The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 40.0°F | A Few Clouds

PE Registration Moves to Athena

By Ramy A. Arnaout
Executive Editor

In a move intended to circumvent the traditional bustle of physical education class selection, fall PE class registration will for the first time take place over Athena.

The new system very closely resembles the one that the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences began using last spring for HASS distribution classes, said Regina L. Gogol, the new system's project leader.

Accordingly, the new PE system will put an end to the current first-come, first-serve scheme. Students, staff, and faculty will have a three-week window - from 8 a.m. on Aug. 16 to 12 noon on Sept. 6 - to register. They can fill out up to six choices over Athena, and will be able to change their choices up until the August deadline. Final selections will be sent out over electronic mail.

The driving force for the shift to the new system has been long-standing and often-voiced concern over the inconvenience of the current process, said Director of Physical Education Gordon V. Kelly.

"I've been in this position 12 years now and I continue to hear complaints from our students and staff about our antiquated system," Kelly said. "The big complaint was that people had to wait in lines and there were limited times for registration that weren't convenient for people's schedules," he said.

The main question has been, "How come we can't computerize this?'," Kelly said.

"We've been investigating [alternative] possibilities for some time," Kelly said. On both a survey last year and periodic evaluations from students, dissatisfaction with the registration system "was a comment that frequently came up," Kelly said.

The new system will be in use at least through the last quarter of the 199596 school year, including IAP.

While Kelly does see the new system as being more fair, something will be lost in the switch, he said. There was a "personalized aspect" to the old system, he said. A registrant "could ask questions of the person who in most cases was the person that was going to be teaching the class."

"It was first come, first serve, and everybody knew that," Kelley said. In theory, "everybody had the same shot to get there early; now its sort of the luck of the draw."

But by and large, students agree with Kelly that the new system is clearly a change for the better.

"I didn't like standing in line," said Stephen J. Masterman '96. "It's just a couple of hours. If you missed that, you couldn't register for PE."

Sameer S. Gandhi '97 agreed. "People usually don't know when PE registration is," he said. The lottery window would eliminate that problem, he said.

"Standing in line is only for popular choices" and anyone can get into undersubscribed class by simply attending the first one, said Jacob B. Schwartz '98.

Students, staff, and faculty will be able to access the system by typing add pelott' and then xphedu &' from an Athena workstation or just phedu' over a dialup connection. Those without Athena access can use the system by visiting the Physical Education Office in W32-125.

David D. Hsu contributed to the reporting of this story.