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UA Update is a new column written by members of the Undergraduate Association. The column, which reports on the latest developments from the UA Senate and Executive Committee, will run weekly.

Before the Discussion Session last Monday, Senate hosted a town hall featuring guest speakers Donna Denoncourt, an Associate Dean in Residential Life and chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Dining, and Suzanne Flynn, Housemaster of the Phoenix Group. Denoncourt began the conversation by talking about the process to date of Blue Ribbon, highlighting the failure of the initial report from the consultants to meet the administration’s standards due to a lack of content, the creation of a website with meeting summaries to date, and the upcoming two week feedback period for gathering student opinions on the committee’s report. She mentioned that a minimum nutritional fee, the removal of existing kitchen facilities, and “not requiring a meal plan for those dorms without dining halls” as “off the table.” After opening the conversation up to get feedback from those present, Senators and attendees expressed concerns over the first draft of the consultant’s report not being released, the short timeline in the remaining process for the committee—especially concerning the feedback period, and the reluctance to increase membership, and Denoncourt and Flynn promised to take these bring these matters before both the Blue Ribbon Committee and Dean Colombo.

The first order of business during Senate Discussion Session regarded the possibility of a student alliance with the Service and Employees International Union, which represents about 550 of the property service workers at MIT. Senators discussed whether students and union members actually had common goals and what level of support would be appropriate, but no resolution or bill was proposed or voted on. Discussion then moved to the issues surrounding dining and the Blue Ribbon Committee, and the bylaws were suspended to entertain new business regarding the creation of an opposing committee. After debating whether the new committee should compete with or make recommendations to the Blue Ribbon Committee, Senate passed the Bill to Create the Dining Proposal Committee to create an independent report reflecting student wishes. Representatives for the committee will be nominated by the UA Nominations Committee and approved by Senate. Additionally, Senate passed the Resolution to Demand Meal Plan Study Data, mandating the MIT administration to authorize the release of the data collected by the Blue Ribbon survey to aid the Dining Proposal Committee in the construction of its report.

A joint resolution was also passed by the UA and the GSC to support the idea of moving a student holiday to the date of the fall career fair. The final piece of legislation passed last Monday allotted the MIT Quiz Bowl team $1000 to assist their efforts to attend the two national championship tournaments.

— Elizabeth A. Denys ’10 is the UA Public Relations Chair and acting UA Secretary General.