UA Purpose To Interface Between Students And Administration
This letter is in response to the letter of Raajnish A. Chitaley '95 to The Tech ["UAP/UAVP Candidates Show Little Promise," Mar. 4]. We will be the first to admit that we are not as close to the intricacies of the Undergraduate Association and its relations with the administration as Chitaley. When he expressed a concern that some important issues were not being addressed in the campaign, we solicited his opinion to determine what they were. In the spirit of enhancing communication, Colin M. Page '95 met with him on March 6.
Chitaley brought up several issues, but there were only two that we feel we can address. He brought up the concern of the UA's relation to the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs and the overall purpose of the UA.
Due to the fact that the UA receives all of its money from the Dean's Office there is a limit to how independent the UA can be. At other schools, student body governments are often privately incorporated; thus they have their own money, and are therefore capable of autonomy. We plan to look into ways of making the Undergraduate Association more independent of the Dean's Office.
We feel that the overall purpose of the UA is to solicit and compile student opinions and ideas and facilitate the process of bringing these opinions and ideas to the attention of the MIT Administration.
Now we would like to reaffirm our stances on the issues that have surfaced so far in the campaign.
Financial Responsibility:We would like to reiterate our commitment to the principle that undergraduates should see a return on every dollar spent by the UA. We want to free up more money for other student groups and class councils.
We plan to use the majority of the Vannevar Bush '16 fund for a project that will have long-lasting benefit for the MIT community. We have been labeled "thoughtless" in our desire to make the Financial Board more independent of the UA. We fully comprehend the long-term implications of our position and we stand by it. Finboard should allocate money in an atmosphere as free from politics as possible.
Harassment: It is our position that the current system for handling harassment complaints at MIT is not adequate. We would add the voice of the UA to that of the Graduate Student Council and the Faculty Ad-Hoc Committee on Harassment.
Safety: We intend to keep a close eye on the Safe Walk system and we will look into the possibility of a student patrol. We also want to make sure that the administration does not feel that they have done enough. Safety can be improved in many ways.
Administration Relations: Both of us have had extensive dealings with administration officials in the performance of present and past duties of our activities. Page has negotiated repayment of debt owed to MIT by the Student Center Committee and the SCC 24 Hour Coffeehouse in his capacity as SCC Treasurer. Michael R. Evans '95 dealt with administration in his position as Class of '95 Ring Committee Chair in order to speed up the process at certain points. After elected, we will meet with the deans and other members of the administration in order to better facilitate communication with them when we take office in May.
Communication and Openness of the UA:
We are committed to finding a way to improve communication between the UA and the student body. One idea we have is to set something up using Project Athena, perhaps a place on the Dashboard, to negotiate an agreement with The Tech to consistently have a place for UA announcements, or to explore opportunities for creative use of the new MIT Student Cable group.
We want to make the UA a place where people feel that they can turn. Those who work in the UA should feel that their ideas were heard and supported. They should feel that working in and through the UA was a rewarding experience.
Over the course of the campaign we have commented on the fact that the team of Vijay P. Sankaran '95 and Carrie R. Muh '96 is saying many of the things we are. They feel the UA needs to communicate better. They also feel that the UA needs to be more responsible in spending student money. At the same time, Sankaran and Muh claim to have strong records of leadership in the UA. Sankaran was UA Council Floor Leader last year and Muh has been on the Executive Committee of the UA for two years.
They now castigate the UA. However, they are criticizing administrations which they were a part of, and decisions which they helped make. We invite them to explain this apparent contradiction and describe what they have done in the past to alleviate the ills they see plaguing the UA that they seem to feel so strongly about now.
Finally, if in making your decision you may desire further information from either of us, we invite you to e-mail us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Please exercise your right to vote this next week, either through Project Athena from Sunday, March 6 through Wednesday, March 9 or at Lobby 7, Baker House, Walker Memorial, and the Student Center or the UA office all day Wednesday.
Colin M. Page '95 and Michael R. Evans '95
Candidates for Undergraduate Association President and Vice-President