The Resident Student Association is a crucial part of the University of Evansville’s campus. However, the organization has been struggling since the beginning of the year, and has only since been on the further decline for members. Upon arriving here at UE, the organization’s dedication to ensuring a fun and welcoming atmosphere to all members and event participants, especially newcomers, has been undeniably clear.
As a current freshman, I attended welcome week at the beginning of the year, where I was first introduced to RSA through their monthly bingo, this one of which had been held solely for incoming students. Immediately, I knew this was an organization striving to make the best of everything despite their lack of members present. However, at the time I believed that they would likely have more members, just ones of which were not yet actively participating as classes had yet to even start by that point. I was later shocked to discover that the few members I had seen running bingo, was the totality of their current members. Seeing such a small organization making such a huge impact on campus by planning both large and small-scale events that are interactive and inclusive for any and all participants is something to be admired as it is not an easy feat.
However, soon after joining the organization at the beginning of that semester, it grew steadily, eventually leading to a total of 16 members— double compared to the 8 it had starting out the year. This became the regularly attending members that then took on chair positions during the fall semester. Albeit, upon returning from winter break, seven members dropped from RSA and one member had left to spend their spring semester in Harlaxton, leaving the organization yet again down to a total of eight active members.
Due to lack of members, we have struggled to continually put on events. For instance, in past years RSA has hosted a campus wide Easter egg hunt, but was unable to do so this year. Furthermore, due to the lack of an adequate number of members to fulfill the chair positions, residence hall-specific events and improvements have been at a struggling low. If there’s no one available for the positions, then there’s no one to coordinate improvements for the hall and plan programming events.
Improvements Chairs, contrary to some belief, are not the ones responsible for or limited to basic maintenance of the residence halls. Rather they serve to enrich the quality of life spent in college housing by using their budget to implement the residents’ collective desires. This could range from putting up white boards in lounge/study areas to purchasing a Nintendo Switch for the collective use of all residents in the lobby.
Programming chairs utilize their budgets by hosting events which can make use of purchasing food, prizes, items for entertainment, or anything else they can think of. For instance, chairs have hosted events such as the karaoke nights in New Hall, crafts and cookie decorating in Powell, game nights in Hale, door decorating contests in Moore, holiday parties in Schroeder, sip and paints in the Villages, or costume contests among many other things.
RSA hosts campus wide events such as Tacos and Tie Dye, monthly bingo, Build-A-Buddy (partnered with SAB), among others, such as Shark Week that was created this year as an advertising week of fun events themed around our organization’s mascot, the shark. The organization is designed to function off of large group collaboration and the leadership of individuals. Ideally, RSA is to have a full executive board, a Programming Chair and an Improvements Chair for each residence hall and the Villages, as well as Hall Committees. In total, that should be an absolute minimum of 19 members before even considering those that would participate in hall committees and solely attend general assembly meetings. Yet, we are currently making do with 10 members, and for much of the spring semester before this subtle increase, there were only 8— a full exec board and me, serving as Schroeder’s programming chair.
All students that live on campus are technically, in the loosest definition, “members” of Resident Student Association as they are resident students that attend our events and benefit from our efforts. However, many don’t even realize who it was that hosts these events and coordinates the improvements that lead to the betterment of their campus experience. Additionally, while RSA general assembly meetings are open to all residents on campus, very few know who we are and what all we actually do, and even fewer ever attend meetings. Consequently, this is something Resident Student Association strives to change and has decided to dedicate themselves to the campus regardless of, only hoping to gain more enthusiasm and membership from their efforts.