Bush Fund Brouhaha Obscures IssueNow that both The Thistle and The Tech have exhaustively covered the story of the beleaguered Vannevar Bush Trust, I believe it is the right time to cut through the misinformation, and give you my perspective.
The critical donor document of the Bush Trust says: "without accountability." It says that no one, not the president of MIT, not the undergraduate or graduate student bodies of MIT, is supposed to have any say in how this fund is spent. I agree that everyone should know about the existence of the fund; but how the fund is spent is between the Undergraduate Association president, MIT (through Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs), and Vannevar Bush, who did all his talking forty years ago.
People complain that the UA has staged a cover-up concerning the Bush Trust, and that it should have done this or that. As far as I know, no UA president has ever given much thought to the matter. Although $4,500 may seem like a good chunk of money, it's nothing compared to the money that various deans, officials, and departments have in discretionary funding. I'm more than happy to sit down with students and student groups to find them sources of funding if none are apparently available (I do that on a daily basis already); up to this point I've always been able to squeeze a couple of bills here and there out of MIT.
Before I lay the matter to rest, I want to do two things: first, apologize to the students for allowing this matter to take up too much of their time with unsightly drivel; and second, chastise some people and give some advice to the undergraduate student body.
First, I make no apology for using some of the money to pay my house bill. It was not only legal, it was appropriate because I would not be able to stay at MIT, because of financial constraints; then, I would not be able to perform my duties as UA president since I wouldn't be a student. However, I do apologize to the students because this whole situation was sensationalist garbage that was specifically meant to harm certain people. Everyone seemed to forget that I am always available to talk about any issues related to the welfare of MIT's undergraduates, and if I have not conveyed as such, I am truly sorry. From now on though, if any of you have questions or concerns on any issues, please stop by the office, write e-mail, or call and I would be more than happy to talk.
Now for the people behind this imbroglio, and what it means for the future. I can only say the following: Ignore everything that you've seen in print about this issue. The facts of the matter have become so convoluted that it's hard to distinguish them from fiction. I will say that there are several investigations going on both internal and external to the UA government about the appropriateness and legality of certain individuals actions (not me if you're wondering) and reports will be issued in due course. I (and probably The Tech) will keep you posted on any further actions in this matter, but I do not feel that it is proper for me to malign others as they maligned me.
Despite the personal effect this issue has had on me, my main concern lies in the effect it might have on the student body and student activities. The information on the Bush Trust is kept in the same database as the student activities accounts. Unfortunately, each group keeping an account with the UA or the Dean's Office must now question whether or not its information is safe from similar manipulation. I can not answer that question for the student groups, but I urge them to speak with Dean Smith or me if they are afraid that this may happen.
I am also afraid that people who don't care about the student body will now run for office in order to get their hands on the Bush Trust (even though it really isn't worth it). I'm not too concerned, though, because I think that this type of unsavory character will usually be eliminated during the election process.
I urge each of you to keep an open mind when you read anything in any paper. Everyone has an agenda of some sort, and his interests are usually not your interests. In the final analysis, I believe this situation has led to a positive result: The student body is now more aware of my existence, and will hopefully feel more comfortable in approaching me and my successors. I would like very much if you did so in the days ahead.
Hans C. Godfrey '93
Undergraduate Association President