Godfrey Still Doesn't Understand Students
I could find many ways to assault the rather pitiful set of arguments that Undergraduate Association President Hans Godfrey '93 made in his article in The Tech ["Undergrad Dictatorship Always an Option," April 5]. However, in the interest of brevity, I shall restrict myself to only a few.
First, I object to being characterized as an apathetic flamer because of my lack of membership in groups that "make a difference." I am a member of two choruses at MIT, and spend much of my time having fun with my friends and convincing them to spend time off the MIT campus, often in more natural settings than MIT. Somehow I believe that this "makes a difference" to these students significantly more than padding my resume by being a UA member would, and is less self-serving and more real. At the same time, I am politically aware and active on the national level and at the campus level by the mere nature of my actions and behavior, even though I am not a member of any organized political group. At the same time, does Godfrey really want me to believe that there are no members of the UA who are not pointless flamers because of their membership in this difference-making group? I disbelieve this assertion.
Second, I was amused by the straw men of "dictatorships" and "corporations" which Godfrey attacks in the hopes of showing why the "representative democracy" model which our incomparably effective UA currently follows is superior. Godfrey fails to attack the much more logical and obvious model of no UA at all. In this case, we can imagine a wholly independent Finance Board which does not have its purse strings held by a money-grubbing UA demanding one third of allocations. The Course Evaluation Guide, which is mostly independent anyhow, would become completely independent. Perhaps the only other function remaining to be filled would be the Nominations Committee, which nominates undergraduates to Institute committees. After this change, perhaps instead of talking to an individual who claimed to represent all undergraduates after only one-fourth of them had voted for him, President Charles M. Vest could attempt to solicit interested student opinion on topics, or discuss his concerns with the institute committee that deals with student life issues, which also has multiple student members. Somehow, for me at least, this is less scary than the one-person rule which still is manifest in a single UAP.
I was intrigued by Godfrey's plea for sympathy for the amazing workload which he has taken on as UAP. Yet he is the only officer in an undergraduate activity who receives a salary of $4000 through the Vannevar Bush '16 Fund. My heart truly bleeds for him; when I was treasurer of student groups, I didn't get paid. Yes, it's true, the workload may be quite large, but I have known many people who have been active members of FinBoard, for example, who usually bear their cross with much more humor and dignity than Godfrey has shown.
Finally, I'd like to point out a factual error in his letter: There still is a spontaneous tuition riot every year; this year's was in late February. Godfrey just wasn't there, which was a shame, since he would have met a very different subset of his "constituency" than he normally sees, and he missed a very interesting and long discussion of MIT financial affairs with the Vice President for Financial Affairs. Too bad.
Daniel G. Brown '95