BYUSA brings service to forefront

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    By CHRISTIE ROBINS

    In 1982, the Associated Students organization of BYU decided to get more of the student body involved.

    ASBYU wanted to help students find their place on campus and eliminate loneliness. The student body president began restructuring student government to reach these goals.

    During the 1987-88 academic school year, BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland appointed a restructuring committee. It aimed to synthesize the ideas and research of student body presidents and committees from the previous five years into a formal proposal. It also tried to create a “Gift Office” for students to give back to the university by contributing their gifts of leadership and service.

    In May of 1988, ASBYU became BYUSA and the organization’s emphasis shifted from programs to service, as the name, BYU Student Service Association, indicates.

    “We’re not looking to expand, but are more concerned about meeting the present needs of students,” Karen Duffin, executive vice president of BYUSA said.

    BYUSA is not a government lab, but a service and leadership lab, David Lucero, the director of Student Leadership programs, explained. BYUSA serves students and the community as students gain leadership experience. “They can try things out in an environment where they are following the teachings of the Savior and are being coached along the way,” Lucero said.

    The five branches of BYUSA are community service, administration, campus clubs, student advisory council and campus activities. While fulfilling responsibilities for such a variety of events, BYUSA members strive to keep their vision statement in mind of “unifying the BYU community through service.”

    This year, BYUSA is trying something new to promote such unity by establishing a university student council. Presidents of all campus clubs, organizations and even sports will meet together to plan events and discuss issues. This will help contribute to a “neighborhood feeling” on campus, Sharon Varga, Public Relations director, said.

    “I really enjoy meeting people and being involved in something that makes a difference,” Brian Bower, BYUSA president said. “Since I started getting involved with BYUSA, I’ve felt an increased pride and love for this school…I enjoy watching people grow and helping them exercise their potential,” Bower said.

    Over 5,000 students contributed their time and efforts to BYUSA related community service during the 1997-98 academic year, Bower said. “We want our volunteers to have a meaningful experience. We help prepare them for their future careers and as builders in the kingdom of God,” Bower said.

    BYUSA holds an involvement meeting every Wednesday in room 3380 of the Wilkinson Center.

    Students who feel like they may not have a lot of time to spare should still get involved with something on campus, Duffin said. “Not getting involved means missing out on your education,” she said.

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