Students living on campus have had an active voice through the Residence Hall Association (RHA) since the conception of Women’s RHA in 1967. The female group was created to unify the women’s residence halls across campus. Women’s RHA remained very active, affiliating with the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) in 1969. Affiliation with NACURH marked the beginning of an active history of involvement in residence hall governance on the national level.
As the community of male residence halls began to take shape, the Men’s Residence Hall Association was born in 1971. Men’s RHA set out to establish better communication and unify the men’s residence halls. The tenure of Men’s RHA was not long-lived, as the two organizations quickly saw the need to combine forces to better represent and support all residents on campus. In 1972, the first coed Residence Hall Association at Eastern Illinois University was established and has remained as such since that time.
The Residence Hall Association sets out to unify all of the councils across campus by developing a place for open forum and discussion as well as coordinating joint campus-wide activities for all member councils. RHA also acts as the voice and liaison between campus administration and residents for the betterment of the residential community.
Since the establishment of a campus-wide united Residence Hall Association, residential students at Eastern have collaborated and celebrated their time on campus through numerous events and programs. The first Residence Hall Week was hosted in the fall of 1972, which coincided with Eastern’s Homecoming activities that year. Participating halls created elaborate floats for the parade and hosted numerous spirit events focused on demonstrating student enthusiasm for living on campus. The following year, RHA created Little Peoples Weekend with the intent of inviting to campus and hosting the siblings and children of Eastern Illinois University students.
These two traditions have withstood the test of time, still being recreated in various ways today. Residence Hall Week has evolved into the Residents On Campus Festival, better known as ROC Fest to Eastern students today. The week-long event still endeavors to unite the numerous councils in a competition to seek out the most spirited hall on campus. Little Peoples Weekend too has become a staple for the Residence Hall Association. Undergoing many name changes it was known as Brothers and Sisters Weekend, Family Weekend, or currently, Kids and Friends Weekend, the purpose of the event is still to celebrate the important people in residents’ lives who may not be enjoying the experience of living on campus.
Today Eastern’s Residence Hall Association is one of the leading student organizations on campus. Represented in RHA are all 12 current residence halls, Pemberton, Lincoln, Douglas, McKinney, Ford, Weller, Thomas, Andrews, Taylor, Lawson, Stevenson, and Carman, in addition to representation from Greek Court and the National Residence Hall Honorary. Eastern’s RHA is affiliated on the state, regional, and national levels with the Illinois Residence Hall Association, the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls, and the National Association of College and University Residence Halls.