Sign Me Out

Attention everyone who still believes online sign-in to be a viable, innovative alternative—it’s not. Although online sign-in had noble intentions, as one of last year’s online sign-in guinea pigs in Stearns House, I can assure you that student council’s decision to discontinue the project is the correct one. During last Spring Term, I not only piloted the program but also lived with its staunchest supporters and founders, Teddy Collins ’08 and Frank Pinto ’08. Without a doubt, their combined efforts to leave a tangible gift for future classes should be applauded. Nevertheless, Student Council’s accurate resolution on online sign-in leaves the legacy of their undertakings an inefficacious pipe dream. Their product functioned, but online sign-in was an example of drawbacks outweighing virtues. The system Pinto used was designated as a “pilot program,” and it showed; it could have used more development time. Pinto created an extremely simple (at least visually) computer program that let residents of Stearns sign in on a handful of computers in the library. Pinto had to configure computers in the PACC specifically for his program, or else we could all just sign in from our laptops at Starbucks. Unfortunately, Pinto never got around to implementing his program on all the PACC computers, causing the aforementioned guessing game. The limited number of computers configured was one of the major hiccups of the system. Figuring out which computers Pinto had properly configured for his program was always a troublesome ten minutes of going from computer to computer in the PACC politely asking kids to quickly borrow their computer to attempt to sign in. Ultimately, I realized I could spare myself from certain embarrassment and my house counselors’ ire by just sprinting back to my dorm. Another instance of a technological glitch in the system occurred when a Stearns resident thought he had signed in at eight from the library only to saunter back to the dorm at final sign-in and encounter a furious house counselor who had never received the electronic sign-in. Best case scenario—taking out the trash. Worst case—weekend restriction. After the novelty effect had worn off, few underclassmen actually used online sign-in consistently or at all. What turned me off of online sign-in was a frantic Tuesday night after ARC, when I tried to sign in in the PACC lobby before I had Frank guide me through the confusing registration process, which involved setting up an account and password separate from PAnet. After ten minutes of stubbornly hijacking computers in the PACC, I conceded and hustled tail-between-my-legs back to Stearns fifteen minutes late. Needless to say, the house counselor on duty was less than pleased, and I was prohibited from returning to the library. If you live in the far reaches of Abbot campus like I once did, and you still yearn for online sign-in, I feel for you. Nevertheless, I have to agree with Dean of Students Paul Murphy that online sign-in would be a substantial project for a minor annoyance. Only underclassmen boarders would make use of the program, effectively negating half the school’s populace. Other methods of sign-in such as email or telephone have been suggested and even used in some dorms, and an alternative to the failed online sign-in program will probably be investigated. However, this raises the most pivotal question behind the purpose of sign-in. If you can sign in from a computer in the library or even off your cell phone, what’s the point in signing in at all? Frank Pinto and Teddy Collins did make a lot of strides toward their aspiration of online sign-in, and hopefully their legacy (and that of the rest of the ’08 Student Council) to actually leave something concrete behind for future waves of Andover students will be continued. Teddy’s end goal was to combine the one-card system with remote sign-in in a way so that signing in from the library would just be a swipe away, as opposed to the complicated, unfinished product that was piloted last spring. This year’s and future student councils should pick up where Teddy left off and try to leave their own mark on the school. Even though online sign-in remains “stalled,” the hard work that was put into it should not be in vain. Do not let the vision of online sign-in be forgotten; it should be revisited later after the promised one-card system is finally completed. Just ask the Chicago Cubs, there’s always next year. Until then, current Abbot boarders, good luck in the housing lottery this year. Julian Chernyk is a three-year Upper and an Associate Copy Editor from New York, NY.