Column - Changes in ticketing could benefit students
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 00:09
The upcoming home football game against LSU is the premier college football game of the weekend and one of the biggest home contests in program history.
So, naturally, every student wants to attend.
17,056 tickets were requested for Saturday's game, eclipsing the previous record for requests by almost 2,000.
With only 12,500 seats available for students, roughly 4,500 people who sought a ticket were turned down.
Mathematically, there is no denying the fact that admittance for everyone is not possible. In a perfect world, all of West Virginia's nearly 30,000 students would have the option of whether or not to attend.
However, we are dealing with the real world – a situation in which the confines for students are limited, and tickets are distributed in accordance with structural guidelines.
The question most of the 4,500 students who are not Mountaineer Maniacs and don't have tickets are asking isn't why they were turned down, but rather, why others were accepted in front of them.
WVU's Student Ticketing System assigns tickets via a lottery-based system. In essence, it works similar to the lottery the NBA uses to determine its draft order.
Students have a two-day period to register for a ticket. If there are fewer requests than seats available, everyone gets a ticket. If the number of requests exceeds the number of available tickets – such as the case for the LSU game – then students are placed into a pool and selected lottery-style.
The system is intended to reward students who
regularly attend home games by allotting them additional entries into the selection pool.
But does it really work the way it was intended to?
According to the student ticket website, "Students have entries in the lottery equal to the number of Loyalty Points earned from attending previous games, from Seniority Loyalty points, and, if eligible, from the 20% of points carried over from the last season."
Additionally, the longer you have been enrolled, the more points you start the season with. For seniors and graduate students, the season begins with five Loyalty Points. For freshmen, that number is just one.
Theoretically, the system sounds fullproof. The longer you stay in school and the more you attend games, the better your chances are for acquiring a ticket for big games such as this.
Yet, thousands of students who are (literally) on the outside looking in would argue the system is flawed.
For a freshman who has attended two home games to be awarded a ticket over a graduate student who has attended almost 20 seems royally unfair.
This case, which is a real situation I learned about yesterday, is either a fortuitous bit of luck for the freshmen or a byproduct of a broken system for the graduate student.
The only time you hear complaints about the student ticketing system is when there is irregularly high demand. Otherwise, which equates to about 95 percent of the time, it works brilliantly.
Reformation of the system for high-demand home games could be applied to improve the overall experience, but would it be fair?
The argument most prevalent around campus is limiting tickets to freshmen and sophomores and allotting more tickets to juniors and above. Underclassmen haven't been paying tuition as long and thus should have to patiently wait in their dorms for a year and pay their dues.
While I don't subscribe to that particular argument, I do think the Loyalty Points system could be improved by making a few subtle alterations.
At the current rate, going to five home games as opposed to three equates to an extra two entries into the lottery. A student who attends five home games sits through games such as Norfolk State and Bowling Green. The student that attends three home games may have skipped those due to the lackluster opponents.
Giving extra points to students who attend consecutive games would increase student ticket holder happiness now and in the long run.
If you go to every home game for two straight years, you should have a significantly greater chance of acquiring a ticket than others.
Further, I believe the time at which you apply for a ticket should matter. The current system gives equal weight to applicants who log on at the stroke
of midnight to those who do so just minutes before the deadline.
I envision this aspect to work similar to the basketball ticketing system, only instead of waiting in line outside, you can be sitting on your couch with a bowl of popcorn.
It is difficult to remember to be online at midnight a week before the game – and that's why if you are being proactive in attempting to secure a ticket, you should get a boost of probability.
The moral of the story is if you want to be guaranteed a ticket, pay the $30 to join the Maniacs and leave no doubt.