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Students to use Athena to access the registrar

By Judy Kim

A new project to allow students to interact with the registrar on-line through Athena is now being jointly developed by the Distributed Computing and Network Services division of Information Systems and the Office of the Registrar.

When the project is completed, hopefully by the spring semester, students will be able to access information concerning their registration status through the Athena network, according to Registrar David S. Wiley '61.

"Students will be able to look at their grade report, degree audit, biographical information and registration status on Athena," Wiley said. For example, students will be able to make changes in their term addresses at Athena terminals.

Wiley described this program as an interface system in which "information basically goes from the registrar's system to a server." If a student wishes to make any changes, "they make the changes in the system, and those changes come back to the registrar's office, where they will be reviewed, and then passed on to the main database."

He said that "what students look at is completely separate from the registrar's database," and believes that this is necessary to "protect students."

Jon A. Rochlis '85, a technical supervisor with DCNS, also said that student information will be on its own server in the interests of security. He added that "access to this information will only be through Kerberos [the Athena user authentication system]." Because of the sensitivity of an individual's "term address, courses registered for and previous grade reports," a second password will likely be necessary to access this information, Rochlis said.

Students will register

on-line in the future

Wiley commented that this step "is just the first phase" of a larger program. He said that "more functionality will be added to it, and eventually in a few years, students will be able to preregister on-line."

The success of the new program depends on "how much it meets students' needs, and how they respond to it." He expressed hope that the program will expand to include other pertinent data, such as information about financial aid awards and bursar's bills.

Wiley distinguished on-line registration through Athena from on-line telephone registration at other schools. He acknowledged the success of on-line telephone registration "at huge universities with 50,000 students who are spread out," but he felt that on-line network registration would be more useful at MIT.

Since most MIT students "are on campus a lot, and we have such a huge network of computer terminals, registration on a campus network is a lot more convenient for our students," he said.

(Editor's note: Karen Kaplan and Brian Rosenberg contributed to the reporting of this story.)