Godfrey, Tsao Focus on Experience with Administrators, IssuesBy Karen Kaplan
If elected president and vice president of the Undergraduate Association, Hans C. Godfrey '93 and Anne S. Tsao '94 say they would provide students with safety seminars, two-ply toilet paper, and many things in between.
Broadly speaking, Godfrey and Tsao view the UA as a representative for students to the administration. "The UA's main focus should be on the educational front," Godfrey said in an interview this week. "We should also make sure that students don't get screwed. We need to make [administrators] know what student life is like."
"And providing tangible student services can be easily done," Tsao added. "With a reasonable proposal, it can be very easily accomplished."
Both candidates cite the academic calendar as a major issue. Through their service on various Institute Committees, Godfrey and Tsao have seen the new calendar under consideration by the administration, and they doubt it would be welcomed by students.
"The proposal that we've seen could prove detrimental to undergraduate life as we know it," Tsao said. They say a confidentiality clause prohibits them from discussing the specifics of the proposal, but "we're trying to pressure people to release it," Tsao said.
The faculty will consider the proposed calendar towards the end of the semester, and "whoever the UAP and UAVP are will have to know this issue already," she said. Tsao said she has already reached out to the InterFraternity Council, the Dormitory Council, the Engineering Internship Program, and MITES, all of which would be affected by the proposal. "We're getting together to write up a counterprososal, which should be released soon."
As UAP, Godfrey said he could "do effective lobbying [of the administration], and that should have a great impact. ... It's very easy to sway the faculty with an effective presentation. They should be won over by the facts."
Safety, food service also concerns
Godfrey and Tsao are also stressing safety issues. "This past year, all of the stuff that's been happening has really concerned us with the safety of undergraduates," said Tsao, who has chaired the UA Safety Committee.
Godfrey and Tsao envision an "educational seminar," to be offered each term and during IAP, in which Boston and Campus Police officers would provide information such as "the campus layout, where the emergency phones are, and where to buy mace," Tsao said. Ideally, the officers would visit each living group and speak to incoming freshmen during Residence/Orientation Week. Godfrey said that funding for such a program is available.
On the food service front, Godfrey said the remaining battle concerns "food quality, rather than what kind of plan is offered." Addressing the current proposal to close dining halls in three dormitories, Godfrey said he favored keeping the dining hall in Next House open because it could serve residents of many west campus dormitories and because Baker House would be inconvenient for many students.
"We have to seriously get student opinion," Tsao said. "We'll do whatever the undergraduate population wants."
Bringing cohesiveness to the UA
On a broader note, Godfrey and Tsao hope to bring more continuity to the UA.
"One of the things the UA is really lacking is a cohesive leadership program," Godfrey said. "We want to take freshmen and sophomore [UA Council] members and train them to deal with issues at MIT." He has been developing a freshman seminar which would teach students "how to run meetings, how to do things in student government, the IFC, DormCon, or whatever, and to get students interested and motivated."
"It's not just training," Tsao added. "We'd teach students how to look for issues, how to question and understand the hierarchy structure at MIT."
Godfrey sees a greater role for the UA in bringing other student groups together. For example, the UA could coordinate cultural groups for the annual International Fair, bring together the class councils for Battle of the Classes, and the like.
They would also like to bring together the undergraduates that serve on various Institute committees. "These students know bits and pieces of what the faculty is doing," Godfrey said. "The next UAP/UAVP team needs to unify this. Students need to have a cohesive scope of what the faculty is trying to do. If we look at all the pieces, we can figure it out ahead of time, bring it to the undergraduate population, and see what we're going to do about it."
They also mentioned the perennial theme of communication. "In the past, the UA has not been able to communicate with the undergraduate population," Godfrey said. He and Tsao would combat this by continuing the weekly half-page Tech advertisements, designed to reach a large number of undergraduates, and producing "commercials" featuring people, not just written announcements, to run on MIT cable. "It would be easy," Godfrey insisted.
Experience is a factor
Godfrey and Tsao believe that their experience, including six years of service to the Undergraduate Association between them, sets them apart from their competition.
Godfrey served as UA floor leader for a year and a half, chaired the UA Nominations Committee, and served on the Faculty Policy Committee, the Committee on Governance, and the UA's Judicial Review Board. Tsao was Secretary-General and Publicity Chair of the UA, headed the UA's Safety Committee, and served on the Institute's Committee on the Undergraduate Program. She is currently running an undergraduate committee to address calendar issues.
Although their opponents are urging voters to "turn the insiders out," Godfrey and Tsao agree that their experience is a plus. "We won't make the same mistakes as past administrations or be as inactive," Godfrey said.
"It takes a long time to learn who the players [in the administration] are," he said. "We're not starting from zero."
Tsao emphasized that she and her running-mate are both "very removed from the Bansal/Kessler Administration. That gave us an opportunity to see things from a different perspective," she said.