XL added to help frosh in fall term@ByName:By Irene C. Kuo
Student representatives said the dispute over Interphase, a summer program which provides newly admitted minorities with academic and social preparation, arose from a breakdown in communication between the administration and students. Too often administrators assume that if students are not complaining, they are satisfied, said Edward L. Jones '89.
Motivated by concern about low grades and graduation rates among minority students, McBay originally proposed that students remain in their Interphase study groups throughout the first term while taking a prescribed set of courses: Calculus I (18.01), Physics I (8.01), a non-writing humanities class, and an undergraduate seminar. Students who did not participate in the fall term phase of the program would not receive 12 units of writing credit that the others would.
The proposed program came under criticism from former Interphase participants who disliked the rigid fall term requirements and worried that the study groups would "fragment" the minority community.
In contrast, Program XL is voluntary and open to all freshmen, though had it been oversubscribed "Program XL has fewer restrictions and complements everything that exists at the Institute," Yonald Chery G said. "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."
Participants this past year were encouraged to take no more than 54 units, of which six came from XL. They met four hours a week, under the guidance of a "facilitator," as well as regularly with their advisors to discuss their academic progress and career interests. Discussions involving distinguished minority role models were also offered throughout XL.
Participants could have enrolled in two optional seminars offered in conjunction with the program. A mathematics seminar (18.091) helped students taking calculus master the subject and could be substituted for the XL math study group. The Expository Writing (21.730) seminar was open only to students who had participated in Project Interphase and completed the writing component of the summer program.
Reflecting revisions made in Interphase under Professor Arthur P. Mattuck, the program's faculty coordinator, XL sessions encouraged individual participation and skills in oral presentation.
Interphase, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1989, underwent some revisions.
Student representatives expressed misgivings about the removal of chemistry from the curriculum, but said that they would examine the performance of Interphasers in the fall term chemistry subjects in order to gauge the effect of their exclusion from the summer session.
Copyright 1990 by The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, February 6, 1990.
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