UA calls for presidential search input
By Aileen Lee
Input into the search for a new president for MIT, increased student activities funding, and increased communication with students on Institute committees were among the top issues of concern at the Undergraduate Association Council's first meeting of the school year, held in McCormick Hall last night.
The meeting was a good introduction, especially for freshmen, to the most pressing items on the UA's agenda for this term, according to UA President Paul Antico '91.
Student involvement in the presidential search process, which has been underway since last spring, topped last night's discussion.
Three groups are working to select candidates to replace President Paul E. Gray '54, who will retire at the end of the year -- a designated group of the MIT Corporation, a faculty group, and a Corporation joint advisory committee.
"In the past, students have not been involved at all in the process. But this year we hope to insert ourselves into the search through student initiative," former UA president Jonathan Katz '90 said.
" Whoever becomes the next president will set the tone at MIT for the next ten years. The president creates the priorities, and if the students can convey to the corporation what we think the priorities should be, it will make a difference when the new president is selected," said Katz, who is heading up the UA's Presidential Search Committee along with Vijay Vaitheeswaran '90.
Vaitheeswaran added, "What is important is that students communicate how they feel about the way MIT works; we can create criteria for what we would like to see here in the next years -- see teaching improve, or have more emphasis over research, have better student facilities, for example. This is a unique opportunity for students to implement changes -- one that occurs only every 10 years or so."
Also prominent on the UA agenda this year is student activities funding. Over the years, student activities have received little to no adjusted increase due to inflation, it was reported at the meeting. A Student Funding Action Committee has been created with members from the UA President's Office, Finance Board, and the Association of Student Activities. The committee hopes to acquire more money from MIT for student activities.
As a possible solution to the lack of access students have to most Institute committees, Yonald Chery G proposed an Institute Committee Union. This union would consist of all students on Institute committees and would be obliged to meet, discuss, and brief the UA Council on issues with which their committees have been dealing. This would give undergraduates more of a link to the concerns and decisions of Institute committees, Chery said.
Last night's meeting opened with an introduction by Antico and then discussion in small groups to acquaint members with UA issues. The new freshman class officers were sworn in -- John Abbomondi, president; Stefanie Spencer, vice president; Sophia Yen, treasurer; Dewitt Seward, secretary; Venuta Mohan, publicity chair; and Rebecca Wittry and Joel Mezistrano, social co-chairs.
The meeting wrapped up with outlines of the agendas of other UA committees, such as the ARA committee and the new Freshman Evaluation Committee.