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Residence Hall Association elects new community governors, plans for virtual semester

Headshot of Max Lewin, a Hinton James Community Governor in the 2019-2020 academic year. Photo courtesy of Max Lewin.

Community government elections for UNC residence halls began this week. But, with the switch to remote learning a few weeks ago and the de-densification of on-campus housing, elections for these roles look different this year. 

Kira Griffith, a senior majoring in neuroscience, is the president of the Residence Hall Association at UNC. She said governors campaigned in the community they live in while on campus, and they were elected remotely using a ranking system.

Sophomore biology major Esther Eikins was recently elected Morrison community governor. She said social media played a significant role in her campaign efforts this semester.

“It was all about social media engagement,” Eikins said. “I blasted my Instagram page, my Snapchat, texted my friends, sent messages into community GroupMes. It was pretty much the same without the added benefit of being able to go suite to the suite and knocking on doors.” 

Despite the remote nature of the semester, the RHA was still able to meet similar numbers this year for prospective governors, Griffith said. 

"I believe we had about 50 people across campus who expressed interest in running," she said.

Community governor roles are also going to look different this semester. 

Despite this, Eikins said she has lots of plans for the Morrison community this semester, including hosting virtual events like trivia games and cooking sessions on Instagram live. 

“It’s about trying to keep up engagement, but doing so virtually,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the Residence Hall Association’s values from a remote platform.” 

In addition to these virtual events, Eikins shared her goals as community governor.

“This year, I really wanted to hone in on engagement, community and compassion,” she said. “Because so many people aren’t able to live on campus, there’s a big disconnect in the community. I want them to feel like even if they can’t be at Carolina, there’s still some Carolina wherever they are.” 

Community government hasn’t been the only part of the RHA affected by the switch to remote learning this semester. Griffith said the entire organization has been restructured. 

“I’ve been spearheading the restructuring of our organization," she said. "This entailed reimagining the Residence Hall Association virtually. This year, we have shifted to create clash external boards — including programming, marketing, service and leadership, social justice advocacy and sustainability." 

Max Lewin, a sophomore majoring in political science, is the executive of the social justice advocacy board. He also served as Hinton James’ community governor last year. 

“Last year, we had weekly events to build community in the residence halls,” he said. “I also had a community government of 16 people that would help me out with planning these events. Since we’re online now, instead of community government, we have the elective board of governors with five external boards that we work with.” 

Lewin said that even though the structure looks different this year, he is looking forward to his responsibilities. 

“It’s hard to function as a group when so many people are online, but ultimately, we want to build community in Carolina,” he said.

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