Once a match-making hotbed, YaleStation is getting a face lift. Adding features such as a study group board, an interactive office hours calendar and an online textbook exchange, this fall the Yale College Council is expanding YaleStation, its Internet portal for the student community.
The group also plans to incorporate an option to broadcast songs by student musicians in the Blue Room, which is an off-shoot of the YaleStation portal. The Blue Room, which currently hosts forums and hosted a match-making service last year, has been declining in popularity recently due to competition from independent sites such as Thefacebook.com, an online social network that connects people at colleges around the country. YCC officials are also in talks with Yale-TV and WYBC to have their schedules and programming available as a YaleStation module on students’ home pages.
YaleStation chairman Chaitanya Mehra ’06 said the YCC will expand the scope of YaleStation’s shopping features from just featuring used textbooks to serving as an effective online marketplace for general student use.
“I’ve been trying, along with the rest of the new YCC board, to focus on some projects that would add value to the student body,” Mehra said. “We want to offer some new stuff that makes students come back again and again. In particular, we wanted to offer services that would help students with their academics.”
YCC Secretary Michael Schwab ’06 said administrators believe the online book marketplace will offer students an alternative to purchasing books at the Yale Bookstore on Broadway, which sells books at prices determined by industry norms. He said certain inefficiencies, such as professors requiring students to use the newest editions and the bookstore’s practice of shipping excess textbooks back to warehouses, contribute to inflated prices.
“There’s not much to be done about reducing prices from the bookstore,” Schwab said. “They actually make less profit on used books than on new ones, so there’s not too much we can do in that area.”
This semester, students have saved more than $10,000 by using YaleStation’s book-trading marketplace to directly connect with other students who want to sell their old textbooks, Mehra said.
YTV Director of Programming Emerson Davis ’06 said he is receptive to YaleStation’s plans to serve as a module for the station’s programming schedule, saying this would help determine how to arrange the time slots allotted to each show.
But Davis said plans to add this feature to the site have been stalled because YaleStation does not currently have an office facility.
“Unfortunately we can’t go forward at this point,” Davis said. “They don’t have a work station right now, which means they can’t operate at full capacity.”
Schwab, who campaigned last spring on a platform of providing message boards for campus-wide discussion, said he wants to create an online discussion forum for students in specific classes to study together. YaleStation will also feature organizational tools such as a comprehensive database of professors’ office hours, Schwab and Mehra said.
YaleStation will allow students to create individualized interactive calendars, and the YCC hopes to have professors allow students to schedule appointments online, Mehra said.
Schwab said they plan to add several interactive features to boost the popularity of the site, which he estimates is visited daily by at least one-third of the student body.