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Class Councils Deserve More Representation in UA

Class Councils Deserve More Representation In UA

Members of the Undergraduate Association Council are currently moving to downsize and restructure the UA. To the extent that this helps the UA to better serve students, this is commendable. To the extent that this may make the UA government more exclusive, this is a bad thing.

Currently, the UA Council is looking to eliminate one UA representative position from each dorm. The IFC representatives will also be reduced proportionally. The Council further plans to drastically reduce each class council's representatives from four students to one because dorm/IFC representatives and class council representatives are "double representatives."

"Double representation" is only a bad thing if we limit undergraduate representation in our student government. Americans are generally happy with triple representation in Congress. If we are having difficulty with one of them, we have two other chances to be heard. Multiple representation is a very good thing.

Let us now consider double representation at MIT. Dorm/IFC representatives and class representatives are elected by different cross-sections of students. Dorm/IFC reps are selected in fall term living group elections while class council officers are selected in spring term campus-wide UA elections.

This spring's UA elections (a responsibility of the UAC) were a miserable affair. In order to just get preliminary vote results, the UA president, the UA Judicial Review Board, and the editor-in-chief of The Tech had to be recruited to help count ballots. The class councils depend on these annual elections for an infusion of fresh blood. This year, due to massive confusion in the beginning and deplorable publicity, the chief result of the spring elections are dozens of unfilled class council positions. This forces the incoming class council officers to recruit for these positions on their own; poorly-run elections damage the class councils.

Today, the class councils and the UAC are perceived quite differently by students. The class councils are viewed as being more effective in that they organize the ring committees, Battle-of-the-Classes, career fairs, and senior week. The class of '96 even had a "Party Before Grades" boat cruise. While SafeRide and the Course Evaluation Guide were both created by the UA, most students are not impressed with the achievements of the UA. This year, we have primarily seen the UA as an effective medium for collecting student input, primarily through the grading referendum and the student life survey.

The UA is currently seeking to mold itself into a more effective organization; for example, there are plans under way to transfer much of the legislative work to an executive committee. The UA is also seeking to focus on student issues such as the grading changes in a March forum. Active participation by the class councils can only serve to increase student awareness and participation in such events. A UA that boasts "double representation" will be more representative and more in-touch with students. In preparing for the future, the UA should bring in greater participation by the class councils, not exclude them.

Albert L. Hsu '96

Matthew J. Turner '96, Class of '96 president

Craig Robinson '97, Class of '97 president

Pardis C. Sabeti '97, Class of '97 president-elect