Student Veterans Group Having Trouble Gaining Traction

Kayla Nunez 

The Razorback Reporter

The U of A has more than 403 registered student organizations and an estimated 50 percent of students are members of an RSO, but the organizers of Student Veterans are having trouble gaining traction for their group.    

Student Veterans has been an RSO on the U of A campus since 2008 and is a chapter of Student Veterans of America. The group helps veterans attending the U of A adjust to civilian life and find others who have been through similar experiences.

While the chapter has been around for nine years, it still struggles to draw in new recruits. 

“It’s hard to rally those troops,” said Derrick Calhoun, President of Student Veterans.

The group presented an ice cream social in the spring, but it didn’t draw many people.  Calhoun said the weather wasn’t quite warm enough yet for ice cream.   

“We supplement what the university does with fun stuff,” Calhoun said, but Student Veterans has to choose carefully what they spend their money on, which is one reason it’s hard to bring in new people.   

Amber Widdowson, Assistant Director for Registered Student Organizations, said that RSOs get their money from the student activities fee. 

“We’ve thought about making flyers, passing out pencils and stuff like that,” Calhoun said, “but then it comes back to lack of funding.  We have currently $97 in our bank account.” 

Spreading the word about Student Veterans and getting more of them actively involved in the RSO was the group’s 2016-2017 mission, Calhoun said, but only about 10 more people were added as members.

Calhoun said Student Veterans has about 100 members but not all of those members are active. 

As of 2016, there were 1,382 self-identified military affiliated students at the U of A.

The Veterans Resource and Information Center sends veterans to the RSO when they come in, but many vets don’t know about VRIC, Calhoun said. 

Calhoun said he wishes the university would do something like send an e-mail about the VRIC to veterans after they register to attend.  He said he didn’t even know about VRIC for a while.

“I just kind of stumbled across it,” Calhoun said, “I eventually found it on my own.”

Despite the name Student Veterans, the RSO isn’t just for vets. 

Buster McCall, Associate Director of VRIC, said joining Student Veterans is a good way to serve veterans for those who aren’t in the military. 

“We have a good one (RSO) that is open for everyone,” said McCall.  “We’re looking for energy in that organization.”