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Clearinghouse staffed by IFC

By Irene C. Kuo

This year's R/O Clearinghouse was staffed by fraternity members, the first step of a plan by the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs to turn the operation over to the Inter-Fraternity Council. In recent years, the workers consisted entirely of dormitory residents.

Despite the change, the purposes of the operation remain the same, according to Bob Rich '90, a fraternity member who coordinates Clearinghouse with Furio Ciacci '90, Jay Berkenbilt '91, and Andrew Greene '91. These purposes are:

O+ to assist the independent living groups with their rush by keeping a list of the ILGs seeking people and by helping them locate students they wish to rush;

O+ to assist the ODSA by keeping track of room assignments and by providing the office with up-to-date information on the progress of rush;

O+ to provide a communications medium during R/O; and

O+ to provide freshman housing locations to the registrar and to directory services.

"The ODSA felt that the IFC should be involved with running Clearinghouse because the IFC benefits a lot from the operation," Rich said. "Eventually, the hope is to have the people involved with the systems project working, in paid or unpaid positions, under the IFC."

No abuse so far

The "Clearinghouse 1989 Manual for Workers" specifically prohibits workers from "monitoring or otherwise requesting information about a new student for purposes other than rushing (e.g., dates, parties, solicitation, activities, athletics)" and prohibits release of information to the press and unauthorized persons.

Very strict security codes and an honor system have prevented any abuse thus far, Rich said. Fraternity members are involved at the lowest, or "worker," level of the committee, since their inclusion this year is only an experiment. To further ensure security, workers this year cannot generate lists of freshmen who have visited a house or find out how many visits they have made.

Since "administrators," who have more access to the database, are required to have had ten hours of previous Clearinghouse experience, these posts are still comprised of dormitory residents. Rich, however, foresees changes next summer; of the seven "masters," who are responsible for the functioning the database, two belong to fraternities.

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First year Athena was used

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This year also marked the first time Project Athena was used to run Clearinghouse. From 1975 to 1988, the committee relied on "Deep-thought," a computer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science that was decommissioned this spring.

John T. Kohl '88, William E. Sommerfeld '88, and Ezra Peisach '89, last year's Clearinghouse coordinator, rewrote the old software, written in the mid-seventies in a language called BCPL, into C. Before 1975, Clearinghouse relied on blackboards.

Rich said the new system has minor bugs, but has not been out of service for more than 10 minutes. During the blackout last Thursday, committee members relied on print-outs of freshman names.

The experiment of adding IFC members and using Project Athena has worked well, according to Rich. Clearinghouse has received fewer complaints from fraternities about rude workers. "Frat people can sympathize with the rush situation," he concluded.