During my first year in the UA Senate, there were many people who had opinions, or sent me feedback, but Steve, a freshman on my hall, was the most interested in the actual work. He was talented when it came to understanding and analyzing, and suggesting courses of action for Institute and UA politics, so I often used him as a sounding board, and suggested that he should run for Senate himself.
The next year, by then a resident of Zeta Psi, Steve Kelch won a spot as a UA Senator from Fraternities, quickly becoming one of Senate’s most respected voices — well-informed, high on content and desire to work for students, and low on fluff. He worked diligently and effectively as a member of SLOPE, the group that plans Orientation, to make sure that it would go well and that student stakeholders (such as those running REX and Fraternity Rush) would be treated fairly. When I ran for UAP in 2006, I chose him as my running mate.
Although we lost, the Senate respected him enough to elect him the next year’s Speaker. In that position, Steve has discouraged senators from bringing pointless legislation, promoted discussion about relevant issues, brought an increased number of administrative guest speakers so that senators had a fair chance to find out what was going on in the administration and tell their constituents about it, and cracked down on people who weren’t doing their jobs.
Meanwhile, Lauren Oldja was UA Treasurer. When Lauren spoke, people listened. Lauren was dedicated to her job, earning the respect of those with whom she worked in Finboard and the ASA (as is evident from James R. Peacock’s endorsement in the last issue). When Finboard re-wrote its policies, she was crucial in setting its reach so that Finboard did not become Big Brother to student groups. She branched out beyond what was mandated by her job description and has been working with DormCon to allow for more Early Returns during REX, and for a policy that would allow dorm REX chairs who leave for the summer to come back earlier to help the dorm prepare — something concrete and useful for dorms from the UA. Her DormCon partner has endorsed her on a dorm discussion mailing list. She and Steve are great partners — tough, practical, and in touch with student life.
Everybody says that they want to preserve MIT traditions like REX and hacking. The real question is not whether they want to, it’s whether they can. This ticket has actually accomplished something on behalf of REX, and are veterans of the process of planning Orientation and advocating for REX. And as the UA’s point person on hacking issues for the last few years, I’d endorse this as the ticket most likely to be effective at preserving hacking.
The Tech criticized them for the modest reach of their goals, but their goals, such as a separate policy for smaller events that serve alcohol, with fewer hoops to jump through than are in place for the meant-for-large-events current policy, are useful and achievable.
Lauren and Steve know how to work with the MIT administration, and how to acquire useful information. A committee will only find the information that administrators want students to hear, when they want students to hear it. It will not solve the problem of policy changes being sprung on students with too little warning or input. Useful information is found through grunt work, assertiveness, a thorough knowledge of trends and players in Institute government, contacts, and earning the respect of administrators and others with whom you work. It’s found by vigilance and awareness, while not being too alarmist. Lauren and Steve understand this, and have used it to great effect.
Most students I know don’t care if the UA comes up with new programs. Most primarily want the UA to protect the things they care about, and it’s hard to put that in a platform, and even harder to demonstrate that you’ll be good at it (especially given that most students, while they would like the UA to do it, don’t trust the UA to be able to do so). For the latter, one has to rely on previous record. Of all the UAP/VP tickets, Lauren Oldja and Steve Kelch not only have some of the most practical and useful ideas for what to do, but will be best at protecting the things you care about. I fully endorse them for UAP/VP.
Jessica H. Lowell ’07 is the UA Senator from East Campus.