Calendar Reform Not in Near Future

Reform of the academic calendar to include final exams before winter, break is unlikely to happen soon, President Neil L. Rudenstine and Provost Jerry R. Green told The Crimson in separate interviews this week.

Members of the Undergraduate Council, which has made calendar reform one of its primary goals, expressed disappointment yesterday at the administrators' statements, but process is still in the early stages.

The council has proposed a calendar that would allow students to enjoy a four-week intersession by shifting exams to December.

The Committee for Undergraduate Education is currently discussing the reformed calendar, under which the academic year would begin just after Labor Day.

Rudenstine said yesterday that the quality of Harvard's academic experience might be diminished if exams are taken before winter break.

"There was a feeling," Rudenstine said of a similar debate he observed at Princeton, "that if you really wanted people to write good papers and to think about them, you actually do a lot of intellectual digestion during that period."

He said if the calendar were reformed according to the proposal, Professors might feel constrained in giving longer or more difficult assignments--and Harvard's academic rigor might be compromised.

"You can't do a decent 15-page paper and a decent exam and do the reading in the last ten days of the term." Rudenstine said. "So you start tailoring it to fit the schedule. You can have effects in subtle ways."

But Undergraduate Council mem- ber Christopher J. Garofalo '94 objected toRudenstine's criticisms of the reformed calendar.

Garofalo, who has been heavily involved in thecalendar reform movement, said students do notneed the two-weeks break before reading period foracademic purposes. Under the current system,Garofalo noted, students manage to complete theirwork without such a block of time during thespring semester.

Garofalo also said that a long intersession hasadvantage of its own, such as studentsrejuvenation and extra time for seniors to work ontheses.

Rudenstine said that he could see someadvantages to the proposal, but that he did notfeel that they outweighed the disadvantages.

"I certainly think from the point of view ofall the externalities of convenience, you mightvote fop the other calendar," Rudenstinecontinued. From the point of view of value foryour money and more thinking time and more workingtime, I'm not sure it's so good,"

The Presidents, however, did not rule out adiscussion of the proposed calendar.

"I've only experienced one kind of calendar,[so my] inclinations are derived largely from myown experience," Rudenstine said. "I can't say atall categorically that one is better than theother."