The University of Massachusetts Boston’s Residence Hall Association is the newly formed student government and advisory board for students who live in the Residence Halls. Elections for president, vice president, treasurer, and historian occurred in October of 2019. Since the formation of the Residence Hall Association, the organization has put on a few events in the Residence Halls, and has also held community meetings. In sitting down with Director of Housing and Residential Life, John Sears, and Residence Hall Association President Lily Ting, it can be inferred that the organization is seeking more overall exposure and more involvement from residents.
When asked about her vision for the RHA, President Ting responded: “I just want to see it established as like a group on campus, like that people know about, like similar to student government ... trying to get people involved so that they can get their voices heard on issues that matter to them… just trying to get students more involved.”
The RHA was originally set to begin with the opening of the residence halls in 2018, but according to Sears, “With all the things we had to do last year in getting the Residence Hall opened and up to speed, we just didn't have the bandwidth to be able to pull it off last year.” Sears stated that last spring and summer a few modest goals were made: to establish RHA this year, to initiate the elections, and to get the word out about RHA.
Initially, when asked to explain what RHA is, Ting stated some more specific goals for the RHA this year. Ting explained that because it is the RHA’s first year, they are trying to “set up the Residence Hall Association for people that are gonna come after us ... our big goals for the year are kinda just getting our name out there, and then also creating a constitution so that there's a framework for people who come after.” Sears responded by saying that the RHA is “modeled ... at least so far, on both being a programmatic piece, and also an advisory to the quality of life and the experience the students are having in the residence halls.”
In order to attain involvement from residents, the RHA holds community meetings to which all residents are invited, and is also actively searching for community reps. When explaining the “advisory,” component of the RHA, Sears explained that President Ting and her executive board “are positioned to be able to recruit community reps, and be able to advocate for resident students around issues that they see, quality improvements, things that they like ...” When asked to clarify regarding the position of “community rep,” Sears explained that “this year a community rep is almost like a senator, except it’s an unelected position ... you [any resident] can show up when you want. Consistency is important; we’d like to have some sustained membership, but a community rep serves as a representative for the residents to help Lily and the rest of the executive board move their agenda along.”
This semester, the RHA is going to hold a pizza social, and is also co-sponsoring the UMB Block Party in the spring, and Ting stated that the RHA is willing to hold “just any event that students want to see, if they want to come and voice their opinion [at a community meeting] we’d love to put those on.”
Ting stated that the executive board has decided that community meetings are set to occur Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every other week. Meetings usually occur in a conference room on the first floor of the East Residence Hall building. Meeting times are posted on the RHA’s Instagram, @umb.rha, and the organization tries to post on the Residence Hall snapchat stories when meetings are set to occur as well.