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Experience, Institute Contacts At Heart of Berk, Wasfy Ticket

By Anna K. Benefiel

Characterizing their team as “active, effective, integrative, fun, and able to negotiate to get students what they really want,” presidential candidate Jennifer C. Berk ’01 and vice-presidential candidate Jason H. Wasfy ’01 have a “varied and extensive breadth of experience” in student government.

Berk cited the biggest problem on campus as the “lack of investment in student life -- both in terms of time and money.”

“We’re concerned that students are being left out of the capital campaign,” Wafsy said.

“The biggest thing that the UA needs to do is make that case for more investment and that’s done by talking to the Capital Campaign Committee,” Berk said.

Candidates have much experience

Both Berk and Wasfy have spent three years working on various Institute Committees and in the Undergraduate Association. Both are acutely aware of and interested in policy issues, with Berk preferring housing issues and Wasfy focusing more on “academic policy.” Berk wrote the legislation that set up the new Spring Weekend Planning Committee, and Wasfy co-authored the MacGregor Defense Petition in response to the Residence System Steering Committee’s proposal to convert MacGregor to graduate student housing.

Berk was on the RSSC, and as chair of the UA Committee on Housing and Orientation, she attempted to reverse the 2001 decision. Berk has also served as Vice Chair of the UA this year and on the Association of Student Activities Executive Board. Wasfy sits on the HASS Oversight and Writing Institute Committees. He has also acted as UA Public Relations Chair.

Both candidates feel that access to resources -- financial, academic, faculty, and advising/counselling -- could and should be increased. On faculty, Wasfy said, “We the undergraduates have a lot of common ground. The faculty are an untapped resource.” Specifically, Wasfy would like to see the Burchard Scholar model implemented campus-wide. In that program, students and faculty would meet regularly for dinner.

He also suggested that the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee be re-worked to increase its effectiveness, and that Campus Police details should be provided free of cost to student groups who hold events that necessitate the presence of CPs.

Involving more students

“The big theme is to get more students involved. We’ve been here [at MIT] a long time and we know how to do this,” Berk and Wasfy said.

In speaking to what differentiates their team, Wasfy said, “Because MIT is in flux,” it’s important “to have people who have developed working relationships with the administration.”

Berk said, “I’ve done a lot of talking to students about various issues. I know the people in student governments that I’d be working with, and I can bring them together. I know at least some of the administrators that we’ll be talking to, and I have some ability to be persuasive.”

Berk also mentioned other differences between her ticket and the others, “I live off campus, [Jason] lives on campus, we’re different genders, and I’ve worked with the UA enough to know what I’m getting into, and I think that that’s probably unique [to our ticket]. I have very realistic expectations of the position.”

Berk and Wasfy feel that “the administration is not the enemy.” The administration spends “their professional lives” at MIT, which is “a lot longer than we [the students] spend here. MIT should really work as a partnership. The administration is there to help us. Sometimes they don’t know what form that help should take, so we get to educate them.”

Wasfy said, “The administration, on the whole, is composed of well-meaning individuals who have in the past made some dumb decisions. But, the key to an effective UA is to work with the administration -- you can’t have an antagonistic relationship.”