UA pushes for psych dept
By Dan Dunn
The Undergraduate Association Council unanimously passed a resolution at its meeting last Thursday calling for the creation of a psychology department in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences under the direction of Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '81, an associate professor of psychology.
The UAC also passed a motion asking Provost Mark S. Wrighton to allow members of the Advisory Committee for the Selection of the Dean of Engineering to decide whether students should be allowed to serve on the committee, and voted to reorganize its own committee structure.
Wolfe presently works in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, which is in the Whitaker College of Health Sciences, Technology, and Management. Last spring, the Whitaker College denied him tenure.
According to UA Vice President Colleen M. Schwingel '92, who co-sponsored the psychology department resolution, the UA office received many phone calls from students "crying Wolfe" when the tenure decision became public. She described the resolution as a response to students' complaints.
Wolfe's popularity is backed up further by the success of the class he teaches, Introduction to Psychology (9.00), the UAC resolution states. Last year, 423 students enrolled in the course, and rated him 6.4 on a scale of 1-7 in the Course Evaluation Guide.
But the resolution's sponsors, Schwingel and J. Paul Kirby '92, were quick to point out that Wolfe is not the only reason for the resolution. They fear that MIT would no longer have a psychology program if he were to leave.
According to Kirby, no one else in Course 9 is willing to take up Wolfe's work. "All of psychology at MIT, the HASS-D requirement, the minor, and the major is run by one man," Kirby said. "And he was just fired."
The resolution says that MIT is "in danger of being in the disgraceful position of being the only university among those of similar prestige without a substantive psychology department."
The resolution supports moving psychology from Whitaker College to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, regardless of whether Wolfe is appointed as its head.
It is unclear where the idea of moving the department out of Whitaker College was born. Kirby would not comment, and Schwingel would only say that "Because it is a sensitive issue and not yet official, I am not at liberty to say who is working on the idea."
Kirby mentioned the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology, which was created by faculty from Courses 9 and 21, but would not reveal the names of its members.
New tactic for
In other business, the UAC passed a resolution requesting that Wrighton allow members of the Advisory Committee for the Selection of the Dean of Engineering to decide whether students should be members of the committee.
According to UA President Manish Bapna '91, the committee was chosen last week, but Wrighton has not released a list of its members.
Hans C. Godfrey '93, sponsor of the motion and chair of the UA Committee on Governance, said that Wrighton did not appoint students to the committee because he did not feel that they offered a significantly different viewpoint.
Bapna added that Wrighton was concerned with how frank faculty members in the committee would be about other faculty with students present.
Godfrey felt that the committee members would appoint student members if given that opportunity, setting a precedent for future selection committees.
UAC discusses restructuring
The council discussed the UA Ad Hoc Committee on Restructuring's newly released Report and Recommendations for the UA Council, which describes the function of the UA, and includes recommendations to improve its efficiency.
Bapna made a motion that, if approved at the next UAC meeting, would create 11 standing committees. He said that he plans to make the UA "less reactive and more proactive. . . . When an issue comes up, rather than spend three weeks making the committee, we will have a group of knowledgeable people ready to act."
The report made other recommendations that were not put into motions. Schwingel recommended that class officers be separated from the UAC to let them devote more time to representing their classes.
UA Secretary General Stacy E. McGeever '93 suggested that a new, more representative means of choosing Interfraternity Council representatives be instituted.
She divided all of the independent living groups into 11 groups that would elect their own representatives. Currently, the IFC president appoints ILG representatives to the council.
The council's final action was to approve three amendments to the UA constitution concerning elections. Because they are constitutional amendments, they must be voted on a second time at the next meeting.
The first amendment would make the due date of election petitions variable. Because of the new Institute calendar, potential candidates for office have six fewer days than before in which to collect signatures on their petitions. If this passes, the UA Election Commission would have the power to extend the due date.
The next amendment would force the UA to pay for the campaign of candidates who cannot pay themselves. Under this plan, the UA Finance Board would
determine financial need.
The final amendment would move the installation date of the new UAP and UAVP to the last meeting of the spring term, rather than the fifth meeting, as it is now.
Earlier in the meeting, President Charles M. Vest talked to UAC representatives and fielded questions. Vest asked for student reaction to last fall's housing report, which recommended that all freshmen be required to live in dormitories.