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Keep Rhett on Ballot; Open UA to All

This past Wednesday, just hours after the Tech-sponsored Undergraduate Association President/Vice President debate, the word went out that Rhett Creighton ’02 and Margaret V. Stringfellow ’03 were no longer considered official candidates. The UA Judicial Board ruled that Creighton and Stringfellow did not collect the required number of signatures by the deadline.

One wonders if there’s such a thing as a smooth UA presidential election at MIT. Compounded with the harsh criticisms of the UA Election Commission last week, many would probably take a dim view of this year’s elections.

However, events are not as bad as they would seem. The ruling leaves it up to the election commission to decide Creighton and Stringfellow’s candidacy if they submit the required number of signatures after the deadline. Both other candidates have publicly expressed support for keeping Creighton and Stringfellow on the ballot if the proper paperwork is completed. This would then seem to be a mere technicality whose ill-effects can be avoided.

And yet things are worse than they would seem. Rumors abound concerning political maneuvering and favoritism in the UA for its “own people.” Creighton appeared to blame Sanjay K. Rao ’02 for the challenge to his candidacy. It is alarming how few people from the demographic that Creighton and Stringfellow represent, the east side of campus, take part in the leadership of the Undergraduate Association. One wonders how representative the UA truly is, and whether it perhaps inadvertently contributes to the social divides on campus.

If perhaps the UA is to west campus what LSC/SIPB is to east campus; then the UA isn’t representing all undergraduates, despite its appeals to the entire community.

Should Creighton and Stringfellow be on the ballot? Well, they certainly would bring representation from a social demographic lacking in the other candidates. So long as no rules are broken, they would bring a fresh perspective to the UA: how it appears to those on the “outside.” Because so many MIT students are cynical about what exactly the UA can do for them, perhaps such a fresh perspective is exactly what is needed in our next Undergraduate Association President.

Bradley T. Ito ’01

[LTE]No Need for Class Council Debate[body]
[Ed.: The following letter was sent to the Undergraduate Association Election Commission on Monday, February 26.]
As the only two candidates running for Class of 2003 Vice President, we would like to request that the scheduled Transitions Debate for our position be changed to a study break for all of the 2003 class council candidates.
We feel that this is a much better use of the allotted time and space, and more beneficial for our class. A debate would accomplish very little, as our race does not contain the policy issues found in a race for UAP/VP. It is more important for the members of our class to get to know their officers in a social setting, as the bulk of the responsibility of the class council is to provide social programming for the class. The environment created by a study break is a much better format for this form of interaction.
Additionally, this would allow the other candidates to attend and get to know their constituents as well. While their races may not be contested, it is still important for the class to get to know who they are.
We hope you consider this request and make the change to the event. We thought it would be inappropriate and inconsiderate to simply refuse to attend the debates, despite the weight such an action would carry with unanimous consent of all of the candidates. In recognizing this, we look forward to attending the Class of 2003 Candidate Study Break on Thursday night.
Alison H. Wong ’03
Diana L. Bolton ’03
Class of 2003 Vice Presidential Candidates[sig]
[LTE]Delay P/NR Change[body]
I write in response to Jason H. Wasfy’s February 20 column on Pass/No Record policy [“P/NR Policy: The Wrong Battle”]. As someone who served on the P/NR Committee that examined this topic, I too support the shift to the new grading policy. But along with the UA’s Student Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP), the UA Council, and the over 400 students who signed the UA’s petition, I support delaying the implementation of this shift until the Freshmen class entering fall of 2003.
The clearest reason for waiting the additional year is to provide the student body a buffer time to adjust. As it stands, the current implementation coincides with the 2002 freshmen-on-campus move. The community benefits from our proposed delay as it allows a full year of the new rush system to run without freshmen and parental concerns about joining a new social organization while also subject to a visible grading policy.
Of equal importance is the insurance of a greater sense of community on campus. Breaking with two long-standing traditions creates havoc with relations between classes before and after the switch, and a delayed implementation provides for a more gradual shift.
We have been running some version of Pass/No Record grading for over thirty years, and an additional year will not poison the academic environment, but it will go a long way in providing for the health and continuity of MIT’s strong living group culture.

Peter A. Shulman ’01
Undergraduate Association President[sig]