With ongoing debate about the Residence Hall Association constitution, one common concern is the relationship between RHA and Student Government. The organizations have historically worked together on large events such as Cockstock — RHA plans to contribute $8,000 this year for 21 Savage’s appearance — but the proposed name change to Resident Government has started a discussion about how close the relationship should be.
Turner Johnson, the president of RHA, says the Residence Government name would better represent the organization’s mission to provide services for on-campus students, not the residence halls themselves.
While Johnson was confident that the similar names were still distinct, Student Body President Ross Lordo said it “could promote some confusion.”
“Historically, RHA works somewhat under Student Government as an organization that can help develop leaders that could eventually come into Student Government,” Lordo said.
Many senators in SG have connections to or previously participated in RHA. But members of RHA’s executive board were concerned about maintaining a distinction between the organizations.
"It sounds like it's a branch of Student Government,” treasurer Matthew Warren said. “We want to portray ourselves as something that’s really separate from Student Government.”
RHA and SG both have discretionary funds that student organizations can request money from — the SG fund is about $150,000 and the RHA funds total about $100,000. Warren and Lordo said that there isn't necessarily a clear boundary between what the funds are used for, something Johnson hopes to address.
Historically, Lordo said, SG has gone to RHA for programming funding. The $8,000 to Cockstock would be the largest RHA allocation in recent years, national communications coordinator Dylan Myers said.
The executive board had a vote in the summer to approve the funding, although Myers said several executive board members were not included in the vote and the amount wasn't finalized at the time. SG got an email Aug. 18 from Johnson, signed Resident Body President, saying that "a financial pledge of $8,000.00 has been approved."
According to Warren, the Cockstock support has not yet been formally approved by the executive board and funding hasn't been transferred. He is concerned that changes Johnson is proposing would make RHA a "piggy bank" for SG.
Lordo said that SG goes through the same process as other organizations for requesting funding, but acknowledged the need for discussion. Johnson placed improving relations with SG among his goals, citing the many areas of overlap between the organizations, and has been making weekly presentations at SG senate meetings.
“I hope that we can define how this relationship is,” Lordo said.