With free student tickets for the Ben Shapiro event on Tuesday evening selling out in under two minutes on Feb. 18, some students are now selling their reserved seats for as much as $200.
The event, which is hosted by the University of Michigan’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, had initially held 617 of the 1060 tickets for University students.
YAF Vice Chair Kate Westa, LSA sophomore, explained while YAF does not support ticket reselling — especially at such an expensive price — the organization does not have control of what happens to tickets once they are in students’ possession.
“YAF does a really good job of bringing these high profile speakers at such a low cost to us and we want to ensure that it goes for no money to the people who end up securing tickets for the event,” Westa said. “We don’t condone the reselling, especially at such high prices, but once we get rid of those tickets, it’s out of our hands. It’s unfortunate to see this happen because we want everyone to be able to go, but that’s just the way the market works sometimes.”
LSA junior Sohum Mehta wanted to see Shapiro, but was unable to get one of the free tickets.
“I’m still looking, but people are charging like $150 for a ticket,” Mehta said.
Numerous students are selling the tickets on University Facebook pages. Though students like Mehta were having trouble finding moderately priced tickets, LSA senior Ben Rappaport was able to buy one for $40. Rappaport wanted to attend the event to learn more about Shapiro’s beliefs, which are different from his own.
“From what I heard I got it for a steal,” Rappaport wrote in a message to The Daily. “I think it’ll be good for me to hear the views of someone whom I disagree with almost everything on.”
LSA junior Amar Srinivasan was one of the students selling his ticket to see Shapiro on the “University of Michigan Class of 2020” page on Facebook. He sold his ticket for $45, but reported that he saw a range of prices from $20 to $60. Srinivasan expressed how some students he interacted with were upset by the ticket cost.
“Most people reached out just saying that they wanted to go and that they were frustrated at how high the prices were,” Srinivasan wrote in a message to The Daily.
Though Srinivasan does not stand by Shapiro’s opinions, he said he wanted to originally attend the event to learn more about his contrasting beliefs.
“I’m definitely not a supporter of him or his ideals, but I think it’s important to go and educate myself about this kind of stuff,” Srinivasan said.
Engineering senior Brett Swiecicki also received offers for his four Shapiro tickets on the Facebook page. Though he ultimately decided against selling his tickets in favor of attending the talk with friends, Swiecicki said the highest offer he got was $200 for each seat. Swiecicki is a supporter of many of Shapiro’s stances and wanted to attend the event to hear his comments.
“I align with many of Ben’s opinions, values and beliefs,” Swiecicki said. “I am inclined to support him in broadcasting what he has to say because often times he says what I wish I could say but I would lose my job and have other long lasting repercussions if I had said the same things as him.”
Westa also reflected on this high demand for Shapiro tickets at the University. She noted that while people were disappointed they did not get tickets, she was optimistic about the fact so many individuals wanted to attend the event.
“I think it’s just a testament to the high demand that he’s at in our country and at Michigan,” Westa said. “I think a lot of people were surprised by how quickly the tickets went, and a lot of them are frustrated they weren’t able to get tickets, but it’s what we like to call a good problem because it means a lot of people want to see him and are willing to pay such a high price to see him in some cases.”