Committee studies calendar changes
By Reuven M. Lerner
A committee appointed last month by President Charles M. Vest has been discussing possible changes in the Institute calendar.
The group, known as the Ad Hoc Presidential Committee on the Academic Calendar, was charged in December with looking at the current Institute calendar. The committee is expected to present Vest with its recommendations by the end of the semester. Any actual changes in the calendar would have to be approved by the MIT Corporation.
The committee hopes to involve students in the decision-making process. "We plan to put out a survey at some point to see what the students think about it," said Theodore J. Ko '94, one of two students on the committee. The survey would "probably be something like a list of ideas that have come up, and maybe a brief description of the forces involved" in making calendar decisions, he said.
Since its formation last month, the calendar committee has met several times, at least once with students and administrators involved in running this year's Residence/Orientation Week.
It has also dealt with the fact that the fall semester is always shorter than the spring semester, reducing the number of times classes can meet during the fall.
The committee's chairman, Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Committee's time spent developing
ideas, not implementing a plan
Committee members agreed that the group was spending most of its time discussing possible ideas, rather than moving on any particular plan.
"There aren't any proposals at all," said Linn W. Hobbs, professor of materials science and engineering. "All we're collecting now are various ideas."
He continued: "There are endless numbers of things that one could do, starting with occupying all of the summer, or part of the summer, or going late in the spring, or extending IAP. We're just trying to explore all the various options and what their implications are."
The UA plans to form its own calendar committee in the near future. That committee, according to UA President Stacy E. McGeever '93, will propose its own calendar recommendations sometime this semester.
"The committee will be pro-active, as well as reactive; we won't wait until the Institute committee comes out with its proposal. Our hope is to work with different components of the MIT committee, including the calendar committee," she added.
Among the possibilities the UA committee may look into are switching to a trimester system and moving Independent Activities Period away from January, McGeever said. But, she quickly added, making such changes would mean changing the way students pay dormitory rent, when certain cafeterias are open on campus and when dormitories close for renovations.
"Over the current summer vacation we have, we can have some dorms closed and some open. I don't know what the changes would do," she added.
to entire Institute
"The Institute is interested in the calendar because most people feel we're awfully hard-pressed to fit in everything we want to fit in," Hobbs said.
"The engineering departments are already thinking of five-year degree programs, and everyone just feels the pace of the terms is large. There are still debates about orientation and the whole issue of that time and whether we need more time to do that or in a different way," he added.
Ko said he is fairly happy with the calendar as it stands, and that his biggest problem with the current system is the shorter IAP that has resulted from starting the spring semester on a Friday. "I've talked to many people who feel similar, but you have to consider that there are other people involved, with a lot of other concerns," he said.