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UA Commission Deserves More Credit

UA Commission Deserves More Credit

On behalf of the Undergraduate Association election commission I'd like to say how upset and appalled I am that everything has gotten so blown out of proportion. How hard it is to run a UA election? Until you have run one, you have no right to complain.

The public sees the controversy, but none of the hard work, dedication, and time that went into running what, according to past commissioners, has been the best logistically run election they have witnessed. My commission and I gave up many hours to make sure this election happened. And what did we get for it? Censure and disdain from a myriad of sources.

What would you do when confronted with all of these decisions to make? We tried our best to determine where things fell between legal and illegal. Do I mind that our decisions which we spent so many hours discussing were appealed? Not really. We four freshmen met frequently to deal with accusations of impropriety dealing with Paul T. Oppold '99. The appeals process has been an excellent demonstration of student government working properly. A controversial situation arose in one branch of government; another branch subsequently resolved it.

I think the most outrageous notion that needs confronting is the assumption of what the results were. No one knows those results except my commission. The judicial board had no knowledge of who had won, and no one will ever know, for it is a secret we will take to our graves.

The commission is responsible for ensuring that an election is run properly with regard to both logistics and fairness. It must also apply the ideal that as elections are intended to allow the voters to choose their leaders. The final product of an election must reflect that a choice has been made by the voters and only the voters.

When I met with UA President Dedric A. Carter '98 in January these are the items he said would need to be taken care of by March 11: Locate the old election packets on disk, revise them and have 100 copies by Registration Day, hold two study breaks, get ballot boxes from the Cambridge election commission (I figured out the Monday before voting that we needed actual ballots, too), and, most of all, publicize the elections.

That doesn't look so big on paper, but I assure you between those tasks and trying to figure out just what is and isn't allowed and where to draw the line, the entire commission was beyond stressed out for a few weeks. We not only made it though, but we did and excellent job. I had the 15-page packets ready a day early, something unheard of. The two study breaks we had (thanks to Rashmi Khare '01 and Angela C. Ni '01) went extremely well and were well attended. The ballot boxes were picked up, the poll workers organized (thanks to Christopher D. Smith '01) and all of the questions and problems dealt with.

The burden of the job never seemed to end. So that next year's commission will have an easier time, I have decided to write a book, complete with analysis of the rules. Furthermore, I offer my services to the UA to help revise the election code and make it less open to interpretation so that these debates are not sparked again.

I would also like to comment about the three positions one can take in reference to these elections. The first is: Wow! The election commission tackled impossible tasks, did them to the best of their ability and made good, just decisions, which is my position. Second is the one voiced in The Tech and by the judboard that these were bad decisions. And finally there is the most popular comment of all: "Who cares?" - illustrated by the fact that only 34.2 percent of the student body voted. The reason the UA doesn't work as well as it should is because a majority of MIT students don't care. As part of my duty to MIT, I try to spark excitement and enthusiasm in the community and am met with laziness, selfishness and, most of all, apathy. If people cannot take just a little time out of their busy schedules to help support MIT, there is nothing the UA can do for them. This is why it has lost what respect it might have had once.

Any way you look at it, my commission worked extremely hard and did a spectacular job. Although the election commission is a thankless job I want us to get the praise and thanks we deserve for our dedication to helping make MIT a better place. If more people would stop complaining and not caring, perhaps MIT could be an even better place than anyone could ever imagine.

Seth Bisen-Hersh '01

UA Election Commissioner