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Council Reps Meet With CUE

Members Express Concern With Grades and Reading Period

By Dhananjai Shivakumar

Representatives of the Undergraduate Council told the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) yesterday that over the next semester it should look into reforming policies regarding grades, double majors and reading period.

At the "open agenda" discussion, the council members, who regularly attend CUE meetings, were given the opportunity to list student concerns regarding education policy at the College.

Expressing a common student complaint, council members said grading in large Core classes and departmental tutorials varies unfairly from section to section. Tutors should be advised by the committee to compare their grade distributions with each other before issuing final grades, said Joel D. Hornstein '92.

But David Pilbeam, associate dean for undergradute education, said it is difficult to judge whether variations in grading in different sections reflects the different abilities of students or simply an inconsistency in assigning grades.

However, Pilbeam said the committee will consider a draft of a letter to tutors written by the council's academics committee.

Council members also said that confusion has arisen among students over the purpose of reading period, which many believe should be reserved solely for studying for exams. The function of reading period should be made clear to students, said Cathy L. Jamieson `91.

Assisstant Dean for Undergraduate Education Jeffrey Wolcowitz, who said that reading period was also intended as a time for classes to meet and papers to be written, joked that the confusion could be cleared up by simply changing its name.

Pilbeam said he would review the current policy on the nature of reading period for further discussion at the committee's next meeting.

Council members further suggested that the committee discuss changing concentration requirements to allow students to concentrate in two unrelated fields, which is not possible under the present system.

But allowing concentrations in two separate and evenly weighted fields can only follow a change in how concentrations are viewed in theory, said Wolcowitz.

And William A. Graham Jr., professor of the history of religion and Islamic studies, added that because of the large number of courses needed to satisfy concentration requirements, major changes in policy would have to be implemented if Harvard were to make double majors feasible.

Calender reform--changing the current system to an "early semester" schelude where final exams precede winter break--was also discussed, but committee members said they were uncertain over whether to debate the issue any further.

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