The ASSU recently announced that it is offering $10 checks to the first 250 Stanford students who submit tickets from Stanford’s football game at USC last Saturday. This policy, publicly hinted at in an Oct. 18 post on a Senator’s Facebook page but otherwise not widely advertised until after the game, is advertised as a way to “help defray the cost of the ticket” from the game. Though many students drove to Los Angeles to attend the thrilling triple-overtime game, the premise of these subsidies and their execution is questionable.
The justification for gestures like the USC game subsidy tends to rest on ASSU support for building student community in the form of attendance at and participation in University sporting events. Students are able to celebrate school spirit, lend moral support to the competing team and have a generally enjoyable time. Given that football games are popular outings, as evidenced by massive student demand for tickets, the ASSU’s promotion of attendance at football games is understandable.
If the combined cost of ticket and transportation to a football game is to be subsidized, there are certainly better ways to go about it. Presumably, the goal of such ticket subsidies is to encourage students to attend the event without having to worry about any financial hurdles. However, what is in effect a surprise subsidy handed out after a game defeats this purpose completely. Students only qualify for the subsidy ex post if they had already decided to attend the game. Essentially, the subsidy only benefitted those students who already possessed the financial resources necessary to finance the costs of the ticket and travel to Los Angeles.
If the goal of these ticket subsidies is to level the playing field for students choosing to attend a game based upon the cost of doing so, then only ticket subsidies well publicized before the game make sense. Indeed, such subsidies are typically available through dormitory and house funds. Staff members may elect to draw subsidies from these pools and, as in the case of the Crothers Memorial dormitory, coordinate transportation to the site of the game as well as purchase residents’ tickets for a smaller fee.
Of course, dormitory funds are not always used according to the wishes of residents. While every student is required to contribute towards dormitory funds, the decisions to devote funds to one activity over another can never be made by complete consensus. Thus students who have no desire to go to football games might pay for their fellow residents’ ticket subsidies.
Accordingly, we acknowledge the advantage of direct ticket subsidies for students, but not for their residences. The ASSU needs to do a better job of publicizing such efforts before games, not after, when some students may have already chosen not to attend a game because of its high cost. We suggest the ASSU award individual ticket subsidies, to be used at any Stanford sporting event, before these events have taken place. This approach would better serve the ASSU’s goal of encouraging athletic attendance and do so in a way that is fair to fans of every sport.