Letter to the Editor: A response to The Maneater’s RHA endorsement

The March 5 editorial was based on first impressions, not facts.

The Maneater’s coverage of the Residence Halls Association this year has been, to borrow a phrase from its own piece, “underwhelming at best.”

With the promised beat reporter attending rarely if at all this semester, the knowledge the newspaper has of the organization’s activities has clearly been lacking, as evidenced by its most recent endorsement article.

It seems hypocritical to mention that RHA is the second-largest organization on campus, but also that because of a “lackluster reputation” RHA should be going to other organizations. Indeed, the article goes on to imply that other organizations could gain from a merger with unspecified RHA programs, bringing only their “experiences.” The lack of specificity or support to these claims is representative of The Maneater’s unspecific knowledge of RHA programs. The article as a whole is a judgment based on biased first impressions, not facts.

Though neither slate’s ideas were given real consideration, as they are not making “sweeping changes” — which, by the authority of The Maneater, are deemed “needed” — the article gives no suggestions for what should be done. The most important issue, in the opinion of The Maneater, is safety, and the article claims the issue is not being addressed. A look back at its own articles from RHA, however, shows that last year the Residential Committee members spent a good deal of time discussing the safety issue with Frankie Minor and with their fellow residents. Again and again, polls in the halls came back with the same message: We don’t want more changes right now. We listened.

For an organization trying to “keep afloat,” RHA has been busy over the last semester and a half. In September, Paint it Pink week was a great success with more than 200 people attending the Passionately P!NKed Out photo, and fundraising, which exceeded our goal once again. A Pinterest craft night and lip syncing bee were also well attended, and representative attendance is up from a year ago. As an organization, we have been able to sponsor Vagina Monologues, Dance Marathon, Relay for Life, numerous in-hall events across campus, Puppies with Purpose, Residence Hall ASB trips, Mizzou Idol, the Social Justice Symposium, Rockin’ Against Multiple Sclerosis, MSA’s Hate Wall, and others. The Residential Living Committee has spent countless hours working to address student concerns with the laundry system, and consistently gives student feedback to the heads of campus dining facilities. In the coming month, it will be giving feedback on the food that will be offered at the newly reopened Sabai next semester. Advocacy has been working to encourage safe social habits, and has been looking at ways to continue sustainability in the halls. Operations has been working to create partnerships with the organizations which come to us for funding, and also to make internal programs, such as the new Hall Government Presidents Council more effective in their goals. And if you want to see more of what we’ve been up to, current Congressional agendas are available on our newly updated website, www.rha.missouri.edu.

Above all, the authors of articles which speak so strongly against an organization should always, always be listed. Take credit for your opinions, and stake your reputation on what you print. Do your research, and when you schedule an interview with someone, don’t apologize 45 minutes later for not showing up. MU’s campus, its organizations, and its students are full of fantastic and inspiring stories, if you would only take the opportunity to look for them. Finding the negatives is easy. Becoming a force for positive change is not.

I challenge The Maneater to actively seek the positive things going on throughout MU’s campus, embrace its potential, and make a difference in this community. “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him” (Gandhi). We’ll all be watching.

Lydia Harvengt, RHA Chief Justice and Elections Chair, 2014, lydiaharvengt@mail.missouri.edu

The opinion is also endorsed by: Jackson Farley (RHA President) Steven Chaffin (RHA Financial Coordinator) Brooke Wiggins (RHA Programming Board Chair) Lane Adams (RHA Speaker of Congress and Justice) Whitney Banker (RHA Marketing Coordinator) Mayme Jordan (RHA National Communications Coordinator) James Jordan (RHA Sustainability Coordinator) Fares Akremi (RHA Justice and NRHH VP) Andrew Cabalfin (RHA Justice) Trenton Davis (RHA Justice) AJ Backer (RHA Justice)

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