Contractual Relationship in Advising
In academic affairs, a contractual relationship exists between the student and the college. The basic provisions of the University Catalog, recruiting and departmental brochures, various bulletins, and the Student Handbook become part of this contract. The University sets forth certain requirements for passing courses and for successful completion of programs and degrees. If students fail to meet the required standards, they can be penalized through such actions as dismissal, suspension, or failure to graduate on schedule. If the institution fails to respect its own regulations, then students may seek judicial relief.
However, because the responsibility for student information, such as course and graduation requirements, is placed on the shoulders of students, a faculty advisor is usually liable only in situations of gross negligence, irresponsible behavior, or arbitrary or capricious treatment of a student. Because academic advisors are expected to understand and complete more than scheduling and registration procedures, it is important that faculty advisors be informed of services the University promises to provide for its students. It is equally important that faculty advisors meet their responsibility to refer students to the appropriate person or office whenever they feel incapable of completely answering a student¹s questions or assisting with a student¹s requests.
It would be helpful if academic advisors kept notes of their discussions with students during formal and informal advising sessions. An accurate record of advising sessions can help solve disputes over the content of such sessions and can serve as a legitimate protection against claims of erroneous advising.