Faculty Hear Discipline Report, Vote on Degree, Curriculum Changes

Seventy people were accused of misconduct and had cases brought before the Committee on Discipline in 2006–07, according to a presentation at Wednesday’s faculty meeting.

During the meeting, the faculty also voted in support of issuing a single “double major” diploma instead of two separate degrees to students with two majors, voted to make the Bachelor of Science program in Comparative Media Studies permanent, and heard a proposal for a new Master of Finance degree from the Sloan School of Management.

George E. Apostolakis, who last year chaired the Committee on Discipline, reported that the COD had concerned itself with 70 incidents in the last school year. Of those 70 incidents, 49 involved males; the people against whom charges were brought included 19 freshmen, 21 sophomores, 15 juniors, 10 seniors, and five graduate students, according to the report.

Charges brought against students were split almost equally between academic misconduct and personal misconduct, with 33 and 37 cases of each respectively. The 37 cases of personal misconduct included eight charges of “hacking,” eight charges of unauthorized access, seven charges of breaking and entering, four charges of theft, three charges of arson, two charges of fraud, two charges involving drugs and dangerous chemicals, one charge of underage drinking, one charge of destruction of property, and one charge of assault based on an incident where a student beat another in the face with a coffee mug, according to the report.

The COD does not always issue sanctions against students whom it tries. The committee issued sanctions in 44 cases last year. The student who assaulted another with a coffee mug was expelled. Five students were suspended. The COD also issued 18 probations, six community service sanctions, six requirements of restitution, and six recommendations of counseling.

One other student was required to complete the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students, an early-intervention program implemented by MIT to curb alcohol abuse.

The committee wrote four letters which were included in students’ confidential “files,” discipline records which may be seen by the COD during future hearings but which are destroyed upon graduation. Additionally, 33 letters entered students’ COD files after being written by faculty or staff, according to the report.

There was no discussion of the COD report.

Faculty approve academic changes

At Wednesday’s meeting, the faculty voted in favor of a proposal to issue a single “double major” degree instead of double degrees to students who complete two major programs. The change makes it slightly easier for students to double major, as students will no longer have to complete 90 additional units for the second major.

Students will still need to complete the full requirements in each of their major programs. But they will now receive one piece of paper instead of two.

The details of the transition to the new system are not yet clear. Current students (those who entered in fall of 2007 or earlier) will still be able to obtain two separate degrees.

The faculty also voted Wednesday to make the Comparative Media Studies degree program permanent. It previously had been a five-year experiment.

A new Master of Finance degree program offered by the Sloan School of Management was also presented by Andrew W. Lo, Director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering. The proposal will be voted on at the May faculty meeting, and if it passes, the degree program will require final approval from the MIT Corporation.

Speaking privileges discussed

A motion which would have expanded who may speak at faculty meetings was tabled with no decisions made.

Associate Professor of Linguistics Michel A. DeGraff proposed that a motion which would have let all professors emeriti speak at faculty meetings be amended to include “Adjunct Professors, Senior Lecturers, and Professors of the Practice,” he said in an e-mail. His proposal was “an issue of equity,” he said.

The original motion, proposed by faculty chair Bishwapriya Sanyal, would have changed Section 1.32 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty so that professors emeritus could speak, but not vote, at meetings. The motion was proposed after a contentious meeting in which former president (and professor emeritus) Paul E. Gray ’54 was challenged over his ability to speak.

In this month’s issue of the Faculty Newsletter, Sanyal called the incident “a cruel breach of common decency and civility.”

After a lengthy discussion over who else, besides professors emeritus, ought to receive speaking privileges, DeGraff’s motion was tabled.