Making the Choice- UAP/UAVP Elections
After three years of service in the Undergraduate Association, I felt it necessary to comment about the upcoming elections. My goal in writing this letter is not to sway anyone's vote or to show favoritism. I want to provide voters with a basis on which to choose their President and Vice-President beyond the posters, rumors and friends' opinions.
The team of Colin M. Page '95 and Michael R. Evans '95 has two strengths that I can see: (1) They have not been involved in the administration of the UA (the Class Council is a subsidiary government under the UA Council). As a consequence, we cannot make any judgments concerning their ability to serve as UAP and UAVP. They may have hidden potential that these offices will bring to light. (2) They can bring fresh insight and energy into this organization.
Page and Evans' disadvantages are as follows: (1) They live off-campus in the same house. And thus, they do not have as much direct contact as Vijay P. Sankaran '95 and Carrie R. Muh '96 have with other sectors of the MIT community. (2) Since they have not been involved in the UA Executive Branch, many of their ideas that they raise in their platforms have been thought of already and researched. Since some of them have not been implemented, it goes to follow that there is a reason for why we do not have a particular service.
For instance, Page and Evans spoke about using the Vannevar Bush '16 fund to commemorate students that have died. This was a project I looked into over this past summer. We had the funds available, but not the space or support. There isn't any ideal space for this type of monument and many people had concerns about placing victims of drunk driving accidents on the same monument as those who had died from their own substance abuse. These were just some of the concerns which kept my administration from beginning this project.
Also, Page's and Evans' idea about having a "safety system," where students walk around with walkie-talkies on campus and maintain contact with the campus police to report crimes and the status of areas of the Institute, is not new. SafeWalk, which is partly sponsored by the UA, will perform this function.
(3) If Page and Evans are so concerned about the student body and doing something for them, why have they not participated in public service events before? This is in response to their claim that Safety and Sexual Harassment are the two main issues they wish to address in their administration. Why weren't they attending the recent GSC forum on sexual harassment and why haven't they been involved in any of the numerous organizations on campus (both Dean's office- and student-originated) that deal with this issue? These groups have much experience with this topic and have been fighting for stricter laws on sexual harassment on MIT's campus. They know what MIT has said its limitations are and they are pushing to raise awareness and gain support for their projects to improve MIT's standards.
Voters need to decide if this team will overcome these three weaknesses. Concerning the first weakness of being off-campus, if Page and Evans work at it, they can easily outperform any campus-based group. If they make an effort, they can represent many sectors of this community. On the same note, if they make an effort to learn about what past administrations have done and if they choose to make the UA their first priority (over their academic, personal and social lives) then they can be successful in representing the best interests of the community and improving student life.
The team of Sankaran and Muh have two advantages over the team of Page and Evans: (1) They are a campus-based group. They live in different dormitories and participate in different organizations. (2) They have been a part of the past administration and are aware of the current state of affairs. They have a familiarity with the office and the inner workings of the bureaucracy.
The team of Sankaran and Muh however, also has its disadvantages: (1) For the past two years, both team members have had ample opportunity to take the initiative and organize the projects that they say they want to accomplish in their administrative term. Why have they not done so beforehand? (2) It has been pointed out in several instances that the UA Council, which has been Sankaran's responsibility, has many administrative problems such as Council members not being informed of what is going on.
In fact, at the last Council meeting, a motion was made to remove the Class of 1995 officers from their respective positions. According to the Constitution, these officers must be present at their impeachment. It has come to my knowledge that none of these Class of 1995 officers were notified by Sankaran (UA Council Floor Leader) or by Muh (UA Secretary-General) or by the Vice-Chairman of the Council about their impinging removal from office. This is just the first of a list of incidents where Sankaran and Muh could have performed better, or where they could have taken the initiative to do more for the UA, or where they did not fulfill their duties.
(3) Sankaran and Muh have been videotaped as saying that race relations and communication are the two main issues they wish to concentrate on next year. There are several groups involved with race relations and improving acceptance of diversity on campus (for example, the Thursday Night Residence/Orientation event dealt with ethnic diversity); why have Sankaran and Muh not participated in organizing or attending these events? If they were so concerned, why did they not participate before? Does a title change one's actions and performance?
In the case of Sankaran and Muh, voters need to ask whether or not they will overcome their past performances and choose to make the UA their first priority. This is the choice voters need to make. If you believe that they should be given the opportunity to prove their stuff, then vote for them.
You need to decide from the candidate interviews, articles from The Tech and personal meetings with these candidates whether or not they will make such a commitment. Will they put the benefit of the student body above their own interests? Can they make the academic, social and personal sacrifices? Will they be dedicated, motivated and capable of empowering people enough to be successful in their term of office? These are the questions that you need to ask while making your decision on your next UAP and UAVP.
Anne S. Tsao '94
Undergraduate Association Vice-President