by Monica Schwarze
Members and officers of the University of La Verne Afrikan-American Student Alliance (AASA) have decided that changes are in order for the fall semester of 1995.
The club, a fixture of the ULV community since the 1970s when it was called the Black Student Union, has long been active in school and social issues that affect people of all races. However, this year’s AASA has set a goal to be even more active than in the past by bringing in a new set of officers and planning several activities both in and out of the La Verne community.
“We’re more active than the recent AASA clubs,” said junior Vice President Cory Cofer. “We’re real active this year, and we’re going to be having plenty of activities. That’s our goal for the year.”
President junior Ivan Tircuit also hopes to lead an AASA that is more active and more organized. He believes that many of the problems of past organizations stem from the fact that faculty, staff and administration had not been fully included in club events.
“AASA, this year, will try to correct the mistake of AASA in past years in that we have not tried as much as we should have in including University faculty, staff and administration,” said Tircuit. “This year, we will personally invite all faculty, administration and staff to be involved in our events.”
AASA has already been active on campus this semester. The club held a rally on Oct. 7 in support of the Million Man March. A trip to Santa Monica in honor of African Holocaust took place on Monday, Oct. 9.
So far, the turnout for AASA events has been high, and the officers see this as an encouraging sign.
“I knew what I expected the rally to be like, and it was so much more than that,” said sophomore Activities Director Nichole Mhoon. She said that AASA is planning on inviting rally speaker Tony Muhammad back to ULV next semester.
Right now, most AASA activities are focused on bringing together the club members. Since many of the members come from different backgrounds and experiences, Mhoon said that the club’s energy is often “moving in different directions. The energy is moving and it is positive, it’s just not all focused yet. We have to get people in the club together to meet and know other people.”
Social activities have been planned that will allow the club members to learn about each other. Last Friday, the club journeyed to Los Angeles to see the movie “Dead Presidents.” Tonight they will travel back to L.A. to see a show at the Maverick’s Flats comedy club.
Since early October is traditionally a time when most ULV clubs are first electing officers and recruiting members, the fact that AASA is already sponsoring successful events is highly unusual this early in the semester.
Club historian freshman La Nicia Williams attributes the recent improvements in AASA to the club’s highly active members.
“We have a very nice membership of about 55 students, and they’re all very active,” said Williams, who is committed to making this year’s AASA the most active yet.
“I’ve heard that past clubs weren’t that organized,” said Williams. “This year, that’s all going to change.”
This fall, a major focus of AASA will be education. An outreach program has been planned in which members visit local high schools and talk to African-American students about the options available to them after graduation. In addition to tutoring and talking to the students, the members will provide high school juniors and seniors with information about the application and financial aid processes at ULV and other schools.
In many instances, high schools will be promoting AASA’s visit as a special day on campus. Both the schools and the club are hoping that the program will encourage African-American high school students to apply for college.
“There are high school students not even having a knowledge of college being out there,” said Tircuit. “When I was in high school, I didn’t even know what college was.”
The club is also planning a number of performing arts events that would raise funds for the club at the same time that they raise issues on the campus.
In addition to the traditional AASA variety show, which is held every fall, the club is also planning to invite a number of artists to perform on campus.
“We’re hoping to showcase talents,” said Cofer. “Not all the performers will be from this school, but some will be up and coming artists. [The shows] will be very professional.”
AASA is hoping that these activities will lead to the formation of a performing arts group who will travel through California, performing in productions that teach about the African-American experience.
The major entertainment event that will be sponsored by AASA this fall is a play that will be performed in November or December. Although the production is still in the planning stages, Cofer says that the play will have a message that is pertinent to African-Americans today.
Williams, a broadcast major who plans to sing in the production, said that a play is the perfect vehicle for AASA’s message of cultural unity because, “there are so many talented people in AASA this year.”
As a whole, the club is hoping, through participation and education, to increase AASA’s visibility on campus.
“This will be the best AASA on this campus yet,” said Mhoon, who encourages students of all races and backgrounds to attend AASA meetings. “We have a fire this year. We have an energy that’s just burning. We have dedicated people who are willing to work. Everyone is very committed.”