Michigan State’s Residence Hall Association (a.k.a RHA) is a vital part of on-campus student life at MSU. COVID-19, and the multiple types of physical isolation with it, has changed the landscape of RHA this year. The need for representation for on-campus students may be greater than before but the decline in student populations on campus, due to quarantine and other state/university policies, has reduced the amount of available representation. RHA has become a vital voice of student representation and, along with ASMSU (MSU’s undergraduate student government), is often one of the only student bodies given representation on many of university-wide boards and presidential committees.
“Comprised of elected representatives from each hall government, neighborhood caucus, the Council of Racial Ethnic Students (CORES), and the Council of Progressive Students (COPS)” – MSU RHA’s website: rha.msu.edu/general-assembly/
Often meeting with Michigan State’s Culinary Services (eatatstate.msu.edu) and Michigan State’s Residence Education & Housing Services (rhs.msu.edu), the GA has been smaller than in years past. The hall government representatives, which make up a sizable portion of the GA, are half of previous hall representation. This is all due to the trickle-down effect as less students are on campus, there are less candidates that can run the individual hall governments that then meet up with the rest of GA on Wednesday nights. Luckily, the neighborhood caucuses (Black & LGBTQIA+) and university-recognized CORES & COPS groups (the councils of racial, ethnic and progressive students) have stepped up and voiced their opinions—representing a growing minority, who has been severely hit by this COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether one realizes it or not, each on-campus student pays an annual $25.00 tax while signing their lease with Michigan State University. This tax helps pay for various student leadership positions in the Residential Hall Association. It also creates priority funds used by RHA-sponsored RSOs, residence hall councils, neighborhood caucus groups, and CORES/COPS organizations to help better the livelihoods of the on-campus resident as a whole.
This year, students must decide if MSU RHA’s $25 tax will stay on their bill for the next 3 years until the next tax referendum in the 2024-2025 school year.
“$19.00 of the tax stays with the RHA general account to provide campus-wide services, events, and programming. The additional $6.00 is allocated as: $4.50 for Hall Governments and $0.75 for each of the caucuses.” – MSU RHA’s website: rha.msu.edu/business-office/
A university-wide announcement (liveon.msu.edu/second-year/) has reinstated the “live on” requirement for sophomore [credit-wise] students. A controversial policy that is seen as a ploy by MSU to take more money from International and Domestic students. The president of RHA has taken on the task of being the one of the representatives on the university implementation team, whose main goal will drastically change the financial and college experience of future MSU sophomores.
Sophomore Residency is just one of the many issues that RHA deals with, and the multiple quarantines and enhanced-physical distancing initiatives brought on by state government mandates have turned RHA into a valuable space for student discussion. Even as college students turn from young adults and teenagers into independent citizens of the world, they are often sidelined by the established adults without a word said. Residence hall governments allow students to interact and question representatives of organizations that help create and balance that student’s lifestyle. Another valuable tool of representation full of capabilities for the average, on-campus student.