Enoch Ellis ’26 and Rishika Bansal ’26 to be Undergraduate Association President and Vice-President for 2024 to 2025

Enoch Ellis ’26 is UA President, Rishika Bansal ’26 is UA Vice-President

Enoch Ellis ’26 and Rishika Bansal ’26 were announced as the Undergraduate Association (UA) President and Vice-President-Elect, respectively, after running uncontested. Both Ellis and Bansal had prior experience in the UA, with Ellis currently serving as the UA’s Officer of Community & Diversity and Bansal as Treasurer. The UA held a Q&A session for the candidates instead of the traditional debate on March 15.

In the Q&A, Ellis said that he is prioritizing a “dare to dream, dare to do” attitude that aims to benefit the MIT community, such as “streamlining access of resources for clubs.”

“I know right now, in some of the work that I've done with our diversity and community-based organization, there's a lot of confusion,” Ellis stated. “I got some conflicting information about where to get money from, how to apply for things, the general [request-for-payment] process, and so that's something we really want to look into, for the rest of this year and also starting next year.”

In an interview with The Tech, Bansal mentioned that she intends on “[taking] the things that [she’s] learned this year and bring them forward to really help undergraduates.”

“A lot of what I realized this year is that the Treasurer's current role in the UA is largely hampered by administrative things,” Bansal clarified. “It’s hampered by going through different layers of bureaucracy and filling out forms, so what I’d hope the next Treasurer does is automate a lot of those things.” By minimizing bureaucracy, Bansal believes the UA would have more time to deal with pressing matters such as allocating funds to student groups.

Improving efficiency across various systems is a recurring theme in both Ellis and Bansal’s goals, as they also want to improve the shuttle transportation system. Ellis described how he wants to increase the system’s efficiency to facilitate travel for “students that live across the bridge,” including students in fraternities, sororities, and other off-campus housing.

In the Q&A, Ellis also noted that the financial transparency of the UA is a priority, and that student organizations emphasized funding sources as the most salient issue. To combat thisthat, Ellis discussed with the Institute Community and Equity Office about receiving a $30,000 grant to help fund organizations for diversity and community-based organizations.

“I was of the belief that if an organization wants to do an event, money shouldn't be a barrier or limiting factor for them to be able to do that with,” Ellis stated. Bansal is also helping Ellis with creating a new diversity fund, as she stated that the Institute has “a lot of money that’s just lying around” that could be used to benefit undergraduates.

Bansal further stated that she and Ellis would “never be able to represent the full gamut of what MIT is,” so prioritizing policies that will have more “people who are in the room at the table” is of paramount importance.  Ellis also wants to adopt a “case-by-case basis” when it comes to appointing UA positions, and to “take a deep look inward at [the UA] structure” to ensure equity in the organization.

Furthermore, Ellis and Bansal also expressed interest in cooperating more with other student-led organizations like the Association of Student Activities (ASA) and Student Organizations, Leadership, and Engagement (SOLE), as “most [UA] work happens through committees.”

“I think the relationship between the UA, ASA, and SOLE plays out pretty naturally, where each group supports the other,” Bansal said. “We work with both SOLE and ASA when it comes to primarily funding student groups.” 

Bansal stated that the UA has access to some funding that other organizations do not have, so they are able to allocate more money to individual groups who demonstrate a need for them. She said that most Institute funding is only available for individuals, not groups, so she is looking to bridge this gap. Ellis hopes that the “additional funding, additional resources, and additional staff” would reinforce pre-existing student groups.

Beyond funding, they seek to resolve the food insecurity problem. Ellis noted in the interview that such a problem has been pervasive amongst undergraduates since 2016, so they intend on sending out surveys later in April to get a clearer picture.

“We are currently working with the [Dean of Student Living] and institutional research to make sure that some of the recommendations [to alleviate food insecurity] are feasible with the infrastructure they have in place,” Ellis said. “But I think the food insecurity conversation comes down to what the Institute values, and what they are willing to trade.”

Such food insecurity issues were exacerbated when the Institute shut down food cafés at the beginning of the academic year. Ellis wants this issue to be “an issue of the last decade” instead of being an issue still persisting today.

Ellis and Bansal concluded the interview by stating “they are looking forward to engaging with the student body next year,” and that they “are currently looking for people who are interested in joining the UA.”