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EDITORIAL

Williams/Vasquez for UAP/VP

There tend to be more qualities that liken MIT student public officers to each other than qualities that separate them. The tickets of David Smith/Noelle Kanaga and Harel Williams/ Phillip Vasquez share remarkable similarities: improving communication and the students’ awareness about the Undergraduate Association, making student government accountable, improving cooperation between the UA and the different student governments, and improving student input in administrative policies and decisions. Both tickets seek to change the flag policy and improve student input on orientation.

The teams also have prior experience in the UA or are familiar with its committees and internal structure. Smith has served on the committee on housing and orientation, Kanaga has chaired the subcommittee on athletics and is a member of the Committee for Student Life (CSL), Williams is on the Coordinating Committee and the CSL, and Vasquez has attended some of the Senate meetings as an Interfraternity Council representative.

However, the two teams differ in their visions in implementation. Smith and Kanaga view the UA’s purpose as mediator between the four other student governments: IFC, Panhellenic Association, Living Group Council, and Dormcon. They believe the UA should have the role of connecting, rather than just acting. Overall, they believe the function of UA should be to work with the student governments to allocate and distribute resources, and to allow more feedback from these governing bodies to develop their own projects of interest. One such idea was to reform Ubercomm, which although consists of representatives from IFC, Panhel, LGC, and Dormcon, does not meet very frequently. Another idea involved the creation of a responsibility document to enforce accountability to both the executive boards of the different governing groups and the constituents.

Williams and Vasquez have a slightly different focus. Instead of solely working with the governments, they want to implement a personal, one-on-one approach. Although they will try to increase communication between the UA and the governments by attending the governments’ meetings, their primary focus is meeting with the constituents of those governments. Specifically, they have and plan to meet with the presidents of different dormitories and living groups. They also plan to improve the average students’ access to the UA with “UA tooling” and dinners at the living groups. They have demonstrated that they will dedicate the time and effort in implementing this goal, and have already begun conversations with living groups. Their other communication goals seem less likely to produce an effect, but are indeed admirable. Smith and Kanaga’s admirable plan to improve the connectivity of the governments and the accountability of those governments to the constituents, do not have specific personal commitments to improve or solicit constituent feedback to the UA.

Another difference between the two teams seems to be teamwork. Smith is the driving force behind his ticket. In contrast, Williams and Vasquez showed great teamwork, not only in their shared vision and enthusiasm, but in their participation during the debates and during an interview with The Tech. Based on this observation, it seems more likely that Williams and Vasquez would work better together and accomplish more than Smith and Kanaga given the display of joint initiative.

Lastly, Williams and Vasquez list a long and extensive list of goals, yet they were frank in their admission that not all their goals may be accomplished -- a tendency rarely seen in candidates listing many goals. In addition, they explicitly acknowledged that most of these goals would be accomplished by cooperating with other UA members. Smith and Kanaga should be lauded for limiting their goals in order to provide concrete results, but they have not explicitly acknowledged the need to work with other members within the UA.

We respect both teams of candidates and their goals: both teams agree on the importance of communication and wish to improve student input. However, given the commitment expressed by Williams and Vasquez to personal contact with constituents, their team dynamic, and their ability to see themselves working with the UA itself, we endorse Williams and Vasquez for UA President and Vice President.

Vivek Rao has recused himself from this editorial.