Letters to the EditorIf MIT is serious about offering PhD programs in all departments, then the students in those departments have a right finish their dissertations in a timely manner without going into huge debts. The whole funding structure shouldn't be set up on the assumption that students will finish in four years, when the mean time for completion exceeds five (and the funding system prolongs it significantly); that students will be mentored by advisors, when the norm for those disciplines is that students work as lone wolves; or that students should actively participate in a funding structure that treats them like second-class citizens.
The Graduate Student Council, and according to a recent poll, the vast majority of graduate students, believes that MIT should create an All But Dissertation status at MIT. ABD students pay dramatically less tuition once they stop taking courses or after a fixed period of time. On average, ABD PhD students would end up paying about six semesters of full tuition during the course of their studies. After a certain period, usually eight semesters, their tuition drops to a "facilities fee" of $100-$1000 per semester and remains at that level until graduation. This system currently operates at Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, Chicago, and Yale, among others.
The argument for ABD tuition is quite simple: many graduate students cost nothing to educate, so the university shouldn't charge the students. MIT's current tuition policies cause an enormous amount of hardship to doctoral students in the departments of architecture, urban studies and planning, political science, and linguistics and philosophy, as well as some students in mathematics and management, future students in STS, students who leave to work with advisors who are denied tenure, students whose personal lives require them to stop their work for a while, and students whose advisors cut off their funding.
MIT insists on violating several fundamental rights of graduate students. Students have a right to a predictable and guaranteed funding stream for at least the mean duration of their programs. Students have a right to be treated like members of the MIT community and like adults. Students have a right to finish in a reasonable period of time. And, students have the right to be treated equally, regardless of their discipline of study. Tuition reform will start MIT on that road.
Peter Cebon G
GSC Executive Committee
Students Must Vote In UA Elections
As a sophomore, my place at MIT and my devotion to it become more defined every day. In an effort to familiarize myself with the procedures and purpose of the Undergraduate Association Council, as well as the election of our student leaders, I attended the UAC meeting last Wednesday evening. What I learned was that our UA is not immune to the ills of politics.
One of the UA President/Vice President teams has as its slogan: "Vote Apathy." Humorous as it may be, this isn't the message our supposed "leaders" should send. How about: "Vote? Yes, you. Vote!" -- much more useful and much less insulting to voters who don't know the purpose behind their vote.
The questioning of the Class of 1993 presidential candidates at the UAC debate gave way to a barrage of spiteful comments which had to be resolved by a pounding of the gavel. Who would have guessed that the UAC was a forum for personal grudges and political mudslinging? I later found out that the questioner was the incumbent class treasurer and a candidate for the position in the same class was her nemesis. Now, is that class unity?
And to end on a more general note: one of the UAC members motioned to end the candidates' speeches before anyone in the Class of 1995 could speak. If that's not apathy, what is?
Vote, vote, vote. Not just you few who walk by the polling areas, but every undergraduate at MIT; it's not only a privilege to take part in "your government," it's a chance to get rid of the people that haven't made the purpose of the UA any clearer for you and replace them with new faces, new attitudes and new understanding. Ask yourself this: "What is the UA and why do I care?" You'll find that you're either too lazy or too uninformed to answer it, as I was and still am, somewhat. So, make a change, and vote!
Drew L. McGillivary '94