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Graduate students- get involved

[mk1]To the Editor:

The Graduate Student Council recently advertised in The Tech for graduate students to serve on faculty standing committees and committees appointed by the president, but there was no mention of the mandates of these committees. We would like to let graduate students know what is involved and why we should be interested in Institute policy. The GSC will be interviewing interested students this Thursday, Oct. 31.

Faculty standing and residential committees are concerned with policy formation and review of all aspects of MIT from the quality of life for students to laboratory safety to the academic programs offered at MIT. As students, we can make a significant impact by offering our perspectives to the administration and ensuring that the decisions made will be in our best interests. Without student input, the administration would be making major decisions without consulting the student body.

For instance, MIT decided that graduate student housing would be a low priority item and did not include it in the current capital funds campaign. The administration perceived -- without any real proof -- that graduate students were attracted to MIT for the rigorous academic program only and were willing to put up with the exorbitant costs of living in Boston. Unless we let the administration know our concerns, this situation will not change.

This is but one example of issues that need to be addressed and are being addressed in standing committees. If we care about the quality of life at MIT, about how the library acquisitions system works (or doesn't), about policy concerning our academic programs and a myriad of other concerns vital to graduate student life at MIT, we should all consider serving on a faculty standing committee.

The current faculty standing committees which accept graduate students are listed below together with a brief description of their mandate. Some of these committees have already had their graduate student positions filled in this year. You should check with the GSC if a particular committee interests you.

The Faculty Policy Committee (accepts one graduate student). This newly formed committee, in conjunction with the new Committee on the Undergraduate Program (described below) has inherited the duties of the now dissolved Committee on Educational Policy. The Faculty Policy Committee:

a. formulates policy on matters of concern to the faculty, for approval by the faculty; interprets and implements policy as approved by the faculty;

b. coordinates the work of the other Committees of the Faculty, establishing liaison with them, providing guidance and direction, and referring issues to particular committees or establishing ad hoc committees as appropriate;

c. maintains a broad overview of the Institute's academic programs, coordinating and reviewing proposals from the standing and ad hoc committees for presentation to faculty meeting;

d. communicates with the faculty as a whole on important matters of policy, reporting regularly at faculty meetings;

e. meets periodically with the president, academic deans, and others to enhance the interchange between the faculty and the administration on matters of concern to the faculty.

f. establishes the manner in which the academic program is presented in official Institute publications, delegating to other standing committees such parts of the responsibility as deemed desirable; and

g. performs such other duties and responsibilities as may be delegated to it by the faculty;

Each of the standing committees described below is in addition to the specific duties listed, responsible for (1) formulating and reviewing educational policies and other policies which relate to its work, (2) requesting any needed clarification of such policies from the Faculty Policy Committee, (3) recommending to the Faculty Policy Committee any changes of such policies which it deems to be advisable, and (4) performing such other duties as may be delegated to it by the Faculty Policy Committee or by the chairman of the faculty.

The Committee on Graduate School Policy (accepts 2 graduate students).

The committee exercises general overview of graduate programs and of students working for advanced degrees.

The committee:

a. provides guidance with respect to graduate admissions policies and procedures; the granting of graduate scholarship and fellowship awards; and the conditions of appointment of the graduate student staff;

b. evaluates proposals for the adoption of new graduate degree programs and for the discontinuation of existing programs, and makes recommendations to the faculty concerning these programs; and

c. cooperates with the Committee on Academic Performance (Please turn to page 7)

(Continued from page 5)

in making recommendations to the faculty on such matters as calendar changes, examinations, and grading.

The committee acts with power on proposals for changes in graduate level subjects of instruction and reports all approved changes to the faculty.

The committee also acts with power upon requests from graduate students for approval of minor departures from general requirements for advanced degrees.

Finally, the committee acts with power in evaluating the academic performance of graduate students, including the issuance of formal warnings and denials of further registration in the Graduate School.

At the conclusion of the two regular terms and of the summer session, the committee makes recommendations to the Faculty for the awarding of advanced degrees.

The Committee on the Undergraduate Program (accepts 1 graduate student who attended MIT as an undergraduate student). This new committee:

a. encourages experimental innovation in undergraduate education and formulates proposals for changes and modifications in undergraduate educational policy;

b. exercises oversight responsibility for undergraduate education, including the freshman year and other interdepartmental programs, giving attention to both short-term and long-term trends and directions;

c. interprets and implements undergraduate educational policy as approved by the faculty;

d. exercises authority to approve and supervise limited educational experiments and to grant exceptions to allow any experiment to depart from specific faculty regulations and MIT administrative procedures. Descriptions of experiments and reports on their progress and outcome are circulated to the faculty. Experiments (such as Concourse) that show enduring value are incorporated in the usual ways into the faculty regulations and administrative practices; and

e. interacts with other faculty committees and with the schools, departments, and programs on important issues in undergraduate education and communicates with the MIT community as a whole about such issues.

The Committee on Student Affairs (accepts 2 graduate students).

Because successful education depends on social and effective, as well as cognitive, aspects of the student's experience, the committee is concerned with student life and the quality of the learning and living environment at MIT. The committee is concerned with the range, availability, and effectiveness of Institute-wide support services to students, and with the formal and informal relationship between the Institute and the student. The committee is expected to meet regularlly with representatives of support services to students, and to undertake study and research specific issues. The committee serves as the standing faculty advisory body to the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, offering policy consideration and advice.

The Committee on Discipline<>

(accepts 2 graduate students).

The committee considers cases of alleged misconduct by students brought to its attention by the Dean for Student Affairs or by any member of the MIT community. An accused student is given an opportunity to appear in person to a meeting of the committee. If the findings of the committee include a recommendation that a student be required to withdraw from the Institute, the recommendation with the findings shall be reported to the president for approval or disapproval; otherwise, the committee shall act with power.

The Committee on the Library System (accepts 2 graduates).

This committee, with the advice of the Director of Libraries formulates policy for the administration of the libraries consistent with the objectives of the Institute. It serves as liaison between the libraries and their users. The committee reviews budget allocations prepared annually by the Director of Libraries.

There are also 16 presidential committees which also accept graduate students:

O+ The Commencement Committee (1 graduate student)

O+ The Community Service Fund Board (2 graduate students)

O+ The Dining Advisory Board (1 graduate student)

O+ The Equal Opportunity Committee (2 graduate students)

O+ The Committee on Foreign Scholarships (1 graduate student)

O+ The IAP Policy Committee (1 graduate student)

O+ The International Institutional Commitments (1 graduate student)

O+ The Prelaw Advisory Council (1 graduate student)

O+ The Medical Advisory Board (2 graduate students)

O+ The Radiation Protection Committee (1 graduate student)

O+ The Committee on Safety (1 graduate student)

O+ The Student Activities Development Board (1 graduate student)

O+ The Toxic Chemicals (1 graduate student)

O+ The Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (2 graduate students)

O+ The Committee on the Visual Arts (2 graduate students)

O+ The Committee on Womens Students Interests (3 graduate students)

We won't describe the responsibilites of the presidential committees here. But we urge you to contact the GSC for their descriptions, if any of their names intrigue you.

In addition to these committees, there are also ad hoc committees which accept students such as the current committee established to examine the military influence on MIT. The GSC has recently asked for graduate student representatives on the four new ad hoc committees formed to consider major reforms in the undergraduate curriculum. These committees promise to offer exciting and challenging opportunities to explore fundamental issues in educational policies and programs. We expect that graduate students will be permitted on these committees, and hope you will stay tuned for announcements to this effect.

We intend to get involved. Now it's your turn.

Robin Wagner G->

Carolyn Lee G->

(Editor's note: Robin Wagner was a graduate student representative of the Faculty Committee on Educational Policy last year. Carolyn Lee is currently working with faculty and the administration to improve the graduate student housing problems).