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Letters to the Editor

Fee Would Allow Students to Set Funding

MIT's student activities deserve more funding. Schools such as Northwestern University fund their student groups at over five times the level of MIT. Increased funding would empower students to make the most of their time spent outside of classes.

Activities enrich student life and unite the school by involving students in their community. Strengthened student groups will also encourage students to stay on campus and contribute to their school.

Students have historically lobbied the administration for more activities funding, but now that all of MIT is feeling the affects of budget cutbacks, this strategy must change. Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, the office which allocates money to student groups, faces a declining budget of several percent a year. The administration just does not have more money to give without taking money from other key services, such as UROP and the Office of Minority Education.

This past year, initiatives included fundraising through the Parent's Fund. A new option on the form sent home to parents requesting donations allows parents to direct donations to student life. Given the positive response of this initiative, we believe that this effort should be continued.

In this coming year, we would like to put the issue of student activities funding into the hands of students. Itemizing student activities money out of tuition, much like a house tax, would ensure that students determine funding levels. Under the current level of funding, tuition would be lowered by $10, and a $10 activities fee would be itemized per term. Through a referendum each spring, students will be able to set a level of funding they feel is appropriate.

Ultimately students, and not the administration, should decide how much of their tuition goes to activity funding. The student governments and activities need to work as a solid unit to ensure that their needs are represented.

Ashwin Viswanathan '97

Candidate for UA President

Orli G. Bahcall '99

Candidate for UA Vice President

Students Shouldn't Have To Care About the UA

The page 15 headline in the Friday issue of The Tech stated "UA Candidates Share Concern over Student Apathy" [March 8]. This is untrue. While we strongly agree that there is apathy, we aren't concerned about it.

As we stated several times in the Wednesday night debate, undergraduates have more important concerns than the Undergraduate Association. Undergraduates care about their classes, their social lives, and their student activities. What the Institute does is important to them, but how the UA is involved in this is not. That is fine.

Students shouldn't have to care about the UA for the UA to serve their interests. The UA should be active in finding out what their interests are. Then it should leave them alone, and serve their interests without requiring their involvement.

Our opponents believe they can make students care, either by turning MIT into Harvard University or by holding big social events. We believe that they are wrong.

Those few students who do want to get involved should be made aware that they can. If anyone out there wants to get involved, we strongly encourage them to join a committee. If they'd like to get involved but are wary of the UA, they can join the Baker Foundation. The UA is open to all undergraduates who wish to be involved in it. Most don't, however, and this doesn't mean there is something wrong with them.

Steven E. Jens '97

Candidate for UA President

Andrew R. Menard '97

Candidate for UA Vice President

GSC Responsible For Advocating Ring Changes

As a previous member of the Graduate Student Council ring committee, I would like to clarify some inaccuracies in the article "Licensing Fee Would Increase Ring Prices" [March 5].

While it is true that the Licensing Office "has agreed to postpone the licensing fee," The article fails to mention that the GSC had to expend a lot of effort - including garnering the support of the administration - in order to fight this fee which we were told was "effective immediately" in November. Only after numerous meetings and letters was the fee on graduate rings finally postponed until June 1996.

The article also fails to mention that the discount on graduate student rings was actively negotiated last year by the GSC ring committee. This discount, combined with a massive advertising campaign by the GSC, resulted in a 50 percent increase in sales during the trial period of February 1995 to June 1995. Because of the success of the program, it was extended through June of 1996. The article gives the impression that Jostens initiated this trial program recently, when in fact the GSC negotiated the discounts over one year ago.

With respect to the reasons for the much higher cost of graduate rings compared to undergraduate rings, the article fails to mention that the number of graduate rings sold every year is not even an order of magnitude lower than the number of undergraduate rings sold each year. In fact, the numbers differ by a factor of only 2 or 3. These numbers do not seem to justify the doubled price of graduate rings, especially given the fixed design of these rings and the limited number of styles available.

It is unfortunate that, although the GSC ring committee provided The Tech with all of the relevant information, the paper was unable to express it in an accurate and thorough way.

Ann Park G