The Residence Halls Association convened for the first time Monday to introduce leaders, vote on a budget and discuss potential projects. Representatives from every hall attended the meeting to share their input on several issues and events brought to their attention.
Representative Andrea Cherry from Peers Advocating Smoke-Free Solutions, a group associated with the Wellness Resource Center, solicited the help of the RHA in its effort to ban hookah from campus due to the potential fire hazard and health risks.
Although hookah, like cigarettes, is allowed in designated smoking areas, it still poses a threat to students’ health due to secondhand smoke. The main problem facing hookah use, however, is the improper disposal of hot coals, Cherry said.
According to PASS, students who smoke hookah usually throw their used coals in a trashcan or leave them out in the open. The hot coals, which retain heat for several hours after use, could potentially start a fire. PASS came to RHA in search of support for their movement to eventually ban the product from campus.
Another representative from the Wellness Resource Center passed out flyers and discussed the upcoming Alcohol Responsibility Month. The representative encouraged hall leaders to bring the events to the attention of their peers and hall residents.
Halls in attendance at Alcohol Responsibility Month events will receive points. At the end of the month, the hall with the most points will win $200 to put toward a residence hall social.
During the meeting, Congress also voted on a budget for the fall semester as proposed by RHA finance coordinator Connor Wangler. With $28,983.60 to distribute, Wangler suggested allocating $10,167 to the executive sector, $7,000 to the legislative sector, $3,000 to the judicial sector and $8,817 for “non-standard line items” such as RHA president and vice president stipends.
Forty-three members of Congress approved the budget. Six opposed and five abstained.
Alex Rorie, Advocacy representative for Wolpers Residential Hall, is responsible for informing his hall of changes around campus pertaining to health policies and other events. He also works to get others involved in health organizations such as SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education).
Rorie and the other Wolpers representatives are currently working on their hall’s constitution.
“Wolpers used to be an all-male dorm with a standing constitution only for males,” he said. “It included things like promising to let your roommate use your Xbox. We are changing it now to include females as well.”
Rorie is one of the many representatives that make up RHA this year.
“I’d love for our class, since it’s the largest, to really take charge and make this a community that represents everything Mizzou stands for,” Rorie said.
RHA Speaker of Congress Kathy Rudd also has high hopes for the coming year.
“My personal goals for the legislative branch, are to reduce fines by 25 percent, which are accumulated from representatives who don’t attend meetings,” she said, "We’re hoping to fix this with better training, more efficient meetings, a more welcoming environment and assessments.”
Rudd also wants to help the representatives complete the judicial branch’s constitution, which is currently missing its bylaws.