University of Mississippi Vietnamese Students Association

Most Outstanding Organization - Nominee

What are the purpose and goal(s) of your organization, and how has it met or exceeded those goals?

The purpose of the University of Mississippi Vietnamese Student Association has grown in the past year to cover three main concerns:
(1) To introduce others to many intricate facets of Vietnamese Culture
(2) To promote awareness major issues and concerns facing Asian, Asian American, and minority communities
(3) To nuture a new generation of Asian/Asian-American leaders and allies Ole Miss VSA has certainly met all of these goals through several events.
Ole Miss VSA hosted their annual culture show, and were able to provide an introduction of Vietnamese Culture to an audience of over 100 people. At the Culture Show, Ole Miss VSA presented a segment addressing the 2017-2018 CPP. Another way Ole Miss VSA was able to meet their purpose was through a collaborative event with Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., where several members of E-board served as panelists addressing and answering questions regarding Vietnamese Culture, society, racism, and childhood. Though the introduction of Family leaders, Eboard Interns, and the opportunities for members to step up as leaders for events, Ole Miss VSA has begun the first steps for people to train as leaders in the community.

Address how your organization was outstanding in the following areas: recruitment, marketing, outreach to campus community, use of resources, officer training and event planning.

Recruitment: This year, Ole Miss VSA had a historic number of members to ever been recruited. During our 2016-2017 year, Ole Miss VSA had 70 paid members. Though the number of members that year was at large, UM-VSA suffered from many events due to many inactive members. Going into the 2017-2018 school year, we lost 15 members; seniors who graduated, or either members that no longer wanting to continue their membership. This year, Ole Miss VSA has reached the highest ever of paid members in history, recruiting a total of 90 paid members. Out of the 90, 41 of them were new members!
Marketing: This goes hand-in-hand with recruitment. I believe that our success during recruitment was caused by how well our organization was able to market the array of events UM-VSA had to offer. We wanted to inform potential members that UM-VSA is more than just a cultural organization, more so that we also provide many social events such as Christmas social, Anh Chi Em Week, and Egg Roll Bowl. We also implied that if members wanted to add community service hours on their resumes then there would be philanthropic events organized to do so. Finally, and what I believe to be the reason why many people joined is that, UM-VSA will provide them with a home away from home. We let them know that we understand how hard finding a niche in a predominately Caucasian University can be; especially one where the city has nothing that caters to the Vietnamese culture/community.
Outreach to the Campus Community: Like many other categories, Ole Miss VSA has succeeded in outreach to the campus community. As mentioned earlier, Ole Miss VSA was able to recruit 41 new members! Many were not of Vietnamese descent and a fair amount not even of Asian descent. Their Annual Culture show was a great success and introduced several aspects of Vietnamese culture to an audience of over 100 people.
Adding on to their success in Campus Outreach, Ole Miss VSA participated in multiple events in collaboration with other culture organizations such as the Caribbean Student Association, Swahili Club, Nepal Student Association; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., a National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) sorority. A first in Ole Miss VSA, members of the E-board served as panelists answering culture questions regarding Vietnamese society, growing up Asian, racism against and in the Asian community, and a wide variety of other topics.
Use of Resources: For the 2017-2018 year, Ole Miss VSA was able to greatly increase their efficiency and use of resources. During the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, the treasury had approximately $50 in funds. Despite this, UM-VSA was able to make use of campus resources and have one of their most active years to date in terms of events and budgets. Members of the executive board and general members went out into the community and were able to successfully acquire sponsorships in the form of monetary donations, food donations, or supply donations, accumulating to at least $500. UM-VSA also was able to successfully manage a budget with the assistance of the Associated Student Body (Student Government) of Ole Miss. With proper planning, negotiations, and efficient use of resources, paperwork, and such, UMVSA was able to acquire over $1300 in funding from the Associated Student Body of Ole Miss. This increase of funding allowed us to host many more social and cultural events for our members and members of the Ole Miss community, many of which were never aware of Vietnamese culture. UM-VSA has also begun to use other school resources such as OrgSync, which allowed them to maintain a better membership roster, email server, and paperwork submission system. The system also provided to feature to send mass text messages to any member officially registered to the organization to notify them of any changes or updates from UM-VSA.
Officer Training: At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, UM-VSA hosted a “V-Day”, or a training day, for Executive Board members. Here, E-board members learned the specifics of their duties AND learned of the duties of other E-board members. This helped all members on E-board understand how much work and responsibility is placed in each position. Each position has their own responsibilities and are firmly connected to the success of other positions. “V-Day” also brought in guest speakers to discuss leadership in the Asian community. By participation in a “V-Day”, the E-board was able to get closer, understand that the success of the organization relied on the successful teamwork of the E-board, and learn the intricate duties of their positions.
Event Planning: Event planning certainly takes a lot of time for UM-VSA. As part of student policy by the University of Mississippi, forms for any event in Oxford, MS must be submitted in the following order (and the previous form must be approved before moving on to the next): Funding Request Form, Venue Reservation Form, and Event Registration Form. As each form takes approximately 10 business days to fully process on average, it requires for UM-VSA to have almost every detail planned out at least 30 days in advance. Fortunately, UM-VSA was able to successfully process all paperwork for all events within proper deadlines.

How did the organization work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?

Perhaps UM-VSA's biggest weakness is their location in the far north of Mississippi. Location has always been a sort of crippling factor for UM-VSA. Based in Oxford, MS, the University Mississippi has a small minority community, and even a smaller Asian community. Standing at approximately 1.6% of the student population, the Asian community is nearly nonexistent at the University of Mississippi. Adding on the small minority community, the closest Asian community lies in Memphis, Tennessee, approximately 1.5 hours away, making it much more difficult to plan events and introduce certain aspects of Vietnamese Culture. However, Ole Miss VSA has worked tirelessly to overcome this. Though the extensive marketing of the E-board, more and more people on campus are starting to recognize the Vietnamese Student Association, leading to higher recruitment rates. Based off recent statistics, the Asian community at Ole Miss has been growing slowly, but steadily, leading to greater visibility and awareness on campus as well. Members of the organization have also helped greatly in increasing visibility. The biggest question is always “Do I have to be Vietnamese?” Though our members, people can begin to easily see that the answer is NO!
Although the location serves as a weakness, it has also served as a strength at times. When people see the organization, they definitely do remember the name, considering it may be the largest group of Asians that they see on campus. As a cultural and minority organization, the University of Mississippi and the Office of Global Engagement have been very helpful in promoting our events to others on campus.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2017-2018 academic year. 

Ole Miss VSA has acquired several new achievements and feats this year including:
(1) Increased membership from 70 members to 90 members, 41 of which are new members
(2) Reintroduction of families in the organization
(3) Beginning foundations of an Alumni Network
(4) Increased member participation locally
(5) First time participation in Date Auction
(6) Increased Collaboration with other on-campus organizations, especially other minority/cultural organizations.
(7) Participation in a panel regarding race and society
(8) Reintroduction of a VSA Fall Formal, bringing in over 80 attendees (9) Continuation of an Annual Culture Show, increasing attendees from 60 to 80~100.
(10) Greater connections with students from other school and other VSA chapters in the Gulf Coast Region
(11) Greater organizational skills and budgeting, leaving the next Eboard with $300 as opposed to the typical $50-$100.
(12) Greater usage of resources through sponsorships, Ole Miss Funding, etc.
(13) Increased donations towards CPP
(14) Anything mentioned in earlier questions