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The Cost of School Spirit

I always felt that one of the hidden gems at Cornell was the fact that student admission to every single athletic event (except for men's hockey, of course) was free. During my time on East Hill I enjoyed many women's soccer games, men's wrestling matches, and men's lacrosse games, not to mention a polo or gymnastics event or two. It always amounted to free and good fun while cheering on my fellow students-turned-athletes and demonstrating my Big Red Spirit. But now this is all due to change due to the incompetence of Cornell Athletics:

Athletics Department will be charging a nominal fee for entrance to select sporting events for undergraduates in order to recoup money lost from not receiving byline funding from the Student Assembly after missing the proposal deadline... Every two years, the Student Assembly goes through the process of dividing up the Student Activities Fee and distributing it in the form of byline funding to campus organizations, including the Orientation Steering Committee, the Student Assembly Finance Commission, the Slope Day Programming Board and Class Councils ... The new policy of charging for admission - a fee that the Athletics Department said will be no more than three to five dollars per event - is a result of the fact that Athletics missed the original deadline for submitting a proposal to the S.A. to receive byline funding.

Speaking as somebody who recently went through the by-line funding process for two separate organizations, this is completely irresponsible on Athletics' part. And of course, who is going to pay for the gaff? Students and student-athletes alike.

Not only will students be less inclined to go to marquee sporting events if they have to pay, but student-athletes will find that they will have less of their fellow Cornellians cheering them on. And the notion that a ticket model will work for any other Cornell sport other than men's ice hockey is ludicrous; sufficient demand needs to exist for these sporting events before a student might be willing to pay for a game. Last time I checked, student attendance at homecoming barely cracked 25 percent -- and that was even with the lure of the Hotel School's delicious food out in the parking lot.

And Steve Donahue must be living on a different planet than the stressed out, debt-ridden student body :

"The one thing I like about charging is that I think the student then feels a responsibility to go to the games. It's something that you put in an investment that then you want to follow up," he said. "I think the students [will] have every right to be even more critical of the product. " I think that's all good. That's all positives to help us all get better."

If I was David Skorton, and I really wanted to demonstrate that I cared about the undergraduate experience at Cornell, the first thing I would do upon assuming the Presidency would be to tell Athletics to find another revenue source and to assure the student body that it will continue to be free to demonstrate your Cornell spirit and root for your corageous student-athlete friends who are sporting the carnelian and white on the field.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on February 23, 2006 (#)

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