The role of RAs & RHA

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

For many students at the Institute, their housing situation is one of the defining experiences of their college years. On-campus housing at Tech provides a springboard during your first year to make friends and find community as well as act as a place of rest and reprieve from the challenges of college.

However, with the recent changes to the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and housing availability on campus, we would be remiss if we didn’t take a week to discuss how it has affected students around campus and what steps would be necessary to help improve the student experience, regardless of your year.

To begin, RHA has recently been reformed with the implementation of area councils, which have replaced the old hall council system. Hall councils were smaller and more specific to a residence hall, whereas area councils consist of multiple residence halls and serve a much larger population.

One possible goal of this change could be to move funding from RHA, a large student organization composed of elected officials, towards RAs, who have an impact typically limited to their floor.

We strongly believe that the events that RHA has put together in recent years, such as Dogapalooza and Mocktail Madness, have been some of the best an organization has had to offer to the student body.

That being said, some flaws in these events, including running out of coveted T-shirts quickly due to high attendance, have left students disappointed.

While we believe that RHA does, and should, still have a place in planning large-scale events to take some of the strain off of RAs and hall directors, allowing RAs more freedom to put on events for their residents brings benefits.

We feel it is important to note that freshman will probably benefit the most from RAs having more money: freshman tend to be more involved with their floors and as a result, will likely enjoy the events put on by RAs more.

While RHA’s changes are likely to affect a small percentage of students at Tech relative to the rest of the student body, the ongoing problem of a lack of hall directors and available student housing for upperclassmen is a something that most students will have to deal with.

The lack of hall directors since the beginning of the pandemic has put an unnecessary strain on the RAs at the school, contributing to them being overworked. Many RAs face long hours for little reimbursement experienced in the job, with much of this resulting from a lack of leadership and upper management helping to alleviate some of the more tedious and difficult activities.

The vacancies of several hall director positions is an ongoing problem that we believe should be prioritized by the Institute and addressed as soon as possible.

As for the housing problem, we as an editorial board are aware that the increasing number of admittances has pushed housing to the limits. We support an increase in admittance: more Jackets on campus can only help grow our mission and increase our impact. We believe, however, that space should be made on campus for upperclassmen who still want to live on campus.

Waiting a few days to register for on-campus housing shouldn’t disqualify someone from that opportunity, and we believe that the Institute should work to increase the available housing on campus to alleviate the current housing strains before increasing class size.

Finally, we would like to see increased openness to student feedback on housing. A new Student Center is a welcome addition, but for students living with rats and plumbing issues, flashy new study spaces can only help so much.