Volume 93, Issue 56

Wednesday, December 8, 1999


NEWS

$10 million bid at final stage

Huron to increase enrollment to combat cohort

Engineering committee extending office hours

USC looking at internet business

Millenium money to be announced

Waiting for the ball to drop

Caught on campus

Stuff

USC looking at internet business



By Matt Pearson and Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

The University Students' Council is looking to do some commercial expansion into cyberspace, as a new USC e-commerce initiative is in the works for next year.

Born from a Canadian Campus Business Consortium initiative to save students money, a move towards online business would allow schools to set up commercial venues such as online custom course material, according to Allison Norris, USC communications officer.

The CCBC, of which Western is a member, is a nationwide not-for-profit business group comprised of various student associations, which looks into generating revenue for its member schools.

Norris said to achieve an online business, the USC would first have to establish a separate network dedicated to e-commerce, apart from its current contract with Information Technology Services.

Geoffrey Pimlatt, computer systems administrator for the USC, said the current computer facilities' contract with ITS is limiting in terms of e-commerce possibilities because it only allows for online media and academic use.

Pimlatt explained adding another venue for the USC with an e-commerce provider opens up a range of possibilities, since a move online would arguably save students time and money. "Anything that keeps students from waiting in line is a better approach." He added setting up an online store would be substantially cheaper than building a store.

Norris said the USC already has the technical infrastructure to support a second network, on which ventures such as an online bookstore could be set up. The second network would afford the USC more leeway, especially since the USC will have more control of advertising on the site, she added.

Mike Bauer, senior director of Information Technology Services, said the computer systems used at Western, such as the USC web site, cannot be used for commercial purposes since the university is funded by public money.

"All facilities in the university are publicly funded and so using them for commercial purposes would be, in effect, subsidizing a commercial venture with public money," he said, explaining the public funding of a private business would be unfair. "That's why the BookStore [in the University Community Centre] has to pick up the full cost of running itself," he said.

Bauer added it was the USC's prerogative to enter into new contracts so as to allow it to engage in online business.

Pimlatt said the USC was looking into setting up the second network by September of next year, but are still investigating the project's feasibility.


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Copyright The Gazette 1999