Vietnamese Student Association

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The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) refers to campus-based not-for-profit student groups located all over the world in areas where communities of overseas Vietnamese exist. It is also known as Hội Sinh Viên Việt Nam (postsecondary) or Hội Học Sinh Việt Nam (secondary) in Vietnamese.

Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California parading at a Tet parade 2009

Each VSA operates independently, therefore the structure, mission, membership requirements and activities may vary from school-to-school. In general, VSAs exist to preserve the Vietnamese culture and heritage. But because of these variations, some organizations operate under different names, such as Vietnamese Student Union (VSU), Vietnamese American Student Organization (VASO), etc. The majority of organizations, however, use Vietnamese Student Association as its name. The earliest documented establishment of a Vietnamese Student Association is 1968 at San Diego State University.[1] Following the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975, which brought about a massive exodus of refugees up until the early 1990s, many new VSAs were established to deal with the cultural transition for the refugees entering college.

VSAs are often affiliated with postsecondary schools, although a notable number are also affiliated with secondary schools. Most VSAs are structured to be run by a board of elected officers including, at minimum: president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. Other elected positions may include public relations, historian, webmaster, etc.


It is important to restate that each VSA is autonomous, and that it enters coalitions by choice. Unlike other chapter-based organizations that may require dues or an adherence to organizational policy for each chapter, these coalition-based organizations of VSAs exist autonomously as well. Also, there might be some organizations that have a broader youth-based constituency rather than the more limiting qualification of being a student. The following list helps to clarify the scope of each organization.

Vietnamese Student Organizations By Scope
Scope Examples
International Len Duong International Vietnamese Youth Network
Continental/National Federal Vietnamese Students Association of Australia (FVSAA)
Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA)
Regional Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (MAUVSA)
Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of the Midwest (UVSA Midwest)
State/Province Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California (SoCal UVSA)
Vietnamese Students Association of Victoria (VSAV)
Metropolitan Association Générale des Etudiants Vietnamiens de Paris (AGEVP)
Vietnamese American Youth Alliance of San Diego (VAYA)
Campus Vietnamese Student Association University of Maryland, College Park (VSA UMCP)
San Diego State University Vietnamese Student Association (SDSU VSA)

Flag Politics[edit]

Vietnamese Heritage & Freedom Flag
Official flag of Vietnam

Many VSAs do not use the official flag of Vietnam to designate their country of origin, and instead often use the flag of South Vietnam, what is now known as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag, which is banned in Vietnam. Such VSAs have adopted this flag through formal resolutions or de facto usage.[2]

  • In 2004, some Vietnamese American students at the California State University, Fullerton threatened to walk out on their graduation ceremony to demand that the university use the former flag of South Vietnam as well as the current flag of Vietnam to represent its Vietnamese students. This resulted in the university scrapping all foreign flags for the ceremony.[3]
  • In 2006, Vietnamese-American students at the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington requested that the university add this flag in addition to the communist flag as a part of its student diversity in the Hall of Flags, Nedderman Hall. After several weeks of protests from the Vietnamese-American community in the area, the president removed all the flags from display in its Hall of Flags.[4]
  • In October 2014, the Vietnamese Student Association chapter at the University of Arizona discovered that the University had removed the South Vietnamese flag from the campus bookstore's Flag Display (which includes flags from all over the world to celebrate the diversity found amongst students). Afterwards, the VSA chapter launched an online petition in protest to the decision.[5] The University then responded and explained that the removal was due to a misunderstanding amongst the staff. It then apologized and promised to re install the flag afterwards.

With the rise of international students from Vietnam studying overseas, there has also been a conflict concerning the opposing flags. While there is no definitive study concerning flag usage of all Vietnamese student groups in the world, a few groups exist whose membership consists of Vietnamese international students, and who do use the official flag of Vietnam, such as the Vietnamese International Student Association of Adelaide. In the United States, they remain a minority among Vietnamese students, with approximately 8,800 international students out of 153,000 college-enrolled Vietnamese Americans as of the 2007 American Community Survey.[6][7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Regional or State/Provincial Organizations[edit]

Campus or Metropolitan Organizations[edit]