A discusses food service
By Reuven M. Lerner
The Undergraduate Association Council heard about proposed changes in campus food services at its biweekly meeting last night.
The council also discussed a report on Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences requirements and on medical services available to students. They additionally passed a bill requiring student activities to register with the UA every semester, and several constitutional amendments affecting committee structure and elections procedures.
The council was generally critical of the food service proposals, which were outlined yesterday by Director of Housing and Food Services Lawrence E. Maguire in a letter to UA Food Committee Chair Paul L. Antico '91. [See story on changes in MIT food services, page 1.]
The most common complaints were about a proposed increase of 25 percent in mandatory meal plans, and the possible inclusion of all dormitory residents in a mandatory meal plan.
Christine M. Coffey '93 noted that some students lived in dormitories without meal plans in order to save money, and that forcing them to pay for expensive food was unfair. "Although you might think that financial aid will take on the burden should this required meal plan come into effect, it is not going to shoulder the burden to the extent that is necessary," she said.
She added that "You might notice that it [the mandatory minimum balance] is awfully close to the rent, and I don't think that food is usually the same as what you pay for rent." This comment was met with tremendous applause from the council.
Coffey was echoed by a resident of German House who said that he had spent less than $50 at student dining halls this semester. He added that residents of language houses often cooked five or six dinners each week instead of using the cafeterias on campus.
Council member Brian Katz '91 asked, "What is the point of having a kitchen in every suite if it's not going to be used?"
Some council members also thought that forcing freshmen to pay more for their meal plans was unfair. Antico explained that this was a common practice at many other universities, and that it offered students a bit more "guidance" during their first year.
The idea of a tiered system seemed to meet with widespread approval, although council members were divided on who should be made to pay what price.
UA Vice President Colleen Schwingel, who proposed the tiered system, explained that "Some system where not everybody is required to pay the bulk amount, especially [in] those dorms with facilities for cooking, would help to meet those needs of reducing the deficit but not putting the burden on every student across the board."
Nearly 50 students who were not members of the council came to the meeting in order to hear the proposed changes. Many of them had received messages on Project Athena that said all students would have a mandatory meal plan, beginning next year. Antico said that he received 125 pieces of electronic mail on the subject, most of it based on rumor.
Antico concluded by saying that the Food Services committee would continue to meet through February, and that a final proposal could be expected by Feb. 20.
SCEP presents HASS report
Also discussed at the meeting was a draft copy of the SCEP report Recommendations for Changes in the HASS Program. [See story on the SCEP HASS report, page 2.]
SCEP Chairman Alejandro Solis de la Tejera '92 and Secretary Barbara M. Brady '93 described the report's primary recommendations, including major changes in the structure of the HASS-D requirement.
All undergraduates, beginning with the Class of 1992, must take at least three HASS-D subjects as part of the eight-subject humanities requirement. Subjects classified as HASS-D's must assign a certain minimum amount of reading and writing, and must offer a three-hour final examination.
The council generally approved of the report's first recommendation, which would permit professors "to choose the most appropriate means of conducting their course, i.e., letting the professor determine the minimum number of pages of reading and writing, and means of concluding their course, either through a final exam, final paper, or final presentation."
Solis and Brady seemed concerned about the narrow scope of most HASS-D subjects, saying that they did not offer the broad introduction to humanities that many students needed.
Jennifer B. Singer '92 disagreed, saying that "One way that you learn about ways of thinking in humanities and ways of approaching problems is by immersing yourself in that subject -- you don't necessarily need some huge survey course which doesn't tell you how the field works."
However, there were mixed reactions to the report's second recommendation, to "designate a limited number of broad-based HASS subjects to be offered within the freshman year."
Critics said that such courses would only further limit the number of courses that students could take during their freshman year.
Glen R. Berry '92 said that "There are already five courses that -- even though they are not officially required freshman year -- are essentially required. I don't think requiring courses freshman year is at all a good idea."
"We're talking about limiting the number of HASS-D courses, and I totally disagree with that," Singer said.
Emily R. Prenner '93 warned that "Some professors are going to be very turned off" if the courses that they want to teach no longer have "guaranteed enrollment," as is often the case with HASS-D subjects.
Report on medical
care is released
UA Floor Leader Jonathan J. Lee '93 presented the third report of the evening, the Student Evaluation of MIT Medical Department and Medical Services. The report, which was produced jointly by the UA Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Services and the Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Committee, was based on surveys that were distributed to students on Registration Day. [See story on the medical report, page 2.]
Lee told the council that data had been collected from over 1300 students, and that statistical information had been broken down by an outside agency. He noted, however, that there was a great deal of difference between the statistics and the comments which students had written at the end of the survey.
It was for this reason, Lee said, that the committee's recommendations were based mainly on students' verbal descriptions, rather than on the statistical data.
One member advised the others to "take the time to read all of the responses," which he said were interesting and "indicate that there are some serious problems" with the medical department.
UA President Manish Bapna '91 presented a bill that would have required student activities to register with the UA every term in order to obtain funding from the UA Finance Board. Bapna called it "ridiculous" for the Association of Student Activities and FinBoard to have to "track down" leaders of student groups, often with no more to go on than names from five years ago.
According to the bill, any student activity which fails to fill out a registration form by 5 pm of the third Monday of each semester "will be ineligible for student funding from Finance Board." It further says that "no exceptions will be made."
Berry said that expulsion from ASA for failing to register was seen as "too big a sledge-hammer," and that the bill "is a smaller sledge-hammer to hit them with."
The bill passed by a vote of 43-0, with no abstentions.
Also on the agenda were several constitutional amendments which were proposed by the Constitution, Legislation and Organization Group. The first was a response to the recent changes in the academic calendar which resulted in the spring term beginning on a Friday. The amendment, which passed by a voice vote, gave the election commission the power to extend the deadlines for petitions for UA offices, which would otherwise have been due two weeks into the term.
The second proposed amendment would have given financially needy students running for office a chance to obtain FinBoard funding. The measure, which was defeated by a vote of 9-26 with eight abstentions, was criticized because of its ambiguity and potential for abuse.
The last proposed amendment, which was approved by a voice vote, changed the installation dates of the UAP and UAVP to the seventh week of the term, while keeping the installation of class officers at the fifth week.
The council also passed, by a vote of 34-4 with three abstentions, an amendment officially endorsing a new committee structure. In addition to administrative committees such as the Course Evaluation Guide and FinBoard, the amendment provided for standing policy committees, including Food Policy, Student Life, and Housing and R/O.