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Faculty votes today on revised motion

The Orientation/Residence Fall '98 Committee delivered an initial report to senior administrators on Friday as its chair, Professor Kim Vandiver of ocean engineering, prepared to discuss the recommendations at today's faculty meeting.

"It was our charge to advise the senior administration on potential decisions regarding orientation, residence selection, and associated matters affecting the admission, introduction to the campus, and housing of the Class of 2002," said Professor Vandiver, who is also a member of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. "We hope to begin a period of experimentation in which the faculty and students work together towards improved orientation and residence selection programs for 1998 and future years."

The faculty meeting will also vote on a revised motion on the issue of freshman housing. The original "sense of the faculty" motion, sponsored by Professor Stephan Chorover of Brain and Cognitive Science at the October meeting, would have required freshmen to live on campus. The substitute motion says:

"1. MIT should move immediately to begin a comprehensive, deliberate examination of its residential system, including the suitability of undergraduate residences as freshman housing, with the goal of bringing the system into fuller alignment with MIT's educational mission.

"2. The introduction of freshmen to MIT should be characterized by: a proper orientation to the Institute's academic environment, a sense of belonging to the larger MIT community, greater opportunity for interaction with faculty and each other, and the ability to make a calm, informed choice of living group, including a delay of rush for those students who want it.

"3. The Institute should commit significant funds to the design and implementation of new initiatives that strengthen the ties between faculty and students, and enhance the living and learning experience for all students.

"4. The newly promised undergraduate dormitory should be seized upon as an opportunity to experiment with the design -- programmatic and physical -- of a residence that consciously integrates student life and learning.

"5. These initiatives should have significant input from students, staff, faculty and alumni/ae.

"6. Timely reports should be given to the faculty about the design, implementation and evaluation of these initiatives, beginning in April 1998."

The O/R Committee's report was given to President Charles M. Vest, Provost Joel Moses, Dean of Students Rosalind Williams and Vice President William Dickson, who will make the final decision on O/R changes. The policies should be established by December 15, the deadline for early-decision applicants.

The committee, named by Dean Williams on October 30, consists of four students and six faculty and staff members. The report was delivered by Professors Vandiver and John Essigmann of toxicology and chemistry, Associate Professor Charles Stewart of political science, and William Shen, one of the students on the committee.

Mr. Shen, president of Phi Delta Theta and a senior in economics, also chaired the Interfraternity Council's committee on O/R proposals, which delivered its report to the IFC Presidents Council meeting Wednesday night.

The IFC presidents voted to submit the committee's recommendations to the faculty and administration.

The IFC report suggested that a variety of topics be covered during O/R under five general headings -- interpersonal skills, health, emergency options, risk behaviors and legal responsibilities.

The report calls for at least three and preferably six hours to be devoted to these programs, in addition to a seven-hour first aid course. "The program should be given in groups of no more than 25," the report says. "This should allow the freshmen ample opportunity to get to know the people in their group as well as allow for further questions and discussion."

Draft suggestions on alcohol and housing problems by members of the Dormitory Council and the Interfraternity Council are posted on the Alcohol and Campus Environment web page. Developments also can be followed on the News Office home page and a special page on alcohol-related news.

Other matters before the faculty meeting include a report on the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Alcohol Policies, by Associate Provost Philip Clay, and a vote on a motion to approve changes in the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 19, 1997.

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