed?
A: Yes. However, your organization will first need to have the flyer reviewed by Student Life (see HERE for more info) and then the organization will need to reserve a spot on the south oval to hand out flyers (see HERE for info about how to reserve a location).

Facility Use Questions

Q: What facilities on campus are available for registered student organization use?
A: Registered student organizations have access to many facilities on campus at discounted rates or in some cases, free of charge. The most popular facilities used by organizations are the Union, classrooms, Henderson-Tolson Multicultural Center, Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, Walker-Adams Mall, and the south oval.

Q: How does my group reserve a room in the Union? Is there a charge for rooms in the Union?
A: Rooms in the Union can be reserved by calling the Union Business Office at 325-2121 or by visiting in person at Oklahoma Memorial Union room 428. Pricing for rooms in the Union varies by room capacity. Please check with the Union Business Office for more details.

Q: How does my group reserve a classroom for meetings? How much does it cost?
A: Registered student organizations may request classroom space by completing a Classroom Request Form (see HERE) with Student Life. Registered student organizations should NOT contact the Classroom Management Office directly regarding reservations. Classroom reservations are provided at no cost to registered student organizations. A $100 refundable security deposit is required to be on file for each semester but is returned during finals week provided no damage is done to the classrooms by the organization.

Q: My organization requested a particular classroom and is upset it was not reserved for them. Why did they not receive what they requested?
A: Classroom reservations are granted based on several factors: availability, event capacity, and audio/visual/staging needs. Academic classes always take precedent over registered student organization use. Groups should be as realistic as possible with their event capacity needs; overestimating potential attendance at an event may cause more difficulty finding an available room while underestimating event size may cause a problematic event.

Q: Why can't registered student organizations reserve classrooms during the first three weeks of each semester?
A: The first three weeks of each semester are reserved by Classroom Management for academic class scheduling changes. Registered student organizations may submit requests to Student Life during this time period but will not receive reservation confirmations until at least the fourth week of the semester. Therefore alternate plans should be made for any events or activities taking place during the first three weeks.

Q: Can a long-standing classroom reservation be made for my group's weekly/bi-weekly events?
A: Yes, multiple dates may be scheduled with one reservation request for up to one semester in length. This is the preferred reservation method for groups that have regularly-scheduled meetings.

Q: How can my group reserve a spot on the south oval for a table/event?
A: Registered student organizations can reserve a spot on the south oval by completing a Facility Use Request form and submitting it to Student Life at least one week in advance of the requested date. Spots on the south oval are granted based on availability and order of request. See HERE for more information and to download the Facility Use Request form.

Q: My organization wants to sell t-shirts/mugs/books/etc. as a fundraiser on the south oval. Is this allowed and how much does it cost?
A: Yes, solicitation for charity or organizational purposes is allowed with a valid facility reservation and solicitation permit. The south oval solicitation permit costs $25 for the first day and $2 for each consecutive day. Additional locations are subject to availability and the same solicitation fee structure.

Q: Are there any times during the school year when events are not allowed to take place?
A: Events may not be scheduled during dead week and finals week of each semester without prior permission from the director of Student Life. Permission for events during this time period is only considered for academic or honorary events that could not be held at another time.

Alcohol/Open Social Event Questions

Q: My group wants to hold an event with alcohol on campus. Is this allowed?
A: Only a few venues on campus permit alcohol and it must be provided by a third-party vendor in cooperation with the venue's particular reservation policies. Classroom buildings, residence hall areas, Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, and Henderson Tolson Multicultural Center DO NOT allow alcohol and possession/consumption on those premises is subject to organizational and individual sanctions.

Q: My group wants to hold an alcohol event off campus. Does it need to register the event with the University?
A: Yes, any registered student organization alcohol events should be filed with the Student Life office at least one week prior to the event using the Alcohol Event Notification Form.

Q: Is there any restriction on when alcohol events can be held?
A: Yes, the University's Alcohol Policy restricts registered student organization alcohol events to Friday and Saturday nights.

Q: Are groups required to provide transportation to alcohol events? If so, can SAFE RIDE be used as the transportation source?
A: Yes, groups must provide transportation to and from the event for participants. This can be done by using a bus shuttle service, providing and paying for taxis, or renting a chauffered limo. SAFE RIDE is a service designed to meet the needs of the entire University community and therefore cannot be reserved for private events as it would prevent other members of the University community from access.