RHA finalizes fall 2015 budget

The residence hall government plans to invest in student organizations and events.

The Residence Hall Association finalized the fall 2015 budget Sept. 21, which distributes a total of $48,337.37 among various committees within the organization.

Sustainability received $14,000, the largest amount allocated. The legislative distribution and the Programming Committee each received $10,000. Legislative distribution funds go toward organizations that request funding from RHA, and the Programming Committee’s budget goes toward events hosted by RHA such as Paint It Pink week.

“We had a bigger budget this year because of a rollover from last year, so on this budget, we gave more to legislative operations so that we could have more things for the residence halls and make things more interesting,” RHA Speaker of Congress Alex Johar said. “Also, since we had more money we added more money to distribution, so we could fund more governments and outside organizations.”

RHA also re-allocated some funds. This semester, funding for different committees like the Advocacy Committee or the Operations Committee will go through the legislative branch as opposed to the executive branch, Johar said.

Sums of money granted to organizations are usually unpredictable until RHA receives funding requests.

“We don’t really know what’s going on with funding requests until they come in,” Johar said. “Most of the time it’s just different hall governments. We don’t seek out organizations to get funding from us but we'd like to just focus on the Programming Committee having more events and the Advocacy Committee having events for mental health, diversity, inclusivity, whatever the students’ topics are this semester.”

If an organization or residence hall requests more than $500 in funding, the decision to approve the request goes to RHA Congress as opposed to the legislative branch.

The rollover amount from the spring 2015 semester went to the summer budget. Any amount of money left over from spending during the summer months goes to the executive budget for the fall semester.

“This summer we spent (the summer budget) mostly on equipment,” RHA President Billy Donley said. “We bought new equipment and we were trying to repair equipment so that we had things that were useful to others around campus. We sponsored a lot of Fall Welcome events for the Department of Student Activities.”

RHA is hosting the Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls Regional Conference later in the semester, to which they allocated $2,500.

The National Residence Hall Honorary is RHA’s sister organization and gets 1 percent of RHA’s budget. During the conference, each residence hall government and their NRHH chapter will come together to discuss issues such as leadership, social justice and how RHAs and NRHHs work at various universities.

Donley is the budget and finance chair for the conference where he will oversee the entire budget, with over 40 schools attending.

One focus for Donley was clearing up misconceptions about where money for funds like the executive discretionary come from. This fund lets the executive branch allocate money however they’d like.

“It’s no secret that we have it, but I think this year we’re trying to let people know so they understand that the money going to executive discretionary is not actually from the social fee from students,” Donley said. “There’s an organization called on-campus marketing and the profit share from that program goes to executive discretionary.”

RHA has a sum of money referred to as the savings fund, also known as the scholarship fund, which is left over from a time when the organization sold out office space to KCOU, Donley said.

Other amounts remain the same from semester to semester, including the $2,500 scholarship fund, the $500 sexual health and safety fund, the $8,796 stipend for the executive board and the $483.37 NRHH and campaign financing fund, Finance Coordinator Andre Gasana said.

Money from the sexual health and safety fund goes to the MU Student Health Center to provide residence halls with sexual health products.

With the expanded budget, legislative operations and the Programming Committee want to host more events, Donley said.

One idea to get RHA more involved in each residence hall is to go around with a whiteboard and have students write what they would like to see from their hall government.

RHA will also be embarking on other projects like naming the new residence hall and looking into other student issues.

"We're extremely excited to (name) these residence halls and talking about where we go from here,” Donley said. “Also, looking into student affordability, I think the conversation has come up about doing partnerships and profit shares with other businesses in the local Columbia area to start new scholarships on campus."

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