The University of Maryland’s Residence Hall Association has reapportioned the number of senators designated to each hall or on-campus area in time for the council member elections on Sept. 12 and 13.
RHA added seats to its council for a total of 48 senators and four senators-at-large to represent this university’s 12,500 on-campus residents.
The initiative gives a more proportionate representation by opening an extra senate seat to Cumberland, Oakland, South Hill, South Campus Commons, Courtyards, Leonardtown and the Bel Air, Chestertown and Cambridge Hall community.
RHA vice president and senior government and politics and sociology major Tzvi Glazer said the need for reapportionment had gone unnoticed by the Senate.
“The more senators, the better. It’s just that some things don’t happen until they’re brought to our attention,” Glazer said. “It’s just one of those things that gets lost in translation.”
RHA bylaws require one senator for every 250 residents and “a minimum of 100 residents is required for the consideration of an addition of a voting representative.”
“We gave a new senator to all of the [Resident Councils] that we saw were just shy of an extra one,” Glazer said. “The duty to fill the new slots ultimately rests with the area and hall councils themselves. … If a council doesn’t send a senator to us, we can’t help them.”
Oakland Hall currently has about 700 residents, meaning it is larger than other North Campus dorms, but is not quite large enough to add a third senator.
In April, junior government and politics major Ben Reichard authored a resolution to update senator apportionment and more thoroughly track the number of residents staying in each building every year. The resolution passed 40-2 with no abstentions.
“I just want to make sure that we are following our documents as we should be, and that the numbers are lined up so that our residents are well represented,” Reichard said.
RHA President Dana Rodriguez said she worked with Senate members this summer to collect the total numbers of students living in each hall and track how those numbers change over the course of the school year.
“We now have a ratio of about 12,500 students, divided by an average number of students in each hall — and that gives us a rough estimate of the amount of students who should be on [an area’s] Senate,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said senators are there to provide a stronger sense of community and give students an easy way to voice their concerns.
“[An additional Senator is] another face that represents us, someone who cares about people and lives in the halls,” Rodriguez said. “It’s another person’s voice to accurately represents the people who live on this campus.”
The RHA bylaws also specify that its executive board should work with the Department of Resident Life to look at Senate apportionment when resident assignments are finalized in August of each academic year.