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Bansal, Kessler Emphasize Communication

By Eva Moy
Associate News Editor

Shally Bansal '93 and David J. Kessler '94, candidates for Undergraduate Association president and vice president, emphasize communication between students and professors as an essential part of their platform.

They also believe safety, the Independent Activities Period, and academic honesty should be addressed and would like to shift the UA's focus toward stronger student representation.

Bansal and Kessler feel that communication between students and professors is crucial. "It's important for the professors to receive student input" on lectures and problem sets, Bansal said. It is also important for the professor to let students know how much collaboration is acceptable, she said.

Kessler said that they would like to install Institute-wide forums where representatives from each recitation meet with the professor and teaching assistants of each class. These forums, currently used in Principles of Chemical Science (5.11) and Organic Chemistry I (5.12), focus on issues such as teaching style, problem sets, and exams. The forums may also affect the issue of academic honesty by keeping professors more aware that problem sets or exams are too difficult, he added.

Bansal said the problem with an honor code is the difficult distinction between" what you should do in principle versus what would be effective." Kessler added that an honor code would work only if it could "foster pride in your work," in addition to reducing dishonesty.

Bansal and Kessler also feel that safety needs to be addressed. They would like to concentrate on "putting lights in dark places," like East Campus and Killian Court, Bansal said.

Bansal and Kessler support the preservation of IAP, a subject of recent debate. Bansal feels that the elimination of IAP "would do nasty things to the stress levels at MIT." She added that it may change students' perceptions of MIT.

The candidates feel several other issues need to be addressed. Bansal is presently working on a financial aid "road map" as part of her work on the Financial Aid subcommittee. The subcommittee has already published a pamphlet, available at the Humanities Library, which describes some scholarship and loan programs in which MIT participates. The current project includes information about deadlines, where to go for scholarships, and details on how to deal with the Bursar's office. The subcommittee is now collecting information, Bansal said.

In response to the controversial alcohol policy, Bansal and Kessler are more concerned about "risk management" and "preventing accidents" than the elimination of underage drinking or "an overly restrictive policy," Kessler said. He added that people should be responsible so that students do not place themselves in dangerous situations.

They also feel that the current housing system should not be changed, especially in light of recent discussions about the possible postponement of rush. "First term freshman year is a good time to have pledging" without many other responsibilities, Bansal said.

"Rejection is not a foreign thing," Kessler said in reference to concerns about "flushing" during rush. "It's part of growing up; it's part of being here." He added that the costs of losing ILGs during such a change would be high.

Kessler added that the current housing system offers a lot of social and academic counseling from upperclassmen that would not be present if a freshman dorm were created. This counseling "determines a lot about how you perceive MIT" and helps in the adjustment from high school to college, he said.

UA needs more student representation

Bansal and Kessler also feel that the UA must provide stronger representation of students. "We have a good idea of what we think the UA should do. We'd like to see it change its focus. It should definitely be student oriented... . Not enough people go back and talk to their constituents to find out what the rest of the people on campus are thinking," Bansal said.

"Now it's time for the UA to be more outward looking," Kessler said. It should "focus its energies on specific issues that will help student life," he added. "First of all, come up with issues that affect a lot of people," Bansal said.

The team feels that, if elected, they can accomplish their safety, alcohol, and teaching improvement goals, which mainly require enhanced communications, Bansal said.

Candidates have experience within UA

Both candidates have had prior experiences in UA committees and representing student groups. Bansal has been MacGregor House representative for two years. She is the chairman of the UA Student Life Committee, and its financial aid subcommittee. She has also been on UA committees on housing and undergraduate admissions and financial aid.

Kessler, a member of Theta Xi, has been a representative of the Interfraternity Council and is chair of the UA Safety Committee. He has also been on the Finance Board and UA committees on housing, nominations, and undergraduate admissions and financial aid.