A letter regarding another perspective on the Haiti fundraiser

Dear Editor,

As the former Student Body President at UVU for 2009-10, I feel obligated to reply to an article published recently in the UVU Review titled “We the Students.” To clarify a few points, the student government was asked to attend the Haiti relief meetings by those conducting the meetings. UVUSA donated their time and resources to join forces with the clubs and others involved fighting a unified battle to raise money and awareness for those affected in Haiti.

What the article doesn’t mention is that this group who was trying to do good for Haiti relief couldn’t come together or decide on what to do. They couldn’t agree on how to fundraise or where the money should go. They were torn between ideas.

UVUSA was at the meetings per their request to help clarify campus policies that needed to be followed in order for them to hold the events they wanted to do. UVUSA was making an effort to collaborate the efforts of all the various entities that were planning on putting on smaller, competing events. The idea was that the more organizations involved the greater the impact we could make to support Haiti.

This also meant trying to combine different viewpoints and ideas. Some of the leaders from the clubs involved were not happy about the campus policies they had to abide by and gave up helping completely. The meetings were full of internal power struggles between the leaders of the various groups, many of whom were not UVU students.

After the first meeting, I personally hand delivered all the donation collection jars around campus to raise a very small amount of cash, which UVUSA donated to the American Red Cross, a trusted and reliable source.

This decision didn’t sit well with some of the members of the Haiti relief group because some wanted the money to help students locally while others wanted those in Haiti to receive the money. Because the jars said the money would go to the American Red Cross, UVUSA was obligated to send the money there.

I will admit that initially UVUSA wasn’t enthusiastic about doing an on-campus concert or some of the other ideas brought up at the meetings as a way to fundraise. UVUSA has learned from past experiences how difficult some events can be on our campus as a way to raise money.

If this or any of our other actions offended them, I offer my apologies and take full responsibility.

UVUSA tries their best to represent and include everyone. One way they do this for the multicultural students is through the Multi-Cultural Representative and International Student Council positions we have on the UVUSA student council.

My advice to students who feel they are not permitted to speak is to apply for council – join a UVUSA committee that is the formal committee designed to represent their voices or simply speak up when you have an opposing view on something. Don’t wait until months later to let your frustrations out.

Every student has the privilege to be heard, whether through their academic senator, a suggestion box, an anonymous email to the UVUSA president through UVLink or by walking into the student body president’s office anytime.

In the end, we were able to do some great things for Haiti. I appreciate the commitment of many students and their hard work for this cause.  No one asked them to revert to silence.  Students are empowered to govern their own clubs on campus.

UVUSA never said they were going to make all the decisions – we would have much rather empowered you to be the leaders. UVUSA student government cannot academically punish students for speaking their mind; they don’t have that kind of power.

At UVU, your voice is heard with no personal academic consequence – regardless of whom it puts down.

– Trevor Tooke