Participation increases in Residence Hall Association elections

After changes were made to the election process, students campaigned for leadership positions in the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and say they hope to make positive change within their residence halls and in the Carolina community.

This year’s RHA election saw more participation than it has in previous years with 25 students from 10 residence halls across campus running for president or treasurer for the 2019-2020 academic year. The election was open to all halls except Preston, and candidates included both current senate members and students looking to start their involvement with the RHA.

Voting was open to current residents from 9 a.m. on Tuesday until 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Students were only able to vote for candidates from their own residence hall and were eligible to vote if they were on the fall roster for their hall. 

Most residence halls in previous years elected their president and treasurer, along with their senators, at the start of the fall semester. However, RHA changed their process starting this year.

Strengthening relationships with other residence halls is a common focus candidates share for the next year. Zachary Dunbar, a first-year student running against three other candidates for president of the Horseshoe, says he’s working on putting together a collaborative event for residents of multiple halls. Dunbar also hopes he can make the community on the Horseshoe more inclusive for the upperclassmen who live there.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of times halls don’t really communicate with each other, and I really want to work on that,” said Dunbar. “It would be a great thing to do, a great effort to put forth, something good for the community.” 

For Scott Hirt, a first-year political science student running uncontested for president of the Carolina Men’s Community at McBryde, the goal is to improve both the quality of the building and the reputation its residents have. Hirt currently represents McBryde on the RHA senate and would like to complete projects they were unable to complete this year. Along with fixing up the building, Hirt also wants to plan collaborative events with other residence halls.

“I hope to make a lasting impact being there two years in a row, really setting a precedent,” said Hirt. “I want to make McBryde look better both to the eye and how people perceive the Carolina Men’s Community.”

Garrison Davis, a first-year computer science student, is running without opposition for the presidency in Honors Residence Hall and said he wants to be able to make a direct impact on his hall. 

“This year I started working on trying to get trash cans in the hall," said Davis. "It’s kind of been a back-and-forth with housing, and it’s sort of dependent on the residents and what they need, but there’s definitely been some projects about infrastructure, like fixing doors, and we’ve been trying to get things spray painted and I definitely hope to continue next year,” 

Candidates will take on roles as leaders on campus and say they hope that they can implement real improvements in students’ experiences at the university.

“I'm just really trying to improve the condition of not just the students, but Carolina life in general in any way that's possible," Dunbar said. "Thankfully, I was able to do it my first year through senate and I hope to continue to do it through being the president."

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