Reinhart and Brown for UAP/VPThis year's campaign for Undergraduate Association president and vice president has resounded with boldly proclaimed suggestions to address many of the same problems in many of the same ways as the previous elections. If elected, three teams promise to do competent but uninspiring work in the position. The fourth, Stephen A. Rinehart '93 and Jeremy H. Brown '94, instead offer a dramatically different, more responsive UA, and they deserve your vote.
None of the three "traditional" teams have instilled much confidence in voters. The "tangible student services" of Kai-Teh Tao '94 and Peter K. Verprauskus '94 are superficial and do nothing to address many longer-term issues. Both Shally Bansal '93 and David J. Kessler '94 and Emily R. Prenner '93 and Anne S. Tsao '94 have extensive UA experience and knowledge of the UA's structure and previous work. Of the two teams, Prenner and Tsao are the more competent. Their ideas are better thought out and more thorough, and they have presented clear stands on virtually every issue of importance. But it is likely that they will serve only to maintain the status quo, and will be unable to make substantive improvements in the direction of the UA.
Rinehart and Brown have run under the slogan "Vote Apathy." Behind this disconcerting and misleading message, however, the pair discuss plans not to ignore the UA, but to transform it. They intend to make the UA into a nearly pure example of representative democracy. Students who have problems they want solved or ideas on how to address an issue facing undergraduates will be encouraged to send e-mail to Rinehart and Brown. Even more importantly, they pledge to base their actions and priorities on these ideas, and they frequently insist that they are not best qualified for the job -- the students are. The pair also express a healthy skepticism toward committee-based action -- a useful tool, but one that is currently overused in the UA.
Placing Rinehart and Brown in charge of the UA has its risks. Many students who are currently active in the UA may feel alienated and be unwilling or unable to work with them. Organizational challenges may be daunting. Relations between the UA and the administration may be strained. Solutions to all of these problems are readily at hand, however, and require little or no effort to implement. Current UA staff may adapt to Rinehart and Brown's different style, and the two may attract the participation of a normally indifferent population of undergraduates. Though complex, all but a few details of the UA's structure can be mastered with a minimum of investigation. When the administration sees UA leaders who can rationally and effectively represent the views of students, it will deal with them on the same level, regardless of their background.
The greatest problem Rinehart and Brown will face is, ironically, student apathy. Their calls for student input will often fall on deaf ears. If they receive no student input, they say they will do nothing. This would be a blow to the UA and the student body as a whole, and should not be allowed to happen. So vote for Rinehart and Brown, but do so with the understanding that you vote for a new UA, one that demands your active interest and participation.