The Undergraduate Association has had a rough year. Issues of dining, orientation, and enrollment all hit within a short span of time and tested the ability of UA leaders to balance their dual roles as students and elected representatives. More recently, the UA has been racked by numerous resignations, including two senators who resigned during a six-hour senate meeting two weeks ago. As a whole, the UA is younger and less experienced now than it has been in recent memory.
Allan E. Miramonti ’13 and Alec C. Lai ’13 — the only ticket running this year — are a product of that organizational culture. Miramonti, running for president, is the current senator from Random Hall and chairs the UA Printing Commitee. Lai, the vice presidential running mate, is the UA secretary general and president of Next House. Both are UA “insiders” — to whatever extent they can be as sophomores. Lai, in particular, has shown great dedication to the association by producing the UA newsletter — part of the UA’s broad focus on increasing transparency.
Their records within the UA are perfectly reasonable, but not spectacular. Their performance during the debate was similar — nothing striking. Miramonti and Lai lack the vision, student support, and charisma that the UA needs at this weakened point in its history. Lai will also be faced with the challenge of serving as Next House president and UA vice president simultaneously, in addition to facing a junior course load. The Tech expects Lai, as we would any candidate in his position, to carefully consider time management issues.
In the past, our Editorial Board has interviewed multiple candidacies for the UA presidency and vice presidency. We’ve asked each candidate about his or her strengths and weaknesses in order to be confident that our final choice was well-vetted and capable of handling the challenges of the position. We attempted to do the same this year by holding a debate and interviewing the lone ticket. But if the low turnout at this weekend’s debate is any indication, even more undergraduates than usual are apathetic about the future of student government.
The Tech finds itself in a similar position as the student body. Miramonti and Lai are not bad candidates. In contrast to years past, where members of our board found themselves arguing for the good a specific candidacy could do for the UA and the student body, the mood this year was reserved. We reached consensus early: Miramonti and Lai have no fatal flaws, but they have not proven themselves to be on the same level as many past candidates.
Regardless of what we say, however, as the only legitimate candidates running this year, Miramonti and Lai will be the next UA president and vice president.
They will need to work hard in the months ahead to get up to speed and able to effect change during their term. A year is a short amount of time to be productive when the first few months are spent simply learning, and the candidates have few concrete goals for the student body to hold them to. We urge the candidates to quickly establish relationships with former UA presidents and use this network frequently for advice. All in all, Miramonti and Lai have their work cut out for them. In a few months we’ll have to ask ourselves: were these the best candidates for the job, or did they simply fill a vacancy in lieu of a stronger ticket?
Some may argue that The Tech should support Miramonti and Lai now because failing to do so will leave them handicapped in their dealings with administrators and within the UA. However, margin of victory will not give the ticket clout; their success will be determined by their own abilities.