Through Oct. 31, Grand Valley State University fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha will be accepting donations of water for their Flint water drive at various locations across campus, said Vice President of Finance Jahaven Haye. Members of the fraternity will be delivering the water to Flint residents on Nov. 1.
GVSU clubs are encouraged to drop off at least five cases of bottled water at the Community Service Learning Center (CSLC), the Office of Multicultural Affairs or the front desk of Winter Hall. Individual students are welcome to donate as well, but Haye said Alpha Phi Alpha is hoping that larger groups will be able to donate larger amounts of water at a smaller cost to students.
“We issued kind of a challenge over a two week period to all offices, departments, to student organizations, literally everybody on campus, to donate a minimum five cases of water that we will take to Flint residents,” Haye said.
Phillip Todd, an Alpha Phi Alpha alumnus and graduate assistant at GVSU Pathways to College, said the fraternity hopes to raise awareness on the issues that continue to affect the residents of Flint.
“A lot of times, media news will only cover what’s the new, hot topic to talk about and that’s how (Flint) got treated after maybe a year of talking about it,” Todd said. “People understood it wasn’t solved, but people just don’t want to speak on it anymore, so we’re just kind of bringing that awareness back.”
The water drive is an opportunity for students to support peers in their community who have been affected by the water crisis.
“In the Grand Valley mission statement, it talks about helping the community to be the greatest around, and so we definitely have to tie back into GVSU because we have students here that live in Flint,” Haye said.
Both Haye and Todd noted that service is a huge part of Alpha Phi Alpha’s history and role on campus. The fraternity was founded in 1906 at Cornell University as the first fraternity for African American men, with notable alumni such as Martin Luther King Jr.
“We do a lot of community service as well as work with our youths on leadership and development,” Haye said. “Our aims are mainly scholarship and love for all mankind, so that’s what we try to exemplify at all times. I think that’s what the water drive kind of is too. As leaders on campus it’s our responsibility to take initiative, to address these issues.”
Jane Johnston, Civic Engagement Associate and CVP Democracy Fellow at the CSLC, has been working with Alpha Phi Alpha on the water drive over the last few weeks and is excited to see student organizations getting involved.
“Our goal as the CSLC is to help students find democratic engagement opportunities and community service opportunities, so they can become active global citizens,” Johnston said. “Organizations like the Alphas who are finding issues that they’re passionate about, and then putting in the work to make a change about those issues, is a really important way that students can find their voice when they’re in college, and make change that will last beyond their four years here at Grand Valley.”