Vietnamese Student Association at Virginia Tech

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?

The purpose of the Vietnamese Student Association at Virginia Tech is to promote awareness and interest of the Vietnamese culture, its people, and its community; as well as, enhancing and furthering pluralism and diversity. Our goal is also to make Virginia Tech a place where every member is respected, understood, and has every opportunity to grow, to make Virginia Tech a place where broad inclusiveness is the rule—not the exception. VSA at Virginia Tech also promotes Vietnamese/Asian Unity, in addition to addressing the problems and concerns of the Vietnamese/Asian Community to the Administration and other student organizations here at Virginia Tech. This year, we had a queen candidate on the homecoming board. Homecoming at Virginia Tech is a school-wide week-long event and each candidate must have a platform/charity to raise money for. Having a candidate on the board was significant for the Asian community. Tam Hoang is only the second Asian candidate throughout the history of homecoming. Tam’s platform was Children of Vietnam, the Collective Philanthropy Project’s chosen charity of the 2018-2019 year. Every Asian-American organization came together to attend homecoming events on behalf of Tam and support VSA. We won Homecoming’s Got Talent with our traditional fan dance typically shown at our annual culture show. VSA at Virginia Tech has also consistently had a minority on our officer board for almost the last 10 years. We allow anyone who feels fit for a position to run for our elections. Lastly, VSA has worked closely with the Virginia Tech Asian-American Student Union (AASU), the umbrella organization for all Asian-American organizations. Our president, along with other AASU presidents, met with the Dean of Students and Assistant Dean to voice our need for more Asian faculty throughout all colleges. We also promoted the idea that more Asian culture classes should be offered, despite being in southwest Virginia where the Asian population is next to none.

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: This year, VTVSA had over 400 members. Thousands of students attend Gobblerfest, the student organization fair on our Drillfield. We attend other AASU organizations’ first meetings and offer a discount on membership fees before the 

second meeting. Our family program keeps member retention, then we have the big/little program a month later. 

Marketing: We were paying a ridiculous amount for our website domain and there was complicated coding behind it, so we switched to SquareSpace. Our social media started Humans of VTVSA and utilized Instagram story for an “Amazing Race”. We contacted over 10 custom apparel companies to get the best price for our members and people from other schools/regions, resulting in record-breaking merchandise profit. 

Outreach to Campus Community: We want to be respected as an organization that accepts all, whether Vietnamese, Asian, or not. Since homecoming candidates run on a platform, we took this opportunity to expand VT beyond Blacksburg. Bringing the needs of Vietnam to southwest Virginia was the most unique part of our organization this year. Also, in the past, we held pho nights that would attract hundreds of attendees a year. This year, we planned for a bún thịt nướng night, but due to COVID- 19, we were unable to host this event. 

Use of Resources: Supplies were needed for culture show, so we would ask other regional schools for help and vice versa. We try to order tax-free with help from MAUVSA as a 501(C)(3). Currently, VTVSA is matching BLM donations to us and then will send it to Apple to be matched by 200%. 

Officer Training: VTVSA has over 4 years of Google Drive for transition documents. We have officer bonding events, such as lock-ins, dates, etc. Most officers are underclassmen, so asking for help from former officers is simple since most have not graduated. 

Event Planning: For culture show, we use an auditorium that must be booked a year and a half early. We host semi-formals, tailgates, and other 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?

We want to promote the interest of Vietnamese culture, people, and community at our school as part of our organization’s mission. The fact that we were on the homecoming board says a lot. However, we did more than just visualize an Asian- American on the board. Our entire organization tabled, attended every Homecoming event, promoted Homecoming all over social media, etc. We could break stereotypes and show how diverse the Asian-American student population really is. We made ourselves known and showed the school that there is more than just Greek life, community service clubs, and pre-professionals organizations at VT. Although we did 

not win Homecoming, overall Tam did well in the running and we established ourselves as a force to be reckoned with. I would like to think we achieved our goal of being more than just another Asian organization at Virginia Tech and now other VT students are more informed of Vietnamese culture and appreciate the diversity of our campus a bit more. On top of signing in to all the homecoming events, we have a sign- in process for all our organization meetings and events as well. VTVSA hosted multiple events specifically for our family program, but multiple family leaders also held their own events at their apartments with dinners, movie nights, craft activities, etc. Our Internal Vice President is specifically responsible for our family leaders and holding them accountable by making sure their families are active. Members also know that if they have any concerns or issues about VTVSA to go to our IVP for conflict resolution. Although we have an insane number of members, our quality members are what means the most to us because we know we would not be here without them.

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