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Forty Bucks for the QRR?


To the Editors of The Crimson:

I arrived this fall at Harvard eager and ready to do battle with the shunned computer QRR test. What I hoped would be taken care of early on has become a long, drawn-out, stressful ordeal. Taking advantage of help provided by the "QRR tutors" in the Science Center computer terminal room, I signed up for a test in early fall, only to walk out midway through, clueless as to how to get the computer to give the correct amount of change in pennies.

After a series of missed deadlines and threatening letters from the Freshman Dean's Office, I was curtly informed by the QRR office that I would now be on academic probation, and would have to either take the course offered by the QRR office next fall, or take a makeup computer test in the first two weeks of the next term which would cost $40!

The QRR requirement itself is inane. Inflicting a fee of $40 for missing the numerous imposing deadlines or for failing the test is downright malicious. Why should Harvard make such outrageous profits on its students who, for one reason or another, failed to demonstrate their ability to program a computer to "keep track of the amount of money Mr. Fixit makes today," (one of the practice tests in the computer book). What is the explanation for the $40 fee?

Harvard enjoys inflicting high fees on its students for other things as well, such as late registration and late study card filing. The computer QRR test should be abolished, or at least completely revamped. Some knowledge of computers, such as familiarity with database or spreadsheet software, might be useful, but knowing how to program a computer to count cookies serves absolutely no practical purpose, and charging $40 to students who cannot do so in the allotted time is spiteful. Harvard College administration should do some quantitative reasoning of its own, and stop the "QRR tax." Jonathan E. Sigel '94

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