Vote to Reform GIRs Delayed by Two New Amendments in Dec.

The proposed changes to the General Institute Requirements, which would give students more latitude in the science classes they are required to take and do away with HASS-Ds, failed to reach a vote at the faculty meeting on December 17th. Two amendments were called to the floor, delaying the actual vote until the next faculty meeting scheduled for February.

EECS Professor Patrick H. Winston ’65 proposed that the addition or removal of GIR and HASS core subjects must be voted on and approved by the faculty. Without the amendment, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program would have had the power to change core classes without the approval of faculty. The Winston Amendment was voted on and approved.

The second amendment was proposed by Professor Hazel L. Sive, associate dean of the School of Science. Sive’s amendment addresses the definition, maintenance, and monitoring of the Science, Mathematics, and Engineering (SME) Core. She proposed that an SME Subcommittee and departmental working groups work in collaboration to provide “a clear definition of the core material in each category.” As a result, faculty will “understand … this critical aspect of the GIRs, and are then able to consider how they may contribute in innovative ways to teaching the GIRs.”

The second amendment was not voted upon due to time constraints. The ECS will vote on the amendment in the next faculty meeting in February.

According to UA President Noah Jessop ’09, Winston’s amendment may represent disagreement among Faculty as to how the GIR and HASS changes are being approached. The ECS has been given the job to amend and change the GIR and HASS requirements, however, this subcommittee does not represent each and every MIT department. Jessop said, “As of now, my understanding is that most faculty are satisfied with the job the ECS has been doing.”

The Student Committee on Educational Policy polled students on the GIR and HASS changes last term. Results were published and presented to the ECS. Jessop noted that the ECS has been very receptive to the survey and has done a good job gauging the opinions of undergraduates. According to Jessop, “No one will question some pieces of this motion to change the GIR and HASS cores.”

Professor Robert P. Redwine of the Physics Department, co-chair of the Education Commons Subcommittee which proposed the GIR changes, said that there is a good possibility that the GIR changes will be voted on at the February faculty meeting, or by the end of the Spring term at latest.