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Lukmann/Miller Ticket Combines Knowledge With Eye for Reform

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li S. Wyne

“Who’s your running mate, Andrew?”

“Take a guess.”

“Oh, I don’t know, one of the Senators, or maybe an [Undergraduate Association] insider?”

Andrew Lukmann — with whom I have worked for the past year — chuckled, and responded, “Nope. I’m running with Ruth Miller.”

“Ruth Miller? The Ruth Miller?”

“Yup.”

Many of you will recall that Ruth Miller, an editor of The Tech’s opinion section, penned a searing indictment of the UA’s inefficiencies in the Oct. 14 issue, titled “UA? No Way!” Her article certainly aroused great concern in the UA, principally because it encapsulated the opinions that prevailed among large segments of the student body.

The media and the government, at least in theory, maintain an adversarial relationship and, accordingly, the idea of having a member of each run together is highly unusual.

That being said, however, I could not have conceived of, or hoped for, a more perfect ticket. Andrew is more informed about the UA’s structure, complexities, and areas where reform is most crucial than anyone else I know. Even a short conversation with him will confirm this assertion. Where laxity and apathy often prevail, Andrew is committed to improving MIT, and has accumulated a series of impressive accomplishments during his tenure as a student body representative. The depth of his knowledge is hardly coincidental; indeed, each of his extracurricular activities involves some aspect of student government. He serves as the Speaker of the UA Senate and President of Simmons Hall, and is actively involved with the Faculty Policy Committee, the Dormitory Council, and the Campus Activities Complex Advisory Board, among other important groups.

There are three attributes, in particular, that make him an ideal candidate for UA President: his attention to detail, his ability to fulfill responsibilities far beyond his own, and his commitment to realizing goals. The position of Senate Speaker is demanding enough; however, his performance has surpassed all reasonable expectations, and he has admirably intervened when leadership in various branches of the UA government has been deficient, or altogether absent.

Furthermore, Andrew is unique in that he has gained the respect not only of virtually every administrator with whom he has worked, but also of his constituents. The call to reduce the chasm between the administration and students has become tiresome, if only because no one heretofore has been sufficiently qualified or committed to achieve this objective. If anyone is capable of realizing this important aim, Andrew is.

Ruth’s principal advantage is her ability to impart an outsider’s perspective. Members of organizations are oftentimes unable or unwilling to see their failings, thereby precluding them from becoming agents of change. Removed from the UA, and unencumbered by the burden of defending every one of its principles and practices, she is well suited to provide an objective view of the UA’s performance. Furthermore, she is likely a far better judge of student opinion on campus issues than most members of the UA, who, as noted earlier, are more inclined to dismiss student voices or misconstrue them as supportive when they are actually critical. While I may not agree with every point she issued in her piece, I do not hesitate to admit that it contained many accurate assessments. It is not surprising, then, that it elicited only one printed rejoinder and, in my experience, far more murmurs of assent, even among those who would prefer to dismiss its argumentation.

Lest the reader perceive me as na ve or idealistic, I readily admit to having developed a measure of skepticism about candidates who purport to be interested in improving student life or who are otherwise overly optimistic about student government. Very rarely does a given candidate or set of candidates compel me to dispel such cynicism. The prospect of Andrew and Ruth’s ascending to the UA’s top two positions, however, has reaffirmed my hopes for a transparent, responsive, and effective student government.

At this juncture, UA governance, with some notable exceptions, is in critical need of a thorough appraisal and, to my mind, tremendous improvement. Those individuals who assume positions of leadership must recognize that power confers responsibility and perhaps more importantly, that one must use the prestige of a given position to advance an agenda that is directly related to the position’s express mandate. Unfortunately, these lessons (truisms, I would argue) have routinely been ignored in the recent past, with the result that the UA once again finds itself regarded as a bureaucratic organization that accords preferential treatment to its vested interests rather than to the principal concerns of the student body.

Over the course of the past two years, I have probably had hundreds of conversations with students from dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. The unanimity with which they express indifference to or disdain for student government is a source of concern that urgently needs to be addressed.

Andrew and Ruth, albeit in different capacities, have served as friends, educators, and mentors. The same qualities by which they have gained my respect, and that of so many others, would doubtless serve them well as UA President and Vice President. They will serve as advocates not only in theory, but also, far more importantly, in practice.

I heartily avow my support for Andrew Lukmann and Ruth Miller, and am confident that as students learn more about each pair of candidates, they will render the same judgment.

Ali Wyne ’07 is the UA Senate Vice Chair.