Meet the two RHA presidential slates

Slates will focus on issues concerning students in the residence halls, such as mental health and inclusion.

Two slates will participate in the 2016 Residence Halls Association presidential race. The RHA president and vice president will lead operations for students in 24 residence halls.

RHA has a role in deciding the names of upcoming residence halls to suggesting changes to the ROAR and laundry systems on campus. In addition to taking on these responsibilities, each slate plans to tackle issues relevant to all residents, such as inclusivity and mental health.

The official RHA debate was held Feb. 28. Voting begins at 10 a.m. March 2 and closes at 10 a.m. March 4. Results will be given during the annual RHA banquet March 4.

Emily Aiken

Freshman Emily Aiken is running for RHA president under the campaign Live Together, Grow Together with a platform that focuses on sustainability and outreach programs that will create a campus that “works together, lives together and grows together.”

Aiken originally planned to run as vice president with RHA Justice Kyle Roberts. However, after he dropped out of the race and changes were made to RHA legislation that affect election rules, Aiken decided to run by herself, and will be able to appoint a vice president if elected.

As president, Aiken aims to partner with a program within the Multicultural Center called Community 360, which promotes an understanding of the dynamics of privilege and power as well as develops students’ leadership potential.

“I think that fit right in with what I want to do in RHA,” Aiken said. “I would really want to focus on working more closely with organizations like MSA and LBC, the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center and Wellness (Resource Center), because we all represent people at Mizzou whether it be to a larger or smaller degree. I think it’s important that we start working more closely together in order to get things done.”

Events such as the Concerned Student 1950 protests and the resignations of the Missouri Students Association’s president- and vice president-elect changed the campus climate, but it also changed the role of student leaders, Aiken said.

“I think a lot of people have been doing more to end those problems,” Aiken said. “There are a lot more people who speak up now, which is good. We’re student leaders, so we should speak up.”

Her platform has stayed consistent since deciding to run by herself.

“When Kyle and I were running together, we made sure to set goals we both believed were important, and so my platform hasn't changed because all of those matters are still important to me,” Aiken said.

Matt Bourke/Martha Pangborn

Freshmen Matt Bourke and Martha Pangborn launched their campaign Engage Mizzou with four core pillars: involvement, improvement, inclusion and communication.

This platform reflects the slate’s desire to increase communication through programs such as OrgSync, an online program aimed at streamlining communication and operations between campus departments and organizations.

“Communication is so vital for first-year students because if you don’t have a group that is able to communicate what they’re doing, you’re going to have no idea what’s going on,” Bourke said. “With the res halls being primarily first year students, that is so crucial in getting messages across.”

Another focal point of Engage Mizzou is reaching out to smaller communities at who do not feel as involved. Bourke and Pangborn were particularly inspired by an article in the Columbia Missourian that revealed discrimination against Asian students on campus. The issue impacted Pangborn personally, as she lived with an international student from China during the fall semester.

“One of my favorite things in (the platform) is about extending the relationship with our international students,” Pangborn said. “I want everyone to be welcome. We also have in (the platform) having events or something over the long breaks when they can’t go home.”

Bourke currently serves as president of Hatch Hall, which he said prepares him to oversee all residence halls on campus. In addition, Bourke serves as an MSA senator on the Student Affairs Committee. However, after MSA had to hold a special election, Bourke said that it was evident that his place was in RHA.

“What really became clear to me is that there are some student governments on campus, most notably the ones that suffered in this controversy, that are not doing their job right now,” Bourke said. “I think that RHA is really doing its job.”

Pangborn currently serves as the RHA Programming Committee vice chair, but said she is ready to take on a larger role.

“(We) discussed that he doesn’t want a puppy dog vice president, so to say, someone who just stands back and lets the president do everything,” Pangborn said. “He wants me to take on special projects on the side and just have my own hand in this as well.”

During the campaign period and moving forward, Bourke and Pangborn said they will make transparency a large part of the process.

“I think a president, first and foremost, needs to be the most open person,” Bourke said. “If a person doesn’t feel comfortable to talk to the president then you’re not doing your job. You need to hear what those constituents are saying, because if you’re not doing that, then what are you doing?”

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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