Lee Campaigns on Quality-of-life Issues and Undergraduate ApathyBy Shang-Lin Chuang
Candidates for Undergraduate Association president and vice president Richard Y. Lee '97 and Dedric A. Carter '98 want the UA to serve as "a collector and amplifier of student voices to the administration" said Lee.
"MIT is an unhappy place to go to school, and there is no reason it should be like that," Lee said. "We want to try to improve the quality of life here."
The team wants to "minimize the student apathy, get involved with student activities, strengthen UA and student groups ties, and establish networks with alumnus," Carter said.
"We are not saying that all is going to be done tomorrow, but we have to have a set of high goals that we want to try accomplish," Lee said.
"We realize there is a limit on the participation of students," Lee said. "They are very busy, and we will try to maximize the potential excitement of the students. We are not going to hope that MIT students will suddenly become extremely involved."
Reforming student life
"We are very concerned about the issue of the quality of life here at the Institute," Carter said. "We don't have all the answers yet, but we are committed to improving it and putting more passion into the school."
A small thing such as the "revival of the HowToGamit Guide adds to the improvement of life here at MIT," Lee said. "Other seemingly insignificant things such as the retention of electronic mail accounts after graduation allows alumni to keep in touch, which develops a better network for students."
"Some alum I talked to who graduated 20 years ago is still bitter about the place," Carter said. "We want to improve that relation and utilize the connection to serve as a guide and a wealth of information."
"I have never had direct involvement with the UA," Lee said. "But the experience of being the publisher of Counterpoint has taught me a lot of things such as dealing with disappointments, motivating people, and building teams," he said.
Lee is "very definitely a great person to be leading the UA now," Carter said. "He knows enough not to be uninformed, yet is removed enough to have new ideas and not to be tainted," he said.
Serving as the current president for the class of 1998 and vice chair of the UA council, "Dedric knows the ins-and-outs of UA," Lee said. "We have ideas on how things can be done and he serves as the guiding light. We can bring in the spirit of the change and we complement each other very well," Lee said.
Communication a goal
"Students have apathy in the UA itself," Lee said. "People don't care and don't get psyched about the UA. We need to first accomplish some things, then we will get the respect and care of the students."
The "UA has to realize that you cannot gain respect by throwing a party here and there," Carter said. "We need to earn the trust and respect of the students," he added.
The "UA should work together with the administration and do services for students," Lee said. "Services such as the Course Evaluation [Guide] and HowToGamit guides should be available to all students."
The Institute is "not as closed as people think," Lee said. "The administrators are very glad to see that students do care," he said.
"We need to earn the respect of the administration and show them that we are informed," Lee said. "Then they will be more than happy to incorporate us into their decisions," he said.
The "UA fails in instituting a way to communicate to students that the policies made by the administration really affect them," Carter said. "We need to have a strong leadership. The UAneeds to serve as an effective means of communication," he said.
Quality of life
"We are going to be realistic and not say that we will have cheap and good food tomorrow," Lee said. "There are issues to be taken and there is no simple solution. But it should improve with the introduction of competition."
The team has been "looking at other institutions that are doing things right," Carter said. "There is no sense in re-inventing if there is something out there that is working," he said.
"The quality of the classroom buildings themselves is depressing," Lee said. "Little superficial things like that will all affect your mood. We need to re-examine where MIT should devote its resources," he said.
UA "does not need to have a task force in everything or quadruple in size," Lee said. "But it needs to be a birthplace and an initiator for services that will benefit students."