BYUSA and UVUSA could be viewed as fraternal twins. The student organizations at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University are both designed to help students, but each organization has unique characteristics.
UVUSA is a student government that oversees its university’s academic senate, student activities and clubs and organizations. UVUSA hosts about 300 small and large events per year for its contingency of 33,000 students.
BYUSA is a student association instead of a student government. That means that BYUSA does not manage student fees or have a final say in campus policy.
Part of UVUSA’s status as a student government means that it is part of UVU’s official pipeline for implementing or updating campus policy. The student body president is a voting member of the university’s board of trustees.
UVUSA executive vice president Phil Varney explained how the voting process works.
“If a proposal or ruling doesn’t pass through our student council, it can’t officially become policy on campus,” he said.
Jake Larson, vice president of activities and student life at UVU, said UVUSA plans activities based on a survey it distributes to students every year.
“We try to make sure we coordinate activities that would serve many different diverse groups on campus,” Larson said. “That includes all of the demographics, from nontraditional students to traditional students.”
There are about 300 UVUSA activities per year, ranging from speaker series to dances to tailgates.
The Mighty Athletic Wolverine League, UVU’s student section, is one of the most visible components of UVUSA. Every student is automatically a MAWL member, but they can pay $20 for VIP privileges like free food, UVU attire and opportunities to meet the athletes.
That’s a different system from BYU’s student section, the Roar of Cougars, which is not affiliated with BYUSA.
BYUSA executive vice president Kylee Marshall said BYUSA is different from most student associations because it focuses entirely on helping students enjoy life as a BYU Cougar.
“Our whole purpose is all about the student experience,” Marshall said. “We’re not a student government, we just want to serve students.”
BYUSA meets the student body’s various needs by subdividing into six areas: clubs, communications, student honor, activities, involvement and the student advisory council.
Marshall said this year BYUSA is putting a lot of effort into helping students find a niche on the campus, whether inside or outside of the student association.
“That’s one of the biggest services we can offer to the students,” Marshall said. “A chance for them to get involved in BYUSA or elsewhere on campus.”
BYUSA hosts hundreds of events per year. Many are large events like True Blue Foam and the homecoming dances, but there are also smaller weekly events like clubs night.
Marshall said BYUSA is working hard to fill students’ real needs, even when it’s as simple as giving out free hot dogs at lunchtime.
“We don’t want our programs to exist just because,” Marshall said. “We want them to fill a need that students have.”
While BYUSA and UVUSA are both dedicated to helping students at their schools, it’s not always easy for the two organizations to plan events together.
Larson said it would be difficult to hold joint events when half the students are required to abide by the Honor Code and the other half are not. Marshall said it’s difficult to work out the financial logistics, since UVUSA operates through student fees and BYUSA does not.
But Varney said most of UVUSA’s activities are open to the public, so BYU students can attend larger events such as dances.
And Marshall said BYUSA events often have a guest policy allowing students to bring a roommate or friend who does not attend BYU. These events require just one student ID for two people to enter.
“We like UVUSA and UVU students,” Marshall said. “We’re good friends with them.”