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Devereaux Ready for New Job

President-Elect Says She Wants UA to Connect With Students

By Jennifer Krishnan


Last month, Jaime E. Devereaux ’02 was elected president of the Undergraduate Association for the coming academic year. The Tech sat down with Devereaux to discuss her involvement with the UA and her plans for the upcoming year.

The Tech: How did you get involved with the UA?

Devereaux: I originally got involved with the UA because I got involved with my house government at MacGregor. ... There was a proposal to change MacGregor into a graduate dorm, and ... because of that, I got very involved with my house government to keep in touch with what was going on. ... Then a position opened up for house representative to UA Council at the beginning of my sophomore year ... and I was elected to the position.

The Tech: Why did you get involved with the overall UA structure instead of class council?

Devereaux: When I first came to MIT, I didn’t really have any goal of becoming involved in [student government]. It wasn’t until I was actually faced with an issue that I really cared about and wanted to know more about that I started paying attention to what the UA could do. ... The opportunity came about to become involved in the UA Council, so I took it.

The Tech: Some people are concerned about the UA becoming insulated from the student body. How can you prevent yourself from becoming insulated?

Devereaux: I think one misconception that’s out there right now is that the UA and the administration are working on their own level. We do work with the administration, but we’re always presenting what we know as what the students want.

The Tech: In your campaign, you talked a lot about committees. Why is it that when somebody asks, “What is the UA doing?” the answer is always, “Oh, there’s a committee.” Where is the specific action these committees are taking?

Devereaux: We know that the committees are people who are very dedicated to a particular field of undergraduate life.

The Tech: What was the biggest thing Peter A. Shulman ’01 could have done better as UA President this year?

Devereaux: One thing that Peter could have done better in his administration work on engaging more students in the UA. ... Through the election, we saw that a lot of students have a great deal of concern that the UA is out of touch. What we want to help foster is an open UA where people feel can comfortable coming to us with any concerns.

The Tech: Describe what you think the role of the UA Vice President should be, and how you think Allison L. Neizmik ’02, UA vice president-elect, will fill the role as compared to Mendel Chuang ’02, this year’s vice president?

Devereaux: One of the main roles of the vice president of the UA is to maintain the internal structure. Mendel worked with the class councils a lot. ... He was kind of a behind the scenes person in terms of what he was doing with the UA. He worked a lot on dining and things along those lines.

I think Allison, just by her nature, ... really wants to get out and get opinions on things. She wants to work on a lot of things students care about.

She’ll probably be more visible than Mendel. A number of the duties of the vice president are up to their discretion. They can choose the projects they want to work on, and she’ll probably pick projects that will put her in more direct contact.

The Tech: In this year’s election, Sanjay K. Rao ’02 and Rhett Creighton ’02, the other presidential candidates, showed interest in what the UA does. What are you going to do to get these people involved and to get them to still give their input?

Devereaux: Rhett is going to be working with Allison and a number of other people on the issue of SafeRide, since that was something he was very concerned about in his campaign.

Sanjay and I have agreed to sit down every couple of weeks and talk about what he thinks is going on and some of the ideas that he had during his campaign. ... We definitely want people to stay involved, and we want to hear what their opinions are.

The Tech: Some people from the east side of campus claim to have been traditionally left out of the process. What will you to make sure their voices get heard?

Devereaux: The one thing that’s really important is just to let people know how many representatives within the UA are already from [those dorms] ... so that if they need to talk to someone, they know who to go talk to.

We also have Emily Cofer ’04, who is from East Campus. She has just been elected to our Coordinating Committee and one of her main points during the election was that she really wants the UA to address more east campus issues.

The Tech: One of the issues that was talked about a lot during the UA presidential campaign was the issue of a “SafeRide Express,” a shuttle that would go back and forth across the bridge. What concrete steps have been taken toward getting this type of shuttle service?

Devereaux: I talked earlier this year with the department that runs SafeRide. ... They said that they used to run [SafeRide Express] during certain hours, but they really don’t have the staff for it.

The concrete steps that are being taken are looking at SafeRide as a whole. I think they need to gather information as to where people want SafeRide to go, stops they like ... then they can come up with a plan.

The Tech: Do you have any big plans for next year?

Devereaux: Money is always an issue. People want more money. We’re trying to get more money for large events [and] working to get more money for student groups.

Another big thing is SafeRide. We’re looking to really make big changes to SafeRide next year.

Dining, I think, will also be a big issue. We want to expand the [MIT] card to a lot of vendors, ideally the restaurants in the area the people go to.

An internal UA thing is just getting people out there and becoming more [visible] overall.