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VP Hopefuls Defend Credentials

By Dana Levine

Though the talent competition fell short of expectations, Sunday’s Undergraduate Association Vice Presidential debate featured fierce debate and harsh criticism largely missing from the earlier Presidential debate.

The debate, sponsored by The Tech, evolved into an informal conversation between the candidates, with each trying to emphasize his strengths while criticizing his opponents.

One exchange began with a question about an editorial statement in The Tech that UAP candidate Jennifer C. Berk ’01 did not present herself as a leader. Although her running mate, Jason H. Wasfy ’01, admitted that Berk “struggles somewhat with speaking,” he challenged VP candidate Mendel Chuang to state that his running mate, Peter A. Shulman ’01 has more UA experience than Berk.

“Peter and I have the best combination of presentability and experience,” Chuang replied.

Later, VP candidate Patrick D. Kane ’03, running with Christopher D. Smith ’01, explained how he had talked to corporate sponsors in order to solicit funding for an incorporated UA. “Ours is the only platform that clearly shows how we can make a positive change in the MIT community,” Kane said. He said his opponents lacked concrete ideas such as his incorporation plan.

Wasfy countered that “our ideas are not as extreme as yours and they aren’t sort of pungent. But I think that they are more realistic than yours.”

“Having concrete ideas is good. But having correct concrete ideas is also good,” Chuang added.

Candidates promote credentials

Each of the Vice Presidential candidates chose to emphasize very different qualifications. Wasfy emphasized his close connections with the administration, including positions on six Institute committees.

“Jennifer and I are the only candidates who have a proven record of talking to administrators and getting things done,” Wasfy said.

Brian A. Pasquinelli ’02, running with Sanjay K. Rao ’02, focused more on his experience with students in the UA. Pasquinelli served as the Class of 2002 Vice President, and is currently the co-chair of the UA committee on advising and faculty-student relations.

Chuang also focused heavily on his UA involvement, although his experience has dealt more with administration than interaction with students. He currently serves on the UA Financial Board, and he wrote the legislation that created the UA Subcommittee on Athletics. “I help people, and I like doing that,” Chuang said.

Kane strongly advocated UA incorporation. “How can we be a body representative of the students if we aren’t independent?” Kane asked.

VPs debate money, leadership

Wasfy, who cited his knowledge of campus finances, asked his opponents how they think the proceeds from the $1.5 billion capital campaign should be divided.

Pasquinelli’s reply emphasized that “students need to make sure that students are involved in the appropriation committee.”

Chuang, a member of Finboard, suggested that home equity be taken out of the formula for financial aid and that aid levels be increased.

Kane advocated that MIT freeze tuition, as undergraduate tuition is just “a drop in the bucket.”

Most students were pleased with the exchange. “It seems like they all had a good time discussing the issues and expressing their platforms,” said Jeff C. Roberts ’02.

Web-based voting for UA President and Class Councils began after the debate on Sunday, and will continue until midnight on Thursday. Students will have an opportunity to fill out paper ballots in Lobby 7 on Friday.