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UA council approves referendum on Athena

By Chris Schechter

Last Thursday, the Undergraduate Association Council approved a referendum question concerning the future of Project Athena. The question, which will appear on ballots tomorrow morning, asks, "Would you agree to an increase in your annual tuition to maintain the existing level of Athena services? This would be a $100 increase per student."

The question comes in response to the termination of grants from Digital Equipment Corporation and IBM for Project Athena.

The council also discussed the UA Standing Committee on Student Life for Alcohol Policy, and provided updates on the campus safety shuttle and a possible credit union for undergraduates. The UAC also discussed an effort to improve the financial aid information available to students.

At the meeting, some council members raised the question of whether the alcohol policy committee is responding to students' needs and desires. Andrew E. Bloch '91, a Baker House representative, commented to committee chair J. Paul Kirby '92 that it was dangerous for students to suggest that the administration should place restrictions on students.

Kirby responded by saying that MIT was ultimately responsible for activity in its dormitories. Kirby also said he was aware that a total ban on alcohol is not the solution.

Bloch said he "got very upset" because he believed that the policy was "trying to take power over alcohol policy from the dorms." Bloch said he felt a strict policy would "lead to forcing people either off-campus or behind closed doors to drink."

At the meeting, Bloch said, "It will cause more problems if people pass out in Boston than if they pass out in their lounges."

After the meeting, Bloch said he thought Kirby's responses sounded as though they were "coming from a member of the administration."

Later this month, there will be an open forum to get more student input on the alcohol policy. The alcohol policy committee will release its report in April, Kirby announced. This report will be the end product of several months of extensive research and consultation with former Dean for Student Affairs Robert A. Sherwood, the MIT Medical Center, and dormitory presidents and housemasters, Kirby said. The report is expected to be approximately 120 pages long.

Financial aid information,

credit union also discussed

In other business, UAC members said that the financial aid information sent out over the summer to students who have been accepted to MIT, as well as that available to students on campus, is insufficient.

To fill the information gap, the UAC is planning to change and clarify the instructions sent out to freshmen. The modified mailing is to include directions on how to apply for specific loans.

In addition, the UA plans to publish a book listing available scholarships and the steps necessary to obtain them. The book will be part of a library that is intended to become a financial aid center, where such information will be listed. The literature needed for such a center is being ordered.

The issue of a student credit union was then brought up. The union would be a nonprofit organization, and would be located in the Julius A. Stratton '23 Student Center. At this point, the union's membership would probably be restricted to undergraduates.

The main advantages of such a credit union would be a $5 minimum balance and the redistribution of some of the union's profit to its members at the end of each year. Members would also have the privilege of taking out loans for up to six months.

Supporters of the union said it would be an excellent opportunity for students to get experience in management and finance. The union would be open for limited hours only.

The credit union would be able to provide checking and credit cards only after six to 10 years of operation. The UAC suggested the MIT employees' credit union as an institution to emulate.

The council announced that starting some time after spring break, a shuttle providing free transportation for students will be running on campus from 6 pm to 3 am on weekdays, and from 6 pm to 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The shuttle will go anywhere on campus as well as to every fraternity and independent living group. The shuttle will be available on a call-by-call basis. At present, the UA is in the process of screening drivers for the shuttle.