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Moser, SCEP ask MacVicar to ensure student voice in reform

Student representatives have called for greater student involvement in curricular reforms. Both these representatives and Institute officials are trying to compile an accurate profile of the MIT undergraduate student.

Undergraduate Association (UA) President Bryan R. Moser '87, with Win Treese '86 and David P. Brunco '88 of the Student Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP), pressed for student input in the curriculum review in a meeting with Dean for Undergraduate Education Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65 in early August.

Moser said he had pushed for student involvement since June, when the committees on the HASS requirement and the integrative degree program were formed. He and UA Vice President Mary Tai '87 met with MacVicar in July and brought up the "need for serious involvement of students."

Moser also "decided that SCEP should exist" and recruited members for the previously inactive committee, according to Brunco.

Moser, Treese and Brunco persuaded MacVicar to recommend that all four faculty committees now evaluating MIT education include undergraduates as official members. The UA Nominations Committee (NomComm) would nominate the students, who would then be appointed by the committees.

Moser expects the committees to announce exactly when and how they will include students within the next few weeks.

MacVicar had felt that the committees were not yet ready to listen to students because they were still organizing, Moser and Brunco said. But Moser called the appearance of an article on MIT's curriculum reform in the New York Times Sept. 29 a "signal" that the reforms are now beyond preliminary stages and should be ready for student input.

"I'm very surprised that they announce these reforms to the New York Times before they announce them to students," Moser said.

SCEP chairman to join CUP

MacVicar last week directed the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) to include the chairman of SCEP as an ex officio non-voting member at the request of Moser and SCEP. CUP, a standing committee of the faculty, sets educational policy.

The voting members of CUP include: six faculty members; an undergraduate to be nominated by NomComm; a graduate student to be nominated by the Graduate Student Council; the associate chairman of the Faculty; and the dean for Undergraduate Education.

Formal representation is only one means of student input, MacVicar observed. Informal student groups may act as staff aides to committees, taking on projects and studies, she said. She also welcomes personal communication from students.

Fuller student profile wanted

Moser expressed concern that the discussion has so far included only faculty views. "It is important for students to be in the discussion from the beginning, so any misinformation about student life can be corrected," he said.

The Woodstock meeting notes contain much discussion of students and student life by faculty. But the faculty opinions may be inaccurate or overly-broad generalizations, Moser said. "The faculty doesn't mix as much as it should with students, and even students don't understand each other that well."

MacVicar is interested in "fleshing out the portrayal of the MIT undergraduate" through direct communication from students.

To this end, David Wylie, executive secretary to the faculty Committee on the Undergraduate Program, will coordinate the preparation of a factual profile of the freshman year for MacVicar's office. Wylie will compile data on subjects taken by freshmen and selection of majors. SCEP will help prepare this profile.

The true nature of the student body lies "somewhere between the faculty view of students and the students' view of themselves," because students have not yet acquired a long-term perspective, MacVicar said.