NEWS

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May 11, 2007

Extra convocation tickets become hot commodities on Marketplace

With convocation just a few weeks away, the demand for admission tickets to this year’s graduation ceremony has led some students to seek out additional tickets on websites like Marketplace and Craigslist and has prompted administration e-mails reminding students that the sale of graduation tickets violates the terms of their distribution.

When requesting tickets from the Class of 2007 website, students are informed that they are not allowed to sell extra tickets.

Nonetheless, student postings on the University’s Marketplace website have offered to pay as much as $20 per ticket and have encouraged students who know they will need fewer than the maximum allotment of six tickets per student to request the maximum allotment and sell those they don’t need.

The College Programming Office (CPO), which administers the distribution of tickets to the ceremony, has contacted students and asked them to remove postings offering to buy or sell extra tickets. Graduating seniors in need of extra tickets are encouraged to submit a special request or to ask friends for extras.

Students will receive no guarantees, however, until the week before the ceremony, when the CPO knows for certain the number of extra tickets it will have to distribute.

But for students like Daniel Betts, even these avenues of acquisition are insufficient. Betts, who needs 24 extra tickets for family members flying in from across the country, cannot find tickets from friends with extras, and he has also been assured by the CPO that he will not receive that number.

Betts, who originally offered to pay $5 per ticket in a Marketplace posting, realized that offers by other students to pay up to $20 would make his offer less appealing. Nor could he afford to pay that amount for 24 tickets, so he resorted to a more creative approach: he offered to exchange a six-pack of beer for each ticket. He has since upped the ante to a 30-pack.

The black market of graduation tickets is widespread at universities throughout the country because the number of family members and friends hoping to attend ceremonies far outnumbers the amount of space available on most college campuses.

At Princeton University, some have advertised graduation tickets for as much as $250, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

“If they [the CPO] were selling you tickets, I would buy them from them,” said fourth-year Donny Copeland, who doesn’t want his family to have to watch the convocation ceremony from one of the several screens that will project it throughout the main quad.

“They never give out enough graduation tickets. I knew that I was going to have to get extra ones, and other people felt that way too, and there are people who want to sell their extra ones,” he said about the CPO’s request that he remove his Marketplace posting.

Instead of offering $15 per ticket, Copeland adjusted his posting to request tickets “out of the kindness of your heart,” and instead offered to pay $15 for “American coins from the 1990s or 2000s” to add to his “rare coins collection.”

Betts said that he was told not to purchase tickets off of Marketplace after he asked the CPO how else he could obtain tickets.

Despite the CPO e-mail, Betts said he would not remove his postings.

The CPO e-mail did not outline potential consequences for not removing the postings.

“We are checking Marketplace pretty much daily,” said Lori Hurvitz, director of the CPO. “We think it’s ridiculous for students to pay for something that’s free.”

Hurvitz said that while the University does not have an official policy on ticket scalping, the sale of tickets puts some students at a disadvantage.

“For people who don’t have the financial ability [to purchase extra tickets], it isn’t fair,” she said.

Instead, if students requested only the number of tickets they needed, the CPO could fulfill most extra ticket requests, Hurvitz said.

Nonetheless, “if people want to sell them, there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” Hurvitz said.