Bapna, Schwingel take UAP/VP in landslide
By Brian Rosenberg
Manish Bapna '91 and Colleen M. Schwingel '92 were elected president and vice-president of the Undergraduate Association on Wednesday by the largest margin since 1961. Bapna and Schwingel defeated two other official teams, David W. Hogg '92/David M. Stern '91 and Thomas S. Kang '91/Jon D. Strizzi '92.
Bapna and Schwingel received 832 of the 1339 first-choice votes cast (62.1 percent). Hogg and Stern came in second with 265 votes (19.8 percent). Kang and Strizzi received 214 votes (16 percent). The 42.3 percent margin of victory is the largest since 1961, before the UA was restructured. Other candidates received 28 votes (2.1 percent).
Voter turnout was approximately 38 percent of undergraduates, up slightly from last year's 35.7 percent turnout, but in line with the general trend at MIT.
Many people were surprised by Bapna and Schwingel's margin of victory. Stern commented, "I'm not surprised we [Hogg and Stern] lost, but I'm surprised it was by such a clear margin."
Bapna explained the margin as a result of the fact that "Colleen and I are such different people. We attracted many different kinds of people to vote for us."
Outgoing UA President Paul L. Antico '91 said, "The amount of support [Bapna and Schwingel] have gives them a good starting point for their term. It will help them do a lot more than they otherwise could have."
Bapna attributed his victory to "going door to door and talking to people. We [Bapna and Schwingel] showed our concern to as many people as possible." The "realism behind our platform" was also a crucial factor in the election, Schwingel explained.
Stern said, "Our campaign failed to let people know we were different. People didn't know about our attitude on how the UA should work. If people had known, we might have done better."
Nearly all the candidates expressed support of the policy that limited election postering to specified areas. "The postering policy was the best thing that came out of the campaign. It forced the campaign to be an actual campaign, and not a poster fest. People printed their platforms and took stands on the issues," Bapna said.
Schwingel agreed that "limiting postering saved resources and personalized the election. It forced people to go door to door."
Stern said that he and Hogg "are against postering policies in general, but in this case it kept posters to a reasonable amount. I think that can be done without a policy, however."
Strizzi and Kang refused to comment on the election, but issued the following statement: "We don't wish to comment on any of The Tech's questions because we don't feel that it's proper to communicate with a biased newspaper and be misquoted and misrepresented once again."
The candidates downplayed the importance of the debate they participated in on Sunday. "The debate was well-run and the questions were good, but I don't know that it made a clear distinction among the candidates," said Schwingel.
Stern said, "I think very few people watched it. Putting a transcript in The Tech would allow everyone to read exactly what the candidates say. There are certain things you can't get from a summary that you can from a transcript."
Bapna and Schwingel look ahead
Bapna and Schwingel are "setting up a timeline for our term," said Schwingel.
The two are "working together" with the current UA leaders to "ease the transition," Antico said. "They already have a head start because they know how things work here, and they've been around the UA a while," he added.
Bapna said he is ready to "forge a new relationship with the administration which will reflect into how policies are made for the next 10 to 15 years. I want to make the UA work more closely with the [InterFraternity Council] and [the Dormitory Council]. It seems that DormCon and IFC are better in touch with students, and the UA is better in touch with the administration. By putting the two together, we can bring the students closer to power."
During the campaign, Bapna and Schwingel "saw a lot of alternative solutions to problems that come up often, and we plan to use them," Bapna said.
"We kept a log of complaints and solutions that we got from going door to door," added Schwingel, "and we're going to refer to that often."
Many people involved with the election were impressed with the low number of write-in votes for "joke" candidates such as Winnie the Pooh. Antico said the low number of write-ins means that "more people are taking the UA seriously, and that's a compliment to the people in the UA."
Bapna said he met "a few vocal people who thought the UA was useless, but the election showed that they're a small minority."
Students elect class officers but no one cares
Class officers were also elected Wednesday. Many candidates ran unopposed while other positions were left unfilled.
Joseph R. Babiec Jr. became president of the Class of 1990. He ran unopposed. Stacy A. Segal narrowly defeated Aparna M. Gupta for vice president, taking 56.7 percent of the votes cast, while Gupta took 40.8 percent. Ning P. Peng, running unopposed, became secretary. Mark J. D'Agostino received 78.3 percent of the votes cast for treasurer, defeating Aaron S. Wallack. Newly elected members-at-large are Meryl T. Alford, who ran unopposed, and Joanne E. Spetz, who defeated Jonathan A. Woodman with 68.6 percent of the votes cast. No one ran for the office of class agent.
Dawn L. Mitzner needed three rounds of counting to win the presidency of the Class of 1991. She had accumulated 56.1 percent of the votes at that time, defeating Rachel A. Wilks, who had 43.9 percent, and Felipe J. Calderon, whose ballots had been transferred to Mitzner and Wilks.
Other newly elected 1991 class officers are Vice President Brian M. Katz, Secretary Seema Nundy, Treasurer Roger Israni, and Social Chairs Cassandra Santos and William S. Schnorr. All ran unopposed, and no one ran for the office of publicity chair.
The Class of 1992 elected Dawn L. Nolt as their president over Soo-Ah Kim. Nolt received 50.2 percent of the votes cast, and Kim received 47.1 percent. Christina H. S. Kwon took 70.8 percent of the votes cast for vice president, beating Navneet Govil, who received 27.5 percent of the votes cast. Secretary Sonia W. Chung, Treasurer Lisa K. Arel, and Social Chair Fritz N. Francis ran unopposed. No one ran for the office of publicity chair.
Matthew C. Oberhardt won the Class of 1993 presidential contest with 56.6 percent of the votes cast. He defeated Stefanie A. Spencer, who received 36.7 percent of the votes cast. Vice president elect Lisa M. Chow narrowly defeated Vinuta C. Mohan and Karl L. Yen after three rounds of counting. Chow had 50.3 percent of the votes cast after the third round, while Mohan had 49.7 percent. Yen's ballots had been distributed to Chow and Mohan.
Peter Tarsi ran unopposed for the office of secretary of the Class of 1993. Sophia Yen defeated Matt Olsen to become treasurer by a margin of 65.2 percent to 32.5 percent. Yvonne G. Lin and Karen K. Oda, running unopposed, were elected social chairs. Wendy K. Cook received 58.6 percent of the votes cast for publicity chair, beating Mark M. Lee, who received 37.1 percent of the votes cast. Lee's candidacy had been the subject of controversy due to his campaign posters, which many found offensive.
Votes for candidates who are not registered undergraduate students were not included in the above figures. According to UA Election Committee Commissioner Christine M. Coffey '93, "counting those votes is taking percentage points from eligible candidates and not giving them to anyone." Coffey said there were "about 60" votes for ineligible candidates, including Adam Braff '91 and Shawn J. Mastrian '91. "Braff and Mastrian were ineligible because Braff didn't appear on our registration list," Coffey added.