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Committee Offers New Calendar Plan

By Hyun Soo Kim
Associate News Editor

Due to student and faculty objections to a shorter summer, the Institute Calendar Committee is considering an amendment to its recent calendar proposal which would shorten the summer session by at most one week. The new proposal would lengthen both semesters to 65 class days instead of the 67 class days suggested in the previous proposal. It would also allow departments to move 12 required units into a 19-day Independent Activities Period.

The amendment was drafted by the members of the Faculty Policy Committee and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program. "The fall term begins after Labor Day, and ends in the same week it always has. The summer is not shortened. The calendar is also more congruous. It has approximately the same number of Tuesdays and Thursdays in both terms," said Professor of Physics Robert L. Jaffe, Chair-Elect of the Faculty.

The fall semester would be extended by two days compared to the present calendar. Registration Day would fall on the first Tuesday after Labor Day, with classes beginning the next day. Two years out of seven, when Labor Day comes later in September, there would be only 63 days in the fall term to insure that classes do not begin before Labor Day. The reading period would be extended from three to four days in all years.

The summer would be shortened by a couple of days, depending on where Labor Day and the holidays in the term occur and the way the reading period can be shifted. In the years when Labor Day is at the beginning of September, Residence/Orientation Week would be pushed forward, shortening the summer by two to three days. In other years, when Labor Day is later in September, the summer session would be about as long as it is now.

The new proposal adds one day to the spring term, and finals would end on a Friday instead of a Wednesday, as is presently the case. One day from the current four-day reading period would be dropped.

According to Jaffe, reading periods have not been finalized yet, and some dates are still in flux until approved by Registrar David S. Wiley.

The amendment would extend IAP by two days, to 19 class days, as in the original proposal. It would also allow departments to move 12 units of the required departmental program into IAP.

The amendment states, "Departments will specifically be allowed to move 12 units of the required departmental program into IAP, with the expectation that majors will participate in an intense, pedagogically appropriate departmental activity during one of their four IAP periods at MIT."

"The new proposal strengthens the academics of IAP. Certain kinds of subjects are appropriate for this concentrated format -- like foreign languages," said Professor of Ocean Engineering J. Kim Vandiver, who chairs the FPC and participated in drafting the proposal.

"I think [the amendment] is a very good compromise. It addresses most of the major issues," said Professor of Material Science and Engineering Linn W. Hobbs, who was on the committee that drafted the amendment. "One of the concerns was that MIT had considerably fewer teaching days than our peer institutions, even if you added in IAP," Hobbs said.

The use of IAP reduces pace and pressure and provides flexibility to augment the number of teaching days, he added. "Right now, we can't put a required course in IAP unless we double up in the semester. The proposal to put some units during IAP could lessen one course over the term," Hobbs said.

"There are some courses that are tailor-made for this schedule, courses like 2.70. There are a number of departmental laboratories that could be taught in an intense format and benefit from that. I hope the departments will modulize some of their courses so they could fit into IAP. ... We already use IAP for 8.01L," Hobbs said.

"One concern as a former IAP chair is that one doesn't want to crowd out the other activities during IAP. And I feel that this proposal doesn't do that," he said.

Seema Jayachandran '93, a student representative on the CUP, said, "Like most students, I thought that the original plan would have hurt a lot of people in internships. I would rather take a fun design class over IAP than have my summer shortened by two weeks each summer. Given a choice between IAP and the summer, students make more money in the summer, so [the new proposal] would be better."

She added, "Some people think that it should be spread out to two six-unit modules to have less material to digest, but they would have to stay over two IAP's. The departments will have to make the decision."

Students like amendment

The amendment was developed with student and faculty input. Hans C. Godfrey '93, UA President-Elect and a representative on the FPC, said the amendment will not increase the workload for students.

"The days that it adds don't give the faculty the opportunity to add on another problem set, but it just increases the information they can present," Godfrey said.

"I was really pleased that the registrar and Jaffe came up with proposals, that they responded to student criticism and also faculty criticism to come up with something I think students would like better," Jayachandran said.

The amendment will be presented for consideration to the FPC later this month.