The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 59.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Editorial -- New lottery policy unfair to seniors

With the beginning of each semester come the inevitable lotteries for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Distribution classes. The 25-student per HASS-D class limit makes these lotteries necessary, despite the fact that they keep schedules in flux long after Registration Day and sometimes leave students without a humanities class in their schedule. They also disappoint students who get lotteried out of classes they had been looking forward to taking.

In the past, these ills were mitigated by the prospect of senior priority. By exempting them from the lottery, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences recognized that seniors cannot afford to get lotteried out of a class -- by the time it is offered again, they will have graduated.

This year the administration eliminated senior priority from HASS-D lotteries -- a misguided policy that may have dramatic consequences. Many members of the class of 1993 have waited until this year to take certain oversubscribed HASS classes in the belief that they would be guaranteed to get in. Now these students may find themselves taking humanities classes they have no interest in because their names came out of the hat at the wrong time and their tight schedules leave them with few options. Even worse, these seniors may collide with the inflexibility of their remaining graduation requirements and be unable to fit any HASS-Ds into their schedules at all, preventing them from graduating on time.

The way in which the policy change took place is particularly disturbing for members of the classes of 1993 and 1994. These students have spent the majority of their time here planning their schedules and choosing classes based on the notion that they would have lottery priority in their senior year, only to have this security torn away with absolutely no warning. Had they known in advance, perhaps they could have planned their schedules better to insure that they could take a particular popular class. Instead, they got the worst of both worlds -- kept out of popular classes in the past by seniors who then had priority, and kept out now because they don't have the same privilege.