Reclaiming the Section ID

Reclaiming the Section ID

Kevin Guo

If you are reading this article, you should know that you have been cheated: cheated of something that you probably don’t care about.
This year, the school administration decided to remove section IDs from the schedules mailed home in late June.
Where your Section ID used to be, there is now just an empty space. For the sake of mankind, that space needs to be filled. Photo illustration by Kevin Guo.

For those of you who don’t know or have forgotten, section IDs were additional codes that used to come with your schedule. Students who had the same section ID were guaranteed to be in the same class, unlike Course IDs, which can at most guarantee that students will be taking the same course at the same time.

You are probably thinking: how dare they? How dare they take away your right to know who you are going to share classes with? If you’re not thinking that, you should be.

Luckily, an intrepid band of emerging juniors and one class of 2011 alumnus attempted to fight the madness. Led by junior Leo Zhang, the group distributed a Google Form via Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace in an attempt to gather as many schedules as possible. They created a program to sort the information and tried to find out who would share classes and what teachers they would have.  Towards the conclusion of the project, over 200 schedules from current juniors and sophomores had been collected and organized for all to see.

While some may claim that such a project undermines the school administration’s goal of having students focus more on what classes they truly wanted and less on which friends or what teacher would be in that class, this reporter sees it as a group of students trying to reclaim something that should never have been taken away.

Section IDs used to be the answer to a student’s most burning desire: to know who would be in his or her classes. The removal of section IDs hasn’t hindered that desire in the least, only encouraged students to try tactics such as creating sorting algorithms to circumvent the system. Questions such as “When do you have Math Analysis?” still ring through the hallways of the great school known as Facebook, and whether it be through word-of-mouth or widely distributed Internet forms, students will still try to find out.

Zhang’s project was also working towards another admirable goal that was hindered by Section ID removal: the identification of teachers. Students’ curiosity about what teacher they will have is a powerful force and for good reason. Since some students like to be challenged while others prefer an easy ride, leaving teachers unidentified until it’s too late to do anything about it seems a waste when students could be creating the best educational environment for themselves. While Zhang’s project ultimately faced too many variables, such as extensive staffing changes, and not enough information to work out all the student-teacher combinations, it was a step in the right direction.

But what about the convenience for the school administration? Without teachers or friends to worry about, there will certainly be fewer administrative decisions like schedule alterations to make. However if the school’s decision to withhold Section IDs was merely for convenience, it wasn’t worth it. The schedule alteration process was a relative and reasonable one that allowed students the personal freedom to have a say in their learning experience, and the idea of a tailored learning experience far outweighs a few administrative costs.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem as if the removal of section IDs from student’s schedules served any really productive goal except to make students wonder where they had gone. It did save a lot of ink, though.