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MIT Clamps Down on Ticket Sales

By Dana Levine


MIT administrators have attempted to halt the sale of Commencement tickets, which can fetch prices as high as $150 a piece.

In a release, the Commencement Committee stated that it “does not endorse or condone this activity. Furthermore, the Committee believes that selling of Commencement tickets violates the spirit of this celebration of academic achievement, and in many cases violates MIT regulations.”

Under MIT’s current system, four tickets are given to each graduating senior. While this is sufficient for some students, many seniors seek additional tickets.

Although many seniors have given away their extra tickets, some have attempted to profit through the sale of their tickets. In previous years, extra tickets have sold for $150 or more.

Advertisements for the extra tickets have ranged from signs posted in the infinite corridor auctions held on eBay or other auction services.

The Commencement Committee and MIT President Charles M. Vest have discouraged ticket scalpers by asking them to give away their excess tickets, which the committee believes is a better solution than selling tickets.

The officers of the Class of 2000 initially encouraged ticket selling, and even posted a link to a web auction site on the class home page. The link was removed after President Vest wrote a letter to senior class president Hugo B. Barra ’00 asking him to remove the link.

Graduating senior Mark F. Davies ’00 sent an e-mail to the mit-talk mailing list which advertised an eBay auction to sell his excess graduation tickets. However, he later posted an apology to the list and removed the auction from eBay’s web site.

Several members of the MIT student body have expressed displeasure over the scalping of commencement tickets.

“$150 is really absurd,” said Kenneth K. W. Lu ’00. In recent weeks, several students have posted messages related to ticket scalping on mit-talk. These have ranged from messages supporting these ticket sales to suggestions for improving the ticket distribution system.

Despite his objections to the process, Lu briefly considered buying two tickets from a ticket scalper. However, he was able to obtain the extra tickets from his friends.

“There are people who are willing to give their extra tickets away but who aren’t going to do it on their own,” Lu said. He recommended that students should have the opportunity to advertise their tickets in a widely publicized forum.

“At the very least, there should be some sort of well-advertised system for giving away tickets,” Lu said.

Christine M. Neumann ’00, has attempted to do this, creating a web page which matches extra tickets with students needing them.

There were also other suggestions for how students could obtain extra tickets. As each professor receives a ticket to graduation, Course VI Administrator Anne M. Hunter suggested that students who need tickets should ask their professors.

Lu believes that the problems with Commencement ticket distribution stem from inherent flaws in the system. “The fact that people have extra tickets at all is an artifact of the inefficiency of the system,” he said.