Oh my God.
I was working on it for about seven months and now it’s over.
IACURH 2013 was AMAZING and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. So much so that I don’t even know where to begin… Be forewarned, though, this is going to be a long post.
First, I’d like to give a shout-out to the IACURH 2014 Conference Staff. Dom & Kat, you guys are rockstars! The conference was flawless and there was such a welcoming atmosphere. My delegation and I were blown away by everything and we will never forget the great times we had, the warm people we met, and the amazing BYU campus!
Then, let me back up a bit. I’m sure I have mentioned what IACURH is a million times on the blog, but let’s quickly recap what it is. IACURH [Intermountain Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls] is a region within NACURH [National Association of College and University Residence Halls]. In this context, though, “IACURH” refers to the IACURH CONFERENCE which is an annual conference which lasts a few days. There are two parts to IACURH Conferences: Boardroom and Programming.
But, before I get into that, let’s talk about who goes to IACURH. The people who are required to go are the Advisor, RHA President, NRHH President (or Outreach Chair, which we have), and the NCC (me). Our RHA had enough money in the budget to bring three extra people (delegates), so we brought that many. The RHA President, NRHH, and NCC go to all Boardroom sessions. The Advisor is allowed to float around, though there is an Advisor track of the conference where things particular to Advisors get discussed and they get to be with peers. The delegates go to the Programming sessions during the day and can choose from assorted types of Entertainment at night.
Programming is the “fun” stuff, where delegates from each school go to “Programming sessions” where they learn about what kind of programs (events) are happening at other universities. These program presentations are put on by one or two people and are presented to whoever attends that programming session. At IACURH 2014 there were about 10 presentations going on at any given presentation time, which means the delegates had to make a choice as to which one they would find most beneficial to their own campus.
The other side of the IACURH Conference is Boardroom. Boardroom is less “fun” and more “business,” but it depends on your definition of fun. I LOVED going to Boardroom, but I know that not everyone would. Anyway, the two main types of business that happen in Boardroom are legislation and award bids. IACURH has its own governing documents and rules to abide by. At every conference new legislation is brought to the floor, where it is presented, read, discussed, and voted on.
There are quite a few awards that Universities can bid for at IACURH – Advisor of the Year, Building RHA of the Year, Executive Board Member of the Year, Distinguished Service, Resident Advisor/Assistant of the Year, Paula Bland Award for Professional Service, Student of the Year, Service Award, School of the Year, and Program of the Year. You can see those bids here.
The way these awards work is, the school submits an intent in advance (saying that they are going to bid), then they submit the actual bid later (which is a PDF with information about the candidate, etc.), but also in advance. This bids are uploaded to Google Docs, where all the schools can view them before the conference. Then all school fill out a different Google Doc, that is called the “Bid Evaluation Sheet” where you list Pros, Cons, Questions, and notes. All schools who do this before the due date receive voting rights. Those who do not submit don’t get to vote. Finally, when IACURH arrives, at specific times during the conference, the Boardroom people split up into the different categories and go to each individual bid session. During these sessions, the defender starts off with a 30-second Opening Statement, then we move into Q&A. The defender then leaves the room, and we move into Pro/Con. After the third unanswered Pro or Con, we move into Discussion (the defender returns to the room), where all bids must be mentioned. After that the bids are voted on by secret ballot. The winner is declared by 50% +1.
This is really confusing, I know. Parli Pro is an integral part of all this and if you aren’t at least vaguely familiar with it you might not understand a word that I’m saying. All I know is that it’s actually a lot of fun!
Phew! Ok, well, since I’ve established what the conference is like, let’s move into what we actually did! I wasn’t a delegate, so I can’t really expound upon what they experienced, but I can explain what the rest of us did.
It all started at 5am on November 21st, for all of us, and ended at 9pm on November 24th. And I’m talkin’ nights with only 4 hours of sleep a night.
The trip there was stress free, so there’s not much to elaborate on. Once we got to Salt Lake City there was about a 40 minute drive to BYU and on the way it started snowing! It was a beautiful sight, especially with the snow-capped mountains. When we got there I signed us in, we did all the paperwork, etc. After all that was done we were able to go on a tour of BYU’s residence halls and it was amazing. Their buildings are absolutely amazing, and super cheap, to boot! (You should’ve seen my face when I saw that it only cost $1 total to do laundry!…and when I heard how cheap rent was!) And on the tour we stopped by a convenience store (which was more like a tiny grocery story) that had a “Creamery” in it, which had about 30+ flavors of ice cream, which are made on campus!! It was heaveeeen!
A little after we got back from the tour, we headed out to the Cannon Center Commons, which is where a dining hall, Boardroom, the bid sessions were, along with the Displays and Banners. We set up our display as soon as we got there and headed to the dining hall for dinner. It was amazing, just like everything else at BYU. After dinner we went to their Alumni building, which is called the Hinckley Center. Before the Keynote Speaker, everyone was doing IACURH chants, as well as chants from their state and school. It was an amazing sight to see all of these schools be on the same page and know all of the same chants, even though we are all from different schools. It was especially awesome to see people participate in the chants from a different school.
After the chants and the speaker, we headed off to Boardroom (until about 1am), back at the Cannon, and the delegates headed off to entertainment. In the Boardroom we decked out our table in Aggie stuff, from the tablecloth to pom-poms, megaphones, and foam fingers.
This evening’s Boardroom included Bid Session #1. The way Bid Sessions work is that there are (normally) three different bid sessions going on at the same time. For #1, there was a room where Advisor of the Year was happening, Building RHA of the Year was happening, and Executive Board Member of the Year was going on, all at the same time. Our NRHH Outreach went to the first, I went to the second, and our RHA President went to the last, so NMSU could vote on all three. The Executive Board Member of the year had many contenders, as opposed to the other two awards, which only had one contender, so it ran long. We were planned to do Bid Sessions #1 and #2, but since #1 ran long, they decided to push Bid Session #2 back until after Roll Call the next day.
Winning awards get the title of “IACURH’s Program of the Year,” for example. At the end of January, the winners can bring back their presentation to the No Frills with that title under their belt, where bids compete to represent IACURH at NACURH in the Summer.
NMSU bid for RA of the Year, which was the first time we have bid for an award since 2007 (approximately). It wasn’t the best bid, and I’ll admit that, but it was a great learning experience. One of our delegates defended the bid, and three of our people (that delegate, another delegate, and our NRHH Outreach) participated in the process to get the first hand experience. We will be bigger and better next time!
The next morning breakfast was at the hotel at 7am. At 8am everyone went to a programming session, including the Boardroom people. This was cool because this was the only opportunity that Boardroom people got to see a program. From 9 – 11 we were at Boardroom again, this time in the amphitheater in the hotel. This time, though, we started off with the presentations for Program of the Year (POY). The contenders were Arizona State University (ASU) – Tempe, for their Sunken Cinema program, and Colorado State University (CSU) for their Before I Die program. (They didn’t announce it until Banquet, but CSU won.) After POY, we dove into legislation.
My favorite piece that we discussed over the whole conference was Main Motion G (MMG). (Clearly I enjoyed this too much. Who has a favorite piece of legislation?)
For the most part, legislation is pretty easy. The reading is always passed (we are supposed to have read it before hand) and the whole piece tends to be passed without any fuss. However, MMG was completely different. This piece basically said that the IACURH Regional Executives do not meet in person enough to discuss business and visit the host institution of conferences, so they needed to add another one. The Execs currently meet four times a year. In this piece, it explains that “IACURH will provide a loan to the conference host site to cover the cost of the summit, not to exceed $2000USD” and that “the loan will be repaid in full to IACURH by the close of the conference.” This felt like a waste of money, so I was vehemently against it. The author presented the piece and during that I was conversing with my RHA President. I sent her a note, asking if it would be ok if I voted no, wondering what he opinion on the piece was. After the presentation, we dove right into discussion. BYU raised their placards first, with mine almost simultaneous. Dom (the BYU NCC and Conference Co-Chair) said how he didn’t like it. I was called on next, and I said how “NMSU agrees with BYU” and expanded on it, ending with “NMSU does not support this piece.”
This piece’s discussion was the most tense and most important out of all of the legislation. That also made it the most exciting. I LOVED IT. There were a few schools who supported the piece, but not many. It ended up with a vote of 5 for, 21 against, and 2 abstaining. I am proud to say that I spoke on behalf of NMSU against this piece of legislation. It was definitely my favorite part of business during the whole conference!
After that, we had a lunch break “On The Town,” and went back to Boardroom in the ampitheater until 4pm. After that we went back to the Cannon for dinner, then headed off to Roll Call.
Here’s another thing I have to explain – Roll Call. Roll Call is a kind of skit, that’s 3 -5 minutes long where you incorporate your school, the theme of the conference, and IACURH. This year the schools were allowed to choose to do a video or a live performance, and we opted for the video. There were about 35 performances and probably about 10 or less were videos. They were done in alphabetical order of the schools, so we were in the middle. The crowd LOVED our video, and that was amazing!! You can watch our video here.
After Roll Call, we headed back to the Canon for more Boardroom. We worked on some more legislation (I think) and (definitely) did Bid Session #2. Writing this, I’m realizing that my days are all wonky and I can’t remember exactly what the did when. I think we did session #2 and #3 at this time. At one point during a break an advisor from another school approached me, saying “your Roll Call video was so funny!”
If I remember correctly, the next day, Day #3, we were shuttled to campus for breakfast, to eat the the dining hall at the Cannon. We started Boardroom at 8 am that morning and it went until noon, when we had a lunch break. We resumed Boardroom at 2pm and did legislation. During some downtime I talked with the NCC from the University of New Mexico (UNM), which was great. There was a special New Mexico bond between our two schools at the conference which is normally not seen. And she said that she watches some of my YouTube videos, which gives her some Brownie Points in my book. (R-O-C-K, YOU ROCK, YOU ROCK, JENNIFER!)
At some point during all of this we had two special elections. One was for a position on the Regional Executive Board, since one of the members recently resigned. There were a few contenders for the job. The way it worked was they did a short presentation, then did Q&A. Then they left the room for Pro/Con and Discussion. This repeated for all candidates. The winner ended up being Kat Roemer, the co-conference chair for IACURH 2013, which is amazing. She will do a fantastic job! L-O-V-E, LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU!
The other election was for the Executive Board Advisor. Their old advisor left at an inopportune time last year, so their current advisor has only been there since the Spring. He ran to maintain his position, and got it, running unopposed. He definitely seems like a very enthusiastic guy who genuinely loves IACURH, which will be great for the development of the region.
There is always the possibility for Boardroom to go longer than the scheduled time and be forced to do Boardroom after the Banquet as well, even though Banquet acts as a kind of closing ceremony. Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, Boardroom was all done by Banquet, which was that evening.
The Banquet is a fancy dinner where everyone dresses up. It starts off with everyone doing cheers, just like we did at opening. Then we eat, and after that, the awards are given out. All of the bid session’s awards are given out (IACURH Advisor of the Year, etc.), along with awards like Most Spirited, Best Banner, Best Video Roll Call, Best Roll Call, etc. When it came to Best Video Roll Call, I was paying the most attention.
I wrote, directed, edited, and everything else, our Roll Call video, and I was extremely excited to see if we won or not. “The Best Video Roll Call goes to New…” Everything was going in slow motion.
“Our school starts with New…” [we are the only school in the region that starts with "new."]
“Our school starts with New Mexico…” [again, we're the only ones]
“This can’t be us…”
“New Mexico State University? Why that’s OUR NAME!”
It was at that point where things sped up to a LITTLE more than slow motion and I went up on stage to claim our plaque.
It was absolutely surreal…it still is. Literally on the way to the airport the previous day, I told the RHA President about how on Wednesday I joked in my screenwriting class how I would thank one of my classmates during my Emmy speech…and for my Tony…and for my second MTV award (but not my first, that one’s mine)…and then one of my classmates mentioned the Teen Choice Award. Ok, so it got a bit out of hand, but two days later I win an actual award for a video I made? My mind was/is blown.
That night our whole delegation, including the delegates, went to the different pieces of entertainment that were available. Everyone had a great time! I was able to talk with the NCC from ASU-West, who congratulated us on our win, and I congratulated him on his. He also mentioned that he likes to watch my YouTube videos, which earns him some Brownie Points in my book, just like UNM. (R-O-C-K, YOU ROCK, YOU ROCK, NICK!)
At lunch during one of the days, our Advisor, the RHA President, and I talked about bidding for No Frills 2014. We talked about this at the beginning of the Summer, but I had been so focused on IACURH that I let No Frills fall to the way-side. I asked our RHA President for her honest opinion, whether it was possible to get a bid together and be prepared to bid by January 28th and she thought we shouldn’t.
The next morning we got a quick driving tour of the BYU campus and took pictures by one of the big Brigham Young University signs. An hour or so later we headed off to the airport. While we were packing up the car, our RHA President and a couple of our delegates talked to some advisors from BYU about No Frills. It ignited a spark and rendered the other day’s lunch conversation moot.
On our way to the airport we stopped by In N Out on the way. (It’s one place that honestly deserves the hype.) At the airport we worked on our No Frills 2014 bid until our flight came. Oh, and Taylor left her bag unattended, so it was confiscated without our knowledge. I asked Taylor where her bag was, and she thought I was messing with her and hid it somewhere. Lucky for her, she was able to get her bag back.
When we hit Phoenix on our way back, our RHA President’s family was waiting at the gate for her. I L-O-V-E (LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU) her family; they’re ridiculously awesome. She told her dad, “this is Chelsea!” and he was like, “the screenwriter!” You know, this conference experience has reaaaaally made my ego a bit worse than it was.
Anyway, we made it home safe and sound! Not only that, but it was stress free and we came back with an award in our hands!
To wrap this all up, what was our impact?
Due to this conference, NMSU’s voice was heard on the regional level. We voted on legislation, as well as discussed it, which hopefully led to some mind’s being changed.
At the last moment we decided that we are going to put in a bid for No Frills 2014.
We made personal connections with other university’s RHA’s and NRHH’s across the region.
We won an award.
We gained the experience of bidding for an award.
We learned how conference operate, as well as how other RHA’s work.
Our delegates got fresh, new ideas for programs we could put on at NMSU.
We will ask permission from the higher-ups in Housing to bid for No Frills.
Put in paperwork for the travel to No Frills 2014.
The delegates will do a presentation at our next RHA meeting.
The bid for No Frills is due December 28th.
No Frills 2014 starts on January 28th in Utah.
I am also going to make an IACURH 2013 After Action Report for future NCCs. I basically was going into this whole thing blind because I did not have an official transition. Thankfully for me, our RHA President used to be NCC so she was a great resource. I want to make an official guide with a timeline, numbers, etc., for the future.
UPDATE: Our advisor met with the higher-ups in Housing, who are encouraging us to not bid for No Frills 2015 because our student union will be under major renovations during the time. However, they ARE encouraging us to bid at IACURH 2014 to host IACURH 2015. That is far out, but possible with the current bid team we had in mind. We will bring this to them and see what they think.
Thank you to all of my fellow NCCs, RHA Presidents, NRHH Presidents/Representatives, BYU, the Regional Exec. Board, and EVERYONE that was involved this weekend! It was an amazing experience and I could not have asked for anything more. You guys all R-O-C-K and we L-O-V-E you all!