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Monday, October 20, 2014

Six MU organizations elect 2014-2015 executive boards, discuss plans for future

Each board has plans for their term that will strengthen their respective organization and make its presence even more known to MU’s student body.

Six MU organizations on campus — the Asian American Association, Four Front, the Legion of Black Collegians, Mizzou Alternative Breaks, Triangle Coalition and Tigers Advancing Political Participation — have chosen their 2014-2015 executive board members.

The members of each executive board will serve for one full year.

Each board has plans for their term to strengthen their respective organizations and make their presence even better known to MU’s student body.

Asian American Association

The Asian American Association, MU’s second-largest diversity organization on campus, recently elected five new executive officers for the 2014-2015 school year.

The organization voted sophomore and current AAA Treasurer Andrew Pham as president, while freshmen executive board members Brandon Spink and Daphne Yu were voted internal and external vice presidents.

Pham ran for president because he wanted to continue his growth as a leader and serve the AAA body in more ways than he already has.

“As president, I want to be able to create an inclusive family for non-Asian Americans and Asian Americans alike,” Pham said. “I have had the opportunity to be a great part of this community since my first experience at UnificAsian my freshman year. I want to recreate the atmosphere I experienced during my freshman year … and continue to be the voice for Asian/Pacific Islander American issues on campus.”

Spink, the current service chair for AAA, said he will focus on retention and recruitment as the next internal vice president of the organization.

“For recruitment, I definitely need and want to focus on the incoming freshmen,” Spink said. “AAA is about family and making everyone feel at home. Transitioning from high school to college can be a struggle, but AAA does a wonderful job at helping freshmen and transfer students adapt to a new environment.”

While Spink will focus on elements within AAA at MU, Yu’s job as external vice president focuses on connecting with other organizations on campus and in Missouri.

“My three focuses are mainly on strengthening the relationships between AAA’s umbrella organizations,” Yu said. “I also want to build strong relationships within schools around Missouri and other Midwest Asian American Student Union member schools, as well as reach out to international students.”

All in all, Pham and the newly executive officers hope to build a stronger AAA that can connect with all students on campus.

“It takes the power of a community to make an impact,” Pham said. “Despite everyone coming from a different background, I think we all can also find a common ground.”

Four Front

Junior Young Kwon and sophomore Tama Chakrabarty are confident in their experience and abilities to lead Four Front as the new co-chairs.

“We’re very involved in Four Front, and we both have our hands on tons of things around campus,” Chakrabarty said. “I think everyone has become familiar with both of us and understood that we were good for the (positions).”

Kwon’s biggest goal for next year is making people more aware of Four Front.

“My goal is visibility,” she said. “We want to let more people know that we (Four Front) are here, and show minority organizations that we are here for them.”

To accomplish this goal, Chakrabarty said, the co-chairs would seek to collaborate with organizations outside of Four Front more so than before.

“We want to bridge the gap,” she said. “We also want to work with organizations that aren’t minority organizations, like (the Missouri Students Association), to gain more visibility.”

Chakrabarty said she would like to boost solidarity among the Four Front organizations and diversity organizations across campus.

“Helping all of the organizations grow together, instead of the organizations working by themselves, is important to me,” she said.

Creating a setting at MU where people of different backgrounds can feel at home is one of Chakrabarty’s biggest aspirations as a new co-chair.

“I’ve always been really comfortable with my identity, but when I was younger, I didn’t really have any place to express that,” Chakrabarty said. “When I got to MU, there were so many organizations that were inclusive and welcoming … I found a family in each of the organizations and found my home at Mizzou, and I want everyone to get that comfortable feeling.”

Getting more involved with diversity organizations such as the Asian American Association, Kwon said, helped her discover the issues which many minority groups face.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t have a lot of Asian American groups to go to,” she said. “AAA got me really interested in Asian American issues. And we (AAA) got really close to (the Hispanic American Leadership Organization) and other organizations under the Multicultural Center and Four Front. Going to their events got me more interested in raising awareness and bridging those gaps together.”

Legion of Black Collegians

The Legion of Black Collegians announced its new executive cabinet for the 2014-2015 academic year. Current LBC Communications Chairwoman LeChae Mottley was selected to become LBC’s next president, with current LBC Parliamentarian Warren Davis as her vice president.

“I am very excited to be the president and to continue the legacy (of LBC),” Mottley said. “The past years’ executive boards have done a great job laying the foundations.”

Davis said he and Mottley are setting a new standard that served as their LBC platform. But the two have had different experiences with LBC.

Mottley joined LBC her freshman year as part of LBC’s Freshman Action Team and then became the Big XII secretary.

“I have seen LBC in a lot of perspectives,” Mottley said.

Davis said he was not involved in on-campus organizations during his freshman year, so he made it his main goal during his sophomore year to get involved as much as possible. He chose LBC as the organization to develop his leadership skills.

“There is a saying, ‘Be the change you want to see,’” Davis said. “LBC has given me the platform and opportunity to make that change. (I have seen) many of my role models being involved with LBC, so that is the stepping stone for me to join the LBC — not only to fill their shoes but also to continue the legacy.”

He said there aren’t many changes he and Mottley will make to LBC’s structure. They will be focusing more on the culture of the MU community as a whole.

“We really need to do a good job or a better job to be more inclusive,” Davis said.

Both Mottley and Davis are very confident in leading LBC next year.

“I’m not only confident in my ability but also in our (executive cabinet’s) ability as a whole.” Davis said.

The newly-chosen executive cabinet has worked together with the current executive board for this year’s Black Love Week. Mottley and Davis both gave positive feedback on the work the new executive cabinet has done and are looking forward to next year.

“The (Black Love Week) events are great,” Mottley said. “They are innovative and thought-provoking.” Their inauguration was April 23, which was also the last day of the current executive board members’ terms.

Mizzou Alternative Breaks

Mizzou Alternative Breaks recently welcomed a new executive board for the upcoming year. Junior Charles Gutierrez was selected as the program’s executive director and juniors Hai Kim and Michael Loida were recruited to be the program’s winter and spring site directors respectively.

All three said they became involved with MAB during their freshman years. Gutierrez said he heard about MAB, formerly “Alternative Spring Break,” by word of mouth.

They were all site leaders for different trips during their sophomore years and then decided to apply for the executive board.

“Facilitating a meaningful service experience to students (is what) drew me to apply for the board,” Gutierrez said.

Kim said he was inspired to apply because of the impact MAB left on him and the communities they served.

“I got to experience the ‘magic’ of MAB firsthand … in getting 10 or 12 people, putting them in one or two vans and traveling across the nation to serve for a week, while unplugged from technology, to a degree,” he said.

The program has grown dramatically since then and no longer has just spring break trips, but also winter, Thanksgiving and weekend breaks as well.

“I think our freshman year was when it started to pick up a lot of steam,” Loida said. “Most of the growth was starting to happen (then).”

Gutierrez said he has three main goals he wants to accomplish collectively with the executive board: to make sure the quality of MAB remains consistent, to be a good resource for the site leaders and to make sure the site leaders are leading the most successful trips possible.

The program is also adding two new positions to their executive board: a weekend director and a director of education and community outreach.

“Basically, we are trying to meet the demand of the students, because every year, we have to turn away so many participants,” Loida said. “This is unfortunate, but at the same time, we can only send so many trips.”

TAPP

Tigers Advancing Political Participation has elected several new executive members for this upcoming year.

Junior Zack Nolan, the former marketing director, will be serving as the organization’s president with freshman Chris Hanner as his vice president next year.

Nolan said he had been around since TAPP’s very beginning, when it was a small non-partisan discussion group led by Trey Sprick, now the president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri.

“What TAPP is now, and what is happening with TAPP now, I never would have imagined,” Nolan said.

Hanner got involved with TAPP’s task force last semester. He said the group has doubled since then, from approximately 20 students to over 40.

Nolan and Hanner have already discussed the direction they would like to take TAPP.

“With TAPP transitioning into the Department of Student Life and joining ASUM, the main thing I want to do is expand on what we already do,” Nolan said. “This transition … gives us a more institutionalized role, whereas we can affect change in a greater way.”

He said he wants to focus on hosting educational events on campus, but have them relate more to student issues as well as to national issues.

Joining ASUM as their educational branch is something Nolan and Hanner see as an important step for TAPP.

“TAPP has done a great job with partnering with other organizations on campus, and I think this ASUM merger will allow us to partner with even more organizations on campus and be more visible, which is something I am looking at as vice president,” Hanner said.

Both Nolan and Hanner want to make it clear, however, that joining ASUM will not affect their non-partisanship.

“One of the misconceptions (I’ve heard) about the transition is that TAPP is changing, and it’s not,” Nolan said. “We are just having more influence and ability to do what we do, but on a larger scale.”

Triangle Coalition

Seniors Dakota Botts and Kelly Murphy were elected just before spring break to lead the Triangle Coalition as the next president and vice president, respectively.

The newly elected officers bring with them prior experience from other positions within the coalition, which they believe will help accomplish their goals for the organization.

Botts had served as the secretary for two years and is currently the vice president of Tri-Co. Murphy brings experience from working with other groups as the external liaison between Tri-Co and other organizations, which she said would help promote the coalition and its cause.

“We are going to try reaching out to other orgs and do more collaborative events, to get more people talking about what we are passionate about,” Murphy said.

Botts said he plans to expand Tri-Co’s activist efforts and continue the coalition’s event programming.

“We are going to start doing a lot more activism, at the local and state level,” he said. “We are also going to continue doing our social events, like Drag Show, Pride Month events, panels and game nights.”

To help accomplish his goals, Botts hopes to not only collaborate with organizations around campus, but also branch out into the community and across the state.

“We have plans to coordinate with the (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,) which is an organization in the community here (in Columbia,)” Botts said. “We’ve also partnered with PROMO, which is a state-wide human rights advocacy (group) that is specific to Missouri.”

For Botts, his own identity and passion for activism are what drives him to lead the coalition.

“Because I identify as gay, (LGBTQ issues) are very pertinent to me,” he said. “And I am a fan of equal rights and being progressive. I think it’s very important to be involved in the community and do activism to help out a cause.”

Murphy said advocating for equal rights is her primary motivation for leading the organization.

“Equal rights is something I feel really passionate about,” she said.

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