Dartmouth College has proposed a plan to end its unique year-round calendar that has been used since 1972. The proposal, providing for a return to a three-term schedule through the elimination of the summer term option, comes as a response to what Hans Penner, dean of the Arts and Science, called "student and faculty concern for the lack of continuity in undergraduate life."
Since the plan was formally announced this fall, it has met serious opposition from both faculty and students. A decision on the proposal is due this year, Penner said.
"Eliminating the summer term is eliminating something that is unique to Dartmouth," said Philip R. Gerson '83, editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth, a campus newspaper that has voiced disapproval of the new plan. Gerson said that three-quarters of the faculty and an even greater percentage of students oppose the proposed change.
Robert M. Stein, president of the Student Undergraduate Council, said that the student government has been holding open forums on the proposal. He said most students oppose the changes because they are unwilling to sacrifice the flexibility provided by the summer term.
The scheduling proposal comes as a part of Dartmouth President David T. McLaughlin's plans to "review the whole atmosphere of undergraduate life," spokesman Robert B. Graham said.
According to Graham, there have been several proposals in the past six years to change the Dartmouth calendar. But the current plan is more feasible he said, because McLaughlin has indicated he is willing to fund new dormitories that would accomodate the greater number of students living on campus from September to June.
While the current system allows for a large amount of scheduling flexibility, it also "builds into the system a great deal of coming and going." Graham stated "You may or may not see your friend for several years," he explained.
Who's on First
Academic departments also have difficulty scheduling appropriate course selections for department majors because "it's never certain who's going to be here and who's not," he said.
But Stein said that he is not sure that the new "proposal gets to the heart of the problem." The social and academic problems posed by the lack of continuity can be addressed in a different way," he added.
Stein said a new dormitory structure, similar to the House system at Harvard, would be a way of responding to student's complaints about housing.
"The proposal has the worst of both worlds," said Gerson. Students and faculty would lose their flexibility and" none of the problems posed by the current calendar like the short, high-pressured trimesters would be solved."