The University of Maryland RHA passed 26 bills this year, ranging from creating a new mental health committee to advocating for increased sexual health education.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done this year,” Quentin Hoglund, who served as the Residence Hall Association vice president this past academic year, said. “We’re beginning to address a lot of problems that needed to be solved for a long time.”

Last year, the RHA passed 13 bills. Michelle Ameyaw, RHA’s recently elected vice president, attributed the increase in bills passed this year to a group of especially passionate senators.

Here’s a look at some of the legislation the RHA passed this academic year.

Creating a new mental health committee

In April, the RHA approved legislation to create a new mental health committee within the organization.

The ad hoc committee was established for the upcoming academic year with a specific focus on mental health, Hoglund said. The RHA will reevaluate its efficacy at the end of next year to decide whether to transition it into a permanent standing committee.

The committee will centralize efforts to create events and educational programs surrounding mental health issues facing students, Hoglund, a senior government and politics major, said.

Promoting reproductive and sexual health resources

The RHA passed a bill in October calling for the increased promotion of reproductive and sexual health resources offered by this university’s health center.

Many students are unaware of the resources available to them, including free STI and HIV testing, free Plan B and birth control consultations, according to Natalie Asbury, the bill’s author.

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Since the bill’s passage, Asbury — who is the RHA’s new chief of internal affairs — has been working with the health center and the Department of Resident Life to find ways to better promote these resources and increase sexual health education.

Asbury hopes to implement new promotional materials in collaboration with Resident Life in time for the upcoming fall semester, the sophomore environmental science and policy major said.

Erika Holdren, the RHA’s president over the past academic year, said she thinks this bill will have a significant impact.

“We can take that bill and use it to shape our programming for next year, and it shows that we have a passion for expanding those resources,” Holdren, a junior government and politics major, said.

Seating for more Shuttle-UM bus stops

RHA senators passed a bill in February pushing for the Department of Transportation Services to build more seating and shelters for Shuttle-UM bus stops.

According to the bill, there are a significant number of bus stops at this university that lack seating or shelter.

“It sucks when you go to a bus stop and there’s no benches,” Hoglund said.

The bill’s passage enabled RHA to start collaborating with DOTS to implement the infrastructural changes to “make living and working on campus a lot easier,” Hoglund said.

The Shared Integrated Facility Technology project

The RHA also passed a bill supporting this university’s SHIFT project which would streamline the facilities work order system.

4Work — this university’s residential facilities service center — currently manages most of its work order requests on paper and its system is “outdated,” according to Ameyaw, a sophomore biology major.

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The SHIFT project would utilize an online system to create a centralized database for all work orders.

The project, set to be implemented this upcoming fall, will benefit both 4Work staff and residents who will be able to efficiently track the status of their requests, Ameyaw explained.

“I know with 4Work, they’ve had some issues with tracking where a certain call may have come from and stuff like that, and it was really hard on the workers trying to track all that paperwork,” Ameyaw said. “Because we live in the modern age, that’s not really necessary anymore.”

Plastic bag recycling program

The organization also passed legislation in January advocating for the creation of a plastic bag recycling program for on-campus residents.

According to the bill, there are no plastic bag drop-off locations on campus. The bill encouraged Resident Life to explore the possibility of putting plastic bag disposal bins in residence halls and the Stamp Student Union food court.

The legislation also proposed various ways to repurpose the plastic bags collected, such as donating them to students with service dogs for waste retrieval or distributing them to students to use with their personal waste bins.