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Fighting For A P/NR Delay

Guest Column
Victoria K. Anderson

Over the course of this semester, approximately 850 MIT undergraduates signed a petition in support of delaying possible changes to Pass/No Record grading for freshmen to the 2003-2004 academic year.

As the motion for the change was tabled at the last faculty meeting, the change to second semester A/B/C/No Record grading for freshmen would happen in the 2002-2003 academic year.

This is the same year that all freshmen will be required to live on campus. As evidenced by the support of the petition, hundreds of students are concerned about the possibility of these two changes occurring simultaneously.

This Wednesday, the faculty will vote on the motion and decide whether the grading change will occur in the 2002-2003 or 2003-2004 academic year. While students are not able to vote, we still have the power to influence the outcome of the vote. If this delay is an issue that you believe in, please take a few minutes to help push this delay through.

First, take this as an opportunity to talk to a faculty member. In spite of what you might think, most faculty members would like to spend more time talking to undergraduates. Approach the professor you have for recitation, introduce yourself and discuss the possible changes to Pass/No Record grading. The discussion need not take more than a few minutes, but it could not only have an impact upon the way that the vote finishes, but it may also help you gain a more personal connection with that professor for the rest of the semester.

Second, when you talk to faculty members, tell them why this is so important. Emphasize the concerns that you have, which might include the creation of a generation gap because of multiple significant changes to the freshman year occurring simultaneously or the paralyzation of the highly-valued upperclassman-freshman mentoring process when the nature of the MIT freshman experience changes drastically over one year. Also ensure that the professors with whom you speak know about the faculty meeting where the vote will take place. Faculty must be in attendance in 10-250 for the April 18 meeting at 3:30 p.m. in order to vote on this matter.

While you and many faculty members may be busy at this point in the academic year, communicating with faculty in any way possible about how you would like them to vote is urgent. If you believe that you do not have the time to talk to a faculty member, or if you have difficulties tracking particular professors down over the next few days, a simple e-mail message might be enough to catch their attention.

The UA Student Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) has a draft of an e-mail message to faculty members that we are circulating through the faculty and the student body. If you would like to send a copy of this on to a professor, please e-mail <ua-scep-chairs>, and we will send you a copy of this draft letter.

Finally, come to the faculty meeting yourself. Although students do not have speaking privileges, your presence can speak volumes. SCEP will be providing signs for support of the delay at the faculty meeting, and a strong student endorsement will emphasize the importance of the delay to the faculty members at the meeting. We hope to see you in 10-250 at 3:30 p.m. this Wednesday along with the faculty members whom you encourage to attend the meeting.

Victoria K. Anderson ’02 is Chairperson of the UA Student Committee on Education Policy.