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UA Candidates Deliver Proposals, Rancor

By Jenny Zhang


On Wednesday evening, the candidates for the 2003-2004 Undergraduate Association president and vice president met in the student center lobby for this election’s debate.

The three president/ vice president tickets are Parul Deora ’04/ Harel M. Williams ’05, David B. Gottlieb ’04/ Karen M. Keller ’04, and Pius A. Uzamere II ’04/ Jacob W. Faber ’04.

In the often-rancorous debate, all three tickets focused on strengthening communication between the student body and the administration and solidifying a sense of community at MIT.

Student feedback a priority

Each team of candidates suggested different methods for improving communication.

Gottlieb said that students would always be able to e-mail him with suggestions or even call him on his cell phone, and that he would meet frequently with administrators to voice student concerns.

Deora and Williams noted the importance of mutual respect.

“We must realize that both the UA and administration work for the students, and there must be a sense of equality between the two,” Deora said. “We need to have regular meetings and publicize them to the students.”

Deora and Williams have proposed the creation of a “living group coalition” to advocate for living group concerns common to residents fraternities, sororities, and dormitories.

Faber said that he had already created an online site called “Rant and Rave” where students could express their concerns.

Uzamere said that “an online goals checklist” would form a centerpiece of his administration, where he would list goals that he planned to accomplish and update students on their status.

Student life issues addressed

Deora and Williams discussed the importance of balancing academic and extra-curricular life.

“MIT has always had a mindset for a high standard of education, but a high quality of life is needed in addition to that,” Deora said.

Deora added that time management training, in the form of optional for-credit seminars, would be an effective way to help students balance their time.

Uzamere expressed concerns about the fragmentation of the student body.

“We have seen the splintering off of communities, forming strong sub communities,” Uzamere said. “A cultural group coalition would bring these groups together.”

Gottlieb and Keller said allowing students to have MIT Card guest lists in dormitories would improve campus security.

“Some people just tail others to get in, and it is unsafe,” Keller said. She suggested that each student have a guest list of people he wanted to have access to his dormitory.

All three tickets said that they would work on expanding dining options, including working to put more off-campus restaurants on the MIT Card. Deora and Williams further stressed expanding dining options on East Campus.

SEVIS an issue of contention

In one segment of the debate, Gottlieb and Faber discussed MIT’s participation in the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS.

Uzamere, Faber’s running mate, has started an Undergraduate Association committee to serve as a “watchdog” to monitor MIT’s participation in SEVIS.

Gottlieb had opposed the committee’s creation, arguing that it was unnecessary as MIT has already promised to report only the minimum amount of information required by law.

“MIT tends to take a liberal stance in its policies, deciding to provide minimal information for SEVIS,” Gottlieb said.

“Do you really think there is a risk from international students?” Faber asked.

“Some of the people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks had student visas,” Gottlieb said.

Deora questioned Faber about his Web site.

“Your ‘Rant and Rave’ plan has been there for a year and has only 68 people involved; how would you get more participation?” Deora asked.

Faber said that he would heavier advertising to alert more students to the site’s existence. For example, he suggested posting flyers in the Infinite Corridor.

Voting in the election begins Thursday, March 6. The results will be announced March 12. Full platforms for each ticket can be found on the UA Elections Web site, at Spring03/candidates/.