New grant spurs student groups to work together

Hayley Odom

The number of registered student organizations is growing and more are choosing to work together, group members said.

As of Wednesday, 615 student groups were registered at the University.

Because of the increase, the Student Activities Office is encouraging them to work together, director of student organizations Mandi Sauro said.

The office has a new partnership grant for nonfees-receiving student groups that team up for an event. Fifty-six groups have received grants for collaborative projects so far this year, Sauro said.

“We saw a need for partnership and saw groups doing similar projects. We want to help groups to collaborate and branch out to other student groups,” Sauro said.

Other student organizations are also encouraging these group alliances.

Ibanga Umanah, Minnesota Student Association campus relations chairman, said he has focused on the issue this year.

Until two years ago, he said, relationships between groups represented in MSA were pretty much nonexistent.

“We’re trying to facilitate communication (between groups) on a regular basis,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process and an important issue.”

Crystal Esparza, staff member of La Raza Student Cultural Center, said the student group has not met any challenges working with others to promote events. She said the center focuses on how its events can benefit other student groups while pursuing its own goals.

“We’re always willing to support other cultural centers. We exchange information, so we’re always constantly in contact,” she said.

But members of some groups said they feel the encouragement to collaborate can deter their own goals.

Gladys Mambo, Black Student Union vice president and African Student Association president, said both groups work closely together but sometimes their different purposes are overlooked.

Mambo said she felt there were preconceptions that both groups had the same mission, which hurt the African Student Association’s Student Services Fees request this year.

The association has a small budget already, which compromises its contribution to the University community, she said.

“It can be extremely frustrating, because our goals are extremely different,” she said. “Saying because we’re black we all have the same values is like saying all Caucasians have the same values. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“I define myself as black and African, and I shouldn’t have to discriminate between the two.”

Mambo said the differences between the two are emphasized when both groups work together programming events.