Oppold, Kelly for UA President, V.P.
The Tech supports Paul T. Oppold '99 and Jennifer A. Kelly '99 for the positions of Undergraduate Association President and Vice President. Oppold, in particular, has proven to be a competent legislator and has demonstrated initiative. He has effectively wielded the power of his position as UA Floor Leader to make his presence known on campus.
The incoming president and vice president will inherit an organization that has made some great strides forward over the course of the past year, but still has some way to go. The UA's new leaders need to gain respect of the undergraduate body by building a solid list of achievements in important areas. Before the new president and vice president initiate major new programs, they need to prove their competence through a consistent record of responsible progress.
Among other things, the UA should act as a major communications channel between students, administrators, and faculty. The UA and its leaders need to establish themselves as firm advocates of the student body by taking visible roles in debates on all significant issues, and they need to take these positions in a timely manner. Taking a position weeks after the debate is over, as in the recently delayed resolution on randomized housing, is not acceptable.
The UA should also be prepared to cooperate with other student organizations. It has a wider base of members than any other student group on campus, and as such is capable of being a central figure in any discussion. But this can only happen if it can effectively communicate and cooperate with other student groups. In particular, steps must be taken to establish close ties with the Dormitory Council and the Interfraternity Council.
The UA should also be prepared to utilize powers that it already holds, such as the ability to nominate students to various committees. It is not unfair to request reports from these committee members, and the UA should be able to advise them on what it feels is the proper action. The current policy of appointment followed by silence is a waste of good resources.
This does not mean that the UA should try to administer as many things as possible. It must limit itself to concrete, achievable goals. Perhaps most importantly, the UA must avoid getting bogged down in internal issues that do nothing to improve its function or image: the UA Constitution does not need to be rewritten.
Such a vision of a student government is not impossible to fulfill. The MIT community does have some effective student government organizations. The Graduate Student Council, for example, has demonstrated the ability to make important quality-of-life improvements, such as lowering long distance calling rates. The IFC also proved to be a force to be reckoned with when it responded to the public relations crisis thrust upon the Institute last year with some astute policy changes and an effective public relations campaign.
Only after building a concrete record of achievement can the UA earn the respect now accorded to the IFC and GSC. Of the candidates running for the highest positions of the UA, The Tech believes that Oppold and Kelly are the most able to achieve this goal.