Awards honor student group excellence

The third annual Tony Diggs Excellence Awards rewarded student groups.

The Tony Diggs Awards given through the Student Unions and Activities Office dished out the third annual Tony Diggs Excellence Awards Thursday evening. Tony Diggs served as the director of the then-named Student Activities Office from 2003-2006 before his life was cut short by cancer at age 38 on May 24, 2006. There are twelve different awards such as: Rookie Registered Student Organization of the Year, Innovation Award, Outstanding program/event, and Outstanding Undergraduate Campus Life Organization of the Year. In 2006, the awards were implemented in DiggsâÄôs honor, and devoted to student group excellence. Diggs most notable accomplishment in the Student Activities Office was securing a partnership grant with student groups that was originally approve by the Student Services Fees Committee for $50,000 and has grown to as much as $75,000 . Some of this yearâÄôs winners included Voices Merging, which won Outstanding Program of the Year for their bi-monthly open mics, and Bharat, which walked away with the Rookie Registered Student Organization of the Year. According to SUA assistant director Megan Sweet, DiggsâÄôs commitment to enrich the University educational experience inspired many people. âÄúThough he left us way too soon, this event is one of many ways we plan to honor the vision and passion he had for students, student groups and the University of Minnesota,âÄù Sweet said. The SUA has witnessed an increase in award applications each year. Applications jumped from 74 applications the inaugural year to 81 last year, and this year the SUA received 88 applications. Although there has been an increase of student organizations applying for these awards, the majority of the registered organizations do not. For example, The Minnesota International Student Association, which took home the Innovation Award a year ago, failed to submit an application this year for an award. Last year the group received the award because of an initiative where they designed and printed small books full of housing guidelines and tips for international students which they handed out at orientation and campus tours. President of MISA, Unmil Patel said the group did not apply largely due to the MISA students being busy with their activities. âÄúIn the spring we had a lot of events. WeâÄôre a bigger organization, and we had to help other organizations,âÄù he said. âÄúAn award is just an award at the end of the day. ItâÄôs all really about the stuff you do.âÄù Patel did however say that the group will definitely reapply for next yearâÄôs awards. Here is a list of this yearâÄôs winners: âÄ¢ Outstanding Program of the Year âÄî Voices Merging âÄ¢ Outstanding Event of the Year âÄî Al-Madinah, for their Fast-a-thon âÄ¢ Outstanding Service/Philanthropic Project âÄî Engineers Without Borders âÄ¢ Innovation Award âÄî Xperimental Theater âÄ¢ Outstanding Undergraduate Group Adviser of the Year âÄî Jane Phillips with group Biology Without Borders âÄ¢ Outstanding Graduate Student Group Adviser of the Year âÄî Michael Madden in the Hispanic Student Dental Association âÄ¢ Rookie Registered Student Organization of the Year âÄî Bharat âÄ¢ Rookie Campus Life Program of the Year âÄî MSA Express âÄ¢ Outstanding Undergraduate Registered Student Group of the Year âÄî Colleges Against Cancer & University YMCA âÄ¢ Outstanding Campus Life Program of the Year âÄî Commuter Connection âÄ¢ Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student Group of the Year âÄî The Asylum Law Project âÄ¢ Outstanding Co-Sponsored Program or Event âÄî IT Student Board, Society of Women Engineers and Plumb Bob