UROP Policy Changes Must Be Fixed
As a Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program "success story" and modest financial supporter of the program, I have been following the UROP funding issue and am deeply concerned.
While I suspect that the changes are due to nothing more than an oversight on the part of MIT's negotiator with the government on accounting practices, it saddens me that people feel there is nothing to be done on the matter. Impossible! In fact, the statements in Tuesday, March 29 issue of The Tech suggest a way to recover some, if not most, of the difference.
If the wages of a UROP student could be lowered, the level of student involvement could be maintained at near its present level. The matter is simply one of redirecting the employee benefit contributions back to the students. I do not think it is possible to give summer UROP students paid vacation to make up for a lower salary while maintaining the goals of the program. Nor do I feel that covering medical insurance would be attainable given the necessary negotiations. The employee benefit money collected on UROPs must somehow be shifted between accounts within MIT. To me the answer is clear: this money should be used to cover housing UROP students in dormitories. If this does not expend the projected capital, you could issue each student a meal plan to make up the difference. You might also consider covering some of the "small" fees which MIT charges, for example, athletic cards fees. Surely such a plan will be justified if you can convince the right people of its importance.
I hope you will find some way to ensure that the UROP program continues its important mission with as many students as possible. While stop-gap measures, beginning with this summer, are important, the eventual goal must be to restore the waived-overhead status of UROP salary as quickly as possible.
Robert H. Kassel G