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Underclassmen May Get Priority in PE Selection

By Brian Loux

ASSOCIATE FEATURES EDITOR

The Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation may give freshmen and sophomores preference in the PE lottery with the upcoming implementation of new software.

Director of Physical Education Lynn E. Couturier said that with a new system, the athletics department also hopes to open the first two days of registration solely to first and second year students.

“Most of us feel that there is a special demand [for graduation] and we want to be helpful in trying to meet that,” he said, referring to the department’s expectation that students complete their requirements by sophomore year.

“We receive a lot of complaints about the [lottery] system,” said Couturier, who joined the department’s team to examine its database capabilities in 2001. “We hope [the new system] would not be a lottery, but an open enrollment.”

Couturier said she hoped the system would be ready “by the beginning of next academic year.” However, Senior Analyst Ayca Darcan, of Student Services Information Technology, said that the project will not be complete by then.

Darcan said that the analysis and design have been completed for the project, but it has not moved to program development because “we need to talk to senior management first.”

Priority for underclassmen likely

When the new system goes online, the athletics department will probably to give preferences to underclassmen.

“We say that people should finish their PE requirements [by] their sophomore year,” Couturier said, so to help this happen, “we hope to restrict the first two days of registration week to freshmen and sophomores.”

Each student is required to take eight PE units of class as an undergraduate. Currently, when a student has not completed his requirements by his junior year, the department sends him a letter as a reminder, although recently the department has been pushing harder for students to complete their PE units on time.

Couturier said there is still debate amongst the faculty about whom the PE lottery serves.

“Nothing is definite,” Couturier said. “We would like to discuss the plan with other student groups to make sure it won’t cause huge problems.”

Additionally, Couturier said that they will seek solutions for juniors and seniors who have not yet met the requirement should the preferential system be implemented.

And while “some people say that undergraduates should be treated with preference because it is a requirement for graduation, others say that it serves all of the MIT community,” she said. However, Couturier said that most of the staff is leaning toward the former.

PE lottery gets new software

“Typical complaints [about the lottery] were, ‘I signed up but I didn’t get what I wanted,’ ... [and] there is a lot of lag time between the lottery and notification,” Couturier said.

She said that as a result the department often advises students to just show up on the first day of class, making registration a moot point. “Not knowing what you’re getting has an implication for people [just] showing up” on first day, she said.

The plan to alter the lottery system came out of an athletics department “discovery team” organized in the spring of 2001. Four members of the department and four members of Student Services Information Technology came together to discuss the shortfalls of the current system.

“Our lottery system is random. There is plenty of room for improvement,” said Senior Women’s Administrator Jean A. Heiney. “We maxed out the classes [and] then half the people wouldn’t show.”

Heiney said that although “we certainly heard from folks who were disappointed,” much of the demand for change came from within the administration.

Darcan said that the group recommended as long-term goals for the physical education program “building a new PE eligibility system, eliminating the lottery, and coming up with a new data warehouse for the department.”

“The [new system] will be Web-based and will eliminate manual forms as much as possible,” Darcan said. Currently, MIT affiliates who do not have Web certificates must come into the athletic department offices and fill out forms to register for classes.

According to Couturier, the new system should allow people to see which class they are assigned to immediately after registering, and it will make it easier to alert groups to changes. “We’re hoping people will be able to see if they are in or not,” she said