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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Q&A: 2024-25 RHA executive board candidates

In the race to represent nearly 7,500 on-campus residents, nearly all seats are competitive

<p>UB’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) is the university’s second largest student government, representing the nearly 7,500 students who live in UB’s 17 residence halls and apartment complexes.&nbsp;</p>

UB’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) is the university’s second largest student government, representing the nearly 7,500 students who live in UB’s 17 residence halls and apartment complexes. 

UB’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) is the university’s second largest student government, representing the nearly 7,500 students who live in UB’s 17 residence halls and apartment complexes. Though RHA often flies under the radar at a university where nearly 75% of students commute to campus, the organization’s activities in programming, advocacy and leadership development are key selling points UB uses to promote on-campus housing.

No incumbents are running for reelection to their current seats this year. The only present executive board member in the running is Madison Nitsche, the vice president of engagement, who is now the only candidate for RHA president after Evans Hall Council president Gavin Triggs exited the race.

With the exit of Triggs from the presidential race, and of Zoe Vander Valk from the race for vice president of communications, those two positions are now non-competitive.

Elections will take place from 8 p.m. to midnight every day this week at the following locations:

  • Monday, March 4: Wilkeson Coffeehouse, Ellicott Complex
  • Tuesday, March 5: The Cave, Governors Complex
  • Wednesday, March 6: Goodyear X
  • Thursday, March 7: Greiner C-Wing Classrooms
  • Friday, March 8: Flint Village Community Building

The Spectrum interviewed candidates for the RHA executive board’s five seats about their prior experiences and their goals for the organization. 


Nitsche is running to replace Cameron Kiner, who is not running for reelection. Gavin Triggs, the only other candidate, told The Spectrum he planned to drop out of the race before the start of elections Monday, citing Nitsche’s greater experience and the difficulty of handling five days of elections.

Madison Nitsche

Year: Junior

Major: Neuroscience

Lives in: Flint Village


  • Second year as RHA vice president of engagement
  • Former director of sustainability at RHA
  • Former Governors Complex RHA senator
  • Peer mentor at Leadership House
  • Mentor and ambassador at the University Honors College
  • Works as an MRI assistant

Nitsche told The Spectrum that she’s running to create a more friendly culture, communicate with students openly, collaborate with other campuses and organizations and bring “more connectivity to the halls.”

“I want them to be more intertwined, more connected and be able to bounce ideas off of one another — just feel that sense of community, really,” Nitsche said. “Ellicott worked a lot together, but getting South Campus more involved and getting Governors more involved, increasing the apartments — that’s always a little bit harder. So just that on-campus community — for a lot of people, this is their home. They don’t have anywhere else to go — this is it. So just more connectivity, I think, is huge.”

Vice President of Leadership Development

Kartik Vishwasrao, Ar Raihan Al Beruni Rahat and Shivansh Shalabh are running to replace Michael McNamara, who is not running for reelection. Shalabh did not respond to an interview request.

Kartik Vishwasrao

Year: Freshman

Major: IT and management

Lives in: Wilkeson Hall


  • President of Wilkeson Hall Council
  • Selected as part of UB RHA’s delegation to the Spring Leadership Conference (SLC) held by the Northeastern Association of College and University Residence Halls (NEACURH) and intends to host an educational session at the conference

Vishwasrao says that RHA’s biggest problem is a lack of engagement from students — he wants to change that. 

“A lot of people have no idea about RHA. They often confuse us with RAs,” Vishwasrao said. “We need to bring the organization more to the people, make them more aware about the stuff that we do and broadcast ourselves more.”

Vishwasrao plans to do that by more heavily advertising the leadership summits, residence hall events and other opportunities that RHA provides. 

“The events and the effort that RHA members put in — all of that is tremendous,” he said. “It would be really nice to have results which are on par with the efforts that are put in and the money that is put in, because it’s ultimately the students’ money, so they deserve a good campus experience.”

Ar Raihan Al Beruni Rahat

Year: Sophomore

Major: Engineering physics

Lives in: Flint Village


  • President of Flint Village Council

Rahat says that RHA is greater than the sum of its parts — if the RHA councils for UB’s 17 residence halls worked together, they could “host a big event.” 

“All council residents and senators should do a bit more than they are currently doing because now, I think that that’s not sufficient,” Rahat said. “I want to change that part of the training process — gather all the hall council members.” 

Rahat said he would also like to see more networking events. 

Vice President of Engagement

Janae Stanford, Atharva Anil Badgujar, Jada Mowatt and Bryan Contreras are running to replace Nitsche, who is vacating the position to run for president of RHA. Contreras could not be reached for an interview.

Janae Stanford

Year: Junior

Major: Business administration, with a global gender studies minor

Lives in: Flint Village


  • Coordinator of engagement at Flint Village Council
  • Global gender studies minor is “very important for the way I go about making the events — making sure that they’re really inclusive and making sure everybody feels welcome and able to join in, even if it’s not something that they would have done off the top of their head.”

Stanford says their “fun” demeanor and open-minded approach will help them create events that attract a wider variety of students. They also hope to open RHA’s social media accounts to individual hall councils. Currently, only the RHA e-board has access to RHA social media. 

“Social media is a great way to get connected with other hall councils, just to know what’s going on,” Stanford says. “Not everybody checks their emails to look for an RHA event.”

Atharva Anil Badgujar

Year: Freshman

Major: Computer science

Lives in: Wilkeson Quadrangle


  • Coordinator of communications at Wilkeson Hall Council
  • Member of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH)
  • Computer science and mathematics tutor for Tutoring and Academic Support Services
  • Former president of high school Rotaract club: “As president of that, you’re responsible for organizing activities and events outside of school. I’m proud to say that we won the best Interact team in the whole city under my leadership.”
  • Former president of high school student council, “responsible for creating an inclusive and positive environment within the student body.”
  • Board member at high school newsletter

Badgujar plans to focus on public awareness and communication to improve engagement. He emphasized his communication background as a strength. 

“Since I’m the coordinator of communications, I do talk to a lot of residents here about new events that we organize,” he said. “From the feedback — and also from the experiences that I see with my own eyes when we organize those events — I see greatness, wholesomeness, in those events.”

“I really want to create a positive and inclusive environment,” he added. “A residence hall where people feel at home and engaged with everyone, so that they don’t feel left out.”

Jada Mowatt

Year: Ph. D. student

Studying: Chemical engineering

Lives in: Hadley Village


  • Community assistant at Hadley Village
  • Four years as a Campus Living paraprofessional
  • Three years in the Orientation, Transition and Parent Programs office
  • First impressions student assistant for School of Engineering dean Kemper Lewis
  • Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion student representative

Mowatt said she wants to focus on understanding residents’ needs and creating fun events to help students connect with each other. She also stressed the importance of cohesion across residence hall councils.

“Sometimes it feels like they don’t really work together and are very fragmented when it comes to the events they put on,” she said. “I’d love to see more collaboration.”

She said she would increase the use of surveys to understand what residents want from RHA.

Vice President of Finance

Kevin Boasiako, Nischal Sunar and Yash Yogesh Sabale are running to replace Adrianna Jarvis, who is not running for reelection. Sabale did not respond to requests for an interview.

Kevin Boasiako

Year: Freshman

Major: Public health

Lives in: Spaulding Quadrangle

  • Coordinator of finance at Spaulding Hall Council
  • Involved in Leadership House: “We work in a group to understand and use different opinions from different people to help get to good decisions together. Basically, taking every person’s viewpoint into consideration when we make a decision.”

Boasiako stressed the importance of financial management in ensuring that RHA events run smoothly. 

“I understand the budgets are determined based on the number of residents in that residence hall… All the things you’re buying to do an event are in accordance with UB stuff, in terms of what is allowed and what is not allowed,” he said. “It’s something that residents are able to enjoy as well as get engaged, because the residence halls are big, and the small events held by residence halls are important to connect with people within your building, as well as within other buildings.”

Nischal Sunar

Year: Sophomore/junior

Major: Mechanical engineering

Lives in: Flint Village


  • Director of advocacy at RHA
  • Former coordinator of finance at Fargo Hall Council

Sunar aims to improve financial literacy within RHA and be responsive to councils’ budgeting questions.

“Hall councils have some — not issues, but they do not practice budgeting for the long term,” Sunar said. “I’ll be doing one-on-one meetings with different senators from each hall council, to help them have good funding management for an entire year — not just for one semester, but for the entire year — so that they can plan, prepare, to use their budget effectively.”

Vice President of Communications

Daniel Chu is now the only candidate to replace Nicholas Ng, who is not running for reelection, after Zoe Vander Valk told The Spectrum she would exit the race before elections begin Monday. Chu declined an interview request.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated Jada Mowatt's course of study, and how long she has been a community assistant at Hadley Village. We regret this error. 

Sol Hauser is the senior news editor and can be reached at 



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