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UAC Meeting outlines New Members' Duties

By Ramy Arnaout
News Editor

The first Undergraduate Association Council meeting of the term took place Wednesday night.

The purpose of the first meeting was to describe how the UAC operates to its newest members, said UA President Vijay P. Sankaran '95. Nearly 20 of the 30 Council members and others attending the meeting were freshmen, he said.

"We have a lot of freshmen, which is really great if we can keep it going," Sankaran said. He called the freshmen's interest in the UAC a bonus that would "get fresh ideas and fresh voices" into student government.

The meeting served as an orientation session, informing the attendees of their powers and responsibilities as new members, Sankaran said. Chief among these duties is participation in a Council committee, such as those on education policy or housing, and attendance of the weekly UAC meetings, he said.

UAC members should also attend meetings at their living groups, so they are familiar with student issues that should be brought to the Council's attention, Sankaran said.

The next item on the agenda was the description of the roles of the Floor Leader, the Vice Chair, and the Executive Committee member, which are three UAC positions that will come up for election at next Wednesday's meeting. All Council members are eligible to run for these offices.

Members ready for responsibility

The special emphasis Sankaran placed on responsibility did not discourage the Council's newest members.

"I'm really excited about [the UA]," said Stacey Wong '98. "I think a lot of us are. We don't know how things were run before [this year], but I think we're ready for responsibility," she said.

Ioannis Kymissis '98 agreed. "I've seen other student government groups," he said. "If you do not take it seriously it seems to contribute to total catastrophe, so I take what [Sankaran] says pretty seriously."

"From what people said, the leadership seems to be trying to get back on track and do something significant," Kymissis said.

However, while new members seemed ready for the challenge of government, not all reaction to the meeting was so positive.

Catherine Bae '98 said, "There were a lot of questions on the technicalities of how to run." Some attendees "didn't know that people had to be living group members to be part of the Council," she said.

The Council is made up of representatives from dormitories and independent living groups.

UAC seeks new mood

This year's UA leadership has been especially concerned with keeping the attention of new members, especially in light of the resignation of the current Floor Leader Rishi Shrivastava '97. Shrivastava said he had become disillusioned in part with the UA's inability to get things done last year.

"In past years the freshmen haven't been that enthusiastic," Sankaran said. "This year we started e-mailing freshmen and contacting them early. We've had a lot of good response," he said. "We already have a full Council."

The current leadership's push to get students involved in and excited about student government seems to be working.

"We've had a lot of interest in committees [in general] and in the Executive Committee and Floor Leader and Vice Chair positions," Sankaran said.

In keeping with this new hands-on attitude, the UA has established an electronic mail UA hotline, ua-complaints@mit.edu, "where anyone can send us any complaints, comments, or suggestions about issues on campus," said UA Vice President Carrie R. Muh '96.

"The major thing we want is to get the student body involved," Muh said.