Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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ASG’s new trend: let students help themselves with Web sites

Associated Student Government launched its third Web site in a month this week, as part of an effort to create student services that cost less and require little coordination with Northwestern administrators.

“This year, there certainly has been an unprecedented amount of Web sites that ASG has been putting out,” said Timothy Wright, chairman of ASG’s ad-hoc Research and Development Committee. “We’re starting to look at a lot of things that we can do without looking, without lobbying Northwestern for help.”

The emphasis on online services was largely due to a new approach under the current administration, said Wright, a Weinberg junior.

The Northwestern Undergraduate Research Database, ASG’s most recent site, opened Tuesday.

“It’s sort of a one-stop shop for research opportunities at Northwestern University,” said Mike McGee, ASG’s vice president for academic affairs, “as well as a link to the department Web site and ways to find out about those research opportunities.”

Last week, ASG unveiled Off-Campus Housing Evaluations, a Web site that allows students to comment on their apartment or off-campus house. RideShare, a resource for students coordinating transportation to and from the airport, launched several weeks earlier.

So far, the program has saved the student body an estimated $15,000, according to Weinberg junior Thomas Smithburg, ASG’s operations director.

The Research and Development Committee is working to create several new sites, including a multimedia streaming platform for NU student groups and a site where students can arrange study groups, Wright said.

Although students can currently choose from Web sites like YouTube or Facebook to perform some of these functions, Wright believes an ASG purpose-built site will make it easier for students to find material created by on-campus groups.

“The problem with a large program is it is very hard to get noticed,” Wright said.

Despite advancements, developing Web services is a time-intensive and complicated process, McGee said. The Communication junior has been developing a site called Peer Academic Link to evaluate departments since last summer and still needs more student-created profiles to complete the project.

Still, McGee said he is confident the site will launch this quarter.

“I just got six new profiles today, ” McGee said. “I didn’t expect to get this up overnight. It’s made a lot of progress in a short amount of time.”

Both McGee’s current project and the research database use a more restrictive design than the other sites because ASG vice president must format and post the content personally, rather than users’ comments going straight to the Web.

However, McGee said he planned to streamline the process for the department-rating site so he would only have to approve remarks on a department.

ASG Technology Director Jonathon Koenig, who designed RideShare and the off-campus housing page, said the structure behind his work was straightforward. He had borrowed from ASG’s existing HTML templates to create RideShare’s layout, since he only had a week to build the site.

Looking to the future, the McCormick senior said he would like to see a site that allows Web masters from various student groups to have an open forum.

“I’d like to see social software that would allow us to communicate not just based on our classes, but talk to the rest of the Northwestern community too,” Koenig said.

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ASG’s new trend: let students help themselves with Web sites