A cold wind blows through an empty, dark conference room. Discarded solo cups and half-eaten pizza litter the floor. The only sound that breaks the awkward silence is the occasional moan. Is this a post-apocalyptic landscape? No.
I was at the Residence Hall Association (RHA) general board meeting in order to propose a new fun activity and I was astounded – simply astounded – by the lack of attendance.
No, RHA is not a new procrastination-inducing super virus. It’s a duty as a Case Western Reserve University Student.
The RHA helps govern the day-to-day life of every CWRU Student, and they have a beautiful, in-depth constitution with a wonderful two-month history, which allows for student participation at all levels of governance. And yet, of everyone I’ve spoken with during the RHA Awareness Week, only two people actually knew what the RHA does. One of them is me, of course. The other one is the Magnolia Community House Representative from Hitchcock, Ariel McWhorter. She declined my request for an interview.
Here are the facts. As part of RHA Awareness week I approached 371.4 students along the binary walkway, offering them ice-cold lemonade in one hand and the pure majesty that is the RHA Constitution in the other. Only 50 percent knew that the RHA was a student organization of some kind – an astounding 37 percent thought the RHA is a procrastination-inducing super virus that was accidentally released by a hapless pre-medicine lab intern working in the sub-basement of the Millis Science Center. Thankfully, I was able to sneakily use a button mic to capture their attempts to comprehend the glory of the RHA.
First, I asked several of my fellow students “What does the RHA mean to you?”
“Just a front for the fraternity-sports conspiracy to funnel our spare change for their Lord and Savior, President Barbara Snyder.”
“I dunno like, aren’t they a party planning committee? Like, surprise birthday parties?”
For those who survived the first stage of questioning, I asked what should have been obvious to every math-blooded CWRU student: “Do you know your RHA representative or RHA president?”
“Wait, I thought the RHA is like, a campus thing? I mean, grown-ups and work study people?”
“Of course not, I need to get to class.”
Finally, I asked: “What could the RHA do for you?”
“The RHA should totally force Fribley Commons and Leutner Commons to like, serve edible food. Edible marijuana.”
“Maybe not hand out ice-cold lemonade when it’s negative three out?”
As you can see, there is not much awareness of what the RHA truly stands for. It stands for Dorm Econ classes so first-years would stop burning their popcorn and their ramen. It stands for keeping The Den at a close proximity to grease-deprived fourth-year students. It stands for common sense reforms so that air conditioning can be controlled within individual rooms and suites. Well, it would if you would vote me to be your new RHA president. Like that would happen. You don’t even know when the ballot date is. Educate yourself.