Q&A: Student leaders strive for new members, inclusivity in 2018
There are hundreds of student-run organizations at UH, but only a handful are directly funded by feeds paid by all students. These groups, which primarily plan programming for UH, also focus on creating media and providing volunteer opportunities for students.
Student leaders from four fee-funded organizations answered our questions about their goals for spring 2018 and how students can get involved in their activities.
The Cougar: How does your organization serve the students?
Lisa Menda, Director of Metropolitan Volunteer Program: Our mission is to provide service opportunities for students by collaborating with campus and community partners. Our goal is to make sure MVP is offering plentiful service opportunities at varying times to accommodate any student at the University of Houston. We average around 15 events a month for this sole purpose.
Nazir Pandor, Director of Council for Cultural Activities: Our organization serves students by providing the student body with events that are centered around representing and celebrating the various cultures from around the world. We focus on giving the student body experiences of traditions and cultures without having to leave the University to acquire them. We pride ourselves on giving the University the outlet it needs to celebrate the beauty of cultures that our student body itself represents.
The Cougar: Why should students get involved with your organization?
Soheil Nanjee, Executive Producer of CoogTV: Our organization provides an opportunity to students regardless of degree or experience to network with other passionate and creative students on campus while learning new skills that will hopefully get you a job after graduatation. College is about finding yourself and what you really want to do, and I believe CoogTV really helps with that.
Michelle Benjamin, Vice President of Membership for Student Program Board: There are so many ways to get involved with SPB. You can volunteer for several of our super fun events, such as movie premieres like “Get Out” and “Justice League” or Winter Wonderland, while earning service hours. Once you become a more involved member, you get to help plan your own events and see those come to fruition.
Menda: Students should definitely get involved with MVP because we aim to supply our community with able and excited volunteers. If you have a love for service, need service hours, or want to serve alongside your organization members, then MVP is for you. MVP offers a carpool to all service events, and bus transportation for annual events. MVP tries to make volunteering as easy as possible. All we want is more students.
The Cougar: What are some of your goals for this semester?
Menda: A big goal for MVP is to be a helping hand in long-term Harvey relief. It’s been a few months since the hurricane, but we understand that the impact will be felt for years. With the introduction of a temporary committee to disaster relief, we are hoping to be a better crutch for our community. In addition, a general goal MVP has is to increase the number of unique volunteers. We want to make sure that we are reaching out to as many students at UH as possible.
Benjamin: We are working to program events that are inclusive to all of UH. Of course, that is a lofty goal with 40,000-plus students to reach out to, but we want to maximize the number of students that know about and come to our events.
The Cougar: What’s your biggest event for the spring semester?
Nanjee: We have a couple block parties planned with the other awesome organizations at the Center of Student Media. CoogTV members are also working on a lot of cool projects that will hopefully surprise you. Stay tuned!
Pandoor: Our biggest events this Spring are Cultural Marketplace and Carnival of Cultures. Both events are extremely important to us at CCA and their success is pivotal to our progress for the future. Cultural Marketplace is currently being planned right now and will be hosted on February 20 and will entail providing different cultural organizations with the ability to market themselves and sell any items of their choice in order to raise funds for the organization and exposure, which is highly important to them. Carnival of Cultures will be held on April 5 and entails bringing the continents of the world right to our university.
Menda: Rock the Block is our biggest event of the academic year and falls on Keep America Beautiful Day. At Rock the Block we break up into two shifts with approximately four groups in each shift and serve in different areas of Houston—with a concentration in Third Ward. After each individual service site, all the volunteers meet up in the Third Ward to host a block party for the kids of the community.
Benjamin: We have a couple big ones this semester. In February, we are bringing back Stuff-A-Bear on the 12, in partnership with MVP, who will be collecting stuffed animals for a toy drive to a local children’s hospital. Later in the semester is Coog-Chella, which will be on April 19, with live music from several performers, food, and art.