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BSU questions proposed Interphase changes

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of the following letter, addressed to Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay.)

We, the Black Student's Union, have reviewed the changes you and other administrators have decided to make concerning Project Interphase [See "Major changes in store for Interphase," May 9]. We understand your motivation, but not your reasoning, and therefore must respectfully dissent.

Our reasons for disagreement are as follows. We, for one, feel that the implementation of these changes with no student input shows, if nothing else, a lack of respect for our opinions and decision-making abilities. We know that the officers involved in making these decisions have an abundance of statistics concerning our performance, but these statistics cannot impart the effects of those intangibles that have influenced our MIT education. These can only be revealed through speaking with us directly. Just as a committee of students, faculty, and administrators was appointed to study the first year, and its judgements taken into account concerning pass/fail, we think similar action should have been taken with regard to our program.

Secondly, the idea of forced study groups that extend into the fall serves to further stigmatize minority students who will already face a severe amount of antipathy from the majority. This change will also put non-participants in a further disadvantaged position by locking them out, even more, from the other students in the minority community. This problem has been noted in the previous Interphase program and this change would serve only to exacerbate the feelings of isolation felt by non-participants.

This is also a redundant change. The Interphase program has already proven to create study groups, and friendships, that last much longer than a semester and help students through their entire MIT experience.

The elimination of chemistry from the curriculum is another sticking point. With the increasing number of minority students in biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering, this elimination, in conjunction with the subsequent restriction to 42 units in the first semester (8.01, 18.01, HASS-D, and seminar), will force our students into a position of great disadvantage.

We would very much appreciate verbal and written responses to our grievances. These responses should not, we feel, be mere defenses of your decisions, but offers to us for further participation in the appraisal and improvement of our program.

Jason Vickers '90->

MIT Black Students Union->