Faculty approves new rules on half-term subjects
Rules go into effect immediately, students can report violations
The faculty voted to institute a new set of rules for half-term subjects March 15. Previously, there were no specific rules for half-term subjects.
The Tech spoke to Faculty Governance Administrator Tami Kaplan about the motivation behind the new rules. There is an increasing number of partial-term subjects, she said, and half-term subjects are the most common type of partial-term subject. The aim of the new rules is to standardize expectations for these subjects and prevent confusion among students and faculty.
According to the new rules, in both the fall and spring, subjects in the first half of term (denoted H1 and H3) will run for seven weeks and end on a Friday. The last week of these is called the Half-Term Final Examination Period, and no classes or exams can be held after the last day of these half-terms. Final exams for H1 and H3 subjects must be held during class time, and must not last longer than a class period.
Subjects in the last half of term (denoted H2 and H4) start on the Monday of the eighth week. During the spring semester, this directly follows spring break. The final exam and assignment rules for these subjects follow those of full-term subjects.
Half-term subjects can be added until the second week of the half-term and dropped two weeks prior to the last day of classes of the half term.
The new rules can be read in full at web.mit.edu/faculty/governance/rules/ under sections 2.10, 2.40, and 2.50.
The rules are technically in effect now, and undergrads can report violations to the UA at ua.mit.edu/policy/violations/. The GSC does not have an equivalent reporting system, but grad students can get in touch with Graduate Personal Support in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Their contact information is found at odge.mit.edu/development/gps/.
However, Kaplan said this term they will be more lenient on instructors who don’t obey the rules, since they might not all be familiar with them yet. The new rules will be in full force in the fall.
The new rules follow the recommendations of the report of the Faculty Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Sub-term Subjects, released last November.
The rules had to make it through an alphabet soup of committees before being brought the faculty for a vote. Kaplan herself wrote the first draft and sent it to the Chair of the Faculty, Krishna Rajagopal. Then the Registrar’s Office, who deals with scheduling classes, looked at it, and then the Subcommittee on Sub-term Subjects. After that, four different relevant committees — CUP, COC, CGP, and CAP — reviewed it. Finally, it was sent to the FPC, the last step for policies before the faculty vote on them. The proposed changes were approved by the faculty at their meeting on March 15.
Along the way, the Academic Council also looked at the policies, but they do not get a vote in the process. The reason so many committees have to see the policies, says Kaplan, is so key people are “comfortable with what’s being put on the table.”