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Class Council, UA Elections Begin

By Waseem S. Daher

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Voting for Undergraduate Association and Class Council offices began at 12:01 a.m Monday, and the candidates for the Class Council presidents held their debate Monday night.

David B. Smith ’05 and Noelle J. Kanaga ’06 are running together for the offices of UA president and vice president, respectively, as are Harel M. Williams ’05 and Phillip A. Vasquez ’05.

Dexter W. Ang ’05, Rohit Gupta ’05, and Eston M. Kimani ’05 are competing for the office of president of the Class of 2005. The positions of president for the Class of 2006 and Class of 2007 are uncontested, and thus the candidates were not present at last night’s debate.

Smith and Kanaga’s platform focuses on using the UA as an organization which can coordinate with and give power back to its smaller constituent organizations, that is, the dormitory and fraternity, sorority, and independent living group organizations.

Williams and Vasquez, on the other hand, envision a more centralized UA than the one Smith and Kanaga do; however, they want a UA that is more approachable, so that students can more easily provide feedback to the officers.

Three running for 2005 president

All of the candidates for president of the 2005 class council endorsed a greater degree of communication with the student body and the Undergraduate Association, but each with his own twist.

Ang, a member of the Chi Phi fraternity and the current class council vice president, stressed inter-campus bonds, both between East and West Campus and between Cambridge and Boston, to “improve the relationship between different groups on campus,” he said. One of his suggestions was a series of dorm and living group mixers so that people from across campus could mingle. He also suggested that the class council subsidize dinners as events, among other things.

Gupta, current 2005 class council president, emphasized the need for more frequent class events to bring the class together. “We need a continuous flow of events to create some bonds between all sides of campus,” he said. He suggested events like a senior barbeque to accomplish this goal.

Kimani is running on a platform centered on increasing communication through the creation of a better class Web site with an on-line forum in the hopes that it would become a place “where the ’05 community can thrive,” he said in the Class Council debate yesterday. He also suggested that the class have monthly talent shows and awards to recognize its members.

New plans for the role of the UA

Smith and Kanaga said they envisioned the UA more as a body that would be best used in empowering its member organizations.

“We want to unify campus by strengthening the governments that represent the individual constituents,” Smith said. He referred to the Dormitory Council, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, and the Living Group Council, among others.

It would “give us a good bit of advantage to give the resources of the UA to those constituent organizations,” he said.

Williams and Vasquez, however, said they wanted to focus more on getting individual input in the UA. “We’re really about going out and talking to people directly, interacting with a lot of people on a personal level,” Williams said.

Better communication sought

Both sets of candidates agreed that communication was a weakness, one they hoped to improve upon.

“Personal contact with student government has been lost,” Williams said. “We totally understand that not everyone is interested in the UA, but we’re here to make it clear that you don’t have to be involved in the UA to benefit from it.” he said.

Kanaga concurred that communication is something that needs to be improved. “A lot of it starts with internal communication within the UA, having strong, passionate people working in the committees, wanting to spread the word about the UA externally to other student governments or other media that are involved,” she said.

Goals Checklist supplemented

Both candidates also agreed that the UA Goals Checklist, created by current UA President Pius A. Uzamere II ’04, was a good idea in principle but needed to be supplemented.

Smith suggested that UA Senator projects should also be logged in an improved goals checklist. It would be easier to hold individual people responsible for a given project if it were in print, Smith said. “People would see what they’re working towards, it’d be a direct connection to the people responsible,” he said.

In addition, a lot of the goals on the checklist were largely overall goals, whereas “senator goals are probably more important for most people’s day-to-day lives,” Smith said.

Williams and Vasquez concurred that a modified goals checklist is necessary, but offered slightly different suggestions as to how it should be done.

“We want to take it a step further,” Williams said. “We also want to convert it into a database system on the new UA Web site,” he said. Williams and Vasquez envision a searchable database of goals where students could directly provide feedback.

“We’ll go out and talk to students and presidents of living groups, and ask them about the goals,” to see if they also have anything else to add, Williams said.

IFC ExecComm endorses Smith

The Interfraternity Council Executive Committee has officially endorsed the Smith/Kanaga ticket for UA President/Vice President. Such an endorsement has not been made by the IFC in the last several years.

“While both candidates are great people and have done a lot of good work, Smith better represents the interests of the undergraduate community,” said Daniel H. Daneshvar ’05, IFC president. “We all directly know and endorse the individuals that represent our small communities, and the UA would do well to empower and aid those smaller groups,” he said.

Smith is a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, and Kanaga is a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. Williams and Vasquez are unaffiliated, though Vasquez was a pledge at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity earlier this term.

“It’s important to have the IFC on board, but it’s also important to have the other organizations on board,” Smith said in response to a question about the endorsement.

“[Panhellenic Association] has decided against endorsing a particular ticket for this set of elections,” said Robin M. Davis ’05, PanHel Vice President of Recruitment.

Uzamere declined to comment on the endorsement, and said that it would not be appropriate for him to do so.

Representatives from DormCon and the LGC could not be reached for comment.

Candidate platforms are available online at http://vote.mit.edu/. Online voting continues until Thursday, and in-person balloting takes place on Friday in Lobby 10.