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Dean Candidates Address Student Activity Concerns

By Orli G. Bahcall

Three candidates for the post of assistant dean for residence and campus activities were introduced separately at three student forums this week [see story, page 1].

All three candidates are qualified; "the real decision is the fit between the person and MITand the people they will be working with," said Associate Dean for RCAMargaret A. Jablonski.

The decision process includes getting feedback from the students at the forums, as well as from administrators that the candidates have met with.

An offer should be made by the end of next week. The position should be filled by May 1, Jablonski said.

The position was vacated earlier this year when former Assistant Dean for RCA Susan D. Allen left to become Dean of Students at Roxbury Community College earlier this year.

The assistant dean functions as an overseer for issues related to student activities, from organization of events to management of activities' finances.

RCA endorses forums

The student "forums are a good opportunity [for students] to ask whatever they want to of a candidate, and gives the candidate the opportunity to get an understanding of what the real issues are for students" Jablonski said.

While logistically it may have been easier for students to attend a single forum where the candidates debated each other, it is "not standard practice to have several candidates compete for a job [a debate] would put candidates in a difficult position," she said.

The forums were successful in allowing students to have more input in this decision, Jablonski said.

The forums were attended on average by about 20 students and several administrators.

"To have about 20 student leaders show up is extraordinary," Jablonski said. The forums were attended by representatives of student government and various student clubs.

Those students or groups that would be working directly with the assistant dean were present or had their opinions represented, Jablonski said.

Chavez questioned the students at the forum regarding a sense of animosity between students and the administration, citing editorials in The Tech.

Undergraduate Association Treasurer Russell S. Light '98 agreed with Chavez's sentiment. "While 80 percent of the administration would like to help you, the system is just so entangled and complicated that they can't. [It's] not because of a lack of trying," Light said.

"I think that this perception comes from the fact that MIT is very large, and it can be confusing to deal with such an entangled structure." This is why students often feel they "get the run around" Jeremy D. Sher '99 said.

Other students centralized the problem to the student governments. "If I am the UA and I want to get something done, I can't just vote it in. All the UA can do is allocate money and elect itself," said Doug K. Wyatt '96, president of the Association of Student Activities. Too much effort is required to get anything done, he said.

Graduate Student Council President Bonnie Souter G replied that in fact "you can get things done here, but you need to know how to work with the administration."

"One of most important functions [of this office] is to teach students how to be leaders, and work in teams" she said.

O'Dair asked the students what they were expecting from this position. The consensus was that students just want an administrator who will be on their side.

"We are going through lots of changes here at MIT, and we would like to see someone who is willing to take a lot of risks," said Light.