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UAP, VP Candidates Set for Wed. Debate

By Basier Aziz

The race is on, and not surprisingly the race for Undergraduate Association President has a lot to do with rush.

Candidates, however, are thinking about a number of other issues, from the Coffeehouse to SafeRide, and began the process of distinguishing themselves this week.

Presidential candidates Parul Deora ’04, David B. Gottlieb ’04, and Pius A. Uzamere II ’04 will elaborate on their plans at the annual UA Debate tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Lobby.

Housing dominates list of issues

Rush and housing are pivotal issues in this year’s election, and the candidates all said that the solution to the surfacing problems is campus unity.

“I really want for everyone in the community to get involved,” said Gottlieb, who is running with vice presidential candidate Karen Keller ’04. “Everyone in dorms, everyone in the FSILG community ... all 4,000 of us should submit a proposal.”

Deora, the current UA vice president, expressed similar sentiments. “There’s a problem within their own cultures ... we need a campus coalition, a group focused on integrating culture but maintaining unity,” said Deora, who is running with VP candidate Harel H. Williams ’05, chair of the UA Committee of Student Life.

Uzamere, who is running with Jacob W. Faber ’04, said that dorm rush needs to be saved.

“Some members of the administration seem to doubt the importance of residence selection,” Uzamere said. “I do not condone this sentiment. ... It would be a shame to see [rush] go.”

Some campus leaders have said they worry that the changing rush system will lead to fewer pledges and more failing houses, a sentiment Uzamere agrees with. “We’re worried that under the current plan, ... in the next few years, we’ll see a number of houses die off,” Uzamere said.

A range of campus issues

Another highlight of all the platforms is UA reform with regard to efficiency.

“Since MIT students become hosed so quickly, ... no one [in the UA] follows up on projects,” Deora said.

The candidates suggested a more open route of communication as the solution. Deora mentioned that UA Update -- the UA newsletter -- and the UA’s Web site are key in acquiring student feedback.

Gottlieb said he “want[s] people to use online discussion boards. We want to work with you and talk with you.”

One important campus issue, the fate of the Coffeehouse, is contingent upon the response of the students, Deora and Gottlieb both said.

“We’re always open to suggestions,” Gottlieb said. “The atmosphere there is really cool. ... but it’s a lot of work for one person to revamp.”

“Some are looking to bring in a Starbucks, or some other company,” Deora said. “We’re collecting business plans, especially from alumni.”

Both Gottlieb and Uzamere said they support daytime SafeRide service. Uzamere said that the idea has been part of “practically every UAP/ VP ticket over the past several years.”

“We’ve already proposed our plan to Dean Benedict,” Uzamere said. “Our plan should cost under $25,000 a year. ... We expect that the administration will react very favorably to our plan.”

Gottlieb also intends to support a “dorm accessibility program” under which students can be given access to dorms they do not live in, but in which they have friends or business.

“Residents want their friends to come in,” Gottlieb said. “We want to form a guest list recognized by desk workers. The current system ... creates unnecessary hassle and inadvertent security risks.”

Gottlieb responds to poster

Students may have seen flyers posted around campus that read “A vote for David Gottlieb is a vote against the dorms.” The flyers were apparently posted in response to an e-mail written by Gottlieb on the ifc-talk mailing list. The e-mail suggested that the traditional dorm rush would be detrimental to fraternity rush, and that Gottlieb’s opponents favored the traditional rush.

“I said some stuff that wasn’t correct,” Gottlieb said in response. “It was stupid, but I just want to say that we want the freshman to have the best four years possible. ... It didn’t come across the way I meant it to.”

As a solution to the debate on dorm/ fraternity rush precedence during orientation, Gottlieb said that he would push for a “united front.”

“We need to get rid of that impression of mistrust,” Gottlieb said.

Platforms

Deora and Williams’ platform includes better dining for East Campus, increased UA-student interaction, and a campus coalition to foster student unity on their agenda. Deora and Williams, whom Deora describes as putting “the UA before academics,” hope to facilitate the office space needs of student groups, Deora said.

Gottlieb and Keller’s leading issues are dorm room accessibility, UA efficiency, and community involvement in the UA. Moreover, the two propose an extension of TechCASH use to more restaurants in the Cambridge area. “Duke has [access to] 24 restaurants. Maybe we can get more than Domino’s.”

Gottlieb also said that MIT’s Confidential Medical Transport program is important and describes Keller as “an energetic and dedicated person ... works really hard.”

Uzamere and Faber’s platform centers on “communication, concrete change, and community building.” They also hope to build a “cultural group coalition” to ensure that cultural groups do not “splinter off into their own cliques.” The two also say that they hope for better dining options around campus.

Elections will be held from March 6 to March 11.