Students elect new IRHA president, vice president

Dalton Bergan

Residence hall students voted this week to elect the 2014-15 Inter-Residence Hall Association president and vice president. 

Sidney Pezley, current IRHA national communications coordinator, and Zaak Barnes, IRHA Parliament member, won the election for 2014-15 IRHA president and vice president, respectively. They ran against Cole Staudt, current IRHA director of information technology and Tara McKee, IRHA Parliament member.

The results were among the closest the organization has had in its history. Pezley and Barnes won 52 percent of the vote, while Staudt and Mckee took the other 48 percent.

Though many students are not actively involved with IRHA, more than 700 students of the 7,200 students living in residence halls cast votes in this year’s election. Current IRHA Vice President Tony Behnke said a turnout such as this is better than it has been in past years.

“The results were very close for two awesome candidates for next year’s president and vice president,” Behnke said. “Ten percent of people in the residence halls voted this year, and that in itself is an achievement these two slates made happen.”

Pezley and Barnes plan to guide the organization in the “right direction,” not only by making improvements within IRHA, but also by strengthening bonds with other campus organizations aimed at serving students.

“One of the things that we really want to do is build a better relationship with [Government of the Student Body], as well as the National Residence Hall Honorary,” Barnes said.

The two would also like to work on improving relations with the students that IRHA represents. Pezley said that one of their most important goals is that of making sure students know what IRHA is and what the organization can do for them.

“All residence hall students pay dues to the association and a lot of residence hall students don’t know what IRHA is,” Pezley said. “We can do a lot of good for students in residence halls, but we can’t do good for them if they don’t know what we are, who we are or how to come and ask us about things.”

Barnes joined Pezley in saying that familiarizing students with IRHA is a responsibility that the president and vice president need to work on fulfilling.

“Students don’t always realize that the IRHA is a resource that’s available to them to use,” Barnes said. “[The IRHA fund] is their money that they contributed, and they don’t know that they have the option to use it, or the option to at least ask to use it.”

The last connection that Pezley and Barnes hope to improve is that which exists between members of IRHA and the students from their residence halls.

“We want to make the Inter-Residence Hall Association more accountable to its students,” Barnes said. “We want to make sure that representatives are getting information back to their students accurately and on time, and that the representatives themselves are relaying their students’ opinions.”

In order to do this, Pezley and Barnes want to make sure that members of IRHA know what their duties are and are informed enough to complete them.

“One of our big ideas is training for our Parliament members at the beginning of each of the semesters so that they know what they’re doing, what the organization is and how to best do their job,” Pezley said.

Pezley and Barnes will officially take office starting at the IRHA’s last meeting on April 17.