Memories from Mark Madsen

CS302 was responsible for one of the most memorable events of my University career. I was a freshman during registration of Spring ’84. At the time, registration was conducted on foot walking, and often running, from building to building to get that much coveted stamp on your registration form indicating that you were registered for a class. Freshman were last in the process since they couldn’t start registration until Thursday morning. Some space was often reserved for non-traditional students that became open to all students on Friday and this is where my story begins.

CS302 was hugely popular. No words could adequately describe the popularity since it was a requirement for several major programs at the time. For hopeful CS majors such as myself there was little hope of getting the first required class of the major before the junior year. This was especially true for the small handful of CS major dedicated sections. My best friend at the time heard rumors that there would actually be a few seats available on

Friday since not all reserved “special student” sections were yet full. Not wanting to lose to the early riser on Friday morning, he started a line to the registration room door about an hour before Thursday registration closed. I joined him about 30 minutes later to be number 2 in line.

As word got out about what we were doing, the line started to grow. We soon had dozens of people sitting/standing in a line that snaked around several corners of the Computer Science building. When the time came to lock up for the night, security graciously allowed us to hang out in the building lobby. Since it was mid-January and the lobby wasn’t heated, the custodial staff took pity on us and allowed us to move to a classroom so long as we promised not to leave the immediate area. There we setup signup sheets so we could retain our order in line. (Our numbers had swelled to well over 50 at the time, even though we knew there were probably less than 10 seats left.) Even though a few of us tried to grab some shuteye (yes, sleeping bags were present) it really became a party. We ordered pizza from Pizza Pit, had songs dedicated to us on the radio, and played games throughout the night.

The custodial staff again came to our aid and made sure that we were all in line at the door before the building was unlocked. I’m pretty sure that there were a few hundred students in line by the time the doors to the registration room opened the next morning. It turns out that there were fewer than 10 seats left in the last CS302 section. As my friend and I walked out celebrating that we beat the system and got into the class, we were met by a Milwaukee Journal reporter that heard about the line and so we even had our story published in the next morning’s news. We heard that the department chair instituted some changes to the registration process as he was not very pleased with our actions. (I believe it was Holloway at the time.) We were pleased to know that we had some impact on the process since many of us felt that change was needed in order to ensure that those who needed the class were able to get in at a reasonable time.

I have no idea what I did in the class other than it being my first and only experience with FORTRAN 77. The lab was located in a separate building (down Dayton, I believe) since there was no lab space available in the CS building.