The RHA has new leaders in place for the next academic year.
On Tuesday, the Residence Hall Association Senate elected Steve Chen and Sasha Galbreath, who will assume their roles May 3 as the organization’s president and vice president, respectively.
Chen, a junior biology and individual studies major, began his RHA career as a senator representing La Plata Hall his freshman year.
“I was interested in working in a campus representative body, so I gave it a shot and applied and campaigned to be elected senator,” he said.
Chen also served as the chairman of the RHA Senate’s Transportation Advisory Committee, a role he held during his freshman and sophomore years.
When the Department of Transportation Services started to reduce parking on the campus, the committee conducted a student survey to gauge sentiment toward the campus parking policy and make strides to developing a parking priority system.
“That was kind of the defining issue last year when I was TAC chair,” Chen said. “This year, the direction I’m going is different, through the [Orientation Action Committee] and through other diversity initiatives.”
In his current role as the student groups and organizations liaison, Chen works closely with the Student Government Association. He helped push for the creation of the RHA’s ad hoc Orientation Advisory Committee, which advises the orientation office on the content of student orientation and UNIV100-level courses.
Galbreath, a junior government and politics major, represented Easton Hall during her first semester on the campus. As a student admitted to this university in the spring, Galbreath said RHA was a great way to get involved and gain some work experience.
“I had declared a government and politics major and, like most people who get involved, I did it as a resume builder,” she said. “But, that’s definitely not why I’ve stuck with it. I feel like I have a purpose on campus.”
Galbreath said one of the projects she is most proud of during her time on the RHA Senate was guaranteeing housing for RHA senators-at-large, a resolution passed in spring 2015 that she said allows these senators to remain involved in dorm life.
“The rest of the executive board get[s] guaranteed housing just to make it easier for them and allow them to stay involved with RHA,” she said. “My motivation for this resolution was to maintain the experience we have in RHA and improve the practices we have.”
As president, Chen, with the help of his executive board, is responsible for constructing a vision for the RHA. Chen and Galbreath said one of their main goals — aside from continuing the strong working relationships with department administrators — is to improve student engagement efforts.
“With future big decisions, including parking as well as the speculated residence community to be built on the engineering field, we need to make sure we are engaging students and really involving them in the decision making process,” Chen said. “We need to serve our role as liaison for the students.”
But it can sometimes be tough for people to speak up and express their concerns to people they don’t really know, Galbreath said.
“I’d like to work with the senate to increase visibility and get acquainted with others. It would make us transparent through opening up communication with senators,” she said. “If you know someone, you’re much more willing to talk to them. RHA has been like a family to me and many others. I’d like to provide that opportunity to everybody else.”
While both Chen and Galbreath ran unopposed, current RHA President Allison Peters said she is more than confident in their leadership abilities.
“I’ve been able to watch them both grow so much and pursue their individual passions,” the senior government and politics and history major said. “Having worked with them both, I’m very confident they’ll be able to address the concerns students have and continue the progress we’ve made.”