Editor’s note: TommieMedia is taking a deeper look this week into how each of the Big Five organizations (USG, SAC, STAR, RHA and HANA) operate. Monday delves into USG and the student activity fee, Tuesday will give insight into SAC, Wednesday explains more about STAR, Thursday goes inside RHA and the series will end Friday with a look into Hana.
Hana is the Big Five’s diversity organization. It consists of some 70 to 80 members and 50 who regularly attend the meetings, although meetings are open to anyone.
The executive board of Hana oversees four associations within the organization. Those associations are African American Student Association (AASA), Asian Students in Action (ASIA), Latinos Unidos (LU) and Native Americans Teaching Indian Values and Education (NATIVE).
The associations within Hana aren’t separate from each other, rather each group plans programming for a few meetings each semester for all Hana members.
“We’re one organization,” said junior Seth Williams, Hana’s vice president of finance. “But it’s just broken up so ASIA can focus more on diversity in other Asian cultures.”
Tasia Tigue, assistant director for Campus Life and one of the club’s advisers, said Hana’s main goal is to provide “a sense of community for students on campus; not only for students of color, although that is a large part of the membership, but just to kind of have that family system.”
Weekly meetings are actually programs led by one of the associations within Hana. When students attend the meetings they learn about a certain topic and sometimes do an activity to tie it together. Williams said that they also try to incorporate different culture’s foods in each meeting.
“[The meetings] are educational to a point but sometimes we have just icebreakers where instead of just learning about something, our organization and its members want to become closer to each other,” Williams said.
Along with regular programming, HANA and its associations create other events. ASIA puts on several events including an Asian cultural show and a dialogue about “rules and roles” in the Asian family and if it applies to everyone or if it’s just stereotypical.
Hana began in 1968, around the time that the Multicultural Student Services office opened with the original name, Minority Student Affairs Office, according to the organization’s Web site.
Hana started out as just a Minority Student Organization. Then in 1991 its name was changed to H.A.N.A., an acronym representing Hispanic-American, Asian-American, Native American and African-American students’ backgrounds. Its name was recently changed in 2002 to Hana for several reasons. One reason being that “ohana” in Hawaiian means “family,” and the students involved wanted to make the organization feel that way.
“They really kind of strive to have a place where not only can you learn about different cultures but also feel like you have kind of a family support system here on campus,” Tigue said.
Hana is funded through the Undergraduate Student Government like most other clubs and organizations at St. Thomas. But Hana also gets a cut off the top before the activity fee is split between USG and STAR.
“For a while we had been trying to get Hana executive board paid positions,” Tigue said. “Prior to getting the allocations from the student activity fee money we didn’t have the funding to be able to pay any of the student executive board members.”
The money allocated to Hana before the 40/60 percent split between USG and STAR is used solely to pay executive board members’ stipends, not programming, Tigue said.
Williams said the bulk of the funding that USG allocates to Hana goes toward buying food for the weekly meetings. Since Hana provides food that isn’t typical to on-campus meetings, like pizza, it costs more to buy it.
Tigue thinks that Hana is important to have on campus because it shows that we can all work together toward a common goal.
“It doesn’t matter what your cultural, ethnic, economic background is; you can still find a place for yourself on campus,” Tigue said. “I think that’s what Hana is really great at.”
Stephani Bloomquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org