Some people take it seriously and campaign for better residence halls. Other students use it as a launching pad to get their name out on campus. Either way, each GW residence hall elected leaders to serve on the Residence Hall Association on Monday.
An organization serving the 7,000 students living in dorms, the RHA monitors and drafts policies for residence halls and aids in the annual housing selection process. After three days of official campaign time, students took to the polls on Monday to elect a president, vice president, treasurer and an RHA representative for each GW dorm.
“It is a serious commitment that requires officers to seek out residents within their halls and work to help solve problems,” RHA president Amrita Bagaria, a senior, said.
In addition to serving as liaisons between the constituents they serve and the University, RHA officials also hold annual events and fundraisers including Martha’s Marathon for housing scholarships and the Target Takeover held during Welcome Week.
Each of the RHA officials elected on Monday serves specific duties, Bagaria said. While the president of a hall serves as a member of the RHA general body, the vice president and treasurer assist the president in managing a dorm’s budget and hearing constituents’ concerns. Representatives act as liaisons between residents and RHA leaders.
“We can be a resource for facilities issues, hall-wide programming and initiatives, and when it comes time to figure out housing for next year, we can assist in finding roommates, and generally just making the housing selection process easier,” Bagaria said.
Senior Joe Karlya is the new Ivory Tower hall president and took the election seriously, but he has no further political aspirations, he said.
“I didn’t run just for kicks,” Karlya said. “There is no purpose for me if I’m not thinking through how to make good on campaign promises.
“I’m a senior. This is sort of my last hoorah.”
Campaigning on issues such as fighting for benches outside Ivory Tower and installing a recycling system in the dorm, Karlya said the key to his campaigning was his door-to-door interactions.
Freshman John Estrada ran for Hall on Virginia Avenue president because he wants to get to know everyone in his building – he has not decided yet if he will run for Student Association Senate.
“I have already begun to work closely with (SA) President (Audai) Shakour’s House of Freshmen incentive, which allows for every freshman to become involved with the SA,” said Estrada, who said he primarily used the Facebook to campaign.
“I understand that this position was the beginning for most of the senators in the SA,” Estrada added. “But I haven’t decided if I will run.”
Among the other RHA representatives elected Monday is sophomore Chris Rotella from the Ivory Tower, a student involved in both the Student Association and RHA. Rotella ran unopposed and said he did very little campaigning, other than asking his friends to vote for him.
“Once you are a sophomore, you have established yourself in the GW community – there is no need for extensive campaigning,” Rotella said.
“The freshmen usually take the elections more seriously. You will see more posters posted around Thurston than in the Ivory Tower,” Rotella added.
Former RHA representative for HOVA Morgan Corr now holds an even bigger job – SA executive vice president. Corr said being in the RHA was a good experience for learning the inner workings of the University.
Corr said many of the same characteristics it takes to win in the RHA elections also carry over into the SA elections.
“While there is no direct link between the RHA and SA per se,” Corr said, “there are some parallels.”