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Calendar Changes Concern Students

By Brian Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

"It would screw up a lot of things like summer jobs and people taking summer classes at other schools," said R. Travis Atkins '94, summing up the basis for most students' opposition to the calendar changes suggested last week by the Institute Calendar Committee.

The calendar committee's proposal would increase the number of teaching days in each term to 67 and lengthen Independent Activities Period to 19 class days. The new calendar would also shorten the summer term and cause Residence/Orientation Week to start about one week earlier.

Many students complained that the shorter summer would affect both their ability to get summer jobs and the amount of money they would earn at them. The proposed calendar "would take away time from the summer, when we're all making money to pay for this place," said Shruti Serah '96.

"If they shorten the summer, they also need to lower the self-help level a lot," agreed Seth A. McGinnis '94.

James Scanlan '91, an engineer for the Bose Corporation, said, "If you want someone to do a good project [in an internship], you need at least 10 weeks. Most companies want someone to work 12 weeks, and that's already a strain if you want a week's vacation somewhere." Without internships, Scanlan felt, students "don't get a good appreciation of what it's like to be a true engineer."

"Summer is not only a time to unwind, it's also a time for people to get practical experience," said John J. Glushik G. "I don't think the workload is worth reducing at the expense of the summer."

Other students said they don't think the calendar will reduce academic pressure, one of the calendar committee's stated goals. "It's ridiculous to think that one week will affect the amount of work people do," McGinnis said.

"The extra week will just give professors an extra week to squeeze in just one more topic," said John L. Mueller '94.

Not all response was negative, however. "More time to do the same work is a good idea, but most people procrastinate anyway. Given more time, a few people are going to take another six-unit course, and everybody else will say, `Hey, two extra weeks, I won't stress as much the first week or after vacation,' " Atkins said.

Mueller, who lives at Lambda Chi Alpha, said he didn't think the proposed calendar would "affect summer housing terribly." Atkins, who is summer housing chair for Nu Delta, agreed. "I think we could work around it -- it wouldn't affect our income much."

E-mail generates large response

John S. Hollywood '96, an InterFraternity Council representative to the Undergraduate Association, sent an electronic mail message asking for reaction to the proposal on Wednesday.

Hollywood said he received 115 responses within 24 hours. "I've only looked at 45 so far," he said yesterday afternoon. "Most of those like the idea of having equal length terms and lengthening IAP, but everyone has said shortening the summer by two weeks would cause very serious problems."

Hollywood said he will be a member of the ad hoc committee being created by the UA to draft a counter-proposal. "The response I've seen [to the proposal] has been generally negative in the UA and in [Epsilon Theta], and I'm trying to make sure there is a consensus," he said. "Since we're going to do a counter-proposal, I wanted to make sure we know what students want."

About 35 of the responses he looked at supported equalizing the spring and fall terms at 62 class days each, rather than the 67 proposed by the calendar committee.

"A lot of people said generally MIT students don't need an extra week per term... they're appreciative of the calendar committee trying to help, but they think the damage would be far greater than any help" from the proposal, Hollywood said.

One of the 45 responses was from a professor, 15 were from alumni of ET, where Hollywood lives, and the remainder were students, he said.

Two respondents said the committee's proposal was fine as it currently stands. Two others said the school year should be lengthened, but not by two weeks. They suggested that extra days be provided by shortening R/O week.

Other students suggested getting extra days from reading periods or maintaining the status quo.

Hollywood stressed that he was not completely opposed to the committee's suggestions. "I personally think the calendar committee was trying to act in students' best interests. It's important that we not go out and wildly attack a proposal that has a number of good points -- I think the committee made an honest effort to do something good for the Institute."