OP-EDS

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May 18, 2007

CPO can't stop the invisible hand

How much is it really worth to watch a loved one graduate? Apparently, a lot. Each year, the demand for convocation tickets exceeds the supply, and enterprising students use Marketplace to sell their extra tickets for upwards of $20 apiece.

In response, administrators at the College Programming Office (CPO) are policing the website, sending students stern e-mails demanding that they not participate in the black market. However, the real problem here is not that students are selling tickets, but that the CPO and Special Events office are misallocating them.

The fact that students have been selling tickets on Marketplace since the web site’s inception is proof enough that the current system is significantly flawed.

Instead of the six-ticket maximum now in place, the Special Events office should consider alternative plans.

For example, the limit could be set at four free passes, and students could be charged a small per-ticket fee for extra requests. Such a plan would provide more tickets to students who are clearly demanding them without forcing them to resort to the Marketplace rate.

More importantly, this system would deter students from hoarding tickets and then sell them on Marketplace. If students have to pay a nominal fee for additional tickets, they are less likely to procure more than they need.

This plan could even provide another boon for graduating fourth-years.

The money made from charging for extra graduation passes could go back to the students—in the form of subsidizing the $35 fee that they are required to shell out for caps and gowns before receiving their diploma.

As things currently stand, however, the solution should not involve scolding students who attempt to sell or buy tickets. Since the CPO has acknowledged that it has no disciplinary powers, it should cease trying to chastise students over e-mail. Students should be allowed to ensure that their friends and family members have the chance to see them graduate. It is not their fault that the system currently in place requires them to take matters into their own hands.

The CPO should be spending its time developing an improved method of ticket distribution rather than prowling Marketplace and attempting to regulate a free market.