Freshman Forum reaches goal’s halfway mark

Freshman Forum has spent 961 hours doing community service, which puts them past the halfway point of reaching their goal of 1,830 service hours for the year.

The service committee designed a help-o-meter at the beginning of the semester for the Forum to keep track of the number of service hours members complete until the end of the school year in Ma, said Drake Vaccaro of the service committee. Their goal of 1,830 hours was chosen to recognize UNA’s founding in 1830.  

A rainy Halloween night did not stop Freshman Forum from completing its fall service project, going trick-or treating for canned goods. The event was rescheduled for Nov. 11 due to inclement weather, Vaccaro said.

Freshman Forum added 92 hours to its help-o-meter and supplied needy families in the Shoals with 452 canned goods that were donated by Florence residents.  

The response from the community was great, Vaccaro said.

“This just goes to show that Freshman Forum is involved and is doing its part to help the community,” said Erica Blackstock, service committee chairperson. 

Freshman Forum has participated in other service activities and campus events this semester, including partnering with Senate to kick-off the carnival for the student body on Nov. 7 and hosting Panera Night Nov. 11. 

There are still events left to participate in before the semester ends, including hosting a mixer with the University Program Council on Nov. 22 in the GUC from 7 to 10 p.m., Blackstock said. The mixer will feature DJ Papa Rooster. 

Freshman Forum will be adding five new members at the beginning of the spring semester. 

The five replacements will come from the original pool of applicants from the beginning of the school year, said UPC delegate and Freshman Forum Adviser Brittany Jordan.

“The members who are not going to have a seat on the forum next semester just had too many schedule conflicts to attend meetings and to be as active as they would have liked,” Jordan said. 

Once the new members are added, the Forum will be holding a winter retreat on Jan. 8 to plan events for the spring semester.  

Freshman Forum has two projects in the planning stage that are leading the agenda for the spring — a community-wide barbecue and a recycling project. 

Dylan McKelvey is leading efforts to connect the UNA and Shoals communities by planning a barbecue festival, which would be open to the community and held at Wilson Park. 

“The barbeque festival would basically be a way for students to get involved with the community to show that UNA is here,” McKelvey said. “UNA is not just a student and faculty effort, it is a community effort because we require support not only from ourselves, but also from the entire community to advance ourselves and our school.”

McKelvey has been communicating with city officials to discuss safety regulations and permits that must be considered in order to host such an event. Local radio stations have also indicated the event could be advertised for free, because the forum intends to donate any profits to the endowed scholarship fund, McKelvey said.

“The officials that I have emailed with are supportive of UNA and are interested in helping get the event together, but we are only in the discussion and idea planning phase,” McKelvey said. 

There is also an initiative to expand campus recycling projects to reach the residence halls, led by Mollie Schaefer, student issues committee chairperson, with the help of Dominic Summerhill, a student issues committee member. 

Summerhill is working on a video project to show what recycling is taking place on campus and what Freshman Forum would like to see in the future, he said.

“The videos will be posted to our YouTube, Twitter and Instagram accounts,” Summerhill said.  

What we have now are the five purple cans on campus, but what we want to see are recycling cans available to students who live in residence halls, Summerhill said.

“The dream is that students would be able to get a bag or bin of their own to keep recyclable materials in, (and) then dump then into a bin that we would transport to the recycling center,” she said. 

The project is not intended to be fully active until the current forum’s term is over, Schaefer said.