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St. Paul's High School '97 West Barnstable, Mass. Following a term characterized by divisiveness, excessive absences and what some consider to be a general lack of productivity, members of the new Undergraduate Assembly hope to accomplish much of what their predecessors seemed to let fall by the wayside. Although UA members and other student leaders cited several positive aspects of the outgoing body's tenure, the 1997-98 group had a relatively short list of accomplishments. At the end of their term in April, UA leaders listed progress in obtaining new recreation facilities and dining options among the successful causes the body had championed over the past year. But other issues, such as increasing Spectaguard hours to allow parties to stay open longer, took up hours of meeting time without resulting in any real progress. Despite a relative lack of accomplishments, then-College junior and former UA Vice Chairperson Samara Barend defended the UA last year, explaining that the body's lack of legislative power makes it difficult to affect change. "I think the root of the problem is that the [students and administration] expect that each UA meeting should produce big results -- it just doesn't happen that way," Barend said. "Our meetings are more about communication and ideas." Last September, members outlined a number of goals for the UA: increasing its visibility, becoming more inclusive of other student groups and working on more concrete objectives. According to then-College junior and former UA Chairperson Noah Bilenker, his assembly made some progress in these areas but still had a ways to go. Despite the UA's collaboration with the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education to set up "leadership luncheons" which bring together student leaders from many other student groups, he acknowledged there is still the need for more interaction between different student groups. Barend also emphasized the need for more "outside" input, particularly from those who are not involved in student government at all. Another issue facing last year's UA was the overwhelming presence of Greek members -- approximately 20 -- in the body following the spring 1997 elections. Many members of the University community feared that Greek issues would dominate the agenda. And as attendance problems plagued the body last winter, some members blamed the absences on Greek rush and pledge events. Although several Greek-related initiatives, such as the request for increased Spectaguard hours were introduced, UA members said the Greek presence did not overshadow other issues. "I don't think [Greeks] really influenced the agenda," Barend said. "A positive thing that actually came out of it in that the UA has established a better relationship with the [InterFraternity Council] and [the Panhellenic Council] than ever in the past." But then-Wharton senior and former Student Activities Council Chairperson Steve Schorr, a former UA treasurer, said he was disappointed with the assembly's allocation of $30,000 to the IFC in March.The decision to fund the IFC's "Greek Weekend" and other events effectively removed $30,000 from SAC's budget, which goes to fund different student groups. "One of the more unfortunate things about this year's UA is that they followed through on their promise to give money to the Greek system," Schorr said in March. "They've never done that in the past and it really hurt many groups in SAC." Three weeks after the UA voted to allocate funding to the IFC, a group of students decided to protest the decision, asking that the $30,000 instead be used to finance SAC events. The Nominations and Elections Committee, which runs UA elections, added a referendum to the ballot in the UA elections, which took place at the beginning of April. The referendum allowed the student body to decide how the money was to be allocated. But at a hearing following the elections in April, the NEC invalidated the referendum, claiming that the campaign for the measure had violated the rules governing election publicity. The referendum was thrown out because the NEC agreed with then-College junior and IFC President Josh Belinfante's claim that SAC's publicity in favor of the referendum consisted of "half-truths, extortions and dishonest statements." The NEC also disqualified 10 UA candidates for various violations of the rules governing elections. Nine out of 12 UA incumbents were re-elected, while 18 of the 25 total seats went to Greek candidates. The election saw the highest voter turnout in several years -- at least 33 percent of full-time students -- according to NEC officials. There was more controversy later in April when the new UA convened to nominate and elect its executive board. The race between the three candidates for chairperson -- Barend, then-College sophomore and former UA treasurer Bill Conway and then-College junior Jeremy Katz -- was closely watched due to rumors that Katz, a Zeta Beta Tau brother, had solicited votes from the nine other ZBT brothers recently elected to the UA. However, fraternity ties ultimately proved insufficient to elect Katz, as Conway managed to edge him out after an unprecedented five ballots. Barend was eliminated from the race in the first vote. Then-College freshman Mike Bassik won the position of vice chairperson; then College freshman Jonathan Glick ran unopposed for treasurer. Then-College freshman Allison Hersh beat out then-College freshman Melanie Liebner for secretary, formerly held by then-College sophomore Sara Shenkan; and then-College junior David King was elected University Council representative.

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