The Student Advocates Office, located in Eigenmann Hall, helps any IU student encountering an issue or concern that impacts their life as a student by connecting them to resources on campus.
The office is made up of seven paid professionals and 19 volunteers, who are retired IU staff members. These 26 people make up three teams, which are the academic and administrative team, which can help with problems involving roommates, instructors or grades; the judicial team, which helps students going through the conduct system; and the confidential victim team, which helps students who have experienced stalking, sexual violence, dating violence or harassment.
The Student Advocates Office can help with students’ financial concerns and connect them to the Office of Financial Literacy, which specializes in financial planning through programs such as IU MoneySmarts.
“I can’t speak highly enough about them,” said Mindy Metzcar, assistant director of the office.
Any student who wants to withdraw from all classes has to go through the Student Advocates Office. It will help the student understand what it means, how they will be affected and what they need to consider.
They also help with opening the door to a conversation with a professor after missing class due to a big life event. They can help with a grade appeal or grade change request when the student feels the grade was calculated with an error or by discrimination.
In cases of sexual assault, the office can help by writing letters to professors for academic support, working with the students for their safety and protection, and providing people for students to talk to. They can also connect students to resources such as Sexual Assault Crisis Services, which is completely free.
Sally Thomas, senior assistant director of the Student Advocates Office, stressed she is one of very few confidential staff members on campus.
“Come to me, I’m confidential,” Thomas said. “I can talk about your options.”
Before or after receiving a misconduct letter, students can go into this office and get help with understanding the charge and their responsibilities. It is also a safe place for students to tell their side of the story. The office will also help students prepare for appeals and accompany them to meetings if need be.
The Student Advocates Office is connected to multiple Welcome Week activities in an effort to portray itself as a friendly place to go when students need help. They always have someone manning the phone or sitting in the office, ready to help.
The idea behind the Student Advocates Office is that the volunteers are dedicated to their work, and they all have knowledge of how the university works, as they all previously worked for IU.
“We are that office that, if you call, we are going to pick up the phone,” Thomas said.
A previous version of this story referred to the Office of Financial Literacy as the Money Smarts Office. The IDS regrets this error.