UM to get piece of cyberspace

Gone are the days of putting up flyers in bathroom stalls to sell textbooks or get rid of furniture. Student government (SG) signed a contract in early February to launch ‘Cane Exchange, a UM website similar to eBay. SG President Vance Aloupis anticipates the site to be functional by the week after Spring Break.

Dr. Pat Whitely, vice president of Student Affairs, gave the blessing for a one-year trial run, Aloupis said.

According to John Constantinide, Hecht Residential College senator, the site is going to be an online information medium to allow buyers and sellers meet online, post items and contact each other in person.

SG had several issues in mind in deciding to implement the site.

“Space is a huge issue on campus, and we wanted to clean up the bulletin boards.” Constantinide said. “We’re looking for improved communication between student organizations and students-it would change the way selling for fundraising is done.”

Tracey Siepser, junior, said that she would be eager to dispel the anonymity that comes with eBay commerce by using the ‘Cane Exchange site.

“If I can get relatively the same price I can get on eBay for textbooks, I’ll do it using the UM service because it will be easier and quicker to get them,” Siepser said.

The two main differences between ‘Cane Exchange and eBay are that there will be no monetary transactions online, and the service is only for UM students, faculty and alumni. Usage of the site require an email address which ends in or

“It’s simpler than eBay,” Constantinide said. “Since it’s University-endorsed, we don’t want to be liable for mistransactions.”

Aloupis was approached by Mike Levine, College of Arts and Sciences senator, with the idea.

“Since I am the webmaster and seem to exhibit the most technical knowledge in Student Government, Vance picked me in May to research the idea and head a committee on it,” Constantinide said. “I spent all summer researching companies, prices, and what other universities have done.”

Constantinide settled on Sinapse Consulting to engineer UM’s site. The company has serviced similar sites for Baylor University and Purdue University.

Purdue University’s site is called “Virtual Market” and features categories such as books, electronics, and lost and found.

According to Aloupis, decision-making required the cooperation between the departments of SG, Student Affairs, Information Technology and the general counsel of UM.

“We’ve worked out all the kinks over the past four months,” Aloupis said. “We’ve tried to anticipate anything that might go wrong. I’m really excited about it.”

“I won’t have to wait for shipping using the UM site,” said Jinelle Wint, junior. “For example, I just got a book a week ago that I ordered last semester from eBay. That won’t happen now.”

Reeva Oza can be contacted at