Students vote for cable by a small margin

Elaine Helm

If a majority of Northwestern students have their way, they will soon be able to watch “Total Request Live” and “SportsCenter” from the comfort of their own dorm rooms.

About 56 percent of 2,327 undergraduate students who participated in an Associated Student Government online poll during the weekend voted for a proposal that would bring cable to dorms over the Ethernet at a yearly cost of $121.20 per student.

In a separate poll, more than 90 percent of 1,295 students supported student input in future decisions about capital improvements, such as the project to fill in one-fifth of the Lagoon.

Even though the cable proposal was supported by only a slight majority, ASG Student Services Vice President Courtney Brunsfeld said many more students will enjoy cable after its implementation.

“I think that once the service is in place a lot more than 56 percent of students will be utilizing and enjoying it,” Brunsfeld, a Weinberg junior, said. “I think (the university will be) doing a trial run in several dorms in the spring, which will give students a better idea of what’s going on.”

The poll’s results will serve as the Residence Hall Association’s and Residential College Board’s recommendation to the university, RHA President Grant Pauly and RCB President Prashant Velagaleti said.

“This poll is going to do a better job of representing the entire campus than just our board,” said Pauly, a McCormick sophomore.

ASG senators approved the cable proposal at their meeting Wednesday.

Velagaleti, who also serves as ASG’s technology director, gave Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis the cable poll’s unofficial results Friday.

Pauly compared NU’s proposal to cable costs at other universities, saying most students would not notice the additional fee on their room and board bill in years to come.

“Most campuses, even though they say (cable is) free, have its cost added into room and board,” Pauly said. “It’s just been there so long that students don’t notice.”

In addition to supporting the cable plan as a whole, students voted for about 16 channels that would be offered if the service is approved.

The top 16 channels, listed in order of popularity, were Comedy Central, CNN, MTV, ESPN, VH1, USA, TNT, Discovery Channel, TBS, E!, MTV2, Cartoon Network, ESPN2, Fox Movie Channel, History Channel, and WGN/WB.

About 1,000 fewer students voted in the poll gauging student input concerns. Students overwhelmingly want to be involved in major university decisions and more than 75 percent of voters said the university should delay filling the Lagoon until there has been an adequate period of public comment. About 80 percent said students should be represented on the Board of Trustees and other decision-making bodies.

Neil Helbraun, president of the Northwestern Open Campus Coalition, said he was not surprised by the large percentage of students who support his group’s position.

“I thought the numbers would be pretty high because I felt like the questions we were asking were quite reasonable,” said Helbraun, a Weinberg senior. “I’m sure that (ASG) will be passing this information along to administrators. I just hope the university will take these results and act on them.”

In both polls, several hundred students clicked on the Web page and looked at the questions without voting yes, no or abstaining.

“There’s usually a couple hundred people who go to the poll and don’t complete the voting process,” said Velagaleti, a McCormick senior.