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New Check-in Easer with Clearinghouse

By Eric Richard
Contributing Editor

Clearinghouse, the system used to keep track of rushees, was redesigned this summer because of changes in the Athena Computing Environment.

The new system functions in exactly the same way, "but moves much faster is theoretically more accurate and makes rush as a whole better," said Daniel J. Dunn '94, Clearinghouse and Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee Chair.

The software had to be completely rewritten because the old version only ran on DEC Vax computers which are no longer supported by Information Systems.

One of the primary advantages of the new system is that independent living groups can more efficiently determine where freshmen most recently checked in or out.

"It should make everything more efficient for [the ILGs]," Dunn said. "They will have to spend fewer man-hours tracking people down."

Check-in updates immediate

While some living groups connect to Clearinghouse via the Athena dialup machines, others use MITnet to telnet in directly, Dunn said. This allows rush workers to update and access the database as rushees check in and out. In contrast, under the previous system, rush workers needed only to submit their sign-in lists every half-hour.

"Most people are pretty satisfied," Dunn said. "We've received five or so rave reviews, although there are two houses that want to destroy [the system]."

The software "has a lot of potential, but there are still a lot of things about it that make it hard to use," said Sean M. Beckett '97 of Sigma Chi. "It does have some really cool functions, and it gives us a lot more options. It makes it a lot less hectic if you know what you are doing."

Currently, living groups must use their own computers to connect to the system. While IFC mentioned the idea of providing computers to each of the living groups, the idea was not pursued, Dunn said. "It is not worth the investment for [IFC]."

According to Dunn, Bexley Hall is the only living group that is not using the system. "They haven't entered a single person," Dunn said.

Security, privacy are design goals

"One of the driving goals [of the system] was to protect the goals and actual number of pledges" from becoming public knowledge, Dunn said.

In order to protect the security of information in the database, 14 different user profiles have been set up, Dunn said. "The system is very versatile in terms of creating user permissions."

While dormitory rush workers only have permission to check people in and out of their dormitory, ILG workers have more privileges. ILGs can either look at the activities of a particular freshman or monitor changes in the locations for a list of rushees.

In addition, IFC officials and deans can send messages to individual freshmen using the system.

While Dunn acknowledged that the system's security had been compromised in the test stage, he felt that the bugs had been fixed, and the program has withstood additional break-in attempts.