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MIT Should Extend Athena Usage to Alumni

MIT Should Extend Athena Usage to Alumni

It is in the best interests of MIT to extend Athena privileges to its alumni. First, alumni Athena accounts would allow easy and sustained contact between MIT graduates as well as between MIT and its alumni.

Second, Athena privileges would foster alumni giving. For some programs, the MIT Alumni Office asks alumni to return to MIT and speak to current students about careers and life after graduation. Additionally, nearly every MIT organization and department seeks alumni donations. For these and other purposes, MIT tries to maintain an alumni network. By deleting the Athena accounts of its graduating seniors, MIT effectively wipes out an electronic network of its alumni; MIT then asks its Alumni Office and class officers to reconstruct the very same network manually. This is rather inefficient. Today, only a third of the Class of 1996 receives "alumni updates" through e-mail from class officers.

The Athena computer network, especially with its Zephyr and talk capabilities, is one of the best services that MIT provides to its students. Many of us have become quite attached to this service. Athena accounts give MIT students an intangible but very real link to one another and to the Institute. Student homepages on the World Wide Web, which have become increasingly popular over the past few years, proclaim loudly to all that we are an important part of MIT. After we graduate, MIT deletes our Athena accounts and homepages, after which we quickly lose touch with our former classmates and the school. For its own benefit, MIT should prevent this. Continuing Athena privileges and homepages for alumni would sustain our connection to MIT after graduation, which logically should make us more likely to give back to MIT in the future.

I am assembling past and present students to urge the MIT administration to extend some Athena privileges to graduating students. Acknowledging that there are some fears and technical concerns that need to be worked out, our group will assemble arguments and develop a proposal in the next month. Please direct any feedback to me at ahsu@aecom.yu.edu.

Albert L. Hsu '96