Calendar committee will reconsider IAP
By Sabrina Kwon5-7301
The fate of Independent Activities Period is "under attack by a certain faction of the faculty," according to Hans C. Godfrey '93, floor leader for the Undergraduate Association, and will be one of the main issues the presidential Committee on Academic Calendar and Independent Activities Period will examine when it begins meeting in the near future.
The committee, almost all of whose members have been appointed, will determine certain logistics of the academic year, including the length and number of terms, exact dates of vacations, the length and placement of Residence/Orientation Week and the length of reading periods and final examination periods.
It will consist of two graduate students, two undergraduate students and either seven or eight faculty members, said Chairman of the Faculty J. Kim Vandiver PhD '75.
Vandiver said that he and President Charles M. Vest "have chosen a committee that are knowledgeable and represent a wide membership" across the different academic viewpoints, including representation from the engineering schools, who wish to eliminate IAP."
The UA's decision to reexamine the existing academic calendar means that major calendar changes could take place over the course of the next year, Godfrey said yesterday.
Committee will discuss
eliminating or changing IAP
The most controversial change the committee will consider is the possible elimination of IAP, when faculty and students engage in creative learning, independent study and projects in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Godfrey said the engineering school was the major force behind
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the anti-IAP movement, with many engineering professors complaining that semesters are not long enough to let them cover the amount of material they would like to teach. Eliminating IAP would let professors incorporate more hours of instruction each term by adding mandatory class hours in January.
Godfrey felt that IAP will probably survive the calendar committee's examination and evaluation. IAP "has become a necessary part of the year. Students love it for UROP and other employment and research possibilities, while faculty members use it to obtain research grants . . . and to prepare for spring classes," he said.
The committee will also review the Undergraduate Academic Support Office's report, What's Right With IAP, which examines the positive aspects of IAP. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Mary Z. Enterline and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Linn W. Hobbs wrote in the report that IAP has the potential to contain much more educational content than the two lectures an extra week of classes would provide each term.
HASS finals, reading period
prompt calendar reconsideration
Godfrey cited the implementation of the Humanities, Arts and Social Science Distribution requirement four years ago as a key reason for the people's complaints about the existing calendar. Because students complained of an inadequate reading period to accommodate an additional final exam, IAP was shortened last year from four full weeks to three and a half weeks. A four-day weekend was also shortened by one day to accommodate the longer reading period.
"The [HASS-D] finals added a strain for time on everyone. The calendar was moved around to compensate, but the changes" did not suffice, Godfrey said. "The administration recognizes the need for some type of major change, and so [Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Phillip S.] Khoury is deliberating whether or not to get rid of HASS-D finals," Godfrey said.
Vandiver said Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey was chosen to chair the committee, but when contacted yesterday, Silbey said he did not know for sure whether he would be in charge. Vandiver also said he could not release the names of the other faculty members who will serve on the committee because they had not yet received their letters of appointment.
The four student positions on the committee have not been filled. However, Godfrey said "the two undergraduate student members have the potential of making a fundamental change at MIT," and that the UA office will be interviewing interested students soon.
(Editor's note: Richard Chae contributed to the reporting for this article.)