The Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) yesterday voted 8-1 to allow the CUE Guide to print grade medians, and reduced several proposals for study abroad to two general alternatives.
The Faculty Council, which last year refused to permit the CUE Guide to include grade medians, will make the final decision on the matter at a future meeting.
To Release or Not to Release
Even if the Faculty Council adopts the CUE recommendation, professors will still have the option of refusing to release the medians for courses they teach, editors of the CUE Guide said yesterday.
The debate on the medians centered around whether their publication would encourage students to take certain courses merely on the basis of grading policy.
Thomas Ruskin '80, a CUE Guide editor, tried to persuade CUE members to endorse the publication of medians by using an analogy to birth control.
Getting the Shaft
Ruskin said that just as the University Health Services informs students about birth control in case students decide to engage in sex, the Faculty should inform students about grade medians in case they choose to take a leniently graded course.
The CUE also voted 6-3 to recommend to the Faculty Council that it permit CUE Guide writers to directly quote students who respond to CUE Guide questionnaires used to evaluate courses.
The CUE members who voted against this recommendation said they fear the use of direct quotes would interfere with the CUE Guide's goal of objectivity by giving too much attention to the opinion of a particular student.
The discussion on study abroad polarized around the question of whether the Faculty should make minor amendments to existing legislation or attempt to create a major program for study abroad.
Some CUE members seemed to favor simply eliminating a requirement in present legislation that study abroad pertain to a student's concentration.
Other CUE members favored a more elaborate proposal to send Faculty members and students abroad in special study groups.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that we're talking about altering what we have in a small way or some major reform," Glen W. Bowersock '57, associate dean for undergraduate education, said at the meeting.
Go West, Young Man
However, other CUE members suggested that the University designate certain study abroad programs for which students could receive credit.
Faculty members of CUE said a Harvard study abroad program might be difficult to establish because of the lack of foreign universities offering courses similar to those envisioned in the Core Curriculum.
Daniel Berman '79, a CUE member, said the University should not be strict in allowing students credit for study abroad because the University currently gives independent study credit for anything other than "lying on the beach or watching the grass grow."
Bowersock warned CUE about the problems involved in developing a major program. "The business of sending faculty abroad involves mind-boggling bureacratic problems and a considerable allocation of resources," he said.
Some CUE members suggested the University could develop a special exchange program for colleges and universities in English-speaking countries referring specifically to colleges in Oxford and Cambridge universities