On November 11, 1999, the Polynesian Student Alliance (PSA) was established bringing together students from the islands of Polynesia. The PSA works to increase representation for Polynesians and Pacific Islanders on the University of Washington’s main campus. It also creates a forum for expressing Polynesian viewpoints and educating others about Polynesia and its people.
One of the primary goals of the PSA is to outreach to high school Polynesian students in the Greater Seattle Area. The PSA implemented the Polynesian Outreach Program (POP) to encourage higher education within the Pacific Islander high school community in order to motivate students to excel in academics and to increase representation at higher institutions. The PSA’s main event, Polynesian Day or “Poly Day,” is an annual event held in the spring that invites Polynesian students to come to the UW campus, participate in workshops curved towards diversity and academics, and experience a cultural performance put on by PSA members in Red Square that also invites the entire UW community to enjoy.
Poly Day’s goals and impacts align with the Campus Sustainability Fund’s requirements regarding sustainable impact, leadership and student involvement, education and outreach, and feasibility and accountability.
Sustainable Impact: Poly Day supports social sustainability through the outreach, education, and performance aspects. We want to promote and encourage education to high school Pacific Islander students with the hopes of increasing Pacific Islander representation in higher institutions in the future. This is done by bringing high school students to the UW campus for Poly Day, where they will have a day of cultural and educational workshops and end the day with cultural performances. Showcasing the performances on the HUB Lawn allows those who may not have much knowledge of Polynesian culture to enjoy the dances and learn about their significance to each culture. In terms of environmental sustainability, we provide lunch to the students served with compostable plates and utensils. We also plan to have a workshop dedicated to climate change to spread awareness and knowledge of what climate change is, what contributes to it, and its impact.
Leadership & Student Involvement: This event is planned and run by the student members of the PSA with the help of UW staff and advisors where applicable. Officer board members plan out the schedule, delegate tasks that must be done prior to the event such as reservations, equipment rentals, food catering, funding, and reaching out to potential workshop facilitators. On the day of the event, UW students maintain a leadership role by working within their designated committees to ensure that everyone follows the schedule and that the day goes smoothly. For example, students will help by picking up high school students at their designated drop off points and ensures that everyone gets to the HUB in a timely manner, and will also make sure that the high school students are where they are supposed to be, whether it be a workshop or the HUB Lawn.
Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change: The PSA will outreach to high school students, who will have the opportunity to attend workshops geared towards diversity and academics. These workshops will be led by different facilitators, some being UW faculty and others being members of the Pacific Islander community who may be doing work in various fields. The cultural performance also serves as an educational opportunity for the high school students and the UW community to learn about various cultures in Polynesia through dances and the stories they tell.
Feasibility & Accountability: The PSA officer board has been working on the planning of Poly Day since the summer before the school year began because this is a big event that does require active planning to allow us to respond to unforeseen situations that may arise. We receive help from our advisors regarding our planning timeline, as well as for funding information and applications. Many of the officer board members have been officers before, and some have extensive knowledge of what approvals and reservations we need, and who to reach out to and when. We also have a treasurer who uses previous budget sheets as a base for how to budget the event for this year, and has allocated money received from various funding sources to the appropriate expenses.