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New RHA seeks to improve Residence Life

October 8, 2009

Six UW-River Falls students will now be running the new Residence Hall Association (RHA) board, hoping to make changes within the residence halls to benefit both students and the University.

RHA is a student grouped organization designed to serve the on-campus student population, make recommendations of the housing policies, provide the residence hall community educational, cultural and social programming, promote campus activities and various other leadership and developmental purposes according to the RHA constitution. Ultimately, it is designed to improve the campus.

According to the Residence Hall Association (RHA) statement of purpose, RHA will work “to strengthen and improve communication and representation for the department of Residence Life. Furthermore,

RHA will work to provide additional opportunities for residence hall students to partake in leadership positions in regards to programming, fundraising and overall leadership development on a state, regional and national level.”

“Hall councils work on hall issues and programming, whereas RHA will be doing that for all of campus,” Tracy Gerth, Resident Life area coordinator said. “It will be a resource for students on campus.”

The vote for RHA members took place on Sept. 28-30, with the results announced Oct. 1. Students William Larson, chairperson; Laurie Cicchese, residence life relations coordinator; Justina Deering, programming coordinator; William Peake, student issues & improvements coordinator; Joseph Grittner, administrative coordinator; and Alissa Baker, national communications coordinator make up the board for this year’s RHA.

“I have some ideas that I would like to [use to] improve the residence halls,” Peake said. “As chair of student issues and improvements committee, [I] am working on goals to better the living environment of the residence halls.”

Within the RHA are several group organizations including a planning committee, which organized this year’s state and regional conferences that UWRF students will be participating in.

“We will be going to Central Michigan University, having students from all over the Great Lakes region, or GLACUHR, talk about student housing,” Gerth said, “As well as WUHRA which is the Wisconsin
Resident Hall Conference held in Eau Claire.”

These conferences are open to all students on campus, and are organized by the RHA.

“These Organizations allow for ideas to be transferred from different schools on a state, regional, and national level,” Chairperson Larson said. “This transfer of ideas will allow RHA to improve our campus, as well as aid in the improvement of other campuses.”

UWRF has not had an RHA board in about 10 years, according to Gerth.

“It could be because of funding, or a lack of interest,” she added.

Students on the RHA board, however, have big hopes for RHA and think it’s a good idea to have the board back.

“I think it’s a great idea to bring a RHA back to River Falls,” Larson said. “It is going to create a new way for students to communicate with the Department of Residence Life, and for Residence Life staff to communicate with students.”

According to Gerth, many students were excited about bringing RHA back this year.

“We are really trying to better serve the students in the Residence Halls,” Gerth said. “There’s an avenue for students to report an issue to their RHA rep or bring it to RHA in order to make a student’s experience at UWRF better.”