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Lottery adjustment ill-founded

Staff Editorial | Friday, November 3, 2006

With Wednesday’s announcement that graduate students would, in fact, be eligible for the Notre Dame-USC ticket lottery, the Office of Student Affairs and the Student Union Board (SUB) caved under pressure from select graduate students who had complained about the process a day earlier.

Citing a fear of possible protest and prior concerns regarding graduate students’ original exclusion, Director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin encouraged SUB manager Patrick Vassel to include graduate students in the lottery as a last minute addendum.

In light of Notre Dame’s unique undergraduate identity, this is a flawed decision.

The University stresses the unique aspects of its undergraduate education, and the 80 percent of students who reside on campus are a testament to the togetherness Notre Dame facilitates. And while football games are out-of-classroom aspects of the Notre Dame experience, the extremely high percentage of students who purchase season tickets every fall prove that it is, without question, part of the undergraduate experience.

Graduate students can’t make this claim with the same conviction. For the most part, graduates reside in locations further off campus and have less connection to campus life. The sense of identity that undergraduates derive from their place at the University is for the most part absent in graduate students who have stronger ties to their own colleges.

There are graduate students who are “Double Domers,” those who also received undergraduate degrees from Notre Dame, and their connection to the University is just as strong as current students. But these graduate students already have access to alumni tickets, which Notre Dame undergraduates don’t. Furthermore, graduate students with families are less likely to travel – never mind over Thanksgiving weekend – to California to watch a football game.

It seems by giving into the pressure from the potential protesters outside Legends, the Office of Student Affairs and SUB satisfied the desires of a few while the majority of graduate students weren’t concerned.

Plus, with just 300 tickets available in the entire lottery, if graduate students are included in the process – where should the line be drawn? Faculty members are a part of Notre Dame, but clearly they are not included in the ticket lottery.

If a greater number of tickets were made available, and the undergraduate demand was exhausted, then and only then, should the Office of Student Affairs and SUB approach the idea of extending the lottery to graduate students.

But right now, there are more than enough undergraduate students to satisfy demand for the trip to Los Angeles to see Notre Dame play USC. Clearly, extending the lottery to graduate students was a mistake.