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OME initiates program XL

By Irene C. Kuo

Small study groups in math and physics, six units of credit, a lecture series entitled "You Can Be a Success at MIT," and a recommended credit limit of 54 units are among the offerings of a new freshman program administered by the Office of Minority Education.

The goal of Program XL, which developed in the wake of strong student protest last June against plans to make Project Interphase a combined summer and fall educational program, is to "ensure academic excellence," according to the OME brochure. Yonald Chery G, assistant to the director of Program XL, stressed that the program is "for students who want to be proficient."

Unlike the proposed fall continuation of Project Interphase, Program XL is voluntary and open to all freshmen, though if it is oversubscribed, priority will go to Interphasers and other underrepresented minority students. The program can accommodate 60 students; thus far, 48 students have registered, 23 of whom are Interphasers.

Participants are encouraged to take no more than 54 units, of which six will come from XL. In addition to attending regular lectures and recitations, they will become involved in study group sessions. These will have five to six students who have registered for the same calculus or physics course and will meet four hours a week, under the guidance of a "facilitator." Reflecting the goals of last summer's Project Interphase, these sessions will encourage individual participation and skills in oral presentation.

"The job of the facilitator is not to tutor, but to get students to motivate one another," Chery stressed. "He should not solve all their questions, and should become less and less in charge as the term progresses."

Participants may also enroll in two other seminars offered in conjunction with the program. Students in the Expository Writing (21.730) seminar must have completed the writing component of Project Interphase, for they will work on an essay that was assigned to them in the summer. A mathematics seminar (18.091) will help students taking Calculus I master the subject and can be substituted for the XL math study group.

Student leaders are still trying to obtain facilitators for subjects like Principles of Chemical Science (5.11) and Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091).


Program attributed to

major "collaboration"

In June, about 50 students held a demonstration on the steps of 77 Massachusetts Ave. to protest proposed changes in Project Interphase. The speed with which the decision was made and the apparent lack of student input, were among their major concerns.

"[The program put forth by the administration] had tighter restrictions; Program XL has fewer, and it complements everything that exists at the Institute," Chery added. "It takes advantage of campus resources, so that students will be hearing talks on topics ranging from nutrition to study skills to the meaning of an MIT degree."

"[Program XL] stems from the fact that it is a collaboration between faculty, students, and administrators, and from the commitment that everyone involved has in seeing that XL is a success," said Program Director Patricia Karouma, who is also director of the OME.

"What we are doing will have positive implications for undergraduate education at MIT and for our peer institutions," Karouma added. "What we are doing is ground-breaking."