uBazaar, the Student Government-run web store, is such a good idea—and in 2010, such a seemingly straightforward concept—that it is hard to believe something similar isn’t already well-established. All of us who buy our Summer Breeze tickets on the site and dodge this week’s May showers will be thankful for the service, and this is only a glimpse of what uBazaar can offer.
Once the service catches on, uBazaar could greatly streamline the ticket-selling process for the Major Activities Board and performance groups, but the real upside is for Houses and RSOs looking to sell t-shirts and other merchandise. As it stands, groups that raise money by selling t-shirts have to staff tables and spam listhosts just to reach the relatively limited market on campus. Once uBazaar has t-shirts in stock (which SG Vice President for Student Affairs Chris Williams says could soon be the case), anyone, be they students, staff, or alums, will be able to visit and see all items offered at any point. Students peddling their merchandise won’t need to shout at passersby in the Reynolds Club anymore, and posting links on Facebook and Twitter—instead of posting fliers on bulletin boards—will multiply the number of people who know about each sale.
And while those of us on campus are enjoying the convenience of uBazaar, it’s fair to expect that those who can’t make it to Hyde Park will appreciate the site even more so. Strange as it may seem with finals looming, some portion of UChicago grads go out into the world with fond memories of this place—fond enough, even, that they would buy a sweater or shot glass to remember it by. Of course, the University’s official online store, which is affiliated with Barnes and Noble, features only the stodgiest maroon-and-grey apparel, all of which appears to have been vetted for any trace of the humor or irony that signifies a genuine “UChicago t-shirt.” There are surely alumni who would want a “Hell does freeze over” t-shirt plus a chance to support their old House or favorite RSO, and in uBazaar, they’ll get both.
The service is not without its drawbacks. Some have raised concerns that SG officials can see the details of each purchase (minus credit card number), and would prefer that only the RSOs and Houses selling an item have access to that information. Privacy issues and other logistics will always be tricky with a service like uBazaar, and SG should do all it can to put users at ease. But more important is that we not let uBazaar fall by the wayside. Without sufficient student involvement, it’s easy to imagine uBazaar languishing with only a sale or two going at a time. For all the effort that has gone into the system, and all of its potential to raise funds for student groups, uBazaar is one site that deserves to be in all of our “favorites” bars.
—The Maroon Editorial Board includes the Editor-in-Chief and the Viewpoints Editors.