Recent calendar changes not in students' interests
(The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to members of the faculty.)
As you should be aware, the calendar changes proposed by the William M. Siebert '46 committee were passed at the last faculty meeting by a vote of 41-6 ["Faculty denounces arrests," April 20]. The committee which set forth this proposal defined its goal as two-fold: (1) to reduce the number of conflict exams in each semester; and (2) to relieve the stress and pressure students suffer during the final exam period. Unfortunately, the rearrangement of the calendar does little to diminish the stress placed upon students and in many respects increases it, not only during exams, but throughout the term.
What negative affects will these changes have on students?
O+ Loss of IAP weekend. Due to the intensity of Independent Activities Period classes, many students may now choose to not take them so as avoid the consequences of having no break before the work of spring term. In addition, students who rely on income during IAP may find it extremely difficult to find employment for less than a full month.
O+ Cut-back on long weekends. As one student phrased it, "Fatigue is cumulative; sleep is not." Four-day weekends have given students a chance to escape stress, catch up on work, and visit home for emotional support. By eliminating these breaks, the pace and pressure are ultimately increased.
O+ Extending Finals Period. Extending the exam period by one day does not alleviate the possibility of having four exams on the first two days of exams in the spring term. The length of the exam period is irrelevant if students are not given proper time to prepare. Removing a reading day in the fall only serves to worsen the situation and promote cramming.
It was obvious that the faculty present for the vote had already made up their minds on the issue. Those who were absent must have misinterpreted the importance of these changes. This "quick fix" fails to address the real problems of HASS-D finals, 12-unit classes with 20 hours of work, and the stress and pressure of the average MIT student. The calendar changes are simply format alterations. They do not provide a comprehensive look at all the aspects which the issue affects. In reality, our problems have very little to do with the physical calendar.
What is most distressing is the lack of student input in the process of developing the calendar. It is astounding that students were not included on a committee which affects us directly, on such a basic structural level in our daily lives. Perhaps this is the greatest flaw in the calendar changes and why the student body is so unreceptive to the ideas it presents. In the future, we sincerely hope you will grant us the respect to be involved from the beginning in formulating policies which will affect students.
Colleen Schwingel '92->
with the approval of the UA->