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USG considers online course initiative, Taste of Prospect

The USG is considering a proposal to make recordings of large, introductory lectures like ECO 100: Introduction to Microeconomics available online to University students and the general public, U-Councilor Alex Pretko ′12 explained at the USG Senate meeting held in Frist 309 on Sunday night.

At the meeting, USG members also welcomed newly elected officers, issued updates on past projects and discussed future initiatives. 

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Online course videos would help students shop for classes, study for exams and view missed lectures by going to course archives, Pretko said, adding that it would also allow students to “take” classes for which they cannot officially register.

USG vice president Sam Dorison ′11 pointed out that some professors might not be amenable to the plan because they may be involved in politics in the future and “are bound to say something that's politically incorrect.”

Pretko explained that the proposal has not received support from the University administration, members of which have contended that carrying it out would be expensive, especially given the need for high-quality recordings.

There is also concern that the videos would not reflect the courses in a given year because course offerings change annually, according to Pretko.

USG treasurer Trevor Martin ′11, however, said he did not understand the reasoning behind this concern. Martin said that Massachusetts Institute of Technology makes some courses available online and that “their courses change probably just as much as ours do."

The USG has been exploring the idea since mid-October, Pretko said in an e-mail after the meeting, and is also looking at other schools’ policies.

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Also raised at the meeting was the proposal to reinstate the Taste of Prospect program, presented by U-Councilor Sarah Cornfeld ′11. The program allows freshmen to experience eating clubs by offering them the opportunity to sign up for a meal at a randomly assigned club.

Taste of Prospect was previously offered in 2007 and 2008. Reinstating the program is part of the USG’s broader goal of restarting projects that have proven successful in the past. The USG has already secured University funding to cover the meals, and its next goal is to receive approval from eating club presidents, Cornfeld said.

The final presentation of the meeting, given by USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ′12, focused on the USG’s successes and failures over the past year and on future plans.  

Yaroshefsky explained that though academics are, according to the results of last year’s USG survey, Princeton students’ top priority, the USG has recently focused least on academics and most on student life.

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He said that Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel’s pending retirement caused some “stagnation” in recent USG involvement in academic issues. He added that student life was the USG’s primary focus largely because there is no need to wait for administrators to carry out initiatives in that category.

For the upcoming year, the USG hopes to focus more on academics and residential and social life and to continue efforts to improve dining, such as flexibility with meal plans, Yaroshefsky said.

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