Editorial- UAP/VP Candidates Disappointing
The Undergraduate Association elections taking place this week are one of the few chances the student body has to make a difference in student government. However, the candidates this year for UA president and vice president show a uniform lack of promise in the face of an apathetic constituency.
In a year of budget cuts and core curriculum changes, it is especially important that our top student representatives have a positive track record of leadership within student activities, an understanding of how the UA operates, specific solutions to current issues, and the means with which to effect such changes.
On the issue of communication, one candidate team, Colin M. Page '95 and Michael R. Evans '95, calls for an end to closed meetings and an Athena-based "Dash" bar option for students to access information about the UA. The other team of Vijay R. Sankaran '95 and Carrie R. Muh '96 propose an electronic mail address for sending complaints, a virtually identical solution that will be equally ineffective.
Neither solution actively solicits students' opinions - instead, each waits for students to approach the UA. More direct and active interaction, including but not limited to visiting dormitory meetings or study breaks, would be more useful and productive for students and for the UA.
Past leadership is an important issue when choosing the presiding UA officers. As head of the UA Safety Committee, Page was suspended and censured for failing to attend two consecutive UA Executive Committee meetings, as he was asked and required to do. And as vice president of the class of 1995, Evans has little to show for his year in office. In fact, at the last UA Council meeting, a motion was made to impeach the class of 1995 officers.
Sankaran, the current UA floor leader, has demonstrated a similar lack of effective leadership by failing to produce quorum at several council meetings. Muh is the exception to the group of candidates - she is relatively new to the UA and does not have a tarnished record.
Both teams acknowledge problems related to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, undergraduate housing, food services, harassment, and campus safety. However, neither team suggests concrete - or original - solutions.
For instance, the Sankaran/Muh platform calls for a "directed letter writing campaign" regarding UROP and a grocery shuttle - projects already addressed by the current UA and Graduate Student Council administrations. While it is important to continue current projects, it is also important for officers and candidates to formulate and work to implement original ideas.
Page and Evans similarly pushed the important policy button of harassment without offering any practical resolutions to this problem. They did nothing more than say that a forum on harassment should be held by the UA and that a "more centralized system" was needed for the MIT community, providing no further details on how they would deal with the issue at large.
While The Tech does not endorse a candidate pair for UAP/VP, it encourages students to vote for whomever they feel is best qualified, not only for the higher offices, but for other important UA positions.