The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 36.0°F | A Few Clouds

UA Candidates Meet In Moderated Debate

By Kristen Landino

Yesterday, two pairs of candidates running for the presidential and vice-presidential positions in the Undergraduate Association elections met to take part in a moderated debate open to all students.

UA presidential candidate Kartik M. Mani ’00 and running mate Rita Lin ’00 faced presidential candidate Matthew L. McGann ’00 and running mate Lex Nemzer ’00.

Amit Roy ’01, President of the MIT Debate team, served as a moderator for the discussion.

The debate opened with five minute speeches by each team explaining their platform.

Both teams emphasized the need for greater student involvement in UA issues.

“One of our goals is to increase the level of student involvement in UA issues,” Mani said.

“I seek to bring student ideas to the forefront. In the past I have worked with administrators, and fought for student input with regard to grading policy as well as finance reform,” McGann said.

Candidates question each other

After opening statements were made, Roy allowed each team to ask the other two questions.

The candidates both raised the issue of the current social atmosphere on campus.

“The UA should serve indirectly as the enabler of social life on campus. The UA could have a significant influence the housing system as well as the Freshmen curriculum which both affect the social climate on campus,” McGann said.

Mani and Lin also stressed the social aspect of their platform.

“MIT is pretty divided. The campus is separated into the dorm and fraternity cultures. We seek to bring events which would unite the entire student body and offset the general distaste on campus for the 2001 housing decision,” Mani said.

Funding, advocacy are major issues

UA Financial Board reform was also a major issue brought up by both presidential candidate teams.

“The current process for student group funding allocation is far too restrictive. We shall seek to change the reimbursement procedure and cut through a lot of the red tape,” Nemzer said.

McGann sees the Task Force on Student Life and Learning as well as the Committee on the Undergraduate Program as channels for students to improve the learning process.

“The Task Force on Student Life and Learning is a valuable resource for the improvement of the academic atmosphere on campus. Through this group we hope to increase the level of faculty-student interactions and promote undergraduate research on campus by increasing UROPs available to students,” McGann said.

The issue of dining options on campus was also discussed by both candidates.

“It was a good idea not to follow the Dining Committee’s decision. Dining should revolve around residence halls, it should not be centralized to larger dining facilities,” Mani said.

“The Dining Committee thought that MIT ‘was not ready to make the transition’. This just shows how little the administration cares about student input, and illustrates yet another example of the administration’s strategy to program student life at MIT. This simply is not the right approach. Appropriate measures should be taken instead to increase the community aspect of dining at MIT,” McGann said.

Candidates urge students to vote

In the closing statements of the UA debate, both candidates encouraged students to get out and vote, and stressed the most important aspects of their platform.

“We believe that as students we have had a lot of diverse experiences to qualify us to hold these positions as student advocates. We’ve been there and done that. We believe that we are the best candidates for student representation,” Mani said.

“There are a lot of huge issues facing MIT in the future. One final thing to consider is who you want to represent your opinions within the administrative bureaucracy at MIT,” McGann said.

The UA elections are currently underway and will continue through Monday, March 15. Voting can be done electronically at any time on Athena. On Monday, paper ballot booths will be set up in the Stratton Student Center, Lobby 7, Walker Memorial, Baker House, and New House.

“I think the debate went really well. A lot of specific issues were brought to the fore in the audience question period which forced the candidates to take a stand and defend their platforms,” Roy said.