University officials announced yesterday the ticket distribution plan for this spring’s commencement ceremony, which could give some non-graduating students the opportunity to see President Barack Obama’s speech at the Big House.
According to a press release distributed yesterday, graduating students and their families will receive priority in obtaining tickets with graduating seniors eligible to receive up to eight tickets and graduate students participating in commencement eligible to receive up to four tickets.
To receive their tickets graduating students are instructed to go with a valid MCard to the Alumni Association building on Fletcher Street, where tickets will be available for pick up on April 26 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on April 27 and April 28 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the release.
After graduating students have picked up their allotted tickets, the remaining tickets will then be available on a first-come, first-serve basis to the University community on April 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Michigan Union Ticket Office. Remaining tickets will then be offered to the general public on April 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said that the University is expecting as many as 7,500 students to graduate this year and that providing tickets for the event is focused first on the graduating students and their families.
“This event is for the graduating students and their families, so tickets will go to the students and their families,” Cunningham said. “The needs they have as far as tickets is the top priority.”
Cunningham said there is no way to estimate how many left-over tickets will be available, and it will remain unknown until all graduating students pick up their tickets. She indicated that it is possible that there may be very few left by the time all the tickets for graduating students are accounted for.
“We expect that there will be a great interest in any extra tickets that we might have and you know we will try to accommodate everyone, but graduating students and their families are the top priority,” Cunningham said.
The press release instructs graduating students to take only the amount of tickets they need and not to sell additional unneeded tickets, noting that this offense may result in the revoking of the student’s tickets or even punishment by law.
Cunningham said that she doesn’t think scalping will be a major problem, as students have been notified various times to take only the amount of tickets needed.
“I don’t think it will be a major issue because we believe that the students who will be graduating will take the number that they need and leave the rest,” Cunningham said. “We’ve been really clear that the tickets are not to be sold or exchanged for any reason.”
First-year Rackham student Rohit Singh said that he anticipates that students may try to sell additional tickets but doesn’t think it will be a major problem.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to sell them,” Singh said “But at the same time, I don’t know if that many seniors are really out there to make that much money off them.”
Many non-graduating students at the University have expressed interest in attending the event. LSA freshman Derek Tinkle, a Democrat who said he identifies with the President’s ideologies, said he is looking forward to hearing his speech.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Tinkle said. “I just think we’re really lucky to even have the President talk to us. I’m personally a liberal, and I think there’s a lot that I can learn from what he has to talk about.”
Tinkle said that he thinks it will be difficult for non-graduating students attempting to get tickets on April 29, noting that it is even hard to get tickets for small concerts at MUTO.
“There’ll be a lot of chaos, I think,” Tinkle said. “Just in general, even for concerts, even small concerts, there’s always a long line for when they just start selling tickets. I would think there should probably be more places you can buy the tickets from.”
Nursing sophomore Breann Eckerle said that while she will be leaving for home after finals rather than staying for commencement, she thinks it would be a good experience, especially because she voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
“I think it would be really cool just because this past election was the first time I could vote, so it was kind of a big deal,” Eckerle said. “I did vote for him, so it was exciting. I just think it would be really cool to see him speak.”
Eckerle said though she anticipates student attempts to obtain tickets to be chaotic, she thinks that it will work as efficiently as it did for events like the Kid Cudi concert earlier this semester.
“I know earlier in the semester they had the Kid Cudi concert, and they were selling tickets. It was busy, but I think it would be OK for this,” Eckerle said. “And it’s convenient. I think it’s a good idea to have it (at MUTO).”
LSA freshman Lindsey Karp said that she won’t be upset if she isn’t able to attend the commencement but that it is still monumental for him to come to the University.
“If I don’t go it’s not the end of the world. I’m not adamant about it,” Karp said. “But it’s a big deal for him to come here. It’s not often that you can see the President, especially at home.”