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Grad students to hold lottery ticket protest

Mary Kate Malone | Wednesday, November 1, 2006

After being denied access to the student ticket lottery for the Nov. 25 Notre Dame vs. USC football game, disgruntled graduate students will stage a protest today outside Legends, where undergraduates will be registering for the lottery.

Protest organizers were making posters Tuesday declaring “Graduate Students are Students Too” and “My I.D. Says Graduate Student.”

“Every other year we’ve been allowed to take part in the ticket lottery … this is the first year that grad students, MBA students and law students are, for lack of a better statement, not considered students,” said graduate student Janice Kenney, who is spearheading today’s protest, scheduled for 2 p.m. “We’d like to know why we’re not considered students.”

The Student Union Board’s (SUB) executive board decided this fall to exclude MBA, Law School and other graduate students from away game ticket lotteries in an effort to maximize the amount of tickets available for undergraduates.

Many grad students weren’t aware of the new policy until they tried to join the student ticket lottery for the Michigan State game and were denied, said Graduate Student Union Quality of Life Chair Paul Schramm.

Since then, Schramm has had conversations with the Student Union Board, Student Activities Office (which oversees SUB), and the Notre Dame ticket office hoping to gain access to the ticket lottery for the USC game.

But the conversations were “clearly not very effective” since SUB officials refused to change their decision, Schramm said. The GSU even offered to co-sponsor and fund part of the ticket lottery to help share the cost of it, but that, too, was denied.

SUB’s decision to offer the ticket lottery exclusively to Notre Dame undergrads is consistent with its mission “to serve the undergraduate student body,” said SUB manager Patrick Vassel.

Since SUB is a student organization that is funded by the Student Activities Fee – which only undergraduates pay – the decision to offer tickets exclusively to them is logical, Vassel said.

Aware of the graduate student opposition, Vassel called Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs G. David Moss Monday to “check in” about the situation before announcing details of the ticket lottery. Moss and Vassel developed a compromise that would hopefully satisfy the graduate students, Vassel said.

Though they are still not included in the lottery, graduate students will now have sole access to leftover tickets that are not purchased by Nov. 8. Normally these tickets are open to the entire Notre Dame community.

But they will have exclusive access for one day only, Schramm said, and then leftovers will be available to all members of the Notre Dame community.

Kenney was unhappy that graduate students were not included in the compromise decision, while Schramm said the offering is merely an attempt to “placate” angry grad students.

“It doesn’t change our position whatsoever. … We don’t want leftovers if by chance there is a random leftover ticket. … What if there are no leftover tickets? Then we have nothing,” Keeney said.

The compromise is not the end of the road, Vassel said.

“It is my hope and my goal … to sit down with all parties involved and see if we can craft a more fair and more comprehensive policy on this for future years,” he said.

That meeting would probably take place next semester and it’s possible, Vassel said, that graduate students could regain access to the lottery next year.

However, the situation is sticky. Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s students have been excluded from the away game ticket lottery since 2003, and despite backlash from those groups, the policy never changed.

Until it does, Kenney will not be satisfied.

“There’s no way graduate students will be allowed to be in [today’s] ticket lottery. … But if we get into a bowl game, we’d like to be included in that lottery,” she said.