The RHA is the governing body for all on-campus students. We have two branches: You may have seen the first, the programming branch, in your residence halls with events like Floats for Votes, the North Campus Carnival and the South Campus Block Party. More importantly, however, we have a policymaking branch that collaborates with a variety of student leaders to create campus policy. We work to improve life for on-campus residents in any way possible through our relationships with the directors of major on-campus departments. For example, we were instrumental in the implementation of two-ply toilet paper this semester.

You may be wondering: why are we reaching out with just one month left in the semester? Many of you have heard about the campus switch to the new Anytime Dining plan that will be taking effect in the upcoming semester. Here’s a synopsis of some of the changes:

· Anytime Dining will alleviate food insecurity by allowing anyone with a Resident Dining Plan to enjoy unlimited access to campus

dining halls.

· Plans will include a minimum of two guest passes per semester. Upgraded plans will include Dining Dollars, which will be accepted at all dining halls, cafes, shops and certain Stamp locations. All returning residents will be given 80 Dining Dollars in the fall and spring semesters to help students adjust.

· Dining Services will have extended hours, additional seating and modified styles of service to encourage community building.

· Dining Services will implement a biometric system, streamlining our entrance and exits. These hand waves provide a simple shape that is associated with the palm of your hand, and the servers will be wiped clean each semester. No information will be disseminated to external entities.

· By limiting carry-out options, Anytime Dining eliminates the use of over 6.1 million disposable items.

Okay, so now that you have received a crash course and are all caught up, why are we reaching out? As stated before, the RHA is the governing body for on-campus students: It is our duty to make sure that your voices are heard. This semester, RHA and the Department of Dining Services hosted Town Halls in order to gather feedback from students about issues with on-campus life, including the new dining plan. Both Dining Services and RHA are always incredibly open to suggestions and feedback, which is why you, as residents, are so imperative.

This is where you — the students — come into play! Students naturally have concerns. It is important to voice these concerns through a medium that has the potential to make a difference and impact your living community. We encourage you to actively take these concerns to the people that will listen — Dining Services and the RHA. Social media is a great resource, but please balance posts with in-person communication.

I promise that your voice has an impact. The Dining Services team has been adamant about getting student feedback and receiving suggestions from students. Because of the fact that students are the ones spending the most time in the dining halls and eating there every day, it is safe to assume that students would have some great ideas on how to improve the experience. That is why speaking up is so important. Not only speaking up — but speaking up in a civil and structured manner. That being said, social media can still be a useful outlet for feedback. Both the RHA and Dining Services are available on Twitter to hear your questions, concerns and ideas.

Make use of your resources! The RHA is here as a representative body on campus and we want to hear what you have to say. The RHA is committed to continuing the conversation about Anytime Dining through the use of our Dining Services Advisory Board. We hope that you will help to continue the conversation with us.

Kevin Riordan is the public relations and outreach officer for the Residence Hall Association. He can be reached at