The forced Summer (M)ARCH Program

Current students and faculty have a tremendous opportunity to help those who come after us: If the so-called “Summer Arch” program is a bad idea, now is the time to stop it—before it starts.

Students, please make your views known to your instructors. Faculty, please ask for their opinions and their reasons.

I have heard it said that Summer (M)ARCH is of, by, and for Shirley Jackson—not for the undergrads, not for graduate students, and not for the faculty. I do not know if that is true, but last week’s Poly editorial certainly offered a trenchant analysis of flaws in the proposed summer program.

That editorial, together with students’ reactions helped me grasp the predicament facing the 750 students annually who would start classes in September of their sophomore year and then be under pressure almost continuously until December of their junior year. Stress disorders already are high on campus, and I doubt that faculty should simply go along with a major proposal that threatens to add to the problem.

If members of the Faculty Senate doubt that students oppose the Summer (M)ARCH, I request that you conduct a random survey of students, or a referendum. If, on reflection, you decide that Summer (M)ARCH is not what students actually want, and not what would actually be in the collective interest, then perhaps the Senate and its curriculum committee could—a bit belatedly—recognize and claim this issue as one with huge implications for faculty control of the curriculum.

A final thought from a political scientist: most people are acting like the forced (M)ARCH is a done deal, but it need not be. The (M)ARCH cannot go through without at least grudging cooperation from most students, many faculty, and most deans. If the Senate stands up for the undergraduates, for the faculty, and for good sense, you will make it easier for others to withhold their cooperation. Ever watched a house of cards come tumbling down?

Ned Woodhouse

Professor of Science & Technology Studies