Donovan and Johnson to revisit rejected bill addressing retention issues within RHA

The bill, which proposed a new RHA position in order to oversee and manage recruitment and retention due to low retention rates, was rejected in congress.
The RHA Donovan and Johnson staffing team for the 2019-2020 school year. Courtesy of Facebook via @donovanjohnson2019

Alexia Donovan and Cory Johnson will not be sworn into office as Residence Halls Association’s president and vice president until April 29, but that hasn’t stopped them from starting to address issues within RHA.

The most pressing issue currently faced by RHA is the recruitment and retention of RHA representatives, according to Donovan and Johnson. This year, RHA experienced record turnover within the organization.

RHA started the 2018-19 school year with 70% of their positions filled. Currently, there are only 10 of the 45 total positions filled, according to RHA Speaker of Congress Blake Willoughby.

After a congress meeting Monday night, the bill Donovan and Johnson proposed to tackle low retention rates within RHA ultimately failed to pass by a majority of their congress.

“We proposed a new solution of creating a new position, director of recruitment,” Johnson said. “Their main job would be to recruit and train the representatives and all of the hall governments as well as the hall coordinators.”

Donovan and Johnson, who were surprised the bill failed, had originally proposed the position as an executive position before it went through a committee, which amended the proposal to a position within the legislative branch.

“We talked for a while in congress and they voted to amend it back to being an executive position. And then it failed [to pass],” Johnson said of Monday’s congress meeting.

He added that part of the reason the bill failed was potential confusion.

“There were a lot of voices in the room,” Johnson said. “They suspended the house rules, so anyone could speak, not just the representatives.”

Moving forward, Donovan and Johnson are revising the bill for next week’s congress meeting in hopes that it will get approved.

“We all want a solution to [the retention issue], but it’s how we go about it that there’s disagreement on,” Johnson said.

He said that some of their representatives felt it would be best to entail the responsibility of recruitment and retention under the currently existing position of director of communications.

The director of communications will assume more responsibilities in the upcoming year, such as setting up a Google Drive for easier communication between hall coordinators and hall governments. They would also manage a website made accessible to students in order to increase transparency within RHA.

Donovan and Johnson plan on consulting with their representatives to hear their ideas and input before revisiting the bill to make changes.

“This upcoming week we really have to buckle down and just relook at everything in a different view and talk to as many people as we can just to see what is the best option for everyone,” Donovan said. “Hopefully it will go better next congress.” No current position in RHA resembles the responsibilities of the proposed director of recruitment and retention position, Donovan said.

“Everything is going to be a test run,” Donovan said. “If it doesn’t work out, we change it. As of right now, we’re just trying to get something moving forward so that our representatives next year are better supported.”

Despite the rejection of their proposal, Donovan and Johnson are determined to serve the residents.

“That’s all we’re trying to do. We’re not making any power moves and we’re not trying to create another position so that we have more authority over someone else,” Johnson said.

Edited by Ethan Brown | ebrown@themaneater.com

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