UA leaders talk progress since election

Communication is top priority for fall they say

UA President Vrajesh Y. Modi ’11 and Vice President Samantha “Sammi” G. Wyman ’11 ran together last spring with the slogan “We do things”. Their vision to improve UA interaction with students, the freshman advising system, and overall student life won them the election by a landslide margin last spring. How are their plans faring this year?

Modi and Wyman say they are still making communication a priority. “We noticed [last spring] there was a need for greater communication between us and the students,” Wyman said.

They plan to reach out to students through a more user-friendly website, a new UA newsletter and a blog. To make themselves more accessible, they will be holding UA executive meetings in dorms (meetings start this Wednesday).

In opening these new lines of communication between the UA and students, Modi and Wyman hope that students will feel encouraged to let the UA know what they want. The intent, they said, was to not have to make guesses when forming proposals that affect students. Modi says that the favorable numbers at the recent UA info sessions in the dorms indicate that students are engaged and want to tell the UA about their concerns.

Modi says the project with the biggest long-term potential is the proposed reform of the freshman advising system, which would add an option for a second, more career-oriented mentor in addition to a student’s normal academic advisor. The goal is to combat the problem of academic advisors not necessarily having expertise in the career areas where freshmen may be looking for guidance.

The UA recently held a preliminary meeting with UAAP head Julie Norman to talk about this proposal, and they will meet soon with the Alumni Association to drum up support and mentors for the program. Although opting into having this second advisor would not be required, Modi and Wyman said they thought many would choose to take advantage of the opportunity.

Bringing the add/drop system fully online by the spring semester is another high-profile project that the UA has committed to. Wyman said that they have already applied for funding for the project and assembled a project team, and that they are on track to meeting their target date.

The SafeRide monitor that Modi and Wyman mentioned during their election campaign is now fully operational and visible in the back of the Student Center. This year, the UA, along with the Baker Foundation, and the Dormitory Council, are co-sponsoring the shuttle to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which will begin running this Sunday. There are no changes planned to existing shuttles besides general improvements to the system.

As for the contentious issue of dining, Modi and Wyman said they plan to meet with dorm senators and get their thoughts on dining before committing to anything. The UA is also working on picking the winter location for the East Campus produce market. It will likely again be held in Stata, but might relocate inside the building now that the new Anish Kapoor mural has been installed in the market’s previous winter location.