The Student Organizational Development and Administration (SODA) team, guided by the tenets of the Facilitator University philosophy, serves our community by providing education and resources to develop a safe and productive environment and encourage effective decision-making.
What Is Risk Management?
Involvement in a student organization at Texas A&M University is a great opportunity to learn leadership skills, make lifelong friends, and positively influence the campus community. Our nationally recognized Risk Management team strives to help student leaders and advisors facilitate experiences that are developmental, educational, safe, and successful. Risk Management is the process of advising organizations of the potential and perceived risks involved in their activities, providing education about the guiding boundaries established for organizations, and taking corrective actions and proactive steps to minimize accidental injury and/or loss. The goal of our proactive risk management guidelines is to ensure that student organizations plan and host events where everyone involved has a safe and fun experience!
The Facilitator University Model
The Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University greatly values the engagement of students in co-curricular activities, and therefore has adopted a philosophical approach to partnering with individual students and student organizations as "facilitators" of the involvement experience. As facilitators, student organization members, leaders, and advisors work with administrators, faculty and staff to make intelligent, fair and reasonable choices within the boundaries established by state, federal, and local laws, university rules, and the educational mission of the institution.
A "facilitator university" balances rights and responsibilities - it is neither extremely authoritarian nor overly solicitous of student freedom. A facilitator college seeks shared responsibility between all constituents for the activities of its student, rather than allocating responsibility unilaterally or not at all. Because facilitation implies an appropriate and reasonable degree of risk, the goal of our team is to advise student organizations of the potential and perceived risks involved in their activities. We also strive to facilitate the coordination of organization events and help student leaders take corrective actions and proactive steps to minimize accidental injury and/or loss, seeking to balance the rights and responsibilities of students and the university.
For more information about the Facilitator University model, please refer to "The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University: Who Assumes the Risks of College Life?" by Robert D. Bickel and Peter F. Lake, published by the Carolina Academic Press in 1999.
Guiding Boundaries for Student Organizations
- Student organizations operate within the larger picture of Texas A&M's mission and core values, representing the university and its goals.
- Student organizations must comply with all local, state, and federal laws during organizational activities or events, whether on- or off-campus.
- Student organizations are governed by the Student Rules of the university and the Standard Administrative Procedures of the university.
- Student organizations are also governed by the policies of the Department of Student Activities, available in the Student Organization Manual. Student leaders are expected to familiarize themselves with this manual and use it as a reference tool when planning their events and activities.
- Finally, student organizations create their own rules too! Each organization submits a constitution with its internal policies and structure. Groups that are affiliated with any local, national, or international organizations may have guidelines from those organizations as well. We also strongly encourage student organizations to develop operations manuals, and suggestions for content can be found in the Recognition section of the Student Organization Manual.
Students are not expected to memorize all of these documents or websites. However, as constituents of a Facilitator University, they must be proactive and communicate their events and goals to campus administrators and staff advisors. Together, we will all assist in ensuring that our student organizations operate safely and successfully within the guiding boundaries.
What services does the Student Organization Development & Administration (SODA) team provide?
- Organizational Development presentations for student leaders and organizations
- Advisor training and development opportunities
- Event Planning guidance and assistance
- Camps and Programs for Minors guidance and rule compliance
- Reviews of contracts and liability waivers
- Assistance in purchasing university insurance for student organizations
- Concessions permits for monetary exchange of goods, services and rentals on campus
- Risk Initiative Funding for student organizations
- Review of new student organization applications
- Organization and Advisor of the Year awards
For more about these services and others, please visit the links on the side of this page!