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Faculty Talk About New Majors, SEVIS

By Marissa Vogt

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Members of the faculty held their monthly meeting on Wednesday to discuss two new degree programs and MIT’s cooperation with the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information Systems, or SEVIS.

Professor of Geology Kip V. Hodges presented an update on the recently approved Course III-C, a Bachelor of Science in Archaeology and Materials. The program had been proposed by the Department of Material Science in 1998 and reviewed by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in 2001-2002, which found it “wildly successful” with the exception of being unable to attract more than about three students per year.

“Part of the perspective of the department is that the measure of the success of the degree problem should not be based solely on the number of students,” Hodges said. “They’re hoping that when the faculty reviews it they’ll also look at the program as a whole.”

Hodges said that the program will be reviewed again in the spring of 2004, at which time the CUP will make a recommendation to the faculty regarding its future.

CMS a major beginning in fall

Hodges also presented to the faculty a report on the Comparative Media Studies degree program that will be offered in the fall of 2003.

The program, Hodges said, will be offered on an experimental basis for five years, with an interim review after three years and a final review after five. Review criteria will include appropriateness, student interest, program infrastructure, and sustainability, although there are no specific performance parameters, Hodges said.

Hodges also mentioned some concerns with the current practice of accepting new majors without clear guidelines on how they should be introduced or how proposals should be completed.

The faculty was given a proposal for the approval of new undergraduate degree programs as outlined in the Guidelines for the Approval of New Undergraduate Degree Programs, which will be brought up again and voted on at the March faculty meeting.

Faculty updated on SEVIS

Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook and Penny J. Rosser from the International Students Office presented the faculty with an update on SEVIS and MIT’s efforts to comply with Immigration and Naturalization Service rules.

Guichard-Ashbrook outlined the program and its effect on MIT, emphasizing that MIT is “legally responsible for these students, not only while they are here at MIT but for up to three years afterwards.”

Rosser expressed an “increasing discomfort with fields that SEVIS is requiring,” and said, “we feel that this is putting us in an enforcement position we don’t want to be in. We don’t want to be agents of the INS.”

“We wish we didn’t have to comply, but if we want this diverse population, we have to,” said Rosser.

Faculty members expressed their support for international students and their concern for making sure students remain in compliance with immigration rules.

Guichard-Ashbrook and Rosser said that the tougher security measures will be difficult for students as well as faculty, who will be responsible for insuring that documents are turned in on time.

“Students are going to have to learn to be more vigilant about checking their documents,” Guichard-Ashbrook said.

“More advance notice is needed by both of our offices to bring international students [to MIT],” Rosser said. “It's going to take some time.”