Volume 95, Issue 46

Thursday, November 22, 2001
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Council gives Lawless an earful

Stop consuming you capitalist pig

Much maligned SSSC changes constitution

Anthrax strikes again

USC considers charity

Yes! London might get old-timer hockey

Stressed out TAs now online

News Briefs

Stressed out TAs now online

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

If your teaching assistant is too busy or you just do not want to leave the comfort of home, a new company is offering students the help they need with just a click of the mouse – and five bucks.

RideTheBellCurve.com, a new online service based in Kingston, Ontario, gives undergraduate students the chance to pose academic questions to graduate students, said company president Grant Goodwin.

For $5 a problem or $2.50 per essay page, students can get the direct, individualized assistance they may need, Goodwin said, adding the fee is only charged if the student accepts the solution provided.

The graduate students make 80 per cent of the profit from each student, while the company takes in the remaining 20 per cent, Goodwin said, in order to keep their service alive.

Carole Farber, a Western professor in the faculty of information and media studies, said she has visited the site and believes the company is genuinely providing answers to students, but was concerned with the detailed personal information questions.

"They're getting more [information] than Air Miles ever collects on you," Farber said. She added the company can learn an individual's university, area of specialty, e-mail address and gender from registration forms on the site.

Goodwin said the personal information section is entirely optional.

Farber said students should be cautious about offering personal information when using an online program. "It's always good to be concerned about where your information is going and for what purpose it is going to be used," she said.

Western Phd candidate Andrew Ross, a teacher's assistant in the department of history, said time will tell if an educational program such as RideTheBellCurve.com will work.

He encourages students to visit their real TAs within the classroom. "I sit in my office for two hours a week and am available through e-mail and [I] see one person a week – I'm sitting there doing nothing," he said.

Ross said he understood using the service if students need help at 3 a.m., but, generally, they should use the free resources offered to them on-campus.

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