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Three Positions Left Unconctested For Next Week's GSC Elections

By Dan McGuire
News Editor

Graduate Student Council members may be presented with a relatively small list of candidates next Wednesday as they prepare to elect next year's officers. Three of the four open positions, including those for president, vice president, and treasurer are currently uncontested. The fourth position, GSC secretary, has no candidates.

Council members, however, may end up with two contested elections. "The nominations only close if a position isn't filled," said current GSC President Constantine A. Morfopoulos G. As a result, nominations for the president and treasurer slots are closed.

The vice presidential slot may prove more interesting, however. "We have a special situation in the candidate for vice president. The candidate isn't sure whether he's going to be around for a full term," Morfopoulos said. The GSC will accept additional nominees for the position at its meeting. The GSC will also accept nominees for secretary at the meeting.

Morfopoulos expects someone to come forward at the meeting to fill the secretary slot, he said. "I think someone will step up. I think that people are interested; it's just a question of convincing them to step up."

"If there is no secretary, that will be a problem because there will be more work for GSC officers and committee chairs," said Geoffrey J. Coram G, the candidate for president.

Coram plans short commitments

Coram is trying to tackle the apathy problem by encouraging people to make smaller commitments to the organization, he said. We want "to focus more on people who don't make a year's commitment, but who can make a short commitment to cure a problem that's been bugging them," he said.

Coram plans to issue a survey to graduate students, allowing them to list objectives for the organization. The survey will also encourage students to help the GSC resolve the issues they raise, he said.

"Anyone would tell you that we'd like more people," Coram said. "There are a lot of people who are doing more work than they should be. Any hour that you spend in an extracurricular activity is an hour that's taken away from research."

"The GSC is less about a platform that I or another candidate will bring forward, it's more of a resource that people can come to," Coram said. The GSC should help them resolve the issue by pointing out the appropriate administrators and help students find others who are also concerned about that problem.

Coram said that while the ad hoc committees would tackle issues that come up, the GSC itself would stay its present course. "The GSC will continue to serve its traditional mission: the officers will continue to interact with the administration, the standing committees will continue their missions, the representatives will continue to convey information from and graduate student input," he said in his campaign statement.

Much of Coram's previous experience comes from his work with the GSC housing and community affairs committee, where worked on the grocery shuttle. "I helped develop it from a service that ran only twice on Saturdays with around 40 riders, to one that runs four times on Saturday and (until recently) three times on Tuesday, and serves well over 100 people per week," he said in his campaign platform.

VP to increase involvement

Eugene Bae G, the uncontested candidate for the vice presidency of the GSC, said one of his primary responsibilities would be to increase the number of graduate students involved in the GSC, he said.

Much of this would come from old fashioned boosterism, Bae said. "We need to concentrate more efforts on pure and simple publicity, letting graduate students know that the GSC is there and involved," he said.

However, Bae said that it was important to demystify the sometimes arcane MIT committee names. "If you leave it in terms of names and titles, it creates nothing of interest, but if you convert it to topics such as parking fees or on-campus and off-campus housing, or to food services" one can generate a lot of interest in MIT and GSC committees, he said.

One of the best ways that a vice president could help the GSC was to increase the level of participation in GSC and Institute committees. The goal is to "help the committees do what they are already doing better," he said.

Committees are not new to Bae. "I got involved through the academic policy and projects committee, which by its area of responsibility does a lot of things that are related to Institute committees," he said.

Bugnion to help decide funding

The job of treasurer is a vital one for the GSC, said candidate Veronique Bugnion G. "It's a big responsibility, because there's a lot of money that needs to be dealt with," she said. The treasurer "keeps an essential activity of the GSC going" by managing the outlay of funds to student activities.

The position is also something of a tight-rope walk, she said. "Because the graduate student body is a very diverse body. We need to make sure that that money needs to be distributed fairly," she said.

In addition, "as a foreigner I can represent the third or so members of the graduate student body who" were born abroad. "A third or so of the organizations" funded by the GSC are cultural organizations, she said. "It's nice to have the bit of a feeling of home."

"I think that the position of treasurer is where I can learn a lot and it matches my interests," Bugnion said. She came to the treasurer's position through her work on the GSC's budget priorities committee, which was charged with deciding how to allocate revenue generated by a recent career fair.

New council faces tough issues

Outgoing president Morfopoulos said that the new officers will inherit a difficult task. The GSC must "represent all of the interests in the graduate student body," he said. "Within the graduate student body there are many different voices. Representing them in one voice is a very different job."

The new officers will also tackle issues which have plagued the GSC for some time. "Many of the issues simply do not change over the years," he said.

One of the most important is "the issue of equity between resources between graduate and undergraduate student," Morfopoulos said. Noting that the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs is considering changing its name to remove the "undergraduate," he said that "even if that's just a name, I think that it's a significant step."

"The graduate students are the majority on campus, and some time in the next century, the graduate students will be a majority of living alumni," Morfopoulos said.

"The Institute favors the undergrads in many ways. It's blatantly obvious in some areas. The very fact that we don't have a full-time dean of the graduate school just goes to show you that there's a lack of emphasis on graduate students," Morfopoulos said.

The perennial issue of housing, however, seems to be improving. Morfopoulos approved of the handling of the proposed graduate dormitory at Sidney and Pacific streets, he said. In "a lot of the planning, graduate students had a voice. I think that the GSC has voiced its concerns, and I think it's starting to be heard."