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Students Welcome New UROP Money

By Ramy A. Arnaout
Associate News Editor

Students are welcoming MIT's announcement that it will infuse the financially strapped Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program with $1 million to help defray the increased overhead costs for summer UROPs.

The money "should be adequate to maintain the program for the summer of 1994," said Provost Mark S. Wrighton. The infusion will help bridge the funding gap produced by a change in government regulations that will effectively double UROP costs after July 1.

Students expect the $1 million to ease the financial strain that might otherwise keep mentors from hiring UROPers, thus making UROPs easier to find.

Students are thankful for the added summer funding, but many are skeptical about how they will cope when the added funds run out this fall.

Effects already being felt

"I think [the infusion] is a good thing," said Lawrence W. Chang '97. "I've been searching for a UROP this term, and a lot of professors are concerned about the change in policy."

"The $1 million will help, but it still seems kind of silly, [since] this government policy is hitting the wrong people," Chang said.

"I'm really happy because I didn't think I would get paid at all," said

Shelly-Ann N. Davidson '97, who found a UROP on the day the new funding was announced.

"I didn't think I would be getting a UROP at all because the only way I could [afford to] was if I got paid," Davidson said. The infusion has a special, immediate importance for students who use UROP as a primary source of income over the summer, she said.

"Although I don't know whether or not my hiring had to do with the extra money now available for UROPs, I did feel more at ease knowing that funding for UROPs isn't as tight as it would have been otherwise," said Gregory G. Richardson '97.

"There seems to be a big problem when you're looking for a UROP because [often] the professor says he has to see whether he will have enough money," said Euree Y. Kim '96.

"From the people I've called, that seems to be the case, so I think it's great that we're getting funding," Kim said. "I'm just sorry" it won't be around for the fall term, she added.

"Obviously it's a good thing," Hisham O. Eissa '97 agreed. "Hopefully, we can dig up another million dollars" for the fall term, he said.

Concern, optimism for future

Students who have to hold a paying job for financial reasons will be hard-pressed to find time for a UROP as well, Davidson said. For the fall term, she will have to decide whether she will take her UROP for credit and work an additional job for pay, or whether she will have to drop her UROP altogether, she said.

Scott T. Purcell '94 said he is "optimistic that they'll find some way" to save UROP funding. "It's the hallmark of MIT," said Purcell, who held a UROP this term. "It's too key to the MIT experience" to let go.

"I do worry about what will happen in the fall," Richardson said. "This solution is only temporary, and I might have to go through the same process of trying to find a UROP in the fall," he said.

"If we as a school can't find a solution to this problem now," he said, "then I worry that I won't be as successful in finding a UROP as I was this time."