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Floor Leader Resigns Position; UA Grants Finboard Appeals

By Stacey E. Blau
Opinion Editor

At its first meeting of the term last night, the Undergraduate Association Council elected Paul T. Oppold '99 its new floor leader to replace Norris Vivatrat '99, who resigned his post in January.

The council also approved $5,345 in UA Finance Board appeals funds for student activities, and it revised the Finboard bylaws to cut the board's size.

Vivatrat, who served as floor leader for only half of his term, wrote a letter to the council explaining his reasons for resigning his position and leaving the UA.

"Unfortunately, for many reasons, I am resigning from my post," Vivatrat wrote. "It has been a very difficult decision to leave the UA, but I feel that my abilities would be much more suited to running a service organization, one of which I am currently forming."

Oppold, who has served on the UA's executive committee, said that he plans to take the UA "in a new direction." Meetings should be run more concisely and consist of committee chairs reporting back to the council explaining what work they have accomplished, Oppold said.

The floor leader, who is the council's chief legislative officer, is responsible for running council meetings and has the final say on the agenda for council meetings. He also prepares packets for council representatives and oversees council finances.

Oppold defeated three other candidates to win the election.

UA Treasurer Russell S. Light '98 ran last night's meeting in place of Vivatrat, who showed up only briefly at the meeting.

Council passes appeals, revisions

The council also approved $5,345 to fund appeals granted by Finboard at the spring budget appeals session held this past weekend.

Activities not satisfied with their spring term funding allocations made in November or groups who did not have a chance to request funding at the time were given the chance to apply for additional funds from Finboard.

The appeals funds granted this term exceed last term's appeals allocations by nearly $2,000, although the allotment still represents only around one percent of Finboard's total funds.

Voo Doo appealed the reduction that the council made in December to the funding it initially received from Finboard. The council had reduced Voo Doo's allocation from $2,500 to $1,600, but last night the council approved up to $1,600 in funds that the UA will match at a rate of 70 cents for every dollar Voo Doo receives in ads in non-UA funding.

The goal is to make Voo Doo more independent, Light said.

The National Society of Black Engineers received the next largest allotment at $1,050, although the group had requested $8,480. The group did not request any funding during the regular funding process last term.

Other appeals allocations went to the Association of Taiwanese Students ($875), the Chorallaries ($800), and the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team ($600).

The Equestrian Team, a new activity, received no initial funding in November but got $300 at appeals last night.

The Council also passed a revision to the Finboard bylaws cutting the number of board members from 16 to 10.

The spots allocated to the treasurers of the Dormitory Council and to the Interfraternity Council were eliminated, as were the four members selected by the UA Nominations Committee. The number of representatives elected at annual general elections was cut from four to two.

Each year's outgoing Finboard will now select two additional members to serve on the board the following year.

The changes are needed to make the board more efficient, Light said. For example, the Dormcon and IFC treasurers hardly ever showed up to meetings.

Stephanie M. Zielenski '98, the IFC representative to the UA, opposed the measure. "The people who are getting the money should have some say," and those people include the IFC and dormitory residents, who often have differing interests that need a voice on Finboard, she said.

Lee makes state of the UA address

UA President Richard Y. Lee '97 also presented his state of the UA address, which is customarily given by the UA president at the first council meeting of the term.

"Where has the UA been in the past?" Lee asked. Lee cited the UA-driven revival of the Course Evaluation Guide and the UA shuttle to Logan Airport organized for finals week.

He also pointed to the variety of social events that the UA has been sponsoring over the past few months. The UA's party over Independent Activities Period "was very successful," and spring weekend later this term will be "a major social event," Lee said.

In addition, Lee said that the newly cleaned UA office "reflects our state right now."

This term, the UA will fight for more funding for student activities and lay the groundwork for developing a guide to majors.

The UA also will work to provide students with a centralized office that will have everything from a fax machine to a scanner to a computer, all at little to no cost to students. "I'll put my word on this," Lee said.

Task force member visits council

Ernest A. Cuni '98, the undergraduate member of the task force on student life and learning, gave a presentation on the task force's work.

Cuni, who also co-chairs the student advisory committee to the task force, said that the task force is looking at MIT's future "big picture - the strategy - on a fundamental level." The task force is discussing everything from rush to curricular issues and will be presenting an interim report at the end of this academic year and a final report at the end of the 1998 academic year.

Students should take their ideas to the advisory committee, Cuni said. Student opinion will have the ability to effect "really grand changes."

The task force is "the supreme example of students representing students to the administration," said Jeremy D. Sher '99, a member of the advisory committee and also a council representative from Next House. "This thing really is monumental."

UA has other elections, allocations

At the meeting, the UA also re-elected Natalie Tal '99 the executive committee's vice chair.

UA Social Committee Co-Chair June Kim '00, Freshman Class President Sandra C. Sandoval '00, Freshman Class Vice President Danielle A. Hinton '00, and newcomer Patrick D. Kremer '00 were elected to the executive committee.

The executive committee -which also includes the UA president, vice president, treasurer - decides which issues will be presented at council meetings.

The council also apportioned $1,000 toward the cost of hiring a famous comedian for a spring weekend event. The sophomore class, which is trying to organize the event and find funding, is seeking $22,000 from various sources.

Light said that the group would have a difficult time finding such large funds for the event, but Kareem Howard '99, the sophomore class president, said that the associate provost for the arts is willing to underwrite any remaining costs.

The council rejected a proposal for $400 made by Next House to fund its annual Next Act performance. Since the musical is a dormitory event and not a student activity, the producers should obtain money from Next House or Dormcon, Light said.