Big Five: RHA caters to on-campus residents

Editor’s note: TommieMedia is taking a deeper look this week into how each of the Big Five organizations (USG, SAC, STAR, RHA and HANA) operate. Monday delves into USG and the student activity fee, Tuesday will give insight into SAC, Wednesday explains more about STAR, Thursday goes inside RHA and the series will end Friday with a look into Hana.

Founded in 1984, the Residence Hall Association is the Big Five organization that caters specifically to the 2,393 on-campus residents at St. Thomas.

This year, RHA’s new president junior Kristy Elsen steps into the top role of an organization that has earned a reputation for its success.

In the past decade, RHA has won a combined 11 awards at the No Frills Conference and four MACURH Conference awards, including last year’s President of Year award.

“Our RHA in particular is really well-known regionally and nationally, which is really cool,” Elsen said. “We just got back from a MACURH conference, that’s the regional RHA conference, and a lot of the schools there know us and look up to our program, and ask us a lot of questions about what’s going on so they can improve their program.”

RHA’s mission statement is to serve as a unified voice for residents by acting as a liaison between residents and the Office of Residence Life, providing an open forum for addressing resident requests, concerns and issues. The organization encourages active participation in campus programs, events, and community service opportunities to enhance residents’ sense of community within their hall communities.

“Our job is to cater toward the resident’s needs; we are both a programming organization as well as legislative,” Elsen said. “We deal with resident concerns. We also plan programs that cater toward things that [residents] can do during the week.”

How RHA is financed

RHA is fully funded through Residence Life. According to Aaron Macke, an RHA adviser, Residence Life receives $20 for every on-campus resident. Of the $20, RHA receives $8 per student ($19,144 total) and the resident’s hall receives $12 per student ($28,716).

With this $8 per student, RHA organizes a variety of events on campus, such as the brother-sister weekend, the ultimate hall challenge, cosmic bingo, Dowling Hall’s father-daughter dance and Ireland Hall’s Halloween dance.

RHA has more than 60 members, seven executive board members and a hall council for every residence hall.

RHA holds open meetings at 9 p.m. every Tuesday in McNeely Hall room 100. Three representatives from every hall attend RHA meetings and report questions and concerns to the council.

“It’s the representative’s job to report to RHA what they’ve been seeing,” Elsen said.

RHA elections are held every year in the fall. Students from their respective residence halls can run for positions as hall representatives.

“Anyone can be involved in the hall councils,” Elsen said. “If anyone’s interested in getting involved they should join their hall council, ask their hall directors, or send us an e-mail. We’re always looking for new members and new voices.”

Brent Fischer can be reached at

One Reply to “Big Five: RHA caters to on-campus residents”

  1. What happens with the near $20,000 dollars that RHA has? Is that then split among the halls or does the general RHA council use it? As a student living on campus, I do not feel as though I see the products of $20,000 dollars in residence hall programming. Also, if there are seven people on the e-board (and let’s say they make approximately $7000 dollars among all of them) then almost 25% of the RHA budget goes to paying stipends. That seems very high to me. Whether RHA is well known regionally or nationally seems irrelevent if it is not well known or productive on our own campus.

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