Out of State Student Union Holds First Official Meeting


Isabel Haas, Staff Writer

The Out of State Student Union (OSSU) held its first meeting on Thursday, May 10.  This student organization recently formed to allow out-of-state students to have a place to come together and learn more about BVU and Storm Lake, while also forming personal connections with faculty, staff, and other students.  

 Over the years, BVU has seen an increase in the number of out-of-state students, and the need for an Out of State Student Union has grown as well. 

Focus groups with out-of-state students took place last semester, and ideas about how to connect one another through a common connection began to flow. Students that participated in the focus groups and showed an interest in OSSU became its first members and created the first executive board. 

The executive board of OSSU consists of Abigail Tillman as president, Josh Cole as vice president, Elena Vahnenko as secretary, and Alexis Keller as treasurer. The advisors of OSSU are Mark Shea, assistant dean of students and director of student success, and Swasti Bhattacharyya, professor of philosophy and religion. 

Shea, the primary advisor of OSSU, has been one of the instigators for the startup of this organization. By holding the focus groups and bringing together OSSU’s current members and executive board, Shea has been able to work with students to officially announce the establishment of the Out of State Student Union. 

“The whole reason for the Out of State Student Union is to help support those students who come from far away, and one of the best ways to do that is for the students to support each other,” Shea says. “It’s to be a home away from home.” 

Although OSSU’s main goal is to reach out to out-of-state students, the organization is also encouraging Iowa residents to join. 

Abigail Tillman, president of OSSU and an out-of-state student, says that the organization is accepting of all students. 

“This organization is for everybody,” says Tillman. “Anyone who wants to support OSSU and be a part of it is welcome.”

The OSSU formed with the intention of being an organization for students to come and have a safe place to express different feelings about living in Storm Lake and attending BVU. The OSSU has plans to create a mentorship and allow students the opportunity to have a support system through other students.  

“We hope to be like a safe place for students to talk about homesickness and other struggles, and we hope to develop a program for older members to be able to mentor the younger students,” Tillman explains. “We would provide advice and guidance, and be like a support group.” 

OSSU has already begun planning activities for next semester, and encourages all students to join and be a part of introducing new cultures to other students, educating out-of-state students about BVU and Storm Lake, and forming long-lasting connections.