LSA sophomore Darla Williams will be the face of the approximately 10,000 students living in University housing, starting April 14.
As president-elect of the Residence Halls Association, Williams said one of her goals is to improve RHA’s relations with residential staff.
Williams said residential advisors are not currently included within the general assembly of RHA — the student government of University residence halls that consists of 16 dorms and oversees all of the hall and multicultural councils — because they receive free room and board from the University.
Williams said RAs are an incredible resource because new residents look to older students for advice. She added that she hopes to incorporate their input into the general assembly while being mindful of their conflict of interest.
“(RAs) need to have a voice. They are students like we are. They might have problems with their employers or need help with some of their programmatic duties,” Williams said.
She said she hopes to hold an RHA information session for RAs while they are being trained before school starts.
Williams also wants there to be a wider selection at convenience stores around campus such as those at Alice Lloyd and Bursley Residence Halls.
Williams also said that these convenience stores will offer more nonfood items such as tampons, Q-tips and sometimes condoms.
Another important goal for RHA, Williams said, is to improve access to the buildings for people with disabilities.
Instead of an external button, Williams said RHA is looking into offering a remote for students with disabilities to open the doors into their residence halls.
She added RHA is looking into how to accommodate athletes with temporary injuries and visitors with disabilities.
Williams also hopes to attack a problem that many students complain about on a regular basis: dorm food. Williams said RHA has representatives that are working to create the Hill Dining Center, which will provide on-the-spot cooking, such as custom-made omelettes and offer more up-to-date culinary technology.
Associate Director of Housing Mary Hummel said that construction for this state-of-the art dining facility will hopefully begin sometime next year.
LSA senior and current RHA President Amy Keller said Williams is taking over after a successful year for RHA.
Keller said winning the award for School of the Year from the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Conference in student advocacy was evidence of RHA’s series of achievements in the past year.
Keller also said that other responsibilities of the president include meeting with residence halls’ student governments and the University Board of Regents, attending regional and national conferences with other RHA groups and acting as a liaison to other student groups on campus.
Keller said another role of the president is to present realistic goals for the RHA to accomplish. She cited the high cost of University housing as a reoccurring problem that RHA aims to solve. However, she said rising heating prices make solving it difficult.
Even though room and board charges might not decrease in the near future, Keller said RHA does communicate students’ financial strain to the administration.
“We need to communicate to the administration that the rates must be conservative to accommodate the students, but then (explain) to the students that the rates must go up to keep up the standard they are accustomed to. We work to find a middle ground,” Keller said.
The president also runs RHA’s weekly general assembly meeting, Keller said.
Humell said another accomplishment of the current RHA leadership was improving its relationship with the Michigan Student Assembly.
The general assembly elects the president by secret ballot. This vote is open to assembly representatives from selected hall and multicultural councils. Keller said the general assembly is selected with a proportional representation system like the U.S. House of Representatives. She added that larger halls receive four representatives, medium halls three representatives and smaller halls two representatives.