UAP/VP candidates debate issues
By Andrew L. Fish
Luisa Contreiras '90 and David Atkins '90 cast themselves as the ticket of continuity and concrete ideas at last night's Undergraduate Association Presidential/Vice Presidential debate sponsored by MIT Student Cable Television.
Paul Antico '91 and Andrew Strehle '91 argued that they were the "practical" alternative to Contreiras/Atkins, whose goals they categorized as unrealistic. And the team of Adam Braff '91 and Shawn Mastrian '91 claimed that they were the candidates of change who would bring new blood into an organization which they called "bungling" and impotent.
Contreiras was on the defensive for much of the evening. Her proposal to create a student endowment was attacked as unrealistic by the other candidates. They noted that MIT would be unlikely to agree to such a plan, preferring instead to raise money for the Institute as whole. And when asked why she had not pursued the endowment while serving as UA floor leader, she could only say that she was unable to "railroad" the proposal through the UA.
Antico said he would approach the position of UA president with a "sense of realism and practicality." He said it was unrealistic to expect major changes during a year-long administration and set more limited goals, including holding forums, attempting to have student involvement in the MIT presidential search process, and canvassing students to gain a better understanding of their opinions.
Braff accused the current UA of being a "secretive clique" which squandered money and "bungled" the "simplest operation." He noted that the UA had spent over $13,000 dollars on office equipment and furniture last year, and argued that more of this money could be directed to other student activities, even in the event of a funding cut from the Institute. He criticized the secrecy which surrounded the Finance Board, and argued that funding requests should be made public so students could see if activities were truly short of money. Braff also called for a task force on tuition to challenge the administration's accounting of educational costs.
While Atkins agreed that activity funding requests should be public, Strehle disagreed, saying that student groups could be embarrassed if this information was revealed. Atkins defended the UA's office purchases, noting that they could be used by any student group.
When asked why the Undergraduate Association suffered from an image problem, both Antico and Braff blamed poor leadership in past administrations. Antico said there was a "sense of frustration" among the student body, because of the unattainable goals of the organization. Braff said the UA's "negative press is justified," and argued that their attempts at positive publicity like the UA newsletter were poorly executed. But Contreiras said the UA had a negative image merely because it had not yet involved enough students, but that this goal was in sight.
Also, Atkins pointed out that, unlike the other teams, his ticket had a "list of projects we can start tomorrow."