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ASA is a representative body

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on an opinion article by Robert E. Malchman ["UA must change structure," March 12]:

In his article, Malchman contends that "The only power that student government can wield is the allocation of resources: money and space. That power is now diffused among non-representative student groups and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs" (my italics).

As former President of the Association of Student Activities (ASA) and of its Executive Committee (my term just expired on March 15), I have taken the time to comment on the characterization of the ASA and its Executive Committee as "non-representative."

My deduction is that the ASA and its Executive Committee are part of the student groups that Malchman characterizes as "non-representative" since they are, according to the ASA constitution, responsible for promoting student activities at MIT. Specifically, the Executive Committee which consists of six ASA officers and a member of the Dean's Office, is the administrative and judicial body of the ASA.

According to the ASA constitution it is among other things responsible for "assigning space allocation to activities" recognized by the ASA. Hence it falls under Malchman's characterization.

Having established this connection, I would like to explain why I do not agree with Malchman's characterization as far as its application to the ASA and its Executive Committee. The ASA consists of all undergraduate student activities and the body of the ASA is made up of representative of all these activities.

The officers of the ASA are elected by the ASA body and they have to be members of an ASA activity. They also have to be registered undergraduate students at MIT. Hence the Executive Committee is representative of the ASA since it is elected by its body and its members are students involved in the activities.

As to whether the Execuitve Committee is representative of the MIT undergraduate students, I believe it is, because any MIT student who is a member of an activity is eligible for office and can participate in the vote by representing his (or her) activity at the ASA body meeting.

I believe that I have, to the extent allowed by this letter, explained why I think that Malchman's characterization of student groups that have power in the allocation of money or space as "non-representative" does not apply to the ASA Executive Committee, a committee within whose powers it is to allocate space to student activities (fourth floor of the Student Center and certain rooms at Walker).

With respect to Malchman's suggestions for structural changes within the UA and other student committees (ASA, Financial Board, etc.), I would like to commend him on his initiative to propose a specific plan. Whereas I think that his plan is not specific enough and despite the fact that I disagreee on some of his suggestions, I feel that it provides a constructive stimulus for further discussion on the UA.

I would like to think that such discussions on this issue will not fade once the elections have taken place, but will continue, maybe in the form of a public forum.

Nick Panayotopoulos '85->

Former ASA President->