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MIT committee to sponsor lectures

Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay recently announced the formation of an Institute Colloquium Committee under the auspices of the Provost's Office.

The committee intends to "establish a permanent framework for the presentation of major lectures at MIT," according to committee chairman Frank E. Morgan '74, associate professor of mathematics. These lectures will present to the MIT community the opportunity to address "some of the major issues of our time."

The goals of the committee are four-fold, said committee member Ben Stanger '88. The committee hopes to "arouse MIT-wide interest in intellectual, social and political matters of importance; foster collegiate spirit among students, faculty, and staff; strengthen living groups and consolidate existing programs to a simple, large, reliable, regularly-scheduled event."

One of the key features of the committee-sponsored lectures will be the housing and dining of guest speakers and panels in student living groups, Morgan said. This feature distinguishes the lectures from those programs sponsored by the Lecture Series Committee (LSC) and other organizations, he said.

"Other, smaller groups do these things well," he explained, offering the Concourse program as an example. "But the really big issues are much, much harder. They [members of the MIT community] deserve these sorts of things," Morgan said.

A regular schedule of Institute colloquium events will be necessary, according to Morgan. "For the average person, it is very difficult to pick out an interesting meeting out of the hundreds of events listed in Tech Talk," he said.

Morgan said he conceived of the idea for the committee several years ago. Former Provost Francis E. Low was "very encouraging," Morgan said, but "it takes a while for these things to get going."

McBay was instrumental in the formation of the committee, Morgan said. "She was convinced that it was a good idea, and she had the experience," he explained. "She turned the tide ... it was her initiative."

Louis Menand III, special assistant to the provost, initially convened the committee, Morgan added. Menand is also a member of the committee.

LSC has been cooperating with the Colloquium Committee from the beginning, Morgan said. "I have a lot of respect for their role here at MIT. They are willing to do anything to support" lectures and showcases here, he added. Rim Cothren G, head of LSC, chairs the Colloquium Committee's publicity subcommittee.

The committee will operate in an experimental stage this year, Morgan said. Its first program is already in the works under the auspices of the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (ODSA), he continued.

The ODSA had planned to sponsor a forum on South Africa and apartheid on Nov. 6-7. The Colloquium Committee is organizing the discussion as a trial event, Morgan said. "We will be trying out many of our ideas there," he said.

Most members of the ODSA who were involved with planning the forum now serve on the Colloquium Committee in some capacity, Morgan said. ODSA staff members are involved either with this particular program or with the committee in general.

"We will try to make it a real educational event ... more than just a political rally," Morgan explained. The South African and apartheid forum will feature an expert panel on the subjects.

Funding for the event will come from the Provost's Office, which has "agreed in principle" to the budget presented by the committee, Morgan said.

One option considered by the committee is the cancellation of all classes during the lecture, so that all students and faculty would have the opportunity to attend.

A study showed that if the Registrar cancelled all classes on a given Wednesday at 3 pm for the Colloquium, only 9.4 percent of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) subjects would be affected, Stanger said. A 4 pm starting time would cancel only 7.4 percent of HASS sections, he added.

Cancellation of classes is not a possibility at this time, according to Morgan. He added that "in the future, it is a possibility."

The committee is still studying the logistics of housing and feeding the speakers in campus residences, Morgan said. "We are in contact with Bryan Moser '87 [Undergraduate Association president and committee member] and Tinley Anderson '86 [InterFraternity Conference president], dormitory councils and housemasters. Most of them have been enthusiastic."

Dormitories without kitchens will not automatically be eliminated from participation, Stanger said. Catering may be a possible solution, he explained.

The committee will sponsor one program about apartheid in advance of the Nov. 6 event, according to Robert I. Rotberg, professor of History and Political Science and chairman of the program subcommittee. Shenna Duncan, the national president of Black Sash South Africa, a "liberal women's protest organization," will speak on Sept. 30, he said.

Duncan, the former editor of Black Sash Magazine, has published numerous articles in South Africa and abroad. She has addressed such topics as the Pass Laws, the South African homeland policy and "the consequences of legislation depriving black South Africans of their citizenship" in her writings, Rotberg said.

The featured speaker at the fall colloquium will be Dr. Nthato Mondala, a medical doctor from South Africa. Panel members will include Mary Berri, of the Equal Opportunities Employment Agency and John Reid, chairman of Citibank and member of the MIT Corporation.