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UAC Discusses Calendar

By Jeremy Hylton
Editor in chief

The Institute Calendar Committee's proposal for a longer school year was outlined for members of the Undergraduate Association Council at its meeting last night. Council members were largely critical of the proposal, and vowed to draft a counter-proposal.

The calendar committee proposal, announced last week, will increase the number of teaching days in each term and lengthen Independent Activities Period to 19 class days. The new calendar would shorten the summer term and cause Residence/Orientation Week to start about one week earlier.

UA President Shally Bansal '93 said the UA would form a committee to draft a new proposal for the calendar. The committee was "the only way we can make an intelligent and reasonable response," she said.

The members of the Institute Calendar Committee will also attend the next UA meeting, on Apr. 26, to answer questions and gather feedback. "I can't over-emphasize the importance of this. It's important that we have non-council members coming in and voicing their opinions," said Raajnish A. Chitaley '95, UA floor leader.

The UA is also considering a referendum on the calendar changes. The referendum would be conducted electronically, in much the same way as the spring UA elections.

Problems outlined

Bansal and other members of the UA executive committee outlined several of the problems they had with the official proposal. Most of their concerns centered around the shorter summer break; a short break would hurt students in internship programs, reduce the amount of money students could earn from summer jobs, and bring some students back in early August to prepare for R/O Week, they said.

Institute-sponsored internship programs last for 12 weeks, but the new calendar would allow for only a 10-week summer break, Bansal said. The coordinators of those programs, including the Engineering Internship and Course VI-A Internship Programs, "are looking into whether they can be changed," she added.

Jacob J. Seid '96, a member of the UA executive committee, was concerned about the overall effect on summer jobs. The average student would lose between $700 and $1,000 of income, he said.

The early start to the fall semester was as much of an issue as the short summer. "Once every seven years the fraternity guys are going to have to come back Aug. 11," complained Daniel J. Dunn '94.

Seid also addressed an issue independent of the length of summer. "The calendar committee said, `We think this is going to reduce the pace and pressure.' But you and I both know that isn't going to happen," he said.

The UA committee which will address the proposal has yet to be formed. Bansal asked interested council members to talk to her after last night's meeting.

Chitaley was concerned, however, that the to-be-created committee would start too late and be too unwieldy to formulate an appropriate response. "I'm not sure we're taking the right steps to get the best response possible," he said.

"Frankly it should have been a much smaller group of people working together," Chitaley said. "In many ways we're late already in dealing with it."

Computer purchase tabled

In other business, the council tabled a motion to buy a new computer to run an electronic voting system, confirmed David J. Kessler '94 as the Finance Board chairman, and made a minor change to the UA constitution.

The election commission introduced a motion to purchase a DECstation 5000 workstation to develop and maintain electronic voting software for future referenda and elections.

Vijay P. Sankaran '95, a member of the election commissioner, explained that speed of use and security were the primary motives for buying the new computer. The commission borrowed a computer for the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs to run the last election, but it will need its own machine to run future elections.

"It will provide us with the ability to conduct more referenda during the school year and conduct more polls," Sankaran said.

The Dean's Office offered to pay half of the estimated $6,000 bill for the new system, but most council members balked at the $3,000 the UA would still have to pay. Members suggested the UA buy an older or slower machine, or continue to borrow a computer to run elections.

Kessler was also concerned that the proposal to buy the computer was not made to the Finance Board, but rather to the entire council. The Finance Board considered the plan earlier and "thought this was probably not a wise investment. We had just refused two student organizations money to buy computers ... even though they definitely had a need for them," he said.

The council also confirmed Kessler as Finance Board chairman. Other confirmations were delayed by scheduling conflicts.

The UA also modified its constitution to make elections and appointments to the Finance Board easier. A clause in the constitution mandated that no more than three residents of a single living group could serve on the Finance Board.

Dunn proposed the change because some Finance Board members are now elected by the student body and others are appointed by the UA nominations committee. Those new checks obviate the need for the constitutional restriction, he said.