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NomComm Should Be Used to Select Student Representatives

The Tech received a copy of the following letter sent to Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

Dear Provost Wrighton,

The Undergraduate Association Executive Committee was pleased to hear that a committee has been formed to assist in finding a replacement for Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs. This position is especially important to students, as students want someone who will represent their views to the MIT administration and include them in the decision-making process at MIT.

Although we are pleased to see undergraduate representation on the search committee, we are quite concerned by the process by which they were chosen. The selection methods that you and Professor Linn W. Hobbs used neglected to include student opinion on whom the student members should be. Considering that the four students on the committee are to represent the entire undergraduate population, we feel that they should have been selected with the input of their peers.

We have several concerns in particular. First, the process used to select students for the committee was overly secretive. Few students even knew that such a committee was being formed, much less that students would serve on this committee. Also, student opinion was not solicited when appointing students to the committee. As stated, student opinion should have been considered when selecting student representatives for this important matter. The unfortunate result of the selection procedures is that the students selected cannot be considered representative of the student body.

Historically, the Undergraduate Association Nominations Committee has selected students for Institute committees. The Nominations Committee process is open, fair, and allows students to have input in the selection of student representatives. The Nominations Committee process is the method by which students are supposed to be selected for Institute committees. This process should not have been circumvented for this Institute committee - especially given the importance to the student body of this committee's decisions.

We are beginning to perceive a disconcerting trend in the appointment of Institute committees; increasingly, it appears that appointees are being selected by personal preference rather than by a democratic or quasi-democratic process. We hope that this trend will not continue. As you are aware, MIT is established as an academic community of faculty, administrators, and students. As members of the MIT community, students are entitled to be included in all aspects of the decision-making process at MIT. We are hopeful that this right will continue to be respected in the future.

Vijay P. Sankaran '95

Undergraduate Association President