Antico promises pragmatic UA
By Miguel Cantillo
Paul L. Antico '91 and Andrew P. Strehle '91 were elected president and vice president of the Undergraduate Association in Wednesday's election with a solid margin over Luisa R. Contreiras '90 and David L. Atkins '90. Adam Braff '91 and Shawn J. Mastrian '91 followed in a very close third place.
A total of 1503 votes were cast, and the decision was reached after the sixth round of counting. Antico and Strehle obtained 492 votes (32.7 percent) in the first round and were followed by the Contreiras and Atkins ticket, which got 396 votes (26.3 percent). Braff and Mastrian came in third with 363 votes (24.2 percent), and the team called "Stove and Cats" trailed in fourth place with 97 votes (6.5 percent). Matt Labrador and Kevin Dickens, who are not officially registered as undergraduates, ran to protest campus bigotry and police harrassment, and received 40 votes (2.7 percent). Other candidates received less than 3 percent of the votes.
In the final round, after the votes for all other candidates were redistributed, Antico and Strehle held 711 votes (47.3 percent of the total voting), besting Contreiras and Atkins, who obtained 555 votes (36.9 percent). Two hundred and thirty seven votes (15.8 percent) did not include either Antico/Strehle or Contreiras/Atkins on their preferential ballots.
Voter turnout for this year was 35.7 percent of the undergraduate student body -- lower than last year's 41 percent turnout.
Antico attributed his successful campaign to devoting more individual attention to students. Both Antico and Strehle had worked for the UA and for the Class of 1991, and they had also made a point of going door-to-door to talk with undergraduates. Antico believed that this rapport with students breeded confidence in both him and Strehle, and this confidence made them a viable ticket.
Braff, commenting on the possible causes for his loss, said that perhaps undergraduates do not grasp how crucial it is to change the UA. There is a general trend towards inertia that makes students want things to remain as they are, Braff added. He said that he would not run in next year's UA elections because he plans to graduate as a junior.
Contreiras congratulated Antico for his success and added that she believed that both Antico and Strehle were very capable of running the UA.
With regard to the changes in the freshman year that are currently being debated by the faculty, Antico said that he would support the position which is preferred by most students. Antico also said he needs more input from students before adopting a position on the alcohol policy. He added that there are several constraining regulations by MIT that should be revised.
One of Antico's promises during the campaign was to pay more attention to the concerns of the students. He said he will strengthen the ties between the UA and the undergraduate student body by increasing the number of UA meetings in dormitories and by organizing these meetings in different places, so that the UA will not be dominated by a "West Campus clique."
Antico also hoped to make undergraduates more aware of what is going on at MIT. He plans to expand the UA's endowment via fundraising for MIT, opening more tables in Lobby 10, and creating more "vending points" throughout the campus. Antico said his goal is to create a firm groundwork for a healthy financial situation and his objective is to stress continuity, realism and pragmatism.
Both Contreiras and Braff believed that their influence over the UA in the coming year would be limited. Both agreed that outside of the UAP and UAVP positions, there was little room to implement their campaign ideas. Braff said, however, that he will advocate that pass/no-credit grading remain as an option for second-term freshmen. Contreiras said that such ideas as having the Course Evaluation Guide review all subjects are "do-able," and could be pursued if the UAP chose to do so.
Antico said that this year's smaller turnout was, in part, a consequence of organizational difficulties within the election commission. He also blamed The Tech for not endorsing any UAP/UAVP ticket.
Contreiras said that last year had been one of exceptional participation, with a record of 41 percent turnout. The trend at MIT is nevertheless much lower, usually in the 30-35 percent range, she added. MIT is above average in participation compared to other colleges, where voting turnouts are 15 percent or lower, Contreiras said. Braff believed that the low turnout was a "sad comment on the UA" and that voter turnout was much lower than it should be.
The candidates outlined some changes that they would like to see in future elections. Contreiras wanted all offices to be open to elections and thought that emphasis should be given to issues rather than to images. She thought that the MIT community would be better served if the advertisement period was more "civilized." In particular, Contreiras called for more debates and forums, so that candidates could better expose their ideas.
Antico held a similar position to that of Contreiras, for he believed that forums and televised debates were "excellent" ideas.
Braff said he would like to see a more active election commission, so that student participation might be higher. He also objected to the UA's "obscure" bureaucracy, which he said hinders the participation of "outsiders" in the elections. Braff also advocated a simplification in the entrance requirements for UA candidates.
Both Contreiras and Braff expressed their distaste for the excessive electoral postering around MIT. Contreiras said that too much postering does not lead to a campaign of ideas. Braff remarked that the effort put into postering did not yield a sufficient turnout.