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Discipline, Education Addressed at Meeting

By Jean K. Lee
Associate News Editor

At Wednesday's faculty meeting, Institute groups, including the Committee on Discipline and the presidential task force on student life and learning, presented reports summarizing their progress.

Professor of Science, Technology, and Society Jed Z. Buchwald, chair of the COD, began the meeting with a presentation of the committee's annual report, which showed a continuing decrease in the number of disciplinary cases.

During the past three academic years, there have been 21 discipline cases which resulted in nine expulsions, two suspensions, four formal probations, an informal probation, a degree revocation, and two reprimands.

There have been three academic discipline cases so far this school year, Buchwald said. There is "not much of a problem," and "things look like they're in pretty good shape."

Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates followed with the Dean's Office report on disciplinary actions. While the report indicated that number of disciplinary actions similar to last year, the system is "intrinsically working well," Bates said.

Task force continues research

The task force on student life and learning also reported the results of an alumni survey and proposed long-term changes.

The task force is charged by President Charles M. Vest to evaluate and guide MIT's educational mission as the Institute approaches the next century.

MIT may need to make changes in its core education, especially with the changing student demographics and career paths, said Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey, who heads the task force.

Silbey cited statistics which showed that 20 percent of the Class of 1997 are medical school applicants, a significant increase from past trends. In addition, students' careers paths are changing as more consulting and finance companies recruit MIT students.

Also troubling the task force are alumni surveys indicating dissatisfaction with some of the Institute's curriculum. While alumni generally felt that an MIT education improved their problem solving skills, it contributed very little to the development of their self-esteem and writing skills, which play important roles in the workplace.

MIT's education should be reworked to resolve the "disparity between what people think is important and what MIT did for them," Silbey said.

The task force is considering core curriculum modifications, changes to Residence and Orientation Week, and better student advising and counseling, Silbey said. The group is also looking at more structural changes that would improve interaction within departments and reconsidering student demographics, Silbey said.

As it stands, the committee is still considering what problems should be dealt with, Silbey said. Solutions will not be implemented "until we can put things in order," he added.

"This faculty and institution really care about the students, much more deeply than at many other institutions," Vest said.

Renovation plans addressed

Provost Joel Moses PhD '67 announced tentative information about the replacement for Building 20. The provisional plan is for the building to consist of two wings - one will hold mainly computer and informational sciences and the other will hold part of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The construction is expected to cost between $90 million and $95 million.

Institute is proceeding with plans to build a new swimming pool, Moses said. In addition, Building 16 should be ready for use in January 1998.

Also at the meeting, Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Samuel J. Keyser announced the results of a harassment survey of faculty and staff. In general, harassment incidences are declining. The top type of harassment was "offensive comments," followed by general mistreatment and sexual harassment.