Myrie, Johnson Stress MulticulturalismBy Sarah Y. Keightley
"I believe there's a lot of cultural ignorance going around on campus, and once we learn to remedy [that] cultural ignorance, we can work to unify the student body," said Sheldon W. Myrie '95, a candidate for Undergraduate Association president.
Multiculturalism and "network dynamicism" are the two main focuses of Myrie and Jennifer K. Johnson '98, Myrie's running mate. The other goals of the UAP/VP candidate team are to reorganize the UA and to increase student enthusiasm, Myrie said.
"We feel multiculturalism is important because MIT is a very diverse university," Johnson said. "Part of going to MIT is learning about these different people and learning to work with different people," she said.
One way the team plans to promote multiculturalism is to co-sponsor events with different cultural organizations, Johnson said. Also, "I would be interested in holding a lot of events for undergraduates as a whole so different people will come, interact, and get to know each other," she said.
"When Carrie [Muh] talked about multiculturalism in her platform, I noticed that this is a new thing, because at the [elections] study break in Burton-Conner [House] it wasn't there," Myrie said. He views her interest "as a good thing because if either one of us wins, it's more or less like we all win," he added.
Myrie distinguished himself from Muh by noting that he has already talked to members of many of the cultural organizations on campus, as well as with deans that deal with cultural issues.
Network dynamicism involves keeping the student body informed about available resources, Myrie said.
Students should be "comfortable with bringing their problems to the UA," Johnson said.
With money from the Bush Fund, a fund set aside for UAP discretionary spending, the team would create an "idea consulting database" that would address students' ideas, Myrie said.
The database is meant to help students plan events by pointing them to the right contacts, Myrie said. The database could refer the student to the records of other people who have attempted the same event, "this way it's sort of like a progression of ideas or a progression of development, because we can learn from other people's mistakes when they try to address the same issues," Myrie said.
Johnson will focus on restructuring the organization because with her experience as UA vice chair this year and her perspective as a freshman, she "sees the problems of structuralism from a different light," Myrie said. "She can see things that people who have already been in a bureaucracy can't see," he said.
"We want to redefine the structure of the UA to make it more efficient," Johnson said. "The way I would change the UA would be to change the structure of the Executive Committee so that they handle the bills and the bylaws, the issues that we talk about at UA meetings that are very long and boring," she said. Then at council meetings, student groups can come in, increasing "efficiency as far as getting things done for the students."
Myrie feels that his enthusiasm and thoughtfulness would be useful in leading the UA. He has no previous UA experience.
"I really like the Institute, I want it to be the best it can be," Johnson said. As a freshman, "I'm not really beaten down by the Institute and I have a lot of energy I can bring to the UA," Johnson said.
"That's why I think we're a good team, because we have these qualities combined," Johnson said.