Yoon/Vigil for UAP/VPWith the wave of changes next year’s Undergraduate Association leaders must face, neither ticket in this year’s race for president and vice president appears to be fully prepared. Issues which could dominate the UA’s agenda next year -- especially housing -- are not high priorities on either ticket’s platform. The 2002-2003 school year will require the UA to constantly evaluate the dramatic changes to housing and residence selection, and the UA president and vice president will be required to lead student response to the administration when changes simply do not work. The Tech therefore reluctantly endorses the ticket of Jennifer S. Yoon ’03 and Miquela C. Vigil ’03.
Yoon appears to be a hardworking and dedicated individual who has approached her leadership positions with practicality. Her focus and dedication to her primary goals of student life funding convince us that she will tackle other problems with a similar attitude. Unlike her opponent, Josiah D. Seale ’03, she seems greatly aware of the world of committees, deliberation, and compromise she is about to enter.
While Seale’s platform is very ambitious and tempting, one must also keep in mind the uncertainty that awaits undergraduates in the coming year. With such radical changes imminent, now is a poor time to focus on revamping the UA. MIT undergraduates need a president who will address issues as they arise. Platforms will count for very little if turmoil ensues, and the president must be able to adapt to the situation at hand and redirect his or her energies, not just halfheartedly discuss problems.
Seale has promised to address a number of topics that ignore the temporal necessity of the situation. Anonymous medical transport is a central value of his campaign and it is certainly valued by the student body, but it should not be the focus of the president. The issue has been discussed and stalled for years, and it could easily continue to occupy much of Seale’s time without much progress. T pass subsidies are also not an important issue for everyone on campus; the UA is not the most appropriate place to address an issue that would more readily help MIT’s employees and graduate students.
Seale also hopes to dramatically change the UA constitution in hopes of increasing student involvement through broader representation. However, even minor changes to the constitution have taken well over six months to ratify in the past. If anything, the current outgoing UA leadership might have considered a similar move this past year in order to establish a stronger council to handle the changes of 2002-2003, but next year is not the time for such high aspirations.
One positive aspect of Seale’s ticket is his running mate, Parul Deora ’04. She seems more interested in student government and more committed to specific goals than Yoon’s partner, Miquela C. Vigil ’03. Vigil’s goals for improving advising and cross-cultural relations seem to be much less clear-cut than Deora and Seale’s shared goals. Advising has the potential to be an important issue with the elimination of second term pass-no record grading, but it will require a concrete plan of action and not vague desires to improve the current situation.
Seale and Deora seem to be a more balanced pair than Yoon and Vigil. It is possible that Deora could serve as a tempered negotiator to contrast Seale’s impetuous idealism, though it is a large leap of faith with which to cast one’s ballot. Furthermore, the UA vice presidential position is weak both by design and by precedent; therefore, it is more important to have a strong and capable president than a strong and capable vice president.
For Yoon to be a successful president, she will need to make some adaptations. She will need to expand her focus from finances to include other interests of the student body at large. She will need to expand her list of administrative contracts if she hopes to effectively voice and address concerns of the student body.
The Tech endorses Yoon because she seems far more prepared to be an effective, efficient negotiator when dealing with the chaotic policy changes of the coming year. Vote for Yoon/Vigil if you believe that 2002-2003 is not the year to attempt radical change to the UA. However, if you believe Seale can be an effective leader during changing times while also pursuing his goals of revolutionizing the UA council and winning long-sought student life battles, cast your vote for Seale/Deora.