The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California’s mission is to bring together Vietnamese American students and young professionals across Southern California to build unity, to serve the community, and to advocate for social justice issues that affect our community domestically and in Vietnam.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan, community-based and youth-oriented organization designed to provide a united voice for youth and professional leaders from across Southern California. UVSA was founded in 1982 as a means for the Vietnamese diaspora community to organize socially and politically. Committed to leadership development, cultural awareness, civic engagement, and community service, UVSA is comprised entirely of unpaid volunteers including students, alumni, professionals, educators, and community leaders.
Annual activities and programs that UVSA organize include
- Organizing the Tet Festival to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year
- Providing grants to other non-profit organizations servicing the Southern California region
- Coordinating the VAHSA and UVSA Leadership Camps to provide access to leadership development for high school and college students
- Participating in the Black April Commemoration in remembrance of the Fall of Saigon
- Hosting inter-collegiate events such as UVSA Gala, Winter Formal, College Fair, Beach Day and Bonfire, and Friendship Games
- UVSA also participates, co-hosts, or sponsors a number of charitable events such as humanitarian relief concerts, charity dinners, International Human Rights Night, candle light vigils for religious freedom in Vietnam, and more.
Founded in 1982, the Bylaws of UVSA have undergone major changes in the years 2000 and then again in 2016 as the result of significant events affecting the organization.
For a online version of our bylaws, please access our Google Document. Go to View –> Show document outline for easier navigation.
UVSA requires all officers, directors, general staff, and ICC representatives, to abide by the bylaws and policies set forth below. Personnel are collectively referred to as volunteer staff as no individual in the organization receives compensation for their volunteer time. For the purposes of our bylaws and policies, the following terms are used interchangeably: staff, volunteer staff, volunteer, and members.
Day-of volunteers, that is, individuals who volunteer for a few hours at a specific event, are subject to separate requirements.
The following are general expectations of all UVSA General Staff, Inter-Collegiate Council, and Executive Board.
- Attendance & Time Commitment
- Attend 75% of UVSA meetings, events, activities, staff retreats, etc
- Commit at least 10 hours per week for tasks, meetings, activities, and so forth
- Attend bi-weekly to weekly General Staff meetings and project meetings if applicable
- Email, Text, Phone, or other communications turnaround time of 48 hours or less
- Adopt additional communication protocols and project management software as necessary
- Provide 48 hour advance notice when unable to attend meetings
- Behave professionally and with integrity within your team and as a UVSA representative
- Respect everyone on your team and in the organization
- Learn and apply new skills
- Work in a dynamic team environment
- Carry out UVSA’s mission and objectives
- Interview and select Committee Members, if applicable
- Set objectives and goals for the committee
- Create a detailed and realistic timeline for position
- Organize and delegate tasks to committee members
- Prepare bi-weekly to weekly progress reports
- Engage in risk management and assessment
- Troubleshooting team issues
- Develop a dynamic vision for your team
- Motivate team members through positive reinforcement
- Resolve conflicts with effective communication
Code of Conduct
Participation in the UVSA’s programs is subject to the observance of the organization’s rules and procedures. The activities outlined below are strictly prohibited. Any participant or staff member who violates this Code is subject to discipline, up to and including removal from the program and organization.
- Abusive language towards a staff member, volunteer or another participant
- Unauthorized possession or use of alcoholic beverages on UVSA’s property or at UVSA’s events
- Reporting to a project or program while under the influence of alcohol
- Possession or use of illegal drugs on UVSA’s property or at UVSA’s events
- Reporting to a project or program while under the influence of drugs
- Bringing onto UVSA’s property or to UVSA’s events dangerous or unauthorized materials such as explosives, firearms, weapons or other similar items
- Discourtesy or rudeness to a fellow participant, staff member or volunteer
- Verbal, physical or visual harassment of another participant, staff member or volunteer
- Actual or threatened violence toward any individual or group
- Conduct endangering the life, safety, health or well-being of others
- Failure to follow any UVSA policy or procedure
- Bullying or taking unfair advantage of any participant
- Failing to cooperate with a supervisor/leader/mentor
If you believe that an individual or group have violated the terms of this Code, please provide written complaint to an officer as soon as possible after the incident.
Unlawful Discrimination & Harassment Policy
UVSA is committed to providing a work environment free of unlawful discrimination and harassment. UVSA prohibits any form of discrimination or harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, race, religious creed, color, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, sexual orientation or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law of ordinance or regulation. All such discrimination and harassment is unlawful. UVSA’s anti- discrimination and harassment policy applies to all persons involved in the operation of UVSA and prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment by any officer, director or volunteer of the organization.
Prohibited unlawful discrimination and harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following behavior:
- Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations or comments
- Visual conduct such as derogatory and/or sexually oriented posters, photography, cartoons, drawings or gestures
- Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, blocking normal movement or interfering with work because of sex, race or any other protected basis
- Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests as a condition of continued employment or volunteering, or to avoid some other loss, and benefits in return for sexual favors
- Retaliation for having reported or threatened to report harassment
If you believe that you have been subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment, provide a written complaint to an officer as soon as possible after the incident. Your complaint should include details of the incident or incidents, names of the individuals involved and names of any witnesses. UVSA will immediately undertake an effective, thorough and objective investigation of the harassment allegations.
If UVSA determines that unlawful discrimination or harassment has occurred, effective remedial action will be taken in accordance with the circumstances involved. Any volunteer determined by UVSA to be responsible for unlawful discrimination or harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination from the organization. The Board of Directors will advise all parties concerned of the results of the investigation. UVSA will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint and will not tolerate or permit retaliation by officers, directors or volunteers.
UVSA encourages all volunteers to report any incidents of discrimination or harassment forbidden by this policy immediately so that complaints can be quickly and fairly resolved.
UVSA adheres to all protections offered by the State of California to whistleblowers and extends such protections to UVSA volunteers. See below for the full excerpt from California Department of Industrial Relations website.
It is the public policy of the State of California to encourage employees to notify an appropriate government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, and to provide information to and testify before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry, when they have reason to believe their employer is violating a state or federal statute, or violating or not complying with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.
Who is protected?
Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 1102.5, employees are the protected class of individuals. “Employee” means any person employed by an employer, private or public, including, but not limited to, individuals employed by the state or any subdivision thereof, any county, city, city and county, including any charter city or county, and any school district, community college district, municipal or public corporation, political subdivision, or the University of California. [California Labor Code Section 1106]
What is a whistleblower?
A “whistleblower” is an employee who discloses information to a government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or to another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or who provides information to or testifies before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses:
A violation of a state or federal statute,
- A violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation, or
- With reference to employee safety or health, unsafe working conditions or work practices in the
employee’s employment or place of employment.
A whistleblower can also be an employee who refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.
What protections are afforded to whistleblowers?
An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower.
- An employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower.
- An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation.
- An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights as a whistleblower in any former employment.
Under California Labor Code Section 1102.5, if an employer retaliates against a whistleblower, the employer may be required to reinstate the employee’s employment and work benefits, pay lost wages, and take other steps necessary to comply with the law.
How to report improper acts: If you have information regarding possible violations of state or federal statutes, rules, or regulations, or violations of fiduciary responsibility by a corporation or limited liability company to its shareholders, investors, or employees, call the California State Attorney General’s Whistleblower Hotline at 1-800-952-5225. The Attorney General will refer your call to the appropriate government authority for review and possible investigation.
All information concerning clients, former clients, our staff, volunteers, and financial data, and business records of UVSA is confidential. “Confidential” means that you are free to talk about UVSA and about your program and your position, but you are not permitted to disclose clients’ names or talk about them in ways that will make their identity known. No information may be released without appropriate authorization. This is a basic component of client care and business ethics. UVSA and our clients rely on volunteer staff to conform to this rule of confidentiality.
UVSA expects you to respect the privacy of clients and to maintain their personal and financial information as confidential. All records dealing with specific clients must be treated as confidential. General information, policy statements or statistical material that is not identified with any individual or family is not classified as confidential. Staff members are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of information relating to other staff members and volunteers, in addition to clients.
Failure to maintain confidentiality may result in termination of your position, or other corrective action. This policy is intended to protect you as well as UVSA because in extreme cases, violations of this policy also may result in personal liability.
Confidentiality is the preservation of privileged information. By necessity, personal and private information is disclosed in a professional working relationship. Part of what you learn is necessary to provide services to the applicant or client; other information is shared within the development of a helping, trusting relationship. Therefore, most information gained about individual clients through an assignment is confidential in terms of the law, and disclosure could make you legally liable. Disclosure could also damage your relationship with the client and make it difficult to help the person.
Before you begin your assignment as a staff member/volunteer, you should be aware of the laws and penalties for breaching confidentiality. Although UVSA is liable for your acts within the scope of your duty, giving information to an unauthorized person could result in the UVSA’s refusal to support you in the event of legal action. Violation of the state statutes regarding confidentiality of records is punishable upon conviction by fines or by imprisonment or by both.
Documents which legally bind UVSA may only be signed by members of the Executive Board or Board of Directors with approval in meeting minutes. This policy is to ensure that liability of activating any agreement falls within the respective authority of the aforementioned groups and any resulting legal repercussions do not fall upon a non-authorized signer. As such, legally binding documents signed by any unauthorized volunteer shall be automatically deemed null and void.
For documents which activate in the scope of 1 year, the Executive Board may authorize a volunteer to proxy sign. For documents which exceed the scope of 1 year, the Board of Directors may authorize a volunteer to proxy sign. All such authorizations must be approved in meeting minutes.
If there is any question about the authority of signing a contract, you can request that the Board of Directors provide documents establishing that you have power of attorney which delegates you legal authority to sign and execute said contract.
Cash Handling Personal Liability Policy
UVSA restricts the handling of cash (including checks, money orders, drafts, credit card, gift card, and negotiable instruments) to personnel authorized by the Treasurer in writing. In addition to written authorization by the Treasurer, volunteers will need to sign a separate Cash Handling Authorization Form prior to handling UVSA cash. This policy extends to gifts, tangible and intangible, which UVSA may receive at any given time.
Volunteers who are not authorized to handle cash or gifts will be held personally liable for loss of cash or gifts. Volunteers who are authorized to handle cash may not spend cash they collect for any reason and all cash received must be delivered to the Treasurer or authorized agent for deposit into UVSA bank accounts.
Additionally, volunteers are not permitted to accept contributions to their personal bank or digital accounts such as PayPal, Venmo, Facebook, etc even if those funds are later given back to UVSA. Receiving or depositing UVSA cash to a personal bank or digital account, cashing checks issued to UVSA to a non-UVSA bank account, and spending of UVSA cash which has yet to be deposited into a UVSA bank account are considered theft, fraud, or misappropriation which are all criminal offenses and will be reported to the Garden Grove Police Department, California Attorney General, and Internal Revenue Service.
Cash handling procedures are important to protect UVSA from fraud, theft, embezzlement, to protect volunteers from accusations of dishonesty, and to assure donors that their donations and gifts are used for the purpose which they were given.
This policy applies to, but is not limited to, cash handled under the following circumstances:
- Cash Boxes and Starting Cash – Cash handling agents will be assigned by the Treasurer to count and manage cash boxes and starting cash in relation to the sales of goods or services.
- External Fundraisers – Fundraisers which only involve the exchange of cash with a vendor who will be providing a contribution to UVSA based on sales quota need to be first approved by the Executive Board prior to activation and execution of said fundraiser. Once the fundraiser is completed, the Treasurer may assign an agent to receive the contribution from the vendor.
- Internal Fundraisers – Fundraisers in which UVSA sells goods or services are overseen by the Treasurer. Reselling of goods require sales receipts of original goods from a vendor with an Expense Authorization Form in the form of a reimbursement and then managed through UVSA’s point-of-sales or online-sales systems. No sales of goods and services may be made outside the scope of existing UVSA sales systems. Any cash handling must be by an authorized cash handling agent.
- Sponsorship and Charitable Solicitation – UVSA volunteers may be asked to solicit for sponsorships and charitable contributions for UVSA activities by doing door-to-door at physical stores, applying using online forms, or meeting with potential sponsors. The Treasurer may authorize such volunteers to solicit as well as receive and handle cash from such sponsors for a limited time period from which said volunteers must return cash to the Treasurer or authorized agent each day that monies are collected. Note that receipt of cash or gifts may be rejected by UVSA and returned to the contributor.
If there is any question about your authority to request or handle UVSA monies or gifts, you can request that the Board of Directors provide documents establishing that you have such authorization.
Non-Profit Tax ID Usage Policy
Use of UVSA’s 501(c)(3) status to solicit for any contribution, fundraiser, or gift must be approved the Executive Board in writing. Unauthorized use of UVSA’s nonprofit status for the solicitation of cash or gifts, including the offering tax-deductions, will result in removal/dismissal from UVSA with a written notice to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) outlining the unauthorized use.
UVSA also prohibits the receipt of cash and gifts for the purpose of distributing said cash and gifts to a non-exempt organization.
UVSA receives federal tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). The Board of Directors oversees use of UVSA’s tax ID to ensure that volunteers do not perform actions which jeopardize its 501(c)(3) status.
Publicly Available Information
UVSA’s tax ID and charitable status are available on the IRS website: https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/
UVSA’s federal income tax returns can be found at https://www.guidestar.org/
Request for Taxpayer Information
Interaction with Minors
Policy is available to view on google docs