San Jose State University
Most Outstanding VSA of the Year Nomination: San Jose State University
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
The purpose of our Vietnamese Student Association of San Jose State University is to serve the Vietnamese community by preserving and promoting the Vietnamese culture and traditions to all those interested in learning. We aim to represent our VSA through four main pillars: academic, social, community, and cultural, which are carried out by meetings, events, programs, and activities.
Throughout this year, we hit a record of approximately 150 actively engaged members. Despite our large numbers, our members are intimate thanks to our family system which divides our VSA into four families, allowing us to group members based on how well they will compliment the families’ personalities. Our families contributed a great amount to our social pillar, where we encouraged mixing between all families. This allows our members to feel welcomed within the VSA community.
Aside from our social aspects, we emphasized on cultural lessons at our general meetings. We host cultural workshops throughout the year based on holidays, food, or incorporate culture via smaller activities like phrase of the day or by starting the meeting with Vietnamese pop songs. In addition to the workshops, our culture show had culture performances such as fan dance, hat dance, ribbon dance, etc. where over 80 members signed up and dedicated their time to the culture show. The culture show served as the most grand performance we are able to offer the public of our Vietnamese roots.
In addition to our focus on culture, we always made sure we are giving back to our community. Multiple volunteer events are held throughout the semester, mainly in collaboration with Vietnamese organizations in the city, ranging from registering voters, and to Black April commemorations. These volunteering events are constantly publicized to make sure our members are aware of it, and will be able to participate.Through these collaborations, we were able to build a strong and friendly relationship in the Vietnamese community, primarily through Vietnamese organizations.
Lastly, our academic pillar were always constant throughout the year. Study rooms in our library are booked for 8 hours around exam seasons to ensure our members will have a space to study. Additionally, our growing connection with VSA alumni allowed for our 2nd annual alumni networking panel, where we were able to host a mixer for VSA alumni and members to professionally bond.
Address how the VSA was outstanding in the following areas: recruitment, marketing, outreach to campus community, use of resources (financial, etc.), officer training and event planning.
Our publicist’s vision of marketing our organizations outside of social media platforms because our social media has an audience of primarily VSA members. Usually, we would only table for Club Fair, which is one day where many clubs table to recruit as well, which didn’t allow for effective recruitment. He wanted to expand his vision by tabling more on 7th street plaza, an area on campus where students frequently walk by. This allowed for a more exposure to curious students who want to hear and learn more about our organization. In addition to posting on the previous year’s social media platform and handing out beautifully made flyers that grabs people’s attention, this recruitment strategy proved to be effective as we hit a record of over 100 little sign ups in the fall semester. We also maintain an active Instagram where we regularly post about upcoming events, event recaps, and things that are happening during an event.
One of the biggest ways we continued to market our organization throughout the year was our performances in many events. This gave VSA a presence on campus and allowed many people to find out about our organization by performing in events such as Fire On The Fountain, a large campus-wide annual homecoming event our campus hosts, Shamrock Showcase, a dance competition usually filled with performers in greek life, and at the first ever Cultural Night Market, an event celebrating different cultural food and dances. In terms of campus community outreach, our organization was involved with Diversity Day, an event hosted by the school to learn about the different resources and cultural organizations on campus. The school gave a canvas course to the President and Treasurer over the summer to learn community standards, code of conduct, membership and officer transition, hazing, events and spaces on campus, finance and bank accounts, funding, advertising, alcohol and social events, and how to plan events.
How did the VSA work together? How did you maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses? How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?
Aside from the cabinet members constantly and consistently collaborating on upcoming events during weekly meetings and through group communication apps, our VSA is split into four families that are lead by two exemplary family leaders each, who both have the energy and attitude needed to engage new members, to retain older members, and to lead their respective family. Each family has around 30-40 active members. The family leaders would be lead by the Internal Vice President, where weekly meetings the family heads and advisors would discuss the family heads’ goals for their family, current progress of said goals, and issues that arise. The IVP facilitates discussion and the family leaders collaborate on similar problems and share their own experiences that other family leaders are struggling with. Having these leaders constantly collaborating makes up for many of our individual shortcomings and strengthens our leadership overall.
While our board members work tirelessly so that general VSA members can receive the most impactful experience through our events and meetings, the family heads have the specialized tasks to lead and account for their families. The board members create the official announcement and/or event page and family leaders consistently promote these events to the family group chats, some going as far as to reach out individually to members who are more shy or remote. The cabinet members are tasked with making sure all members are informed and the family leaders are tasked with following up with the members in their family to keep them engaged to continue coming out to meetings and events.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2018-2019 academic year.
Our ACE program in the previous year (2017-2018) had approx. 80 little and 40 big applications per semester. This year (2018-2019) we had over 50 big sign ups and 188 little signs ups. One specific example that showed member growth within our organization was the unofficial athletic community we had within VSA. Last year, we hosted volleyball fridays which was an opportunity for members to come out and play volleyball and bond with fellow members with the same interest. This event would usually have 10-15 members that would come out. This year, we were able to constantly get over 30+ members to come to volleyball/basketball open gym.
Another unique aspect that developed during this year was the use of memes. It didn’t matter how big we were as an organization as the creation of memes and inside jokes showed how close we were with each other being able to laugh at the same things. Some examples of these memes include: Garfield meme that comes from the orange Incineroar from Smash, a game many members love getting together to play, Keep it A Secret videos that a couple of guys from VSA constantly made for our Facebook group, and many more that our VSA members created/shared with the Facebook group.
We had a lot of growth within our cabinet. There was major internal conflict between two of the cabinet members which slowed down our progress for the organization because they could not work together. We tried to resolve it by having a small intervention, but the first one didn’t work. Then, we had a second intervention with all of cabinet which was the first step in improving our understanding for those two and the officers in general. Spring semester, the publicist wanted to focus more on making cabinet closer because he realized that in order to work efficiently we need to understand each other on a personal level so we can always assume the best from each other. He implemented cabinet dates which is a hanging out system with another cabinet member. This allowed for us to bond with each other and create a space outside of the organization to talk about our personal lives. Slowly, the two were able to put their issues to the side and work with each other because they realized they only want what’s best for VSA and focused on improving VSA.