SCEP surveys quality of student life
By Michael Gojer
The Student Committee on Educational Policy will conduct a survey of undergraduate academic and social life at MIT, according to Sean Murphy '91, chairman of SCEP since December. The survey is only one of SCEP's current projects, which include the Institute-wide Colloquium "How To Be Different," which SCEP is organizing along with the Dormitory Council, the InterFraternity Council, and the MIT Colloquium Committee.
SCEP's survey, which will be distributed two weeks from now, will ask students general questions about their social life, their extracurricular activities, and their satisfaction with MIT in several areas and attempt to correlate these along with the students' majors and grades.
The survey organizers hope to find evidence to either support or dispel myths about the social character of the student body, especially upperclassmen, according to Monnica Williams '91, a SCEP member.
Because the Institute has been changing so fast in the last 10 years, especially in demographics, according to Murphy, the results of the survey will update possibly outdated faculty opinions about the nature of the student body.
One obvious trend, Murphy said, was in admissions. Murphy advised that "we can't change the student body without changing the curriculum." Murphy said the Institute should be cautious about admitting students with broader extracurricular interests but not supporting those interests once the students are here; mismatching will produce either unhappy or unsuccessful students. Murphy reasoned that if, for example, students with extracurricular interests end up being more satisfied with their experiences here than others, that would support a broader admissions policy.
SCEP should be ready to present much of their analysis of the survey by the beginning of the fall term, according to Murphy, though they might be able to make some statements about the results by the end of the spring, depending on student response.
Students groups organize
their second colloquium
The "How To Be Different" Colloquium, to be held on April 12, will focus discussion on various issues of MIT's institutional identity. The idea for the Colloquium was originally sparked by Professor Travis R. Merritt, head of MIT Colloquium Committee, according to Murphy, though SCEP, DormCon, and the IFC have been doing most of the organizational work.
The Colloquium is modeled after last semester's "How To Be Good" which was also student-organized. Professors William M. Siebert '46, Tunney F. Lee, and Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '81 will give keynote presentations in Kresge, after which students will host faculty members in their living groups for dinner discussions.
Siebert is expected to discuss the nature of a technical education, Murphy said, while Wolfe will offer thoughts on how people interact at MIT, and Lee may discuss MIT's institutional image.
Most of the dormitories and independent living groups have agreed to host faculty at their dinners, according to DormCon President Elizabeth Williams '90. Williams said some houses are inviting as many as 25 faculty members, though others are inviting smaller numbers. "We were really surprised and impressed" by the response, she said.
SCEP is planning to organize similar colloquia in terms to come, Murphy said, assuming the MIT Colloquium Committee remains interested. Murphy stressed that the colloquia are good opportunities for student-faculty interaction. "The way that we're going to get over living group isolation here isn't going to be by having more parties, but by interacting on an intellectual level," he said.
In addition to its survey of undergraduates, SCEP plans to study some area of MIT education over the summer and produce a report detailing their suggestions. Possible topics for the study include the recitation system and the use of technology at MIT in education, Murphy said.