Students and administrators of the Residence Hall Association and Student Apartment Community Council have plans to complete a long overdue merge by the end of the 2016 spring quarter, marking a big step in the future of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s growing community of university owned housing.
In a series of town hall meetings, student leaders of RHA and SACC are reaching out to those affected by the proposed merge by giving residents of both residence halls and university apartments a breakdown of current structural entities, the proposed changes and the further benefits this merge will provide.
A meeting was hosted in the Santa Rosa Lounge to an audience of Chi-5 freshmen on Wed., Nov. 4, the first of four town hall meetings to be held throughout the month of November. Matilda Mead, RHA president, spearheaded the meeting with the help of several other members on both RHA and SACC executive boards.
“RHA currently services thousands of students within the Chi-5, Westside and Santa Catalina dorms,” Mead said in the presentation’s opening. “Our ultimate goal in completing this merge is to extend our influence and reach out to every student that needs us.”
So far, the Residence Hall Association has done its best to reach out to students of all years and living situations. The annual Week of Welcome, a marathon of events that this year included movie screenings, club festivals and hypnotist shows, set an all time record with over 27,500 students in attendance after months of preparation.
On a day-to-day basis, the Residence Hall Association primarily serves first and second year students within the Chi-5 (Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas, and San Miguel), Farside (Manzanita and San Rafael), and Westside (Santa Catalina and Sierra Madre). The SACC serves third and fourth year students in Westwinds, El Dorado and Santa Ynez Apartments.
The main responsibility of both organizations is the planning of events that encourage unity within community living spaces, as well as offering alternatives for students who want to take a break from the party culture of Isla Vista.
Under the proposed merge, SACC and RHA will continue to do fulfill their responsibilities, but with increased funding, resources, representation, collaboration and access to a larger, more diverse body of UCSB students. SACC, which functions now as a large hall council with an executive board, an Associated Students senator and representatives from each cluster, will be absorbed into the current RHA structure to form the new Residential Housing Association under the same RHA acronym.
By joining forces to form one large umbrella organization, RHA and SACC executive board members are excited to better appeal to the needs of upper-division and transfer students.
“Transfer students are like first years in many ways,” fourth year anthropology major Courtney Simpson said. Simpson drew upon her own experience as a transfer student as a means of advocating in favor of the merge. “I personally found it difficult at first to find leadership opportunities. This new Residential Housing Association will offer transfer students more opportunities to lead within the community, and better represent their unique position and opinions.”
The projected plan for this year is a SACC council-wide vote regarding the merge with RHA by the end of this fall quarter. The current Residence Hall Association will amend and adopt by-laws, which SACC will then vote to adopt during winter quarter. By spring quarter of 2016, RHA and SACC will be officially merged, and students living in university housing will vote for the 2016-2017 leaders of the new Residential Housing Association. San Joaquin and the newly acquired Tropicana dorms will be inducted into the organization within the next couple of years.
In the meantime, SACC and RHA are excited for what the upcoming year holds. For SACC, that means sailing trips, movie nights and community bonding. For RHA, that means All-Hall Brawl, All-Hall Ball and even the newly proposed All-Hall Goats (like dog therapy day… but with goats), which, even in its initial planning phases, is sure to entertain both freshmen and fourth years alike.