Sunday, November 22, 2009

Response to "A Lotto Trouble"

Response to A Lotto Trouble:

I am very glad that after last Tuesday's Senate meeting, the issue of the Rising Third Year Housing Lottery has received attention. As a supporter who voted for the Lottery System at its conception as is, I must say that this year's RHA Senate did a very good job analyzing and unpacking the intended and unintended consequences of the resolution presented. After voting, many RHA members expressed interest in looking into the issue much deeper.

The statement by the Diamondback staff editorial that there is "ambivalence and lack of initiative" on the RHA's part is simply untrue. This editorial probably would not be published without the RHA taking initiative in discussing the matter first. No RHA Senator has drafted an alternative resolution because the first was presented just five days ago! They have yet to have the opportunity to meet within their respective committees and garner as much student input as possible.

Students have just begun contacting their RHA representatives about the Housing Lottery, sharing their opinions and proposing what they would like to see done e-mail, facebook, and hall council meetings.

The RHA prides itself on being the voice of resident students. The conversation pertaining to the Housing Lottery has just begun to get interesting and resident students and their RHA representatives are heavily engaged and using time wisely in order to address the issue with the utmost care.

Our next Senate Meeting is December 8, 2009 in the Benjamin Banneker Room of the Stamp Student Union.

E-mail us at

This post written by:
Josef Mensah
RHA President

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What do YOU think?

There is SO much happening on campus, isn't there? The best part about it is that resident students can have a say on how things turn out.

Picking up the Diamondback every morning, there is always something going on and always something that the RHA can help you voice your concerns about.

Today in the Diamondback I read articles about two things:
Transportation and the gating of the Mowatt Garage from the Guilford Drive location (


The trash accumulating after Late Night (

I'll start with the garage. I don't speak for the entire RHA when I say this (though if you want the RHA to take a specific stance, you should let us know) but I think having the security back is great. This way we don't get random people coming onto our campus from the outside and unmarked but it is a bit inconvenient coming back after ten and having to drive the whole campus to park. What do YOU think?

Now for the issue of trash accumulating outside the dining halls. The beauty of late night and why the RHA advocated for it so many years ago was that students were still hungry after dinner time and because they called campus home, a (pre-)midnight snack should be available. At Late-Nite trays are not available, but what if more students ate in more? That way we all could dispose of trash in the containers that the dining staff controls. However, there have been many times where I want to run in and run out of late night just to get something to keep me satiated while studying.

So what's your take? What do you think? The RHA Meetings have standing meetings with Department of Transportation and Dining Services. What would you want US to say to THEM for YOU?! What stance on these issues would you want us to take?

Not comfortable sharing your name? Use our Honesty Box on FACEBOOK!! (

VOICE your opinion. BE INVOLVED!

-Josef Mensah
President, RHA

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The RHA votes to sign the Free Speech Letter

Resolution JMK001, 2009

A resolution Opposing Board of Regents Policy that would Discontinue the Right for the Residence Hall Association and Area Councils to Screen Any or All Films

Upon the approval of this resolution by the RHA Senate, the RHA will be added to the signatories of the Free Speech Letter drafted by the SGA.

Non-debateable questions:
Can you clarify what is meant in the final ‘therefore be it resolved’
That when choosing to show a movie at an RHA event, the host will take someone’s opinions into consideration if they think the movie shouldn’t be shown.

Where would the films in question be shown?
Anywhere: this would apply to films shown in Hoff or at events in Residence Halls.

Would these films be advertised?
If the person hosting the event wants to advertise, they must do it within the normal perimeters of Resident Life.

Do you think there will be a definition on “obscene”?
So far, there isn’t one, so we’re trying to be proactive in the event that there is a definition of obscene.

Keeping this decision to choose to show these movies in student power is important. It shouldn’t be deferred to the Board of Regents.

This is giving students the choice to see or not see a movie, no one is choosing for us what we can’t see.

This takes away a large part of our programming; residents should be able to get together and have a good time without having to find the educational component in the Office or a horror movie on Halloween.

This will take away from the establishment of community.

This resolution isn’t condoning the showing of pornography.

We are all adults. We can choose for ourselves.

This resolution supports that none of the current policy or practices will change.

It broadcasts the university in a bad light, especially if there is obscene signage.

We are opening ourselves to be criticized about every movie we show.

Even if this doesn’t mean we condone obscene movies, people still could get that impression.

This resolution passed 39:0:0

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Senate Minutes 9-29-09

Bill TCD001, 2009 Mixed Gendered Housing
: A Resolution to Move the Mixed Gendered Housing Program out of the Pilot Phase and into a Full Program under the Department of Resident Life

The RHA expresses its support of the Mixed Gendered Housing Program to the DRL through ReLATe and express its interest in being further involved in any decision needing to be made as the transition takes place.


Will moving this to permanent status allow this to expand to other residence halls?
Will moving it to a permanent status allow the program to expand within Commons and Courtyards?
Can you expand upon “data from participants that supports the success of the pilot program”
The Department of Resident Life has conducted surveys, mixers, and questionnaires in order to collect feedback from participants, all of which was positive
What were the goals of the program?
The purpose of this program was to allow friends of different genders to live together in one apartment
What is the application like?
The application includes your name and the names of the people you want to live with and why you want to live with them
The application is almost the same as the regular application to live in Commons/Courtyards
Have they had anyone try to move out halfway during the year because of unsatisfactory circumstances?
No, the only issues they have had so far was with one person choosing to study abroad for a semester
Why 64 spots?
DRL had to limit the number of apartments pulled out of open leasing
It is hard to find open apartments in Commons/Courtyards

Voting Ratio
Passed 30:0:4

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Your 2009 - 2010 RHA Councils

We on the RHA Exec Board was wondering if YOU knew who your hall council was.

Did you know we’ve already had our FIRST Senate Meeting and YOU could’ve been there? [Read up on it here: search RHA]

If you don’t know who we are or what we do, we can’t best advocate for you!

Your hall council is comprised of a president, a couple of vice-presidents, and two or more senators that work to put together programs for your hall or area and vote on your behalf in the RHA Senate.

Your hall/area council president is your hall/area visionary and makes sure your hall council functions efficiently and is doing what it can for you.

Your Vice Presidents are charged with a certain area of concentration, like the Vice President of Communication should be making sure you know what’s going on as far as events and important votes; your Vice President of Community Development may take the lead on putting together the event; and your Vice President of Sustainability is in charge of looking for new ways to keep the RHA and your hall/area sustainable. Some councils have other Vice Presidents like the Vice Presidents of Finance position.

Your Senators are at a Senate meeting every other Tuesday night, voting on whether to support or oppose campus policy that more than likely will affect you! Last Tuesday it was Mixed Gendered Housing in the Commons and Courtyards apartment, next meeting it could be (and SHOULD BE) something that YOU care about.

Some halls or areas might have floor reps which make it easier to get information to you and FROM you which is a very important aspect of what we do!

So you don’t know your council? It’s time you did! Here are your representatives to the RHA for the 2009 – 2010 school year.

To contact anyone, please e-mail!

RHA Overall Executive Board

Josef Mensah, President

Travis Durepo, Vice President

Julie Hudnet, Administrative Officer

Richard Solaski, Finance Officer

Uneeb Qureshi, Chief Information Officer

Ellen Farr, Student Groups Liaison

Samantha Lengyel, Public Relations and Outreach Officer

Mitchell Amoros, National Communications and Special Events Chairperson

Senators At-Large*

Senator At-Large Sean Collins

Senator At-Large Stanton Hudja

Senator At-Large James Galatola

Senator At-Large Justin Hudnet

Belair-Cambridge-Chestertown (BCC) Area Council

President Afareen Rezvani

Vice President of Programming Sam Lewis

Vice President of Communications Jillian Buchheim

Vice President of Membership Leslie Mok

Vice President of Finance Yasmin Amiri

Vice President Sustainability Liz Blankenhorn

Senator Damien Pinkett

Senator Marcela Lima

Advisor Ashlei Tobin-Robertson

Centreville Hall Council

President Chelsea Yin

Vice President of Communications & Finance Kevin Ludwig

Vice President of Programming and Community Development Guergana Stoytcheva

Vice President of Public Relations Nick Duong

Vice President of Sustainability Christopher Mertens

Senator Li min Kuan

Senator Sasha Azar

Advisor Danielle Nied

Commons Area Council

President Anna Leary

Vice President of Communications Scott Roberts

Vice President of Finance Kristen Peterson

Senator Debbie Kobrin

Senator Casey Anis

Senator Lauren Shipton

Senator Kiara Carty

Senator Yoni Levy

[Senator Position Open]

[Senator Position Open]

Advisor Stella Okeke

Courtyards Area Council

President Bridget Gallagher

Vice President of Communication Courtney Buchanan

Senator Josh Griner

[Senator Position Open]

CA Liaison Michael Currie

Advisor Victor Lee

Cumberland Hall Council

President Catherine Williams

Vice President of Communication Carlos Walmsley

Vice President of Sustainability Drew Needham

Senator Laith Abu-Taleb

Senator April Vesely

Advisor Joshua Beeson

Denton Hall Council

President Manas Kulkarni

Vice President of Administration Emily Kleiman

Vice President of Community Development Michael Ravitch

Vice President of Finance Pratik Dixit

Vice President of Publicity and Out-reach Elizabeth McLellan

Senator Mohammad Zia

Senator Rachel Kenigsberg

Advisor Cory Hibbetts

E-mail Denton Hall Council at

Easton Hall Council

President Michelle Ferrare

Vice President for Communication Matthew McKay

Vice President for Community Development and Programming Allison Palmadesso

Vice President of Sustainability Devun Pahwa

Senator Deep Mahapatra

[Senator Position Open]

Advisor Kevin Pitts

Elkton Hall Council

President Matthew Breitenother

Vice President of Communication Christian Gragasin

Vice President of Community Development Shakia Pennix

Senator Mike Lovaas

Senator Lance Haohan

Advisor Lisa Alexander

Ellicott Hall Council

President Crystal Wang

Vice President Communication Nikko Khuc

Vice President of Community Development Seth Backer

Vice President of Sustainability Nima Sarfaraz

Senator Justin Shugarman

Senator Jonathan Hoffman

Advisor Erin Shlegel

Hagerstown Hall Council

President Nina Rosenberg

Vice President of Communications Joan So

Vice President of Sustainability Akshay Gandhi

Senator Kayode Ogunsola

Senator Avishek Saha

Advisor Tiffany Gaines

La Plata Hall Council

President Martina Beshai

Vice President of Communications Shalesha Lake

Vice President of Finance Chul Kwon

Vice President of Sustainability Scott Cypen

Senator MacKenzie Campbell

Senator Brad Scott

Floor Representative Brendan Fennessy

Advisor Jeanni Simpson

Leanordtown Area Council

President Erika Roberge

Vice President of Communications Marc Karlinsky

Vice President of Community Development Kobena Waters

Senator Samantha Creange

Senator Amber Travis

Advisor Kelly Tavenner

North Hill Area Council (NHAC)

President Monique Robinson

Vice President for Communications Joshua Goldstein

Vice President for Community Development Janina Vaitkus

Vice President of Sustainability Eric Dai

Senator Jonathan Katz

Senator Corie Stretton

Senator Zohara Barth

Senator Nicolaus Krug

Advisor Mawine Diggs

South Hill Area Council (SHAC)

President Joshua Finifter

Vice President of Advocacy Roshan Shah

Vice President of Communication Benjamin Magno

Vice President of Finance John Ford

Vice President of Sustainability Amy Schwarzl

Senator Kathleen Hartinger

Senator Eric Harvey

Senator Matheos Yirga

Senator Laura Murphy

Senator Kerin Miller

Advisors Angie Major and O’Juan Edwards

Here’s to a great year everybody!

Josef Mensah, RHA President

*appointed by the RHA Vice President to represent entire campus.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Getting Involved

Whether you are an incoming freshman or have already spent several semesters at the university, you may often feel like your student voice is insignificant and undervalued. With no clear guidance, you may be feeling unsure in your attempt to be a student leader. Fortunately, the Residence Hall Association provides a unique, exciting opportunity for any resident to become involved in the vital decisions that affect our campus residents. 
The RHA has two main functions: to create and host quality programs for community building in the dorms and to advocate and recommend policies to the campus administration that convey student interests. We simply ask you to be involved.

Every academic year, representatives from each hall/community are elected by their peers to represent their particular community. This helps to make the very large campus smaller and more accessible to the students. Hall and area councils are encouraged by the RHA to host programs that reflect the interests of their residents. Over the years, many successful events have become highly anticipated traditions. Cumberland’s North Campus Luau, the South Campus Commons Block Party and the Denton Halloween Dance are just a few of these yearly events, besides countless midnight breakfasts, talent competitions and casino nights.  With new minds come new ideas, and yours could be the next big thing.
As one of the most prominent and influential student governing organizations on campus, we function as a liaison between students and administrators by lobbying for student issues and pushing for the positive changes you want to see. We hold priority influence on issues concerning four departments of Student Affairs: Resident Life, Residential Facilities, Dining Services and Transportation. We also have begun promoting sustainability initiatives within and outside the dorms.
In the past we’ve successfully advocated for Online Room Selection, so no more running to a crowded room in the Stamp Student Union to choose your new room.  We advocated for the removal of focus dates for all students, and opting out of focus dates is now a click away on the Dining Services website. We weighed in and supported the new Debit Card Readers for your laundry machines and this year we plan to continue tackling issues like the development of the new Denton dining facility, Amethyst Dialogues that revolve around alcohol consumption on campus and making sure the resident voice continues to be heard.
Whether you are interested in programming, policy or both, the RHA wants you to make connections, make new friends, build your resume and make a difference on campus.  We encourage all to attend our annual Open House on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Cambridge Community Center or Courtyards Community Center, where you can ask specific questions about how to be involved in the organization.  

To learn more, visit our website,, and add us on Facebook at Applications are due on Sept. 11, and elections will be held online Wednesday, Sept. 16 and Thursday Sept. 17. Don’t miss your chance to be part of a highly respected organization whose voice is always heard — be involved.

Samantha Lengyel
Public Relations and Outreach Officer, RHA

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Move In Is Here

First off: Add Us. Thank you. BE INVOLVED.

I'm sitting here with Administrative Officer Julie Hudnet at the North Hill Check in desk (Queen Anne) and we're excited to be meeting so many of our new peers.

RHA representatives are all over campus today and tomorrow. If you any questions about campus or campus-living, don't hesitate to ask us. We'll try and point you in the right direction. Other than that, if you want to get plugged in, Make Connections, Build your resume, and make a difference, ask us about how to do that within the RHA this year.

Alright, back to check in!

Josef Mensah
RHA President

Friday, August 21, 2009

Around the Corner!

Move in is around the corner with Commons and Courtyards residents moving in tomorrow and the rest of the campus next weekend!

The RHA Executive Board has been back since last Tuesday setting specific goals for the year in order for YOU to BE INVOLVED! Add us on Facebook (Maryland Residence Hall Assoc) . It'll keep you aware of all the programs in your Hall/Area Council and the policy being considered in the RHA Senate. whether by running for an RHA Position or knowing what is happening all around campus from programs to the policy we're considering.

It's been so fun hanging with the Executive Board. We're becoming great teammates and even greater friends. Going into my fourth year in RHA, I've made connections with such a wide variety of people I would not have been able to meet or work with elsewhere. This year is no different.

I hope to meet YOU too! The RHA Execs and some students from your hall or area will be sitting at tables during move-in. Don't forget to stop by and say hi before getting your keys. Yes, this means EVERYBODY ! We want to know the people we'll be representing, and the students interested in representing others as the VOICE for on-campus students.

You and your new roommates, floormates, and friends should come bust a move at the RHA/NRO Dance on Friday night at 9:00pm in the Student Union Grand Ballroom.

As always...

Josef K. Mensah
RHA President

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We're so close to move-in ladies and gentlemen and I wanted to encourage you (again and not for the last time) to BE INVOLVED!

Thurs and Fri Aug 27 and 28
RHA representatives at all move-in locations! Stop by and say hi before/after getting your keys!

Friday August 28
Party the night away with new residents and the RHA Execs
Grand Ballroom, Stamp Student Union

Wednesday September 9
RHA Open House
Want to get involved as a resident student on campus? Come learn about RHA Elections and the open leadership positions open in your hall or area council.
Cambridge Community Center

Wednesday and Thursday September 16 and 17
RHA Elections
Vote for the students that will be your VOICE to the RHA and campus administration
Online at:

Tuesday September 29
RHA Senate Meeting
The first senate meeting of the academic year. let your VOICE be heard!
Benjamin Banneker Room, Stamp Student Union

Josef Mensah, President

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Post

Hey everyone,

I hope the summer has started off nicely for all of you! I've personally been taking a summer class which ends soon and is only Mon, Tues, and Wed.

Your RHA Execs have been busy preparing for Fall. Travis, your VP, and I just met with Courtyards Community Council. We spoke about officially including Courtyards in the RHA and giving them Senate representation. I think it'll be a win-win situation for both the RHA Senate and Courtyards but more on our part since we'll be getting a perspective that has often been overlooked.

The other execs are working hard too. We'll be able to give you a full executive report after July 12! Should be fun. We'll keep you posted.

Keep enjoying the summer; it's already July!

Yours truly,

Josef K. Mensah

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Your RHA is ready to ACT!!!

And now we look onward!

RHA just celebrated the ten year anniversary of the constitution's ratification. May 12, 2009 during the RHA/NRHH Year End Reception, every president from the past ten years returned to share experiences and word of wisdom for the future.

Standing on the firm foundation afforded to us by the RHA members of the last decade, we are ready to A.C.T.

We're ready to be Accountable to the students we represent; build the greater campus Community by forging better relationships with other student representative bodies, taking advantage of the priority influence we have over residential campus issues, and expanding our reach of influence; and we are ready with Teamwork. We'll work together, create and sustain greater appreciation of our Hall and Area Councils, become great friends and associates, and have fun all the way.

Let me introduce you to your Executive Board for the 2009 - 2010 academic year.

Vice President- Travis Durepo
Administrative Officer- Julie Hudnet
Finance Officer- Richard Solaski
Chief Information Officer - Uneeb Qureshi
Student Groups Liaison- Ellie Farr
Public Relations and Outreach- Debbie Kobrin
National Communications Chair- Mitchell Amoros

And I, Josef Mensah, will serve as your President.

If you are an incoming freshman resident or a returning student looking to flex your leadership guns, build character, gain friendships, and get INVOLVED the Residence Hall Association is the place for you. Check out our website ( and/or e-mail us at We're your voice, all summer and school year long!

Enjoy the summer!

Josef K. Mensah, President