Muh Is Best Choice for UA President ...
After considering the candidates' respective records, platforms, and ideas, we believe that Carrie R. Muh '96 is the best choice for Undergraduate Association president. The other candidates - John S. Hollywood '96 and Sheldon W. Myrie '95 - have some good ideas, and have enlivened this year's campaign, but concerns over their abilities and platforms lead us to believe that Muh offers the best chance at a more effective UA.
Muh has offered a number of proposals for improving how the UA does business. First, she wants to increase the involvement of the Association of Student Activities in the budgetary process. This plan is good in principle, but care must be taken when implementing it.
Second, Muh has proposed that the UA's Executive Committee supervise the UA's administrative and procedural functions. This would go a long way toward freeing the UA Council to discuss more pressing issues - issues that are more important to students, and more likely to attract interest.
While the other two candidates have some points in their favor, concerns raised during the campaign recommend against their election. Hollywood has shown impressive enthusiasm for advocacy of specific issues and managing large projects, including the Survey on Undergraduate Life and the UA Housing Report. But he has demonstrated an unfortunate flair for offering a single view of an issue, rather than assessing the complete range of student opinion.
Hollywood also seems to have difficulty consulting and coordinating with other concerned student groups, especially when making hasty compromises with the administration. Often the only student called to offer a student viewpoint, the UA president must work from a strong foundation of student support and consensus. Furthermore, Hollywood's independent working style may hurt recruitment, as will his nit-picking pronouncements about office supplies. Saving paper clips will not improve the UA.
Myrie, certainly the most charismatic of the candidates, has shown poise and perseverance in the campaign. But his ideas and issues - multiculturalism among them- have a hollow ring. Myrie's emphasis on multiculturalism (a worthy notion) is more of a theoretical than practical consideration.
As the chief representative of all undergraduates, concentrating on multiculturalism may exclude other campus groups, and defer other issues that will be important in the coming year. Housing and food services, for example, are important to all students at MIT, and they require a UAP who is willing and able to work on these larger concerns.
In examining the candidates, four major campaign questions are important to consider. First, how can UA Council meetings become more meaningful and useful? Even the current UA president, Vijay P. Sankaran '95, has complained that meetings are boring and trivial. Understandably, attendance has dropped. And although the UAC floor leader chairs the council, are the candidates prepared to turn the UAC away from tedious procedural changes in order to focus on issues students actually care about?
Another important issue involves how the UA handles its money. How can the UA improve the efficiency of the fund-allocation process? How can the UA itself become more efficient?
A third consideration involves responding to administration proposals. Intermediate grades, undergraduate housing, grievance procedures, and student judicial reorganization have all been the subject of administration schemes and proposals during the past year. How well are the candidates prepared to work with administrators, and effectively advocate student views?
Finally, the UAP must be careful to represent the wide-range of student opinion. The UAP needs to understand student concerns, and actively help other student groups who are advocating them. How have the candidate's backgrounds prepared them for this task?
We believe that Muh and running mate Erik S. Balsley '96 offer the best combination of ideas, experience, and energy on these issues. Their proposal for using the Executive Committee for more internal and trivial matters, and the UA Council for more important matters, would better focus the UA on real student concerns. Both have experience dealing with the administration, representing a wide range of student views, and defending student interests. However, we must note that Muh has accomplished little as vice president after showing some promise as a class officer; she must re-focus her energies and efforts as UA president. Nonetheless, we recommend Carrie R. Muh '96.