Of the several hundred registered student groups at the University, more than 70 classify themselves as service organizations.
For human resources senior Lisa Johnson, it was important to find a group that volunteers on an international level.
“I personally wanted to go beyond the scope of the ‘U of M’ campus and the place I know,” Johnson said, “and attempt to make a difference outside of that realm in a proactive way, where it might have a lasting impact.”
Unable to find a group that fit her specific needs, she decided to start her own. Organized last May, International Movement is now in its first semester as an official student group through the Student Unions & Activities office.
As its first order of business, the group plans to raise $15,000 to fund a service trip to San José, Costa Rica, she said.
“We aren’t sure if that is a reasonable goal right now, so we are hoping to get at least half of that,” Johnson said.
The group will work with the organization Máximo Nivel, which provides volunteer and internship projects in villages throughout Costa Rica and Peru, according to the group’s Web site.
Johnson said she would like to send between five and 10 people to San José. If members can’t raise enough money to go, she said they’ll donate the money they raise to the village.
University graduate student Emilena Rodriguez, a native Costa Rican in her first year at the University, said she would be apprehensive about a group’s choice to go to Costa Rica because she doesn’t feel there is an immediate need for outside assistance.
“I’ve never seen a group down there before,” Rodriguez said. “If you compare Costa Rica to the rest of South America, we live a lot better.”
Johnson said she understands that other countries are also facing
difficulties, but said she felt most comfortable working with an experienced organization.
Megan Sweet, assistant director of student activities at the Minneapolis Student Union & Activities office, said all registered groups, whether in their first year or not, are given resources to make their groups successful.
“We believe that our process for starting a new student organization
is simple and not all that complex,” Sweet said.
In order to become a registered organization, groups must have five current students on their roster, as well as create a group constitution and complete an Equal Opportunity Statement form. There is also a $25 registration fee.
Johnson said the group is excited about this opportunity and is currently planning a “Coast for Rica” 5K run/walk on Oct. 13.
“We’re hoping that if this works out,” she said, “we’ll be able to continue on for the next few years.”