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Diversity GIR Discussed At Recent Town Meeting

By Michael E. Rolish


The student representatives of the task force on the educational commons held their first town hall meeting with students on Tuesday evening.

The four representatives, Elizabeth L. Greenwood ’05, Jessica B. Rhee ’06, Christopher A. Suarez ’06, and John R. Velasco ’05, said they plan to hold similar meetings once or twice per term and to create an advisory committee to gather student input on the General Institute Requirements. In addition, Velasco said that they will set up a web site to facilitate student feedback and discussion.

Citing the taskforce on student life and learning, Velasco stressed the importance of communication between student representatives and the student body as a whole.

“Often times communication breaks down, but the student representatives on this committee are committed to pursuing multiple avenues of student feedback, including the web site, UA Senate meetings, and open forums,” said Velasco.

Meeting draws few students

Only nine students attended the meeting, most of whom were interested in adding a diversity requirement.

The task force also discussed its goals in evaluating the GIRs.

“Fifty years ago, MIT’s role in society was to produce engineers, and this is obviously still a major goal of the institute,” Suarez said. “However, we really want to determine if the current set of undergraduate requirements really provides the maximum benefit for the diverse set of people and interests we have at MIT today.”

“We're hoping to analyze all of the current GIRs, determining which aspect of MIT’s educational mission each one is intended to fulfill and whether it accomplishes that goal,” Greenwood said. “We will leave no GIR unturned, so to speak.”

First review of GIRs in decades

The task force, created by MIT President Charles M. Vest, was created to review and detail the goals and the structure of the general undergraduate educational experience for the first time in about 50 years. The four undergraduate representatives are complimented by 20 faculty members, and is expected to finish in 2006.

According to the Vest’s charge, the specific goals of the task force are to:

“-- Review the statement of MITs Educational Mission, including the reasoning and assumptions of educational and societal context that support it, and then reaffirm or modify it as deemed appropriate.

-- Derive from the educational mission a specific set of Goals for the education of all MIT undergraduate students

-- Develop and articulate, at an appropriate level of definition, the ‘Content’ of the curriculum that should be common to the education of all MIT undergraduate students

-- Develop and recommend to the MIT faculty the formal ‘Structure’ of the MIT undergraduate curriculum, expressed in a set of General Institute Requirements or an alternative formulation.”