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Can UC Candidates Deliver?

The platforms of Undergraduate Council presidential candidates promise academic change. They promise to alter the way freshman courses are graded and to extend the deadline to add or drop courses.

Two of the insider tickets have platform points that would mean major changes in the Registrar’s office. The platform of Andrea R. Flores ’10 suggests changing freshman grading to “pass/no record”, similar to the system at MIT. Benjamin P. Schwartz ’10 advocates in his presidential platform extending the add/drop deadline from five weeks to eight weeks. Both such changes would require approval by a vote of the Faculty, which could require more than a year of committee wrangling and cajoling administrators.

Schwartz and running mate Alneada D. Biggers ’10 also call for a coordination of cross-registration between the University’s schools and other colleges.

Current UC president Matthew L. Sundquist ’09 said a Council can realistically have only one major project in a year.

Sundquist said that accomplishing “pass/no record” grading for freshmen, increasing the period in which students can change their status in a course from pass/fail to letter grade, or lengthening the time students can add or drop a class would have to be the single priority for UC leadership.

Currently, to cross-register at graduate schools or other universities students can use an online course catalog.

“In order to centralize everything you would need to fundamentally restructure the University,” current UC Vice-President Randall S. Sarafa ’09 said.

“You would have to have one registrar in charge of the entire University,” Sarafa said, instead of the independent registrars that currently exist.

Representatives from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar could not be reached yesterday for comment.

The one major issue of Sundquist’s term, Ad Board reform, remains on the platforms of this year’s candidates.

Sundquist, who has been the student representative on the reform committee, said that the committee will make their recommendation to the dean of the College in January, before the new UC president takes office.

Sundquist said the new executives will be charged mostly with encouraging administrators to implement the recommendations.

Both the Flores and Schwartz platforms also discuss January term plans. No formal plans have yet been announced for this period which will fall between the end of winter break and the beginning of the second semester after the calendar change takes effect next year.

—Staff writer Chelsea L. Shover can be reached at cshover@fas.harvard.edu.