College is a stressful time — leaving home, making new friends, and getting adjusted to a brand new living situation are just few of its challenging aspects. The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) makes the last part a little easier by helping students meet new people, and being a voice in the community by advocating for students living in the residence halls.
RHA is famous within UCSB’s community for the various programs that it organizes, but for incoming freshmen, their version of student government for residence halls might be an unfamiliar concept.
While resident assistants (RAs) are in charge of overseeing the different floors of the residence halls where students live, RHA is in charge of creating programs—social, educational, cultural, and recreational—in order to help foster a stronger sense of community within the residence halls. RHA also advocates for its residents in the UCSB community. “As we like to say, our job is to put the ‘unity’ in ‘community’,” said Lacy Wright, the Associated Students On-Campus Senator who serves as a Senate liaison for RHA.
“RHA is putting on many of the Week of Welcome events, including the big casino night, the hypnotist show, the movie by the lagoon and so many more,” Wright said. “Additionally, this quarter we are launching the House Cup, which will be a huge tournament between all the residence halls.”
Each hall can earn points in various ways, from attending different events to donating meal plan swipes. The House Cup will also host smaller competitions to help residence halls earn points.
Getting involved with RHA is easier than it was getting involved with student government in high school, because anyone is welcome to join. “Freshmen can get involved in a couple of ways,” Wright said. Anyone living in the residence halls can join Hall Council, the government body for each building, become a safer sex peer, or an environmental ambassador.“Even if you don’t want to join Hall Council or commit to a position, you can still work with Hall Council and RHA to implement your ideas in your building,” she said.
Hall Council elections take place at the beginning of every fall quarter, in which students campaign for various positions. Hall Council initiatives are funded by an annual fee of $9 per resident. The Hall Council of each residence hall plans programs for their halls, sets aside money toward front desk and recreation equipment, and act as a vehicle for students’ voices to be heard.
Students can come into the RHA offices with questions or just to hang out in San Nicolas and Santa Catalina residence halls, as well as De Anza—located near San Rafael and Manzanita Village residence halls—between 9 AM to 5 PM daily. Free candy or blue books are occasionally provided.
”Every resident is a part of RHA, and we want to be a community that supports you,” Wright said.