The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 20.0°F | A Few Clouds

Robinson, Murthi Win Freshman Class Elections

By Roopom Banerjee

Craig Robinson '97 was elected freshman class president and Mala Murthi '97 was elected vice president last week.

Voter turnout for elections last week was 33.4 percent of 1087 freshmen, according to Undergraduate Association Floor Leader Vijay P. Sankaran '95. He said the turnout was average, considering that regular undergraduate elections draw about 40 percent of the student body.

Regular balloting took place of Friday, but the electronic voting planned for Thursday was a failure. Campaigning began one week before the elections.

Officers have varied backgrounds

Robinson was elected president from a field of eight candidates. He said that his major concerns are "the unification of the freshman class, the development of class spirit, and giving the Class of 1997 a voice on campus and in the community."

Robinson was his high school student council president and a member of Junior ROTC in high school, and is now a Navy ROTC midshipman.

Although the vice president spot did not have nearly as many candidates, the race was just as competitive. Murthi believes that "the vice president exists to represent the freshman class, not to act in self-interest." She said she "will represent what freshmen want out of the class council and the [Undergraduate Association], both on issues of student life and on the social level." Murthi was Junior Statesman speaker of the house for Texas.

Lisa Ho '97 won more than two-thirds of the votes for treasurer. Ho said that her "first duties are to enact whatever class council decides, to set up the treasury, and to pay money for the class."

In high school, Ho was student council secretary, captain of academic challenge, and was involved in community service.

With three years of experience in student council, including one year as president, Christina Hsu '97 believes that her term as secretary will be a fruitful one. Specifically, she plans to "take minutes at meetings, e-mail the minutes to students who want them, listen to anything others have to say, and make sure [those] issues are addressed at the next meetings."

Amy Mousel '97 and Amy Kimura '97 were elected social chairs. Both Mousel and Kimura participated in high school student council for four years; Kimura was vice president and secretary. Mousel and Kimura feel their job is to "allow freshmen on both sides of the river to get to know one another."

They said, "[Freshmen] meet a lot of people during rush, but then never see them again because the tendency is to stay in your own living group or dorm." With that in mind, the social chairs are planning a freshman ball, and a freshman carnival, the proceeds of which will go to charity.

Besides the regular study breaks and parties, Mousel and Kimura are considering "Penpals for Unity," a program where each freshman is assigned a fellow freshman pen pal. Penpals for Unity has been successful in Mousel's high school, so the social chairs have high hopes of its success at MIT.

This year's publicity chairs are Helen Chen '97 and Lina Chen '97. Helen Chen, former president of her high school student council, said, "Our main purpose is to foster freshman unity and bring the whole freshman class together."

Lina Chen said that they are "excited to be elected the publicity chairs, since we enjoy postering, drawing, and doing other artistic things."

Athena voting unsuccessful

Technical problems limited the success of electronic voting. "We had some problems getting the system to run," Sankaran said. It was "not as successful as we hoped it would be."

Voting on Athena was only available for nine or 10 hours, instead of a full 24 hours as expected, Sankaran said. There were some problems with the program as well as with the computer that ran the central program. As a result, only 35 students voted electronically.

However, the general student response seems to indicate that electronic balloting is "a thing that people will really want in the future," Sankaran said.