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Coop rejects NomComm selection

By Dawn Nolt

Breaking an unofficial tradition, the Harvard Cooperative Society rejected one of two nominations given by the Undergraduate Association Nominations Committee for student representative positions on the Coop Board of Directors, according to NomComm Chair Suephy Chen '89.

In February, NomComm chose two people, Julie Kim '89 and Paul Dans '91, to be on the Coop Board election ballot. The Coop nominating committee, which is responsible for placing the names on the ballot, traditionally accepts NomComm's two recommendations without question, Chen said. This year, however, Dans was rejected.

The Coop Board of Directors consists of student and faculty representatives from both MIT and Harvard. According to Darian Hendricks '89, a current member of the Coop Board, the eleven students on the board include three Harvard undergraduates, three Harvard graduates, three MIT students, and two from either school.

MIT students who wish to run for student representitive positions can either interview with NomComm for one of two selected nominations or petition the Coop nominating committee. NomComm, rather than the Coop nominating committee, traditionally makes the selections for automatic nominations because an organization from MIT is better suited to select an MIT representative than an outside committee, Chen said.

The Coop nominating committee selected Robert Potter '90, a current member of the Coop Board, instead of Dans. Chen said that Robert Scott, the Coop nominating committee chairman, told her that the Coop committee wanted continuity in its student directors, and, in automatically placing incumbent Potter on the ballot, the Coop committee expressed its desire that Potter be considered for Coop Board, even though he had not acted in any usual method to get on the ballot.

Scott also told Chen that he had some serious doubts as to NomComm's ability to select an adequate representative of MIT to be placed on the ballot, Chen said. Scott had apparently informed Chen that if NomComm does not operate the way he wants, he will find someone else to select MIT candidates.

According to both Dans and Chen, Dans received a letter before spring break asking him to come in to be interviewed by the Coop nominating committee. According to Chen, it was unusual for any recommended candidate to be interviewed again.

The letter stated, and Dans was reminded at the interview, that the Coop nominating committee was considering three people -- Kim, Dans and Potter -- for the two MIT positions that are automatically placed on the ballot.

Potter, who is a student director on the Coop Board, got on the ballot last time by petitioning, but according to Chen, he did not take any action to be placed on the ballot this year. Yet the Coop committee decided to override the Dans nomination and automatically place Potter on the ballot.

Chen said she felt "pretty annoyed" at the situation. She was upset that Scott expressed doubts about NomComm's competence in selecting an MIT representative, because, she said, an outside nominating committee does not understand the needs of the MIT community.

Chen contacted some Coop stockholders who are members of the Coop nominating committee. According to Chen, they expressed their belief that this situation was highly irregular and unfair towards MIT. Chen said Scott had acted independently in interviewing Dans and subsequently made recommendations to the rest of the Coop nominating committee about Dans and Potter.

After his NomComm recommendation had been rejected, Dans decided to petition the Coop committee for a spot on the ballot. He eventually obtained the necessary 150 signatures but felt that it was a great inconvenience to him to have to interview with both NomComm and Scott, only to be rejected and have to petition for his name to appear on the ballot.

Chen said that both she and NomComm members in general felt insulted by the actions of the Coop nominating committee.