Gastelum, Sachs See More Aggressive Role for Student GovernmentBy Michael A. Saginaw
Associate News Editor
Anthony R. G. Gastelum '95 and Zohar Sachs '96, candidates for Undergraduate Association president and vice president, want to make the UA an aggressive voice to speak on behalf of students.
"The first thing we'd like to change is the philosophy of the UA, so that it's not such an insular, self-absorbed body," Gastelum said.
"I believe the administration will listen to the students if they are organized," Sachs added.
Gastelum and Sachs said they are disgusted with what they see as MIT using students as a source of money. They pointed out that tuition hikes are 1.5 times the rate of inflation. "I believe that even President [Charles M.] Vest said that the tuition hikes here are more than at other colleges," Sachs said.
Also, the self-help rate, the amount of money students are expected to contribute to their financial aid packages, grows each year at twice the rate of inflation, according to the candidates.
"Right now MIT is operating at a deficit and they have to sacrifice something. The first thing they sacrifice is the undergraduates. They are over-enrolling just for the revenues," Sachs said.
Furthermore, Gastelum and Sachs noted that 80 percent of undergraduates living in dormitories are in crowded rooms. "Somebody should really stand up for the undergraduates. If the administration got the message that there is an organized student body, they couldn't get away with some of the stuff that they do," Sachs said.
Dining, HASS-D's are issues
The two candidates feel strongly that the UA should have played a much bigger role in the recent uproar over the administration's proposed food plan. "I know a lot of students who did their own independent surveys when the administration announced its meal plan," Sachs said. "That's exactly the role the UA should play. The UA exists so that students don't have to do surveys," she explained.
Sachs added, "The gathering in 10-250 should never have happened, because the UA should have taken care of it before it got to that point," referring to the open UA Council meeting on Feb. 4 that focused on the dining hall issue.
The lotteries for popular Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Distribution classes are strict and inflexible, and they are designed "solely to encourage enrollment in less popular courses," Gastelum said. "Who's deciding which courses we're taking?" he asked. Gastelum said that 50 percent of the people who signed up for the Shakespeare HASS-D class were lotteried out. He claimed that MIT does not respect its undergraduates enough to make sure they can get a more complete undergraduate education.
Sachs argued that despite the financial difficulty of opening up new recitation sections for crowded classes, "MIT is in a position to do a lot of what it wants, to a certain extent."
Safety is a big concern too, she said. "We could increase lighting, phones, and the Safe Ride service. Other colleges have student-run patrols. Maybe we could have a volunteer or paid student organization" run patrols.
Also, Sachs said she is against the proposed student life fee, where tuition would be increased by about $30 and the UA would get money to fund student activities. "I know that $30 is not the end of the world, and compared to tuition it's practically nothing. But I have a problem with making everybody pay a set fee," Sachs said.
"Our main goal is just to make the UA something worth caring about," Sachs said. "We feel that nobody else is going to do this job, and somebody should be doing it."
In reference to the other UAP/UAVP team, Gastelum said, "The contrast couldn't be more clear between a team of consummate insiders and us."