The Standing Committee on the Core yesterday said it will keep the Core requirements down to eight half-year courses, in response to a letter from the Educational Resources Group (ERG) reminding the committee of its original guarantee not to increase the requirements.
The committee members are having difficulty finding exemptions for students in certain concentrations for students in certain concentrations to lower the number of Core courses these students need to take from ten to eight.
But Edward T. Wilcox, director of General Education and spokesman for the committee, said yesterday the committee would find some way to exempt the students from two Core courses, despite the problem.
"We said we were going to do it and we will...not because of student pressure, but because it is the right thing to do," Wilcox said.
James Henderson '80, the ERG member who drafted the letter to the committee, said yesterday Wilcox's promise to hold the requirement to eight courses satisfied him, "as long as they [the committee] stick to that commitment."
The ERG sent the letter mainly to remind the committee that "we are watching them," he added.
The committee supported Wilcox's proposal to allow students who only qualify for one Core exemption to choose for themselves other course they may bypass.
But students in non-science concentrations who are allowed a free exemption choice should not be able to exempt themselves from the Science area of the Core, Wilcox said. "One of the spirits of the Core was to assure that Harvard students have a minimum of one year of science," Wilcox said.
Otto T. Solbrig, professor of Biology and chairman of the Core subcommittee on Science, said he also believed non-science concentrators should not be free to exempt themselves from the science Core area requirement, which requires two half-year Core courses, one in Science A, covering the physical sciences and one in Science B, dealing with life sciences.
About 15 per cent of the students in any class will only qualify for one or no exemptions from the Core, Wilcox said.
Students in Physics, Statistics, Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Philosophy and Visual and Environmental Studies will not qualify for two exemptions on the basis of their departmental requirements.
"If I know those V.E.S. (Visual and Environmental Studies) types, they would all take themselves out of the science section of the Core," Wilcox said