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Faculty Committee's End-of-Term Policy Confuses Once Again

By Yaron Koren
Staff reporter

The Committee on Faculty Policy's stipulation that no assignments may be due in the six days before the end-of-term reading period has again resulted in planning problems and general confusion for at least one professor.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Clifton G. Fonstad Jr. PhD '70, who teaches Electronic Devices and Circuits (6.012), ran into problems with assigning the class' last problem set, - due last Friday - which he had to reassign.

But this particular problem is far from unique, the committee's policy caused the cancellation of a Linear Algebra (18.06) exam last year. "The issue that arose this year was not the fault of Professor Fonstad," said Faculty Chair Lawrence S. Bacow.

Instead, the crux of the problem is that the committee's final due date date - last Thursday - is in conflict with the registrar's calendar. What the conflict boils down to for students is that no subjects with a final examination can have a large assignment due this week.

For his part, Fonstad said he was just following the academic calendar for the year sent out by the registrar this fall which lists last Friday as the last day for assignments and exams.

Fonstad said he had been very careful to check the syllabus for the final date this term because "I got my students upset at me a year ago for a similar problem," he said.

Fonstad ended up making the problem set officially moved back to Thursday, but told students they could still hand it in on Friday, a compromise that even he admitted "is not the right way to go about things."

Several problems in years past

Bacow said that in order to ensure compliance with the policy, "each year the Chair of the Faculty sends out a letter at the start of the term to a faculty members describing the regulations and stressing the importance of complying with both the letter and the spirit of the rules."

"I don't have any problem with the policy itself; it makes things a little awkward, but it makes a certain amount of sense," Fonstad said. "I think it's just a bug in the system that I hope will get fixed next year at least they're not going to throw me out of MIT."