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Shulman-Chuang for UAP/VP

The Tech endorses Peter A. Shulman ’01 and Mendel Chuang ’02 for Undergraduate Association President and Vice President. Shulman and Chuang offer the right combination of idealism and pragmatism, and would be the strongest, most effective advocates for the student body.

We believe Shulman is the presidential candidate best capable of handling the student body’s concerns of the coming year. While he is relatively inexperienced, his running mate Chuang has spent two years in class and UA office. The candidates grasp that distrust between the students and the administration is a severe problem which must be rectified for other initiatives to succeed. The outgoing, affable Shulman would be a UA president students could approach with their concerns and know that the student body president would give them all due consideration.

The decision between the ticket of Jennifer C. Berk ’01 and Jason H. Wasfy ’01 and that of Shulman-Chuang is a difficult one. Berk’s three years of service on UA and Institute committees sharply contrasts with Shulman’s recent involvement in UA affairs. Berk’s experience in housing issues and Wasfy’s knowledge of academic issues ensures their administration would have the necessary skills to tackle these two concerns.

However, Berk does not present herself as a leader around whom students can rally. The position of UA President requires outspoken leadership and the ability to engage the public. Berk herself concedes that she does not present herself well in large crowds. The Tech worries about her ability to transition from the intimate, closed dealings with the administration as a committee member to the open, public position of UA President. Still, the strength of Berk’s and Wasfy’s background demands that students looking for an experienced team consider this ticket.

Sanjay K. Rao ’02 and Brian A. Pasquinelli ’02 have successfully led the active Class of 2002 this past year. However, we believe their vision underemphasizes the important issues -- housing, advising, academic policy -- facing the UA at this time. Their proposals, such as having LaVerde’s accept the MIT Card or converting the first-floor space in the Student Center to a lounge, are popular with most students, but they do not address the housing quagmire and reforms to the advising process.

Chris D. Smith ’01 and Patrick D. Kane ’03 offer the most radical platform. Smith and Kane advocate incorporation of the UA, a legal step which would make the organization independent of the MIT administration. But as MIT controls the UA’s funding and Student Center space, incorporation could bring hardship if the administration looks unfavorably on the idea. The UA could be left without an office or a bank account. Even if such a doomsday scenario didn’t happen, the energy spent in laying the foundation for incorporation would divert the UA’s time from other more pressing issues such as housing and advising. We believe that the next UA executive team should focus on solving these problems and not making such extreme structural reforms to the UA itself.

Most importantly, we urge every undergraduate student to exercise his or her right to vote. The UA needs a strong voice, but it can only be a strong voice with a strong turnout at the polls. Undergraduates must shed their apathy and vote next week if they want a successful and effective UA.