The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 70.0°F | Fair

Students must have more control over committee representatives

This summer, the president's office, then headed by Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray '54, asked the Graduate Student Council and the Undergraduate Association to submit names

of students for placement on

the new Committee on Demonstrations.

The committee would be composed of four administrators, four faculty members, two graduate students and two undergraduate students. As usual, the president's office expected the GSC and the UA to each submit a list of five or six names. Those people would then be interviewed, and two students from each list would be chosen to represent their respective student bodies.

However, this time the GSC and the UA did not do what was expected of them. They each submitted a list of only two names, and they each submitted a list of changes that they would like to see in the construction of Institute committees:

1/3 The graduate student members on the committees should be chosen by the GSC alone, and the undergraduate students should be chosen by the UA alone.

If it is true that the Institute wishes to see the student population represented fairly, then it must allow the GSC and UA to select their own representatives. Students can do a better job of deciding who should represent themselves than the administration.

The president's office argues that it would like to make sure that the selected students will get along well in the committee. However, the student bodies feel that providing fair representation is more important than creating a committee that is designed to "get along."

The president's office also wants to make sure that both sexes and all the races at MIT are well represented. This is simply paternalism.

1/3 The GSC and the UA should have the right to replace any of their members on any of the committees if they find that those members are not fully performing their duties as committee members.

The GSC and the UA like their student representatives to keep in touch with their governing bodies while sitting on committees. This way, the GSC and the UA Council can survey student opinion and relay it to their representatives, and the representatives can, in turn, tell the councils what is going on in the committees. If students do not stay in contact with their governing bodies, those bodies must have the right to replace them.

1/3 If there is a disagreement within a committee on its findings, then dissenting members should be allowed to write dissenting opinions that will be appended to the final report.

One glaring reason to ask for this is the report of the IAP Policy Committee. The report was written by the head of the committee with little or no input from several of the members.

Despite this, the report still stands as the culmination of the committee's study. If, however, the excluded students had been allowed to write dissenting opinions for final report, all views would have been represented.

Former President Gray's response to this third demand was that the committee reports should be written under consensus, and that the official report itself should include any dissenting views.

However, if the chair of a committee decides that one particular dissenting view is not worth representing in the report, then as it now stands, that report can be written without it.

If members were allowed to write dissents that would inevitably weaken the report of a committee, then it would be in the committee's interest to come to a better consensus and to include all of the viewpoints in the first place.

Right now, not one of these demands has been accepted in general, although the president's office has accepted the four names that were given to it for the Committee on Demonstrations.

Not one of these demands is unreasonable. The only hardship the student groups ask MIT to bear is that it be prepared to use staples on its reports long enough to include the occasional dissent.

David W. Hogg '92->

and the GSC/UA Governance Committee->