Grad students to protest ticket-lottery exclusion

The away-game ticket lottery for the USC-Notre Dame game is tomorrow from 12-5pm at Legends. As I’ve noted before, grad, law and MBA students are excluded from the away-game lotteries this year. Unlike in years past, they are open only to undergraduate students. And apparently the same thing is going to be true of the bowl-game ticket lottery as well.

I’ll share my thoughts on this matter in a moment, but first, an announcement: There will be a protest tomorrow afternoon from 2-3pm at Legends to register our discontent with the situation, and try and convince the powers-that-be to change their minds. Here are the details, from an e-mail I received this evening:

PLEASE help me prove that we will not be few in numbers tomorrow, and that we will not be overlooked in the future. Please come out to support the protesters and wear your Tradition shirts to show unity. We will be meeting in front of the bullpen (inside Cushing hall) at 1:45pm tomorrow so we can all walk over together. Otherwise please meet in front of Legends at 2pm-3pm for the protest.

Spread the word!

Now then… needless to say, I would be entering this ticket lottery if I could (just as I would have entered the Michigan State ticket lottery if I could), but I can’t, and that annoys me. Now, I don’t expect too many Domers to have sympathy for me personally, since after all, you know which team I’d be rooting for if I got a ticket, and it wouldn’t be the Irish. :) But this is a far bigger issue than just me. Grad, law and MBA students (hereinafter referred to simply as “grad students,” for simplicity’s sake) are being discriminated against, plain and simple. We paid the same $203 that the undergrads did, and there’s no earthly reason we shouldn’t be eligible to get away-game tickets. (What’s especially perverse is that, as I understand it, undergrads who did not buy season tickets are eligible to enter the lottery, while grad students with season tickets are not.)

That said, I can easily understand the perspective of the Student Union Board, which runs the away-game lotteries. The SUB is an exclusively undergraduate organization, elected and funded by undergrads. Asking them to voluntarily include grad students in their ticket lottery is like asking a congressman to get some pork for a neighboring district as well as his own. What motivation does he have to do that? He only cares about his own constituents! Same thing here: we’re not SUB’s constituents, so they have no reason to care about us. From their perpsective, excluding us makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense is why the ticket office — from whom we bought our season tickets — gives SUB unfettered control over the entire lottery in the first place. The ticket office is the real villain here, not the SUB. They should either run the lottery themselves, give proportionally equal numbers of tickets to the SUB and corresponding graduate organizations, or let SUB run it only on the condition that grad students are allowed to enter, too.

Once the SUB-centric arguments (e.g., we don’t pay fees to them) are thus dispensed with, the remaining arguments for excluding grad students are exposed as totally unconvincing. One argument is that there aren’t enough of us who would want to enter the lottery anyway. This is utterly nonsensical; low participation is not a logical argument for exclusion (and if so few of us would enter, then we’re unlikely to win, so what’s the harm to the undergrad entrants?). It’s also patently false, as indicated by the number of people who are pissed off about this, and hopefully tomorrow’s protest will help disprove this notion.

Another argument is that we aren’t as passionate about Irish football as the undergrads are (and thus would presumably be more likely to sell our tickets to the highest bidder—nevermind that an awful lot of undergrads have been doing this lately). This stereotype of the aloof grad student might be accurate at most universities, but not at Notre Dame. I challenge anyone who doubts our passion to spend a home game in our section and see what you think then. Grad students at Notre Dame genuinely care about the Irish, and we root for them just as hard as the undergrads do. (As I said: I am a rare exception to this rule vis a vis the USC game specifically. But the tiny percentage of students with relevant dual loyalties is not sufficient justification to deny all of us, all season long.)

Besides, any doubts about whether grad students “care” can be satisfactorily eliminated simply by establishing a common-sense rule (applicable to grads and undergrads alike) that you must be a season-ticket holder to enter the lottery. As I understand it, no such rule currently exists, but it obviously should, and it would effectively solve this (perceived) problem. Starving grad students aren’t generally known for their spendthrift natures, and $203 (or $406 for married students) is no drop in the bucket. If you have season tickets, that should create at least a rebuttable presumption that you’re a good enough fan to “earn” a spot in the lottery. In any event, the irrebuttable presumption that grad students are universally not good fans obviously cannot be rationally justified.

I doubt tomorrow’s protest will change anything this time around. But perhaps a large turnout will convince the SUB and/or the ticket office that something needs to change in future lotteries — including possibly the bowl-game lottery later this fall. So get out there and give ’em hell!

I would also encourage everyone who cares about this issue to e-mail the SUB (sub@nd.edu) and, especially, the ticket office (seller1@nd.edu). Save your harshest words for the ticket office — like I said, they’re the real villains here, IMHO.

UPDATE: After the jump, a copy of the e-mails I just wrote to the SUB and the ticket office.

You’ll note that I, uh, glossed over the USC connection. :) It doesn’t exactly help my argument, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because this isn’t about me, is about the grad/law/MBA student body at large.

To: sub@nd.edu
From: Brendan Loy
Subject: Exclusion of grad students from the ticket lotteries

Hi,

My name is Brendan Loy, I’m a law student, a season-ticket holder (along with my wife) to Notre Dame football, and a passionate fan of the Irish, and I’m writing to strongly protest the SUB’s decision to exclude graduate, law and MBA students from away-game (and, from what I understand, bowl-game) ticket lotteries this year and henceforth.

Look, I understand that you are an undergraduate organization. But we paid the same $203 for our season tickets — or, in the case of married students like me, $406 — that everyone else paid. I can understand excluding grad students who aren’t season-ticket holders. But anyone who drops several hundred bucks on season tickets is obviously a real fan, and we deserve the opportunity to have a shot at getting tickets just like you do.

The “arguments” that are generally made against excluding grad/law/MBA students from the lottery are nothing but illogical assertions and prejudiced beliefs. For example:

* Grad students wouldn’t enter the lottery anyway. First of all, why does this matter? Low participation is not a logical argument for exclusion. Suppose that 95% of grad students wouldn’t enter the lottery — that’s no reason to screw over the 5% who would enter! Besides, if fewer of us enter, that means more tickets for you guys, so what’s the problem? Why is this an argument against including us? But regardless, it’s just simply wrong. There are a LOT of law/grad/MBA students who are upset about your decision to exclude us, and who would enter the lottery if we could. As I write this, a protest is being organized for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully this will demonstrate what I’m talking about.

* Grad students aren’t passionate fans. This is nothing but an ugly prejudice. The stereotype of the aloof grad student might hold true at other schools, but at Notre Dame, we are freakin’ good fans. We do the cheers, we rattle our keys, we sing the fight song, and we cheer like hell for the Irish, just like y’all do. My first game at Notre Dame was the win over Michigan in 2004, and I rushed the field with everybody else. I was unable to attend the Michigan State game this year (because I couldn’t enter the lottery!), but several of my friends did, and they say it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives. They were part of the “12th man” whose energy and enthusiasm helped fuel the Irish’s amazing comeback. And the reaction in the grad-student section to the dramatic win over UCLA? We went completely insane. I challenge anyone who doubts our passion to spend a home game in our section and see what you think then. Grad/law/MBA students at Notre Dame genuinely care about the Irish, and we root for them just as hard as the undergrads do.

* Grad students have dual loyalties. While it’s true that a tiny percentage of grad students at a given game might be rooting for the “wrong” team because they went to undergrad there, that’s hardly a reason to exclude all grad students from the lotteries for all away games. Besides, there are undergrads with dual loyalties too (say, for example, someone grew up a lifelong Purdue or Michigan fan), and undergrads often invite guests who are rooting for the “wrong” team, or (in a distressing number of cases) sell their tickets to the highest bidder, regardless of who the bidder is rooting for. It is wrong to scapegoat grad students for “dual loyalties” when plenty of undergrads are the same or worse. The bottom line is, the vast majority of grad students who would enter any ticket lottery would do so because they are passionate Notre Dame fans, and they want to root for the Irish, just like you do. End of story.

As I said, I understand that you are an undergraduate organization. But running the ticket lottery is a privilege. The ticket office doesn’t have to give you all those tickets — they could run the lottery themselves, or they could split some of the tickets up among the various equivalent organizations for grad, law and MBA students. If you are unwilling to open the lottery to grad/law/MBA students, the ticket office should take action (And you can bet I’ll be telling them that in an e-mail.) Basic fairness demands that all Notre Dame students with season tickets have the opportunity to compete on an equal footing for away-game and bowl-game tickets. We all paid the same $203, we are all Domers, and we should not be discriminated against just because we’re grad students.

Sincerely,
Brendan Loy
Notre Dame Law ’07

P.S. Go Irish! Beat Tar Heels!

To: seller1@nd.edu, seller2@nd.edu
From: Brendan Loy
Subject: exclusion of grad students from ticket lottery

Hi,

My name is Brendan Loy, I’m a law student, a season-ticket holder (along with my wife) to Notre Dame football, and a passionate fan of the Irish, and I’m writing to strongly protest the fact that graduate, law and MBA students are being excluded from away-game (and, from what I understand, bowl-game) ticket lotteries this year and henceforth.

I realize this decision was made by Student Union Board, which runs the lotteries. But it was your decision to put them in charge, and if they are unwilling to be fair and include all Notre Dame students who bought season tickets, you should either take over the lottery yourself, or else distribute a proportionate number of tickets to the equivalent student organizations in the grad, law and MBA school.

The bottom line is this. We paid the same $203 for our season tickets — or, in the case of married students like me, $406 — that everyone else paid. I can understand excluding grad students who aren’t season-ticket holders. (In fact, I think all non-season-ticket-holders should be excluded.) But anyone who drops several hundred bucks on season tickets is obviously a real fan, and we deserve the opportunity to have a shot at getting tickets just like the undergrads do.

The “arguments” that are generally made against excluding grad/law/MBA students from the lottery are nothing but illogical assertions and prejudiced beliefs. For example:

* Grad students wouldn’t enter the lottery anyway. First of all, why does this matter? Low participation is not a logical argument for exclusion. Suppose that 95% of grad students wouldn’t enter the lottery — that’s no reason to screw over the 5% who would enter! Besides, if fewer of us enter, that means more tickets for the undergrads, so what’s the problem? Why is this an argument against including us? But regardless, it’s just simply wrong. There are a LOT of law/grad/MBA students who are upset about the SUB’s decision to exclude us, and who would enter the lottery if we could. As I write this, a protest is being organized for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully this will demonstrate what I’m talking about.

* Grad students aren’t passionate fans. This is nothing but an ugly prejudice. The stereotype of the aloof grad student might hold true at other schools, but at Notre Dame, we are freakin’ good fans. We do the cheers, we rattle our keys, we sing the fight song, and we cheer like hell for the Irish, just like the undergrads do. My first game at Notre Dame was the win over Michigan in 2004, and I rushed the field with everybody else. I was unable to attend the Michigan State game this year (because I couldn’t enter the lottery!), but several of my friends did, and they say it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives. They were part of the “12th man” whose energy and enthusiasm helped fuel the Irish’s amazing comeback. And the reaction in the grad-student section to the dramatic win over UCLA? We went completely insane. I challenge anyone who doubts our passion to spend a home game in our section and see what you think then. Grad/law/MBA students at Notre Dame genuinely care about the Irish, and we root for them just as hard as the undergrads do.

* Grad students have dual loyalties. While it’s true that a tiny percentage of grad students at a given game might be rooting for the “wrong” team because they went to undergrad there, that’s hardly a reason to exclude all grad students from the lotteries for all away games. Besides, there are undergrads with dual loyalties too (say, for example, someone grew up a lifelong Purdue or Michigan fan), and undergrads often invite guests who are rooting for the “wrong” team, or (in a distressing number of cases) sell their tickets to the highest bidder, regardless of who the bidder is rooting for. It is wrong to scapegoat grad students for “dual loyalties” when plenty of undergrads are the same or worse. The bottom line is, the vast majority of grad students who would enter any ticket lottery would do so because they are passionate Notre Dame fans, and they want to root for the Irish, just like you do. End of story.

Running the ticket lottery is a privilege. If SUB abuses that privilege by discriminating against law, grad and MBA students, it is the ticket office’s responsibility to step in and fix the situation. We are Domers too, and we do not appreciate being treated as second-class citizens. Basic fairness demands that all Notre Dame students with season tickets have the opportunity to compete on an equal footing for away-game and bowl-game tickets.

Sincerely,
Brendan Loy
Notre Dame Law ’07

P.S. Go Irish! Beat Tar Heels!

16 Responses to “Grad students to protest ticket-lottery exclusion”

  1. Mike says:

    Well, because you’re you, I get to pick on your word choice just as much as you pick on mine. ;)

    “In any event, the irrebuttable presumption that grad students are universally not good fans obviously cannot be rationally justified.

    How is it irrebuttable? Logically, a single example of a grad student who is a good fan — however that term is defined — would rebut the argument that there are not good fans among the grad students.

  2. 3L says:

    I understand your point that the ticket office is really to blame, but I think you’re actually a little too easy on SUB. I understand the point that we don’t pay fees to the SUB, but there’s one problem with that – we don’t even have the OPTION of paying fees to the SUB. It’s not as though we can pay fees to them and have access to the lottery. Yes, I realize we pay a fee to the SBA, but nobody could possibly expect the SBA, with a constituency of less than 600, to compete with the SUB in a matter like this.

    I agree with you that it’s total crap that the ticket office lets SUB run the lottery without ensuring that all students have a choice, and I think you’re right that the ticket office is ultimately the responsible party because it has the most power to stop this. But I think that the SUB is not as blameless as you would make them out to be.

  3. Brendan Loy says:

    Mike, it’s irrebuttable in the context that I’m talking about, because grad students are not given the opportunity to somehow rebut the presumption that we’re all bad fans and thus “earn” a spot in the ticket lottery along with the rest of the presumptively good fans (the undergrads).

    In the real world, any presumption is rebuttable, rendering the term “rebuttable presumption” redundant (as well as repetitive, and saying things over and over). In the legal world, however — and here I’m obviously borrowing terminology from that world to make a point — anytime you’re talking about presumptions and whether they’re rebuttable, you’re talking about the context of a particular dispute and evidentiary assumptions that are made by the judge/jury. An “irrebuttable presumption” would be one that the party against whom the presumption is made has no opportunity to rebut for purposes of the dispute in question. That’s what I’m contending would basically exist here, if one were to propose denying grad students the opportunity to enter the ticket lottery because it’s assumed (or.. presumed) that we’re bad fans.

  4. Brendan Loy says:

    3L, it isn’t just about the fees. How much does it cost to run a ticket lottery anyway? Not that much, I’m thinking. Regardless, no matter how much they might float the “fees” argument because it’s easy to understand, it’s still not their strongest argument. Their strongest argument is to point out the nature of their constituency.

    The fundamental, bottom-line point is that SUB is an undergraduate body. Expecting them to look out for the best interests of grad students is like expecting a construction workers’ union to look out for the best interests of telemarketers. It’s just not their job to care about us. We’re not their constituency. And the cold, hard truth is that every ticket that goes to a grad student is a ticket that isn’t going to an undergrad. Thus, by allowing us into the lottery, the SUB would be hurting their own constituency while helping a constituency that they do not serve. It’s simply a no-brainer for them to exclude us; frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t do so before.

    Going back to the union analogy, it would be like if the construction workers’ union lobbied management to lay off 5 construction workers and hire 5 telemarketers in their place. They’re not serving their constituency very well if they do that, are they? Sure, it helps the telemarketers, but why should the construction workers’ union care about that?

    Now, suppose the management had said, “either we’re firing 5 construction workers and hiring 5 telemarketers, or else we’re firing the whole lot of you damn unionized construction workers and hiring non-unionized cheap labor from Mexico in your place — your choice,” obviously the calculus changes, and agreeing to the once-disfavored plan becomes very much in the union’s constituency’s best interests.

    Likewise here, if the ticket office says “include grad students or we’ll take the lottery away from you,” obviously the calculus changes, and SUB has every reason to agree to that demand. But the ticket office has to make that demand (or at least imply it) before it becomes in the undergraduate student body’s best interests for the SUB to include us. Until then, it’s patently not in the undergrads’ best interests to include us, and since the undergrads’ best interests is what SUB is supposed to care about, it only makes sense for them to exclude us.

    In terms of arguing that SUB is doing something wrong, the only argument I could come up with is that they’re “abusing the privilege” of holding the ticket lottery — the theory being that the ticket office implicitly trusted them to do it “fairly,” and that excluding grad students means they’re not living up to this trust. The problem with this argument is that it still depends on the ticket office to care about our concerns and agree with us, since it’s based on the implicit (or explicit) threat that if they don’t start doing the lottery the “right” way, then the “privilege” might be taken away from them. But that’s the argument I used in my letter to the SUB, because I think it’s the only argument for SUB wrongdoing that’s even remotely logically defensible, IMHO.

  5. 3L says:

    I think you are overanalyzing the situation a bit. I didn’t mean to imply that it’s just about fees. It’s wrong for SUB to exclude grad students, regardless of what their “constituency” is. (Sorry, but the union analogy doesn’t hold up for me because I have a hard time comparing jobs and football tickets.) The reason it’s wrong to exclude grad students? Because Notre Dame is always talking about the “Notre Dame family” and all that kind of stuff. Well, if we’re really a “family,” then we should all be looking out for each other, no? Ultimately, I think that SUB should include grad students in their lottery because it’s the right thing to do. And isn’t that supposedly what makes Notre Dame different? Or are we just like the rest of the world, out only to help ourselves and those who help us?
    The “Notre Dame family” isn’t just about the cronyism of alumni helping students get jobs, and it isn’t just about law students helping law students or undergrads helping undergrads. It’s about everybody at Notre Dame coming together in the common bond of the University and its traditions. And if the SUB wants to block out a group of students from taking part in one of ND’s biggest traditions just because we’re not part of their “constituency,” then honestly, I don’t see that promoting the “Notre Dame family.”

  6. NDLS2006 says:

    “It’s wrong for SUB to exclude grad students, regardless of what their “constituencyâ€? is. ”

    Do you really think SUB determines who’s in the lottery and who’s not? You’re giving them too much credit. The decision to exclude grad students was made at a much higher level.

  7. 3L says:

    I was just going off the original post made by Brendan, which implied that SUB had at least some control over who got tickets. Do you have any proof that the decision to exclude us was made higher up the food chain? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit because the university is constantly sending messages to the grad students about how little we actually matter; I’m just wondering if you have any evidence.

  8. Randy says:

    Maybe they don’t want grad students there that might cheer for the opposing team, in the case of away games. Takes away from the cheering for ND.

  9. Lisa Velte says:

    I talked to the staff advisor for SUB at the last ticket lottery, and here’s what I learned:

    1. It is soley SUB’s decision to exclude grad students. They are doing it because of high ticket demand. The ticket office just gives the tickets to SUB and basically lets SUB do what they want with them.

    2. It actually does cost them a substantial amount to run the lottery. They have to pay to rent the room at Legends, to rent the card swipers, and to have the lottery tickets printed up. Personally, I think this is ridiculous, but at the moment, that’s how it goes.

    I mentioned to their advisor that it was in their benefit to include grad students. Grad students make up over 25% of the student body. If SUB is forced to allocate tickets to grad students, the only fair way to do it would be to do it proportionally. That means that over a quarter of the tickets that undergrads could have a chance at winning would be taken away. Most likely not as many grad students will enter the lottery as undergrads, so if they separate the lotteries, then the undergrads will have even less of a chance of getting tickets. For example, say SUB is allocated 200 tickets, and 1000 undergrad students and 200 grad students enter the lottery. Everyone’s chances of winning: 1:6. Now, if the ticket lotteries are separated, that means that 150 tickets go to the undergrads and 50 go to the grad students. Odds of winning for the undergrads: 1:6.67. Odds of winning for the grad students: 1:4. And I’m willing to bet that in reality, the ratio of undergrads to grad students in the lottery would be even higher, hurting the undergrads even more.

  10. Brendan Loy says:

    3L, nice one… the “Notre Dame family”… I like it. Now we have two arguments! Woohoo! :)

    Randy, I already addressed that point, but thanks for not reading.

    Lisa, interesting, thanks. I’m not sure whether it’s actually true that “If SUB is forced to allocate tickets to grad students, the only fair way to do it would be to do it proportionally” (why couldn’t they simply be forced to do it in the same way that they’d do it voluntarily, allowing everyone to enter on equal terms?), but it’s certainly POSSIBLE it would be done that way if they were forced, so it’s a good scare tactic. I like it!

  11. Lisa Velte says:

    Brendan,

    I only meant they would be forced to allocate tickets that way if there were to be two separate lotteries, one for undergrads and one for grad students. Personally, I think one lottery with everyone on equal terms is better. But if they’re going to insist we can’t enter their lottery because we don’t pay funds to SUB, then I think we have to argue that we should have a separate lottery, and then I believe that would be the only fair way to allocate tickets to each lottery.

  12. Lisa Velte says:

    One other thought:

    Last year, the bowl game ticket lottery was run by the ticket office, not SUB. I even remember making the comment “SUB can run a ticket lottery and our own ticket office can’t?!” So SUB excluding us from USC doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be excluded from the bowl game lottery.

  13. Brendan Loy says:

    Yeah…makes sense.

    About the bowl game… I got that from the e-mail I received from the grad student who is apparently organizing the protest:

    I have been in contact with the Observer, and they are printing an article tomorrow on the student ticket lottery and our protest. They have informed me that they have gone to the head of the SUB and he has said that while we may be loud, we are but few, and doubts that anything will be done. He has also said that the SUB are given the tickets and that since graduate students do not pay dues to the SUB that we are not entitled to ANY tickets. This means we will NOT be included in the student ticket lottery for any Bowl games we may be part of, nor will we be able to partake in this lottery in the future.

    That may be an incorrect surmise by the grad student; not sure. That’s why I said “apparently the same thing is going to be true of the bowl-game ticket lottery as well.”

  14. Chris says:

    This policy hasn’t been in place forever.

    I got tickets to the Purdue game in 1989 via the SUB lottery and I was an MBA student.

  15. 3L says:

    I like how the Observer and the SUB keep pointing out that we don’t pay the student activities fee. I still call bullshit on that because we don’t have the option of paying the fee, and then they don’t allocate any tickets for grad students. What did they really think we would do? Crap tickets out of our asses?

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