STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY

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STUDENT LEADERSHIP
AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Grant Walters
Re g i o n a l A d v i so r
Central Atlantic Affiliate of
College and University
Residence Halls (CAACURH)
LEARNING OUTCOMES
Identify some overarching
myths about student
leadership advising some
of their converse realities
Discuss the complexities
of the student leader and
advisor relationship
Examine the parallels
and dissimilarities
between supervisory and
advisory relationships
Outline elements of
advising approaches that
can reinforce students’
ethical behaviors
Explore some case study
examples and discuss
how issues of student
leader accountability
present themselves in
each
Determine key practices
that can boost student
accountability and
improve advisors’
relationships with their
advisees
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
“The Silent Advisor”
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Where did that come from?
 Publications and research have long identified the advisor role as
somewhat passive with a primary focus on guidance and encouragement
 Advisor roles are often perceived as voluntary and that there may often be
a choice involved in the assignment of the advisor-student leader
relationship
 Many advisors tend to advise student leadership groups in the early years
of their career in the profession, so a smaller disparity in the perception of
age, power, etc. can prevail
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Is it really true?
 In reality, many student leadership advisors have their responsibilities tied
to their official paid positions. Advisors need to be vocal in order to
preserve safety, security and integrity as they can be liable for what
student leaders do.
 Advisors are often the first identified or asked when student leader
actions are executed poorly or unethically
 Advisors often present a level of history and consistency within student
organizations because they often outlast their advisees. Their
participation and investment can be critical to an organization’s success.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
“The Blameless Student
Leader”
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Where did that come from?
 Because student leaders are not normally official employees of their
institutions (with the exception of some), there may be less defined or very
ambiguous ways in which remedies can be implemented to address
unethical or damaging behaviors
 Historically, leadership groups have often escaped scrutiny of institutional
processes or policies because of their voluntary nature rooted in student
rights/responsibility codes
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Is it really true?
 Many institutions (including Miami) are implementing more rigid policies
and sanctions for student leadership groups who violate campus codes
 While we may not be able to “fire” a student leader in the traditional
sense, there are avenues to hold them accountable financially,
behaviorally and sometimes academically
 Students can be held responsible and/or liable if their behavior harms
someone else or is legally objectionable
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
“Student voice is always >
logic, integrity and common
sense”
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Where did that come from?
 Student advocacy and voice on college and university campuses has a
long history in our country (and many others) as a major recognizable
force of change which, as history shows, has often urged institutional
progress to move forward on various issues
 Many students (and some faculty and staff) believe that constitutional
rights of free speech and expression outweigh the need for leaders to act
with discretion, sensitivity, balanced thought and perspective.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Is it really true?
 Protecting individuals’ constitutional rights or the desire for students to
have a loud voice on our campuses does not equate to an ability to
operate carelessly or thoughtlessly
 Student leadership advisors often act as a sounding board for students’
passionate issues and their desire to enact change. It’s important for
advisors to help them understand effective ways for them to achieve
results.
 Sometimes, this means simply saying “no.”
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
MY THS, DISPELLED
Think about how you may have
embraced or dismissed those
myths as an advisor.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
COMPLEXITIES
What makes advisor-leader relationships so
unique and/or complex?






Priority (both for student and advisor)
Advocacy vs. administration (“us” vs. “them”)
Lack of understanding of scope, impact
Differing motivations for volunteers (the “labor of love”)
Distance can play a factor
Selection and recruitment can look dif ferent for leaders
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
PARALLELS BETWEEN ADVISING AND
SUPERVISING
Relationships take
time, energy and
investment to build
and nurture
Good and regular
communication is
necessary for
success
Established set of
expectations or vision
exchanged between
the advisor and
advisee
Conversations about
development, growth,
and movement to
new opportunities
Connection to a
common community
Exchange of feedback
or perspective
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
DISSIMILARITIES BETWEEN ADVISING
AND SUPERVISING
Experience levels of
both the advisor and
the advisee might
differ
Possible absence of a
formal position
description for either
role
Differences in systems
of accountability
Evaluative measures
might be less formal or
event absent
Perception of a
student leader’s power
or position is likely
different than that of
an employee
Persistence of both the
advisor or advisee may
be less than in a
formal supervisory
relationship
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
DEFINING ACCOUNTABILIT Y
What does the word
“accountability” mean to you
as advisors?
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
APPROACHING ACCOUNTABILIT Y
Working individually, select three of the qualities on
the next slide that you believe are important to
helping student leaders understand and connect to
the term “accountability”.
Write two to three strategies by which you feel you
as the advisor can help them to achieve or
demonstrate that quality.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
APPROACHING ACCOUNTABILIT Y
 Suppor t
 Challenge
 Availability
 Visibility
 Investment
 Development
 Confrontation
 Dif ficult
conversations
 Flexibility
 Autonomy
 Sharing
 Resource
 Care
 Understanding
 Networking
 Evaluation
 Knowledge
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
 Integrity
 Honesty
 Compromise
 Agreement
 Advocacy
 Training
 Vision
 Learning
CASE STUDY 1 (IN GROUPS OF 4-5)
It’s April, and an enthusiastic student leader on your community council requests to take on a
hall/community t-shirt project where they will design and solicit orders from their fellow residents and collect
money to reimburse the hall’s budget. The student speaks with their advisor, who denies their request
because of its lateness in the academic year, and encourages the student to rekindle the project when they
return in the fall. The student agrees and no more discussion takes place.
A few weeks later, the advisor receives a call from the t-shirt company informing them that their order is ready
and that a large sum of money is due to them immediately. When asked who placed the order, the company
names the student leader you had a recent discussion with.
What are the issues/problems at play here?
What is your course of action?
How can you hold this student accountable? What does that conversation look like?
Do you say anything to your other community council leaders?
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
CASE STUDY 2
You receive a phone call from your RA on duty that they have come across an intoxicated student that has
returned to the hall from an off-campus party. They are allegedly being belligerent, uncooperative, and they
are using profanity with your staff member. You quickly respond and move to a corridor where this incident is
taking place. You discover that the individual is one of your hall council members. They are clearly slurring
their words, stumbling and refusing to follow the instructions of your staff. Many residents are in the hallway
whispering about the fact that the student is a leader in the community and how out of control they are.
Fearing the student may be dangerously intoxicated, you call for en emergency transport. The student
returns to the building very early the next morning.
What are the issues/problems at play here?
What is your course of action?
How can you hold this student accountable? What does that conversation look like?
Do you say anything to your other student leaders? Your residents?
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
HOW DO YOU PROMOTE
ACCOUNTABILIT Y?
Mutual expectations
Education about the
advisor role;
understanding the
limits, liabilities and
responsibilities within it
Pursuing difficult
conversations with student
leaders; being willing to talk
about issues of attitude,
approach, conduct, etc.
despite the fact that it may
impact your relationship
Helping them navigate
ways they can
appropriately challenge
and/or advocate for
themselves and others
Training and ongoing
development
Documentation
and follow-up
Peer discussions,
confrontations
Evaluations process for
both you and your
advisee
Public venues, reports,
websites, social
networking, etc.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
LET ME TELL YOU…
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
LET ME TELL YOU…
Take them with
you…
Place and position
– understanding
policy, procedure,
mission, vision…
De-emotionalizing
Using your
knowledge to help
predict outcomes
and/or pitfalls
Shoulder tap for
opportunities and
important tasks
Recognition
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
LET THEM TELL YOU…
 “My RHA board has an accountability contract…they go over it during their
transition to help people understand that they need to be responsible. It
was a written by a graduate student a couple of years ago and will be
revised in the next little while.
I find that 1:1's work best for holding people accountable. When I have
30 minutes with each of them every two weeks it gives me time to talk to
them about their projects and how they are motivated.”
Regina Donato
RHA Advisor
Lehigh University
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
LET THEM TELL YOU…
 “The first time a student doesn't complete a task or follow up on something, I write (or type)
out the task(s) they didn't do, with the date, and exactly what is expected of them to
complete. I state the clear expectation that not completing tasks is grounds for removal (or
requested resignation). Then if they don't complete the task for the following week I use the
documentation to put them on probation (with just myself), and if it continues then I write a
letter (or email) to the E-Board recommending their removal.
 I give the letter to the individual first and give them a chance to resign or last chance to
change their behavior. Also, if the student continuously doesn't complete tasks on time but
does immediately after our first warning (when I type up the task they failed to complete), I
compile all the times I had to have that meeting and write a similar letter recommending
removal. It is usually a 3 week process, at the longest, before the student resigns or gets
their stuff together.”
Chris Weiss
RHA Advisor
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
LET THEM TELL YOU…
 “When students are in conflict with someone on their Exec Board, it is
very important to confront the issue head on, either 1:1 or in a large
group setting. It usually depends on the nature of the issue. The most
common one I have seen is a group feeling like a certain Exec person is
not pulling his/her weight. The advisor could approach the individual
about the issue, but it is more powerful for the students to confront each
other. When students learn to hold each other accountable, therein lies
student success.”
Matthew Perry
RHA Advisor
University of Toledo
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
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