Fourth time's the charm

Despite tumultuous history, new Persian Student Association forms on campus

The Spectrum

Persian students on campus will once again have an opportunity to show the student body the beauty of their culture.

This September, the Student Association recognized the Buffalo Iranian SA as a temporary club. It is the fourth Persian student association SA has recognized in the last 30 years.

The first Persian SA formed in the 1980s, a few years after the Iranian revolution. It lasted around a decade, before being derecognized by the Student Association in the '90s for inactivity.

Niyaz Pordel, a biomedical science major and the club's current president,said she is working hard to make the club permanent once more. She agreed with past club presidents that the inactivity of the club was due largely to the academics of involved members.

There were too many international and graduate students in the previous clubs, and none of them had the time or motivation to get involved, she said.

Pordel said she isn't fazed by the derecognitions of the last three clubs. She is prepared to learn from past mistakes to build a stronger club, and she plans on holding events that bridge the gap between American and Iranian cultures.

"I believe that participation and cooperation are key factors to running a successful club," Pordel said. "We do not want this group to be just for few years; we want [this] Persian group to be at UB as permanent, forever."

The club didn't reform until 2002, under former president Pouya Goudarzi, who graduated in 2004 with a degree in business.

"[The undergraduate Iranian students] really wanted a club ... but no one wanted to do anything about it," he said. "I took the leading charge and really got it going."

The club lasted two years under Goudarzi, who is now a real estate agent in Binghamton. He said he kept the club popular by holding social events and steering clear of politics. But the Persian SA failed to renew itself with SA after Goudarzi and was derecognized for the second time.

Five years later, the club reformed under the name Buffalo Iranian Student Association.

The club remained in its initial temporary status for six semesters - twice the amount SA allows. Temporary clubs can be granted an extension on their temporary status under "extenuating circumstances," according to administrative director of SA Mark Sorel.

The SA handbook states, "a club cannot remain a temporary club for more than three semesters, unless they are granted an extension by the senate." Sorel wasn't sure what "extenuating circumstances" specified, but he said the club most likely never took the necessary steps to change from temporary to permanent. The club's failure to take those steps, Sorel said, was indicative of its inactivity.

Azin Bagheritar, a UB alumna and the club's former treasurer, said the club had participation problems from the start and there weren't enough motivated people involved. She rarely found the time to get involved herself, despite being on the club's executive board.

In 2011, the club once again failed to renew itself with SA, marking the third time a Persian SA was derecognized.

Pordel hopes the new direction of the club will get more members involved, and she aims to keep it around for at least a few more years.

The Buffalo Iranian Student Association is holding its next event, a movie night, Oct. 20.