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Rao and Bingen Campaign for Increased School Spirit

Gabor Csanyi--The Tech
Kari A. Bingen '99 and Sunil K. Rao '99

By Zareena Hussain
Associate News editor

"We plan to fundamentally redefine the UA," said candidate for Undergraduate Association president Sunil K. Rao '99.

"It started with immediate friends, we would say things like We wish MIToffered...'," said Rao's running mate Kari A. Bingen '99. "That's when we thought it was time for us to step in."

Rao and Bingen are one of two tickets running for the positions of UA president and vice president.

"We see a much broader role for the UA," Rao said.

Rao and Bingen outlined their redefinition of student government in their platform - to promote school spirit, provide tangible benefits, and serve as a representative body.

Rao also sees the UAas a "bridge between administrators and students," he said. The responsibility of student government is to represent the views of the undergraduates even when the opinions differ with those of the administration, Rao said.

Improving school spirit highest priority

The promotion of school spirit "is the fundamental and essential role of student government," Rao said. "School spirit is something that MITis currently lacking and that MITneeds."

School spirit is not the number one priority of the UA as it now stands, Rao said. Based on past debates, school spirit was not an issue, he said.

"MITstudents are seeking something more from their college experience. What currently ties us to MITis problem sets," he said.

In order to promote school spirit, the pair plans to organize events like live concerts on the Student Center steps, a school-wide semiformal, and a school spirit week, according to their platform. They also plan to promote school-wide community service events and a school-wide ski trip.

The organization of a school-wide ski trip would be simple, Rao said. "Companies exist that will organize everything for you," he said.

The team also would like to create some sort of community service competition between the classes. One idea Rao mentioned was to have a canned food drive competition to see which class could gather the most canned goods.

The events aim to involve the entire student population and are intended as a means for students to meet each other outside their own individual living groups, they said. "I think [the MITcampus] is divided because there is nothing to bring us together as an undergraduate population," Bingen said.

"We are not trying to bring groups together. We respect the identity of the group," Rao said.

"We want to bring people together," Bingen said.

Textbook library proposed

Rao and Bingen also promise in their platform to "provide tangible benefits" to the student body if they are elected. They propose creating a UAlibrary where students could check out textbooks for a term free of charge, the negotiation of student discounts with the MITCard, the continuation of the Logan Airport shuttle, and having distinguished speakers come to speak at the Institute.

"[The UAlibrary] will not be self-sufficient from the beginning, but it's something we could start," Rao said.

The speakers the pair intends to bring in would be public figures, unlike the scientists and engineers who often come to speak, they said. Those who would bring different points of view to MIT would be encouraged to come. "We have a different take on what type of speakers we want to to come in," Rao said.

The third responsibility of student government outlined in their platform is to "serve as a representative body" for students. Their platform also includes a plan to seek additionalfunding for student groups and the publication of a UA newsletter to inform the student population of the actions of the UA.

The newsletter is intended to serve a two-fold purpose - to get the message out and to gather feedback, Rao said.

"At the very least, we have an informed student population," Bingen said.

Outsiders offer fresh perspective

"Honestly, we haven't had any experience in the UA," Bingen said. "We don't feel our lack of experience in the UAis detrimental," Rao said. "We have a lot we can offer to MIT."

Both candidates had experience during high school in positions of leadership. Rao served as both student body president and class president at his high school while Bingen served as class president at her high school.

Many of their ideas, such as a school spirit week, were derived from their experiences in high school.

The idea is that "we need a little more fun," Bingen said.