RHA recieves highest honors in state contest

Marquette's residence halls took home the laurels at the Wisconsin United Residence Hall Association last weekend.

The conference handed the Large School of the Year Award, one of the two highest honors schools can receive at state level to more than 30 members of Marquette's Residence Hall Association. National Residence Hall Honorary, Student Government and Residence Hall Councils attended a WURHA conference in Eau Claire to discuss residence hall life with representatives from other universities.

Junior Stephen Swieton, a resident assistant in Carpenter Tower and an associate director for the National Residence Hall Honorary for the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls said the award would motivate further improvements.

"This is an amazing honor to have received, and it is one that everyone involved in the residence halls should take enormous pride in," Swieton said. "I think this award will really motivate RHA, NRHH and the hall councils to keep working hard and to keep improving. This award is definitely a sign that at Marquette, Residence Life really does put the residents first."

Freshman Kaitlin Connor who is the president of the Cobeen Hall Council, said this honor is important to Marquette.

"It is important because it not only brings our leaders to a conference, it shows other schools that we can be counted on to be leaders," Connor said. "It shows that our programs and our dedication to students goes beyond all of the others."

The RHA executive board decided to apply for the award, which rewards a school for exemplary leadership in programming, residence hall issues and life. The honor came after a three-month preparation for the bid.

At the conference, a four-member team, which included Connor, freshman Ryan Grusenski, sophomore Andrew Doyle and junior Bethany Baker, presented a 48-page bid for the award to an audience of about 75 people. The audience included Wisconsin Communication Coordinators, NRHH members, the WURHA Directorship, advisors and other conference guests. A short question and answer session followed the 10-minute presentation.

Marquette competed against two other schools: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The award was presented to the winning school at the WURHA closing banquet.

Those who attended the conference said the award reflected not only their achievements, but also the residence halls.

"This award is a tremendous accomplishment," said Doyle, a member of RHA. "From the RHA president to the residents of the halls, everyone associated with residence life at Marquette should be proud of this distinction."

"After putting months of work into something like this, it was a feeling of relief and happiness to know that it paid off," Grusenski said. "The award was not what was important, as Bethany, the president of RHA said the night of the awards. What was important was that we had the time of our lives putting something together that would show other people how committed the students and advisors of RHA and hall councils are to providing programs and responses to the needs of our residence."

"This is my second year as an RHA representative and it was very rewarding to receive this award," said sophomore Courtney Adams. Adams lives in Mashuda Hall.

"I have worked on many of the programs and served on the committees highlighted in the bid, and it was so amazing to receive the award," she said. "It makes me want to give so much more to the organization and it proves that everything that everyone on RHA, including myself, has done was worth it completely."

The WURHA is an organization that promotes leadership and communication in residence halls throughout universities in the state of Wisconsin, according to the organization's Web site. The WURHA conference, which is held annually in February, gives delegates from universities across the state a chance to exchange programming ideas and compete for awards.