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Oppold Discusses Housing in State of UA Address

By Kevin Lang

Undergraduate Association President Paul T. Oppold '99 presented the State of the UAAddress Monday, vowing that the UA would act to protect the rights and interests of MIT students.

"The primary goal is to communicate student needs to the administration," said Oppold. "The projects we are undertaking have all been expressed as student needs in the past."

In his address, Oppold warned against letting the administration infringe upon student rights. He cited the recent actions against fraternities and housing as dangerous omens. However, Oppold also noted that the UA would strive for effective implementation of on-campus freshman housing in 2001.

Oppold said that "We need to herald the task force's findings to the students, and then fight the battle to implement their dreamy theories. Their ideas are sound but fail to be rooted in reality."

Oppold touts UAactions

As for the actual state of the UA, Oppold said that MIT's student government"is stronger, more responsible, more communicative, more enjoyable, more active, more prepared, more reliable, and more effective than just a year ago."

However, he also stressed that increased student involvement and unity would be necessary to continue promoting student issues. Most UA committees represented at the meeting expressed the need for new members and for more active involvement.

The majority of Oppold's address and the various committee reports focused on the accomplishments of last year. The UA lobbied for increased funding for student activities, although MIT still lags behind peer universities in this area, Oppold said.

The UA also sponsored study breaks in dormitories and fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups last fall to discuss alcohol and housing issues with the student population. The continuance of spring weekend as well as the Logan Airport shuttle was assured, and more space was obtained in the student center for student groups and activities.

Also, the UA assisted in the planning of this year's revised orientation and the upcoming Fall Festival., Oppold said

UA will respond to task force

The UA will also analyze and respond to the report of the task force on student life and learning. Oppold said that an important aspect of the process would be finding effective means of implementation for mandatory on-campus freshman housing.

While the UA will have no official position on the freshman housing situation until its Executive Committee is elected in two weeks, the UA did sponsor the recent demonstration on the steps of 77 Massachusetts Avenue.

According to Floor Leader Ryan Pierce '99, the UA officially supported the act of demonstrating while refraining from commenting on the issue of housing freshmen. "We're all for students speaking out as loud as they must to see things happen," Pierce said. He added that "the UA is prepared to play [as much] of an activist role as may be necessary with [regard to] issues such as housing."

Other issues brought up both in Oppold's address and later in the meeting included the problem of pedestrian safety on Memorial Drive. The UA also expressed an interest in expanding the SafeRide program.

Attendance at the meeting was low. Only a handful of representatives attended to vote and represent their living groups. However, some living groups have not elected their representatives yet.