Editorial -- Vote for Godfrey and TsaoTomorrow, undergraduates will elect a new president and vice president of the Undergraduate Association. We recommend they vote for Hans C. Godfrey '93 and Anne S. Tsao '94.
Their competitors, Anthony R. G. Gastelum '95 and Zohar Sachs '96, have raised some issues -- overcrowding in dormitories, the high cost of tuition, oversubscribed Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Distribution subjects -- that have a great impact on student life. The pair speak in generalizations, however, and details of their plans do not reflect a solid understanding of the issues. In addition, the Undergraduate Association has very little influence over administrative decisions on these issues. The team's focus on these issues shows that although their hearts are in the right place, they simply have little what is involved in running the UA.
Godfrey and Tsao have more realistic goals for leading the UA. Going head-to-head with the administration on the calendar issue may be the only way to preserve Residence/Orientation Week and Independent Activities Period. Safety issues and the closure of dining halls are both important to students and within the scope of the UA's powers.
More importantly, Godfrey and Tsao have demonstrated that they know how to achieve their goals. Their six years of combined experience serving on various student and Institute committees, including the UA Council, has taught them how to get the job done.
Student life fee plans are incomplete
A student life fee has the potential to increase the amount of money student activities receive and the amount of control students have over that money -- which is why such a fee is a good idea in principle. Unfortunately, the UA has made little effort to formalize the plan that appears on this year's ballots. Because the UA has provided so few concrete details, students should vote "no" on the student life fee.
The referendum question focuses on the mechanics of setting the amount of a fee. Under the proposal, the UA would set the student life fee every other year and students would have the opportunity to reject it -- but only if a two-thirds majority of at least 30 percent of the student body votes to do so. The idea is good, but the two-thirds clause is inappropriate. A simple majority should be all that is necessary to reject an increase in the student life fee.
The referendum also ignores the most important part of a student life fee: how much it will cost the individual student. No student should vote for the fee until he or she knows how much it costs.
This is the second time the UA has failed to present an adequately-researched referendum question to students. This referendum should be defeated -- and the UA should do the job right on its third attempt.
Free speech questions miss the issue
Unfortunately, we cannot make an endorsement concerning the free speech referendum, which concerns a number of modifications of the Institute's harassment guidelines. The choice between protecting freedom of expression and keeping our learning environment free of harassment is an important one, but this referendum frames it in a vague and inconclusive manner.
The complexities of the issue have not yet been properly discussed or debated, with the result that few undergraduates indeed will be capable of making an informed decision. The questions seem designed to elicit a "yes" answer, but offer little insight on what students think about free speech and harassment.