Dartmouth students might finally get a break from exorbitant textbook prices if a new Student Assembly initiative succeeds. The Assembly voted during its weekly meeting Tuesday night to start a new online textbook exchange program.
The Assembly, which originally approved the program over the summer, reaffirmed its commitment to launching the textbook exchange Tuesday. The resolution aims to diminish Wheelock Books' and the Dartmouth Bookstore's near monopoly on the textbook market.
The resolution was sponsored by Christopher Bertrand '07 and Mikhail Belinskiy '08. Bertrand and Belinskiy said the measure to combat the local practice of overcharging students for used textbooks and offering minimal "buyback" compensation.
Belinskiy is a member of The Dartmouth staff.
The Assembly aims to establish a free, direct student-to-student market in which sellers post used books online for other students to buy, Bertrand said.
The website differs from other online resources, such as Amazon.com, because it allows students to purchase books within a reasonable time period by providing them with on-campus contacts.
"Ideally, students can blitz each other to meet in Novack or somewhere and just pay for the book there," Belinskiy said.
Although an earlier online textbook exchange, started by Dartmouth's "Basement" website, proved somewhat inefficient in years past, Bertrand said he is confident the new site will be a great improvement.
"While the old exchange initially had a lot of interest, the interface slowly lost touch with students, because it hadn't been very well publicized," Bertrand said.
Bertrand also said the Assembly's new exchange will not suffer from the old site's technical glitches.
"It is also a six-year-old technology that is fundamentally flawed in that when someone posts a book listing, it does not expire. You might search for an econ book and find one from five years ago," he said.
This year's Summer Assembly already passed a resolution to start a new online book exchange, allocating $400 to its creation and design and $100 to publicity for the site, which is now finished and will be available for Winter term.
Belinskiy and Bertrand were eager to reaffirm the resolution, though, if only to continue to publicize the site.
"We wanted 85 people to see it, rather than 20. We want people to spread the word and to give us suggestions," Bertrand said.
Student Body President Noah Riner '06 also used the meeting to promote Greengate, a program in which Student Assembly members pledge attendance to the remaining three home football games as a way to build a sense of community.
"At Dartmouth, one of our strengths is that there is so much to do," Riner said. "This is a chance to bring the campus together and show solidarity. It is just as much about talking to the people next to you as it is about cheering."