ASG services committee aims to accommodate students with new online resources

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant In Focus Editor

The Associated Student Government launched a new cab sharing service for Northwestern students Wednesday, one of several online projects the services committee is launching this year.

Cab Corner is one of a few new services being offered online by ASG following this month’s redesign of the group’s entire website. The services committee is also introducing Bookswap, which will help students sell and buy books, as well as unofficial guides about campus life and study abroad.

“I mostly focused on providing online services that address problems students may have on campus that ASG is uniquely positioned to solve,” said SESP junior David Harris, ASG vice president of services.

Although all services will be launched by the end of the year, Harris said Bookswap and Cab Corner took precedent because it is important that they are both launched before the end of the quarter. Cab Corner was launched Wednesday so students would know about it before spring break travel, and Bookswap is slated to go live next Wednesday so students are able to post their old books by the end of the quarter and buy new books next quarter.

Cab Corner is an existing cab-sharing website, but students from ASG worked with the company to make a specific NU domain that would allow students to plan to share cabs with other NU students rather than strangers. The NU website has a firewall that ensures only students using a University email address are able to use the service.

“It was much easier than starting it all from scratch,” Alex Sanz, a member of the services committee, said about working with an existing website.

The McCormick sophomore said he worked on the project with McCormick freshman Rafael Henriquez this year. Although other students had attempted to bring a service like this to campus in the past, Sanz said it was important to attempt to push the issue again because of a demonstrated need on email lists and social networks, where students were trying to find other students to share cabs with.

“We knew the need was there, and people wanted to save money on cabs by sharing them,” Sanz said.

ASG senators expressed concerns at Wednesday’s Senate meeting about some problems with Cab Corner, which Harris, Henriquez and Sanz said they would look into. Weinberg junior Mark Silberg, ASG’s associate vice president for sustainability, expressed concerns about the website’s advertisements that cab sharing was a more sustainable form of transportation.

McCormick senior Eric Schwenker said he typically does not use cabs because he has found it much more cost-effective to travel to the airport by bus, but he did not completely rule the idea out.

“If I missed the train or needed to get somewhere a little quicker, it might be something I look into,” Schwenker said.

With the cab sharing website launch completed, the committee now has its sights set on Bookswap, a service that was available at Northwestern two years ago but that Harris said has been revamped to be much more user friendly. The service allows students to post their old books and other students to buy them, cutting out the need for bookstores and third-party websites.

“You’re saving money by cutting out the middle man,” Harris said. “It’s as cost-efficient as possible, as well as convenient.”

Bienen freshman Hannah Greene said although she does not need to use the cab sharing service to get home over breaks because she lives in the area, she was interested in Bookswap.

“It would make life a lot easier,” she said. “It’s something I’ll definitely look out for Spring Quarter.”

The committee is continuing its work on compiling the unofficial guides. The unofficial student guide has existed before, but this time around Harris said they are attempting to include information that may be more helpful for students, from how to park on campus to how to deal with minor legal issues. He said the study abroad guide provides the information the Study Abroad Office cannot, whether that is where to eat in a specific city or the best way to travel.

Harris said the timeline for both unofficial guides is unclear, and they will be online either by the end of this quarter or early next quarter.