MSA, RHA work to build stronger ties

New officers for the organizations are focusing on increased communication.
Residence Halls Association President Lauren Thomas speaks at a joint session hosted by RHA on Nov. 3 in the MU Student Center. Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods and RHA President Lauren Thomas hope to improve relations between the two groups. Maneater File Photo

The new leadership in the Residence Halls Association and Missouri Students Association are working to foster better lines of communication in their relationship as student governments.

“Historically the MSA and RHA presidents met each week, so beginning last week I met with (RHA President) Lauren Thomas and (RHA Vice President) Chris Rucker to rebuild this line of communication,” MSA President Eric Woods said. “In our meetings we talk about what we are working on, how we can work together and if we need support from each other.”

Woods, who was officially inaugurated last week, said in the past there has been tension between the two governments but that their relationship is cordial.

“Something that MSA sees as important for the whole campus RHA may not agree is important, but we enjoy a good working relationship,” Woods said. “People often think that there is tension between us and in the past there has been some issues, but we do have that bond as two student government.”

RHA Communications Coordinator Natasha Desai said MSA and RHA have been more friendly recently than they have in the past.

“When I joined RHA two years ago, the events that we hosted were put on by RHA, but open to anyone,” Desai said. “I know that Mizzou Idol was one of the first collaborations last year where RHA and MSA cosponsored an event, and it was such a huge success that we are continuing it this year.”

Both leadership entities feel the relationship is becoming stronger between RHA and MSA.

“I think our relationship definitely could get better and it is getting better,” Woods said. “Our first meeting was very productive and we agreed and disagreed but at least we have that dialogue now. The relationship can only improve at this point, because we see that we are focusing on similar things and we want to work together.”

Thomas said the MSA/RHA relationship is improving but it is going to take time. Thomas and Rucker meet with Woods and MSA Vice President Emily Moon from MSA weekly to share information. Both governments want to see an improved relationship and it is a joint effort.

After the revamping of the RHA system’s structure, Desai said the Programming Coordinator’s job became more focused on working with outside organizations to host events.

“I talked with (MSA Department of Student Activities Director) Katie Bickley from MSA, because last semester she was planning to bring B.o.B and Wale and RHA went ahead and cosponsored those events,” Desai said.

Both student governments play different roles on campus but serve overlapping constituents.

“MSA is the government over the entire student body, but RHA is the student government focused on the campus residents and their wants, needs and benefits,” Thomas said. “We both have different areas of strength, MSA is bigger and has a larger constituent group, so their role is more broad, but RHA has more power when it comes to the residence halls and things that affect campus residents.”

Woods said he is jealous of RHA, because representatives get to live among their constituents and know their wants and needs better, while MSA has to go out to campus organizations and the Greek Life community to try to find representatives, which can become a challenge.

Beginning last week, an MSA liaison will be present at all RHA meetings to report the opinions of both governments.

“(Connor Wangler’s) job as MSA liaison is to come to our meetings and tell us what MSA is working on in Senate, and he also reports to them what we are talking about in Congress, so if there is anything overlapping we can work with them,” Thomas said.

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