EBay, prepare to meet the competition: CaneExchange, a user-friendly cyber-marketplace for UM students that has just opened for business, boasting a range of items from portrait-painting services and hiking equipment to off-campus housing. The brainchild of Vance Aloupis, former Student Government President, John Constantinide, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate and Michael Levine, a former College of Arts and Sciences Senator, CaneExchange aims to make the UM community more efficient and integrated.
“Every Student Government administration likes to brag about something they’ve done, whether it be improving laundry facilities or CaneExchange,” Constantinide said. “The main motive was that it’s something that makes the University more efficient-that’s why auxiliary services gave us money for it.”
CaneExchange works by allowing students, faculty, staff and administrators with a miami.edu or umiami.edu email to register and list products for free. The difference between this site and other exchange sites is that the financial transaction is not completed online. Instead, arrangements are made between parties to meet face to face, an added bonus that gives buyers a chance to actually see the product before purchasing it.
Although CaneExchange has only been in operation since Aug. 1, the idea has been in the works for more than a year and a half, beginning with Constantinide’s research for the project in May 2004.
“The main challenges that faced CaneExchange were creating the contract between SINAPSE Consulting, Inc., the makers of the CaneExchange software, and General Counsel of this University,” Constantinide said. “That was simply time-consuming, but it was a high-priority issue for them.”
The idea for the site, although popular, faced setbacks in its initial stages as permission by various UM departments, such as the bookstore and campus communications, was needed regarding many things from the sales concept to the website design.
“We had some problems convincing administration that this is something we should do because not a lot of schools do anything like this,” current Student Government President Pete Maki said. “Besides that, we’re taking business from the bookstore and there are other legal issues as well.”
According to Constantinide, these issues include problems which make the University liable-buying and selling certain items like paintball guns or other “weapons,” study guides made by students which could fall under the category of plagiarism and financial transactions gone awry.
While publicity for CaneExchange has been minimal, as of Aug. 25 there were 838 registered members and about 180 products for sale.
“I think it’s great that there’s finally a better system than book buyback at the bookstore to sell last semester’s books for a decent price,” Andy Valente, junior, said. “Plus, you can sell pretty much anything you need to get rid of securely without listing fees or being afraid that the product you buy wasn’t what you expected.”
Other successes include the $1,200 startup fee generously provided by Mel Tenen, director of auxiliary services, the acceptance and support by the student community, and the ever-growing recognition of CaneExchange as the site for UM students to buy and sell.
“Just imagine that your mother gave you a $200 vacuum cleaner that you’re never going to use-at least you can sell it back and make $100 or so,” Maki said. “Actually that did happen to me…that’s partly why I think this is such a good idea.”
For more information about CaneExchange visit www.caneexchange.miami.edu.
Teressa Dalpe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org