This year’s winning ticket of the Undergraduate Association (UA) Presidential/Vice Presidential election is Sidhanth “Sid” P. Rao ’14/Devin T Cornish ’14, who ran unopposed as the other ticket was disqualified when its vice presidential candidate withdrew. As Rao and Cornish prepare to take office, they have decided to create a plan to implement changes in both the UA and the MIT community, all under the paradigm of their campaign slogan: “a vision with a checklist.”
From their campaign, Rao and Cornish have three broad goals: establishing mutual support between the UA and the MIT community; addressing student space issues, revamping Athena clusters, and adding Saferide stops; and understanding how developments in online education will affect MIT students’ education. Rao says that each and every policy implemented by the UA should work to promote either the success or happiness of the student body.
Establishing mutual support
In their platform, Rao and Cornish said that MIT’s community was filled with subcultures, and the UA should take facilitate the establishment and promotion of individual cultures, rather than trying to impose anything. “We want to make sure we propose some solutions to problems that already exist, instead of creating new ones,” stated Cornish. While some plans have fallen through, like their platform plan of giving door stoppers to every Maseeh resident (Maseeh already has door stoppers given out every year), Rao and Cornish have more on their checklist.
Rao and Cornish also intend to revamp the UA newsletter and expressed interest in getting ideas from people who aren’t part of the UA. “We want to have a weekly booth for the UA in Lobby 10 or Lobby 7 with just us sitting there receptive to ideas,” said Rao.
Many people on campus don’t realize how much the UA does for the MIT community, said Rao: “If you’re part of any type of club and requesting money, it’s the UA Finboard (Finance Board) that allocates those funds.” To improve the UA’s image, one of their goals is “adding new public relations, an A-caliber public relations committee head that we’re looking for right now.”
Finally, when looking at a feedback system for their performance they hope to establish approval ratings and both physical and virtual “idea boxes,” the former for the UA to get a sense of how its doing, and the latter for MIT students’ ideas. The UA currently has an idea box at ua.bonfireapp.com, but the last post was in December 2012.
Increasing student spaces
The second task the pair hopes to accomplish is increasing student space, starting with the Student Center restaurant space, which will soon be up for reallocation. “We will approve and set into place what the first and second floor of the Student Center will look like,” said Rao. “After we have graduated, the restaurants will be put in place in 2013 or 2014. It’s something that we definitely understand we have a big responsibility to take care of.”
“We are excited to work with a new IS&T head for this upcoming year,” continued Cornish. “We hope to modernize the Athena clusters by adding more outlets which can be used for laptops, things that are smaller objects that have larger impacts to the MIT community.”
Both want to change Saferide. Their proposals include running Boston Daytime on the weekends; and tracking how many people from each stop get on and working to optimize the locations to gather the most people around Boston.
In changing the UA, Rao and Cornish hope to change and add new committee heads. “Our main method is to understand the goals of the committee head and see if they fit with what we want to do. If we are on the same page, then we’ll keep going with them,” stated Rao.
In order to have a thorough understanding of online education, Rao and Cornish said they would reach out to students and work with the new Institute-Wide Task Force on Online Education. Cornish, who is on the task force, said that “a critical step is to have a lot of cross talk between students and the faculty to understand everyone across the spectrum and not just looking to promote one teaching method.” Rao maintained the belief that the UA’s role in online education will be based on student input.
The first few days
Looking at what the UA will plan to do in the next 30 days, Rao and Cornish broke up their agenda into a long-term and short-term list. “Long-term is ensuring modes of communication between the UA and the students,” said Rao. “Short-term is to use the summer term to build up ideas like looking into the Saferide structure, working to expand super UROPS across majors, improving infrastructure of dorms on campus, and doing movie nights at the beginning of the semester.”
“But our key focus right now,” said Rao, “is to have the strongest leaders in the UA so that we can hit the ground running come Sept. 15.”