The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 43.0°F | Overcast

UA played instrumental role in vote to keep P/NR

During our campaign for Undergraduate Association president and vice president, we stressed the need for the UA to become proactive, to initiate action and follow through rather than react to administration actions. We met many students who were very blunt in their assessment of the UA: What is it? What has it ever done? Why should I care? Looking back at the manner in which the UA confronted the threatened elimination of second-term freshman pass/no record grading, we commend this incoming UA administration for successfully answering these questions.

The faculty vote on pass/no record grading did not spring from a vacuum of apathy. It was the culmination of efforts begun over a year ago when the Student Committee on Educational Policy issued its Report on the Freshman Year, pre-empting the Committee on the First-Year Program's report. Then, this winter, the UA began a series of forums to gain student input and formulate a response to the CFYP report. The UA coordinated the efforts of many students, not just the "usual suspects," to canvass students and lobby faculty, research data, send faculty well-thought arguments, and prepare solid presentations for the faculty meetings.

Two months ago, it seemed second-term pass/no record was dead. A large portion of the faculty opposed the CFYP proposal because they felt it did not go far enough in restricting pass/no record. Amendments were introduced to cut it back further. Again and again, student representatives argued the merits of pass/no record. They gathered evidence to expose the flaws in the CFYP proposal. They polled students. They formulated a strategy to defeat the CFYP proposal and worked with a growing group of concerned faculty members to promote an alternative proposal that addressed the problems of the freshman year and maintained the pass/no record grading system.

Last Wednesday, with over 100 students present in support of pass/no record, the Undergraduate Association threw its support behind the Groisser-Keyser-Meldman-Merritt-Vandiver amendment and took a definitive stand defending the educational merit and integrity of pass/no record. The UA acted instead of reacting. And we won.

Students' voices were heard. Instead of disrupting and complaining, students protested silently, earning the respect of the faculty. President Paul E. Gray '54 commended us for demonstrating proper respect and dissenting in an appropriate manner. Student representatives disputed the logic and methodology of the CFYP proposal, introduced solid arguments in the defense of the pass/no record grading system, exposed the true problems of the freshman year, and thus formed a platform maintaining that the pass/no record grading system with modifications as necessary.

The UA works. It is the only really effective voice students have to achieve results. Any group of radicals can stage a sit-in or occupy a building. Sometimes injustice cries out for such measures, but the effectiveness of an organization rests on its accomplishments. We believe that the results speak for themselves, and we applaud this UA administration on this victory. Furthermore, we challenge students who feel the UA is worthless, or a waste of time, or a greasy clique to stop complaining and get involved. There is much yet to be fought and won. Let us determine the field of battle.

Dave Atkins '90->

Luisa Contreiras '90->