In the midst of all the fliers and red and green shirts seen at the Arbor these past few weeks, it is really easy to forget that the A.S. elections are not the only ones taking place this quarter. The elections for the Residence Halls Association (RHA) are actually the most immediate event taking place on campus, and it is a shame how little publicity it has been getting considering that it has the biggest budget of any student-run organization on campus.
The lack of public exposure of RHA is alarming, considering the amount of students who are affected by the decisions made by the council. This is one of the main reasons why this year’s candidate for president, sophomore Rame Hanna, decided to run. His prior experiences as both a rep-at-large in RHA and a member of the Las Encinas Hall Council are what have gained him the support of many of the current resident assistants and RHA Executive Council members.
As someone who has worked with Hanna, the dedication and pride I have seen him show the organization have not been surpassed by anyone. I saw Rame spend countless days and nights working to put on Malice in Wonderland, the success of which surprised not only those attending, but even those of us currently on the board. He has also been working with the resident assistants of many of the buildings to help with programs that they are putting on. Having heard him speak of the campaign many times, I can honestly say that he really is only running to help make the residents’ experience on campus better, not to push his own private agenda for exposure in future elections.
The Residence Halls Association, in theory, is an organization solely dedicated to the needs of the residents, providing maximum exposure to programs put on by any and all organizations on campus, including by members of its board. It therefore donates hundreds of dollars every week to groups with programs that target the residents themselves.
However, recent actions of the council have shown me just how much the opposite of that goal is true for many members of the group. Action has been taken to limit the exposure of the residents to events taking place on campus. Members of opposing parties competing in the Associated Students’ elections in the past have had the chance to go door-to-door within the halls and speak to anyone who was interested in voting for the elections, and to provide them with the maximum amount of information needed in order to make an educated decision.
Unfortunately, at this week’s meeting of the board, a motion brought forth to allow the two parties running this year to campaign within the halls failed, ensuring that many residents who don’t have the time to speak to the candidates in the Arbor will either vote based on hearsay, or not vote at all. What seems to be ironic to me is that many of those opposing the motion felt that having people go door-to-door would be bothersome to residents, though those running in the RHA elections are still allowed to knock as many times as they want.
In order to try to gain insight as to what the residents truly want, the ballot has a survey question pertaining to whom the residents would like to see at their doors. I, along with Hanna and many members of the current board, would like to remind all residents that if they truly don’t want to be bothered, all they have to do is put a sign on their door saying so.
If you live on campus, please take a minute to go online and vote, and please read all of your options carefully. I know that some things are very wordy, but keep in mind that after the elections are over, close to a quarter million dollars of your money will be at the discretion of those elected.
Maria Harutyunyan is a sophomore English and communication major.