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UA Council Holds First Meeting, Outlines Plans for Coming Year

By Ian Chan
Staff Reporter

With a vision to improve student life, the Undergraduate Association Council held its first meeting Monday night.

At the meeting, the council voted to approve the fall Finance Board funding appeals allocations. UA President Richard Y. Lee '97 and UA Vice President Dedric A. Carter '98 also spoke about many of the general and specific goals they have for the year and summarized procedural matters to orient new council representatives.

The UA has a lot of "room for improvement," Lee said. In his state of the UA address, Lee outlined his three major goals: to produce "something tangible" for MIT students, to present students' opinions before the administration, and to take risks this year to work toward making improvements in a number of areas.

The UA "will not be just sitting around and worrying about getting into trouble," Lee said. Lee said that is committed to make UA a proactive organization and to "earn back the UA's credibility."

Lee presented the Social Committee, the Committee on Educational Policy, and the Course Evaluation Guide Committee to the council. The committees will be working on projects like arranging musical performances in the Student Center, reviving the Course Evaluation Guide, publishing a weekly list of weekend parties and events, improving Safe Ride, and organizing class competitions.

Other projects underway include a voter registration drive in the Student Center held this week and a collaborative between the UA and the Graduate Student Council to find cheaper alternatives to the long-distance phone service provided by ACUS.

Carter is also planning to establish an intra-executive council composed of class officers. The council will work toward more student and class government collaboration, he said.

UA faces problem of apathy

One of the biggest problems that the UAfaces is a lack of participation.

"How to generate involvement is the million dollar question," Carter said. "Everyone is part of UA and is welcome at our meetings."

Carter presented a brief orientation for the new representatives. He emphasized the importance of following attendance requirements and proxy rules so thatthe UAcan "deal with the students' concerns instead of its own administration issues."

Noting the fact that not all student groups received the level of funding from Finboard that they had wanted, Carter also said that a "lack of UA funding is also one of our difficulties."

UA Council Floor Leader Norris Vivatrat '99 sees student dissatisfaction as a concern. The floor leader serves as the chair of the council. Vivatrat said that his goal is to "strengthen UA and make it a voice for the students."

Since the UAP and UAVP are the only students who have speaking privileges at faculty meetings, students need to communicate their concerns to the them, Lee said.

Any student can attend and speak at UA Council meetings. Students also can send their comments to the UA at ua-comments@mit.edu.

This year's UA seems organized and energetic, taking a realistic and incremental approach to challenges, Carter said. "Don't let your past experience evaluate how you think about this year's UA."

Several people expressed enthusiasm for the coming year. "I am impressed with Lee's and [Carter's] systematic approach to the UA Council this year," said Executive Committee Vice Chair Stephanie H. Zielenski '98.