The last year was an underwhelming one for the Residence Halls Association.
With a huge turnover in the executive board and limited presence on campus, RHA hasn’t made any great gains or taken any major hits.
We feel RHA can do more as the second-largest organization on campus. RHA needs to make a name for itself, and we feel Steven Chaffin and Brooke Wiggins are the slate more prepared to do so in 2014. Though they are freshmen, we feel their enthusiasm to create change is a positive characteristic that can be molded despite their ho-hum ideas.
First, we must mention that Chaffin is formerly of The Maneater staff. Throughout the campaigning period, Chaffin took an indefinite leave of absence from his positions as copy editor and staff writer. His association with The Maneater didn’t weigh into our endorsement decision.
The Chaffin-Wiggins platform focuses on internal change, proposing the creation of a chief of staff, removing the outreach coordinator and transferring its responsibilities to the vice president. We commend them for wanting to fix the internal system as well as not remaining complacent with RHA’s current state. A critical eye is needed to see where change should take place and where the organization can improve.
That being said, we aren’t fully supportive of every idea in their platform.
The summit idea calls for organizations to come to RHA, but with RHA’s lackluster reputation, RHA should focus on going to other organizations. This would allow for RHA to improve its programs by connecting with the already existing programs and experiences of other organizations.
And although it’s commendable to focus on internal change, Chaffin and Wiggins’ ideas are not groundbreaking. Adding the chief of staff position, removing the outreach chair and moving the job of outreach to the vice president are ideas that change the names of jobs, not the jobs themselves. To create real change, Chaffin and Wiggins need to focus less on name swapping.
Still, Chaffin and Wiggins’ ideas are better than those of Lane Adams and Whitney Banker.
Adams and Banker are both sophomores, and though they have more experience in the organization, their platform doesn’t accurately represent this. We feel the Adams-Banker slate is only trying to keep RHA afloat while increasing promotions of the organization. When there isn’t anything substantial to promote and when nothing changes, this is a hard mark to attain.
Though neither slate is recommending the sweeping changes needed to push RHA to be the best it can possibly be, what we see in Chaffin and Wiggins is potential. Their ideas are on the right track and they are prepared to challenge RHA’s boundaries and redefine it by thinking outside the box.
All this being said, both slates need to reevaluate their platforms and focus on the pressing issues. Safety is the most important of these. When it was brought up at Monday’s debate, both slates failed to provide an adequate answer to a question regarding safety. If anything, this semester has proven that safety in residence halls is a real concern. As we wrote earlier this semester, increasing security in residence halls should be a priority, and neither platform has seriously considered the issue.
Above all, we ask the slates to remember it is RHA’s job to lobby for policy change on behalf of residents. We encourage both slates to examine what the students need and what they want, and to work those findings into effective advocacy on the behalf of residents, rather than focusing on RHA’s job descriptions and lackluster promotions.