San Jose State University
Outstanding VSA of the Year
Questions and Answers
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
Through our four pillars of academic, social, culture, and community, our organization’s aim is to represent these pillars through our programs, events, and meetings. We have multiple events throughout the year including Luau, Winter formal, Friendsgiving, Summit, Olympics, Culture show, and End of the year banquet. These events focus on our social and community pillars because we have many icebreakers and activities in this event to bond with each other and build the community we have in VSA.
Our Culture show is focused on culture and community. It is our production that takes about half a year for our members to plan and execute. It involves sharing our cultural dances and performances as well as a skit.
Throughout the year, we have had many volunteering opportunities for our members and involvement with the community outside of SJSU VSA. We tabled at the Mid- Autumn Festival to spread the Vietnamese culture. We got over 70+ students to register to vote while tabling in our school to promote civil engagement, had officers present in classes to promote voter registration, and collaborated with other Vietnamese organizations such as Vietnamese American Roundtable to help them with their Halloween event for families in the San Jose community. We volunteered at Eastridge Moon Festival, VACC Tet Trung Thu, and Mid-Autumn Youth Summit. We put together care packages for holidays with EM Collective. We kept track of every member that volunteered and their hours and totaled ~250 volunteering hours. We had the biggest turnout at our NorCal summit of over 70+ members. We had a coin drive that raised 300 dollars for our philantrophy.
For our academic pillar, we used our social media platform to showcase COVID resources, BLM resources, Career Fairs and Opportunities, and had a Pet Study Buddy thread that allowed members to post their pets along with study tips. During the fall, we booked rooms during finals season to allow our members to have a place to study together.
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.
Recruitment was a group effort from all leadership roles and old members. Every time we have our meetings and socials, we strive to create a welcoming environment by starting conversations with new members. Our meetings start at 6:00pm, but we spend the first 15 minutes socializing and allowing new and old members to mingle so newer members feel more welcome to join our VSA. As for marketing, our publicity chair created beautiful flyers/banners that were posted on our social media as well as posting it on the Freshman Facebook page and our school’s app.
We also joined cultural and community events on campus such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, which was the first one ever hosted by the school.
We also advocated for community engagement on campus with voter registration drives on campus and a Census workshop hosted by an alumni from another cultural organization on campus. We cooperated with other organizations on campus, and many of our members are members in multiple student organizations which further promotes involvement and a connected community.
During the coronavirus epidemic, we shared campus resources with our VSA such as the walk-in food pantry, CalFresh food stamps and other relief programs.
This year we planned a 3-day summer retreat with old and new officers. Old officer passed down all the knowledge to new officers and we had workshops related to having a vision, tabling, and learning our constitution. Our event planning improved after every event. We used an EPS, Event Planning Solutions document to show every factor involved in event planning in a consistent format so all of can easily digest the planning for a specific event.
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?
Our VSA consists of three types of leadership groups. First, we have our cabinet members: This includes President, Internal Vice-President, External Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, ICC, Cultural Heritage Chair, Culture Show Producer, Publicity Chair, Historian, and ACE Chair. We each have our set of responsibilities that is established by our constitution. We meet every Monday to plan for future meetings and events. We also use this time to update each other and discuss our ideas and solve any issues we had throughout the year. This allowed us to be accountable for each other as we were able to listen to our fellow officers about their planning and making sure they are on track for an event. Another group was our Family leaders for our four families. Each family had a family advisor, family head, and family head interns. They had a meeting hosted by our IVP every Tuesday to plan for future family
socials/mixers and receive updates that the cabinet has for them. Our third group were the different committees we had for various events. This includes our ACE committee in charge of pairing bigs and littles together by meeting every Wednesday hosted by our ACE chair. Our ACE chair made sure each member of the committee put in an equal amount of hours into pairing big and littles. We also had our committee on Culture Show Directors. Each director brought a different strength that contributed to the show from dancing, singing, acting, backstage, and many more. They had meetings hosted by our CS Producer throughout the year to update each other on responsibilities that have been done and future plans.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2019-2020 academic year.
In our fall semester, we experienced a spike in membership with over 400 members compared to the 300 signups last year. Many challenges revolve around keeping the member retention high. This involves our leaders to build a real connection with the members. The first step in doing this is making sure our core leaders of VSA have strong relations with each other. We did officer dates which allowed us to understand our personal lives and have empathy when a certain officer can’t uphold responsibilities because of personal issues. This connection we have with each other is spread to other members.
One improvement we have was the process of family placements. All of the family leaders come together to place all the new members. In previous years, there was no structured system. This made the process very long and chaotic. However, this year our IVP was able to implement a system that allowed placing members into families much more efficiently while still making sure that each member was thoughtfully placed.
One challenge that impacted us the most was planning the first event: Luau. It was poorly planned amongst the board members and family leaders. There was a lot of miscommunication between leaders of the organization. After this event, we had a discussion on the importance of communication and understanding of each other. Every event that was planned afterward was executed much better after learning what we did wrong from the first event.
Our latest challenge involves the cancellation of meetings and events in the Spring semester due to COVID-19. We tackled this challenge by realizing and letting our members know that it is the people in our organization and the connection with each other that made. We had Zoom meetings where we did Yoga, Club Penguin social, and more. We created a Minecraft server for gamers in our community to connect with each other and brought back our VSA Discord.