What is RHA?
At a Glance
The hundreds of events in and around all 49 residence halls across campus every year, the voice of thousands of residents, and one of the leading student leadership organizations at Tech—that’s us, and if you live on campus, you’re a part of it! The Residence Hall Association (RHA) is the second largest student organization on campus, and we’re made possible by the over 8,000 residents who live in Georgia Tech Housing. We help breathe life into Tech traditions and classic events—like Homecoming, Intramurals, and Week of Welcome—and provide funding for residents, RAs, Hall Directors, and other student organizations to help build community and make our halls into homes. In years past, we’ve been the voice behind the integration of the Menstrual Product Program into residence halls, the creation of a redesigned maintenance request portal, and the adoption of free laundry for our residents.
Pillars & Focus
Featured prominently in our logo, our three pillars—Grow, Lead, Unite—guide the work we do. Over the past few years, RHA’s focus has shifted gradually and continually expanded. Moving forward, we’re intentionally choosing to shift our focus back to the residential student experience, bringing events and initiatives closer to residential areas on campus and delegating non-resident-specific concerns and areas of advocacy to our friends over in SGA.
🏋️♀️ Pillar 1: GROW ▼
RHA elevates the resident voice to the department of Housing and Residence Life, guiding the growth of the department and ensuring that departmental change is based on resident input, concerns, and ideas. We also work internally to grow our organization and streamline processes and procedures to better serve residents and provide them with the resources they need to unite their communities. Check out examples of how we’ve helped grow both the department and our organization below.
🔧 Maintenance Request System
Prior to Fall 2020, if you wanted to submit a maintenance request, you had 200 characters to do so—fewer characters to describe your issue or concern than you’re allowed in a modern tweet. Similarly, you were unable to upload photos or videos of the pertinent maintenance concerns, and RAs and Hall Directors were unable to easily monitor the status of maintenance requests for their residents. After hearing from residents for years that they wanted a better platform for their maintenance requests, RHA compiled a report of resident concerns and delivered it, along with a series of recommendations, to HRL.
In Fall 2020, a brand new maintenance request system debuted, addressing the issues brought up by RHA. Today, the maintenance request system interfaces directly with StarRez, allowing RAs and Hall Directors to monitor their residents’ maintenance requests. Residents now have thousands of characters to describe their maintenance concerns, and they’re able to upload photos and videos to further support their requests. Residents are now also able to submit maintenance requests for public spaces in their residence halls—such as floor lounges—and see what requests other residents have submitted for common spaces, decreasing the number of duplicate maintenance requests that get submitted.
In the process of addressing the concerns that RHA brought up, HRL was also able to identify a number of internal issues that contributed to resident dissatisfaction related to incomplete or unsatisfactorily completed maintenance requests. RHA’s report helped initiate re-training for Facilities employees and process redesigns that have ultimately increased the rate at which maintenance requests are completed and the degree to which Facilities communicates with residents regarding their requests.
👚 Free Laundry
Prior to Spring 2021, residents had to pay to do laundry in residential laundry rooms, typically at a price of $1.50 or more per load of laundry, depending on the size of the load and how long the load was in the dryer for. After gently urging HRL for years to provide laundry services to residents at no cost, alongside SGA and other student leaders, HRL implemented free laundry in Spring 2021, with no increase in the cost of housing or other fees for residents. With this change in laundry cost, HRL also partnered with a new laundry vendor and installed brand new washers and dryers—something else that residents and RHA had been advocating for.
🚺 Menstrual Product Program
SGA, CDAC, and WST launched the Menstrual Product Program (MPP) in Spring 2020 with a simple goal: make menstrual products easily and readily available across campus, for free, for those who need them. In Spring 2021, we worked with SGA to start expanding the program into residence halls, and we’re now piloting the program in 10 residence halls across campus.
⏩ Revised Legislative Council Operations
Prior to Fall 2020, residents, RAs, and external student organizations seeking funding through RHA’s Legislative Council (LC) had to navigate through a two-week process to secure funding. Slow and restrictive, this two-week process limited the number of residents who could readily access Legislative Council funds and made planning events with short turnarounds more difficult. The result: residents across campus weren’t getting the maximum benefit out of RHA.
In Fall 2020, we revised our LC bill submission process to a more streamlined one-week process, making requesting funding from LC more approachable. Since then, we’ve seen a growth in the number of bills that are able to be passed through Legislative Council, and we’re able to deliver events to residents faster.
💵 New Financial Systems
In Fall 2020, we completely overhauled our financial systems and transitioned all financial paperwork to a digital format. Whereas residents seeking reimbursements previously had to physically fill out an Expenditure Authorization Form (EAF) and meet up with their community’s Finance Coordinator to hand in their paperwork, residents can now submit all paperwork directly to their Finance Coordinator online—without the need to meet up in person.
Internally, this move to a digital platform has increased our processing time immensely. Because we no longer have to walk paperwork across campus, moving it back and forth between over five stakeholders in the financial processing pipeline, the timeline for receiving reimbursements has drastically improved. In previous years, residents often didn’t receive reimbursements for upwards of two months. With our new system in place, we’re able to issue reimbursement regularly in under a month, and we’re saving thousands of sheets of paper annually. Residents are now also able to track their reimbursements’ progress through our financial pipeline and receive real-time feedback on any issues with their submitted EAFs.
💼 Pillar 2: LEAD ▼
We are the premier student leadership organization in the department of Housing and Residence Life, and we’re affiliates of both the National and South Atlantic Associations of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH and SAACURH, respectively). As affiliates, we share our knowledge and experience with hundreds of other Residence Hall Associations around the nation regularly and contribute to the development of nation-wide residential initiatives and opportunities. We also train and develop our members to be the next generation of student leaders at Tech and beyond. Check out examples of how we actively practice leadership and develop leadership in all of our members below.
📝 Conferences & Workshops
Our RHA regularly attends one conference per semester: SAACURH’s Regional Leadership Conference in the Fall, SAACURH’s Regional Business Conference in the Spring, and NACURH’s Annual Conference in the Summer. At each conference, our delegation attends workshops to learn more about advocacy, event planning, leadership, budget management, and more, and we also represent Georgia Tech and vote on our residents’ behalf on legislation that impacts residence life operations nationwide.
We also regularly present workshops at these Conferences to help share the breadth of knowledge that our delegation has accumulated over the years. In recent years, we’ve present various workshops on the following topics:
- Sustainable Leadership: Building an Organization that Lasts
- Stop Using Canva Templates: An Argument for “People-First” Social Media
- GooseChase: Reflections on Designing a Virtual Scavenger Hunt
- Suicide: Prevention & Intervention Techniques
- The Language of Suicide and Crisis Intervention
📃 RHA Leadership Track
To continually develop our residents and members throughout the year, we’ve developed the RHA Leadership Track. All members of our organization are encouraged to complete the program, which integrates with the Institute’s GOLD Route, run by the Center for Student Engagement. Graduates of the program will have completed StrengthsQuest Training, attended at least one workshop on DEI topics or Student Organization development, reflected on an extended leadership experience (RA, Executive Board Member, etc), and more. You can view graduates of our RHA Leadership Track here and learn more about the program here.
🔗 Pillar 3: UNITE▼
Perhaps what we’re most well known for, uniting residential communities and making halls into homes is at the very core of who we are. RHA collectively hosts and funds hundreds of events and activities across campus every year, and we’re the primary source of funding for RAs, Hall Directors, and Student Organizations who are looking to build community among residents. From move-in day to finals, RHA maintains a strong presence in every residence hall on campus, supporting residents socially and emotionally. Check out examples of how we bring community into our halls and unite residents across campus below.
🏡 Hall Councils
Every year, we help support dozens of Hall Council Officers who make up the typical 15-20 Hall Councils across campus. These HCOs are dedicated to hosting events and initiatives in their respective residence halls, and they make funding available to every resident and RA in their community. In this way, events and initiatives are designed for residents, by residents.
🦃 Classic Campus-Wide Events
Maybe you know RHA best for the classic events we bring to campus every year! For a number of years in the early 2010s, RHA hosted an annual Casino Night Tournament, where residents could play blackjack, poker, and more with other residents, earning prizes with their earnings. Resident Appreciation has gone through multiple iterations of the years—from Resident Appreciation Day to Resident Appreciation Week to Rezfest—but has always centered around giving back to residents each year, whether it’s through free meal vouchers, custom Coke bottles, free slices of pizza, or a great time bouncing around on inflatables on Tech Green. More recently, our “Music & Mocktails,” ”Putting the Thanks in Thanksgiving,” and “GT Unite” events have become RHA staples.
Other recent campus-wide events have included:
- Secrets at Tech—a week-long scavenger hunt with over 700 participants, hundreds of prizes and free shirts, and fun facts about Tech
- DoggoPalooza—a collaboration with Happy Tails Pet Therapy to bring therapy dogs on campus, along with hot dogs and corndogs, for residents to enjoy while they made chew toys for The Atlanta Humane Society
- Escape From Finals—we turned the third floor of the Student Center into a series of escape rooms for nearly twelve hours, giving hundreds of residents the opportunity to work with their roommates to “Escape From Finals”
- The Price is Pretty Close—a “The Price is Right” inspired game show where over 500 participants got to test their grocery-store knowledge to earn over $3000 worth of prizes for themselves and their team