The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Fair

Lee, Carter Set Ambitious Agenda for UA

By Jean K. Lee
Associate News Editor

"The goal of the [Undergraduate Association] is to take a proactive role in all aspects of undergraduate life," said UA President Richard Y. Lee '97. "I want to make this organization more efficient and fun, and make it something that people want to do."

Lee outlined several of his ideas for the UAthis year. A better representation of students before the administration, resurrection of the Course Evaluation Guide, and improvement of the social scene on campus are three of the many goals that Lee has set on the UA agenda.

The UA plans to initiate new services as well as continuing the existing ones like the free airport shuttle service during the finals week, the Spring Weekend concert, and study breaks, Lee said.

The UA's Committee on Educational Policy has organized plans to publish an insider's guide to undergraduate majors to provide students, especially freshmen, with useful information from a first-hand perspective, Lee said. The committee may also set up an e-mail hotline at the end of each term to prevent professors from violating faculty rules by assigning problem sets during the week before final exams.

"I would like to emphasize that the UA is not concentrating efforts on reorganization but rather on student services," said UA Vice President Dedric A. Carter '98.

Other events the UA organized so far this year include the forum on the writing requirement, which aimed to give students a chance to discuss changes in the writing requirements with the faculty [see story, p. 1].

The UA social committee has collaborated with the Campus Activities Center in preparing for the Spring Weekend concert, which was organized in the past by the now-defunct Student Center Committee.

In addition, the UA Finance Board will work together with the deans to make recommendations for the UA Council concerning funding for different student activities.

Goals may be hard to accomplish

Despite these numerous plans, some are skeptical that achieving all of these goals seem unrealistic.

"My advice would be not to expect too much," said Carrie R. Muh G, last year's UA president. "The major problem of my administration was that I tried to do too much."

Last year, "I had lots of glorious plans, but unfortunately with a bureaucracy like MIT's, everything big takes more than a year to accomplish," Muh said.

UA officers "spend time on the issues which have the most chance of success," Muh said. "The UA officers have to learn how to work with the administrators and how to handle the large bureaucracy here."

"I'm not focused on what the UA did in the past, I'm just going to do what is right now," Lee said. "I'm excited. Even if we don't fulfill all our goals, we'll learn a lot from the experiences."

Student involvement needed

"Unlike many other colleges, the bulk of the work" here is done by the students, Lee said. "The students just don't have time to do everything by themselves."

One of the reasons why the CEG ended last year was that there was too much student work involved without enough help from the administration, he said.

"I don't expect each of these [goals] to be successful," Lee said, "there's always a risk in [not] fulfilling these goals."

The various problems the UA faces are caused by a lack of student participation, Muh said. "I found that there is a very limited number of students who are truly involved in UA activities, [and] the only way to fix the UA is to get involved and to try to change what you don't like."

"The question of participation that plagues the UA is one that plagues many organizations," Carter said. "It is one of apathy on the part of many students. This apathy may arise due to work overload, lack of time."

In order to solve these dilemmas, "we need to increase the credibility of the organization," Lee said.